6 quirky, fun Chinese phones we found at MWC 2017

The halls of Mobile World Congress are filled with smartphones, wearables, and all manner of other cool mobile tech; but we always love discovering all the new phones that may not get the recognition they deserve. This year we were spoiled with choice, so we put six of our favorites into a roundup, which encompasses some brands you may know already, such as ZTE and Meizu, along with some you may not. Here are some of the other fun phones that caught our eye at MWC 2017.

Gionee A1 Plus

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 gionee a1 plus 2

Gionee is becoming a regular fixture at Mobile World Congress, and this year it returned with two phones, the A1 and A1 Plus. The latter is the most technically impressive, with a pair of 16-megapixel cameras on the back, and a giant 20-megapixel camera for selfies. It’s that camera which has some of the coolest features, such as generating the bokeh blurred background effect to improve portrait shots.

The phone packs a large 4,550mAh battery, and a MediaTek P25 processor, plus some fast charging technology for the battery. It feels solidly made, and the design is attractive, but it doesn’t break new ground. The software let the device down, with the camera app reacting slowly and some overall slowness. The lag may be cured by the time it goes on sale, which will happen in April. You’ll be able to get it in select markets for 500 euros, which is around $530.

Ulefone Armor 2

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 ulefone armor 2 1

Likely to be a name that’s new to many, Ulefone showed the Armor 2 at MWC 2017, a super-tough phone that’ll be out in June or July this year. The good news is that unlike many phones sold online or via importers, it has a wide range of bands for great international support — including for those needed to work in the United States.

It’s a monster, too, and really earns its name. The body is made from metal and plastic, and the device will have IP68 water and dust resistance, plus there are physical buttons under the screen and down the sides to make it easy to use while wearing gloves or if the phone is wet. The plan is to put the new MediaTek Helio P25 processor inside, a massive 6GB of RAM, and talk of a very special fingerprint sensor.

Meizu M5S

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 meizu m5s 2

Announced just before Mobile World Congress opened, this was the first opportunity for Meizu to show off the M5S, a mid-range Android smartphone that uses the company’s own Flyme user interface over the top. It’s considerably more compact than several other phones on our list, with a 5.2-inch screen, that sadly only has a 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution.

The rest of the specification includes a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1.3GHz MediaTek processor. Meizu’s fast fingerprint sensor is onboard, the body is made from metal, and styled like most other Meizu phones. Which means it does look like an iPhone, but that’s not always a terrible thing. The price hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s out soon.

ZTE Blade V8 Mini

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 zte blade v8 mini 3

Dual-cameras are about as trendy as smartphone tech gets, so it’s great to see them incorporated on low-cost phones; and while we don’t know how much the new ZTE Blade V8 Mini will be, it’s certainly going to be cheaper than the $230 Blade V8 Pro. The body contains a 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 pixel screen and has a fingerprint sensor on the back — another surprise for a budget phone — plus a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chip.

The dual cameras recreate the blurred background effect, and we gave it a quick try. How good they looked depended on the environment, but we did manage to take some good-looking shots, while the software itself was easy to use. The Blade V8 Mini will hit Europe and parts of Asia in March.

Nubia N1 Lite

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 nubia n1 lite 3

Nubia may be best known for expensive flagship phones like the Z11, but it also makes low-cost phones like the N1 Lite. It’s a large device with a 5.5-inch display, but the resolution is 1,280 x 720 pixels, and while it has Android installed, the version we tried had version 6.0 rather than the latest 7.0 Nougat release.

The good news is there’s a fingerprint sensor on the back, while the cameras have 8 megapixels on the rear and 5 megapixels on the front. The specification may not be that exciting, but the large 3,000mAh battery should keep all this running for a few days before needing a recharge. The price has yet to be confirmed, but the N1 Mini should be on sale internationally in March.

Doogee Shoot 1

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 doogee shoot 1 3

Never heard of Doogee? We’re not that surprised, but it’s another company on our list that proves dual cameras on smartphones are the in-thing with its Shoot 1 phone. Except it’s doing it at a really low price: You can pick up the Shoot 1 for just $130 through importer GearBest if you want to give it a try.

For this, you get a pair of rear cameras — one with 13-megapixels and the other with 8-megapixels, which are made by Samsung — a Sharp 5.5-inch screen with a 1,920 x 1080 pixel resolution, plus a MediaTek octa-core chip. The downside is the software, which is Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and a little bit slow and awkward on the model we tried. Still, it’s hard to argue when the phone is so cheap.


Nubia’s two-screen wonder is a new solution to our all-screen selfie problems

Nubia has added a second screen to the back of the Nubia X so the rear camera can be used for selfies -- and a lot more -- and the front is all-screen. We tried the phone out at CES 2019.

Sony crams best tech from its full-frame cameras into $900 crop-sensor A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.

The Sony Xperia XZ4 shines in case renders from accessory maker Olixar

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.

Otterbox and Corning will partner to make an advanced screen protector

Celebrated and well-known case manufacturer Otterbox has teamed up with Corning, makers of Gorilla Glass, to create a next-generation screen protector named Amplify that may be the best screen protector ever.

Benchmark scores surface for Google's midrange Pixel 3 XL Lite

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.

Rumors say Apple's AirPower wireless charger may finally be in production

At its September event in 2018, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 

The LG G8 ThinQ may arrive at MWC 2019 with an on-screen speaker

LG is expected to release a successor to the LG G7 ThinQ, possibly called the LG G8 ThinQ, this year and rumors about it are already spreading. Here's everything we know about it so far.

Oppo could reveal a new smartphone with a 10x optical zoom

Cracking a solid zoom on smartphones has been a riddle many years in the solving. One company may have finally cracked it though: Oppo may be about to show off a phone with a 10x optical zoom.

Nike’s Adapt BB shoes let you tighten your laces with an iPhone

The new Nike Adapt BB shoe comes with smartphone connectivity that allows the user to tighten the laces using a smartphone while providing the ability to adjust tension throughout the game.

How to switch TicHealth to Google Fit on the Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro

The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro are both much-loved and feature-packed watches, and they offer excellent fitness tracking. Recently, Mobvoi has switched out Google Fit for TicHealth, but you can switch them back. Here's how.

If you're looking for a good laugh, here are 70 questions to ask Siri

Siri has come a long way since her first appearance on the iPhone 4S in 2011. We know she can make appointments and give directions, did you know she can make you laugh too? If you want proof, here are lots of funny questions to ask Siri.

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.