By: Joseph Reis – X Tech News
If in 2016 the market for smartphones was dominated by dual cameras, 2017 has undoubtedly been the year of the ‘infinite’ screens. And, although its popularization is mainly due to the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy 8 series, it was precisely a Chinese brand, Xiaomi, who kicked off with the Mix at the end of last year. Now no manufacturer wants to lose this train, because the ‘smartphones’ with minimal bevels have caused the rest to seem suddenly obsolete.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to spend a thousand euros – or more – to acquire a powerful terminal with an attractive design. In fact, Chinese brands once again offer the best value for money with an overwhelming catalog of devices that meet the needs of all pockets.
After having tried almost thirty models, these are the ones that have convinced the most.
The struggle for the title of the ‘Chinese smartphone of the year’ has been hard. The OnePlus 5T and the Nubia Z17s share the same guts: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage. In addition, both are exquisitely manufactured and have quality dual cameras, so the differentiating factor that has given the throne to the OnePlus 5T is in the facial recognition system that allows you to unlock the phone immediately without touching the sensor traces, which, taking into account the little free space left by the ‘infinite’ screen, is located at the back of the terminal.
Once again, OnePlus shows that quality is not always at odds with the price, and offers a very complete terminal that is, above all, extraordinarily competitive in the current market. Of course, it is clear that, as happened on previous occasions, the designers have not eaten much head: it is not that the 5T resembles the iPhone 7 Plus, is that it is a copy of another of the terminals of this list, the OPPO R11s. However, we must recognize that it is a very thin and light, elegant device that can compete perfectly with any other high-end ‘smartphone’ that costs several hundred euros more.
Nubia has been demonstrating for some time that it knows how to make magnificent mobile phones even if it is a little known brand. But his consecration has arrived this year with the Z17 and, now, with the Z17s. In fact, if it were not because it lacks a facial recognition system, this terminal would have surpassed the OnePlus 5T in our assessment. Because it surprises the total elimination of the lateral bevels and the beauty of its blue crystal finishes. In addition, it has a dual camera equipped with two different lenses – wide angle and telephoto – and another double front camera that offers the best ‘selfies’ on the market.
Among its strengths is also the DTS sound, the Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 fast charge, and an LTPS screen with FHD resolution that offers extraordinary quality. The brand, which has already departed from ZTE, has also taken advantage in the operating system the lack of side frames with the development of gestural functions on the edges of the device. For example, to move from one application to another, just swipe your finger across the edge of the screen and the apps parade as if they were sheets of a book. In addition, it has one of the most complete camera interfaces, with very interesting modes such as the ‘star follower’ or the ‘light painting’ that trigger the creativity of the users.
Xiaomi Mix 2
Xiaomi pioneered the large-scale adoption of borderless screens that Sharp first launched modestly in Japan. His second flagship has lost the surprise factor that had his predecessor, the Mix. However, it is still a ‘smartphone’ that does not leave indifferent by the high quality of its finishes – with a ceramic lid with gold bezels in the camera and the fingerprint reader – and its ‘hardware’: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and up to 256 GB of internal storage.
They have criticized its detractors that the single camera remains one of its main negative points, but the adoption of the main objective that mounts the Mi6 and the incorporation of an optical stabilizer that did not have the first Mix have shown that two lenses are not necessary to obtain Very good results. Even in low light. But it is true that it is a bit cumbersome to have to turn the device to make selfies with the front camera. And a facial recognition system would have come very well to those who left the phone on the table, because having to pick it up to unlock it with the fingerprint sensor – as it also happens with the Nubia Z17s – seems more cumbersome.
OPPO R11s (red edition)
Things as they are: the OPPO R11s is the most beautiful and striking mobile of the year. At least the edition in red. The metallic body releases a curious finish that makes it change color with light from pink to purple-, and the front panel – similar to the Samsung Galaxy 8 – plays with a gradient from red to black in the upper frames that It gives a unique touch that is appreciated. Thus, it would not be surprising that the R11s follow the path of success of its predecessors as the bestselling mobile phone in China.
In addition to its forms, the R11s shares with the OnePlus 5T – also belonging to the conglomerate BBK – the facial recognition system to unlock the terminal, which is significantly faster than the iPhone X and very accurate. That, without a doubt, makes its use fluid.
OPPO has also been successful with the cameras, although in this case it is not one of its strongest points. The main one is traced to the OnePlus 5T and uses a very bright lens -f 1.7-, but an optical stabilizer is missing and the dual camera incorporates two different focal points. For its part, the previous camera is one of the best: it takes photographs of 20 megapixels and includes an artificial intelligence system that directly applies the beauty filters that best fit our face, thus avoiding the exaggerated effects that often characterize Some of the Chinese mobile phones.
The Achilles heel of the R11s is in the ‘hardware’, which is far from its competitors: it adopts the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip – a step below 835 – 4 GB of RAM, and a 3,200 mAh battery that can be a bit short for the 6-inch AMOLED screen. Fortunately, the VOOC quick charge system is a delight and gets almost half the battery in just half an hour.
Even if it’s just for risking doing something different, Meizu deserves a round of applause. The PRO7 is one of the most curious phones of 2017. It is the only one of the five best rated that has not adopted an ‘infinite’ screen, but has a second ‘window’ in the back that, unlike what is I can think at first, it’s not just an extravagant element. It is interesting to receive notifications, see the time without having to wake up to the mobile, and, above all, to make selfies with the main dual camera seeing where the target is pointing. And the possibility of using a GIF made with the mobile phone itself as a screensaver of that second AMOLED panel attracts a multitude of looks.
However, Meizu has fallen short when it comes to powering the Meizu PRO7. Its Mediatek Helio P25 chip is not up to Qualcomm and, while 4 GB of RAM is sufficient, they are a bit short compared to its direct competitors. The same happens with the 3,000 mAh battery, although Meizu’s M-Charge charge works very well. It is also one of the few terminals on the market that has opted for a more modest size -5.2 inches-, although the boom of phones with hardly any frames makes the size of the PRO7 can install a 5.5-inch screen.
AVERAGE RANGE (between 200 and 300 euros)
Xiaomi Mi Note 3
Unlike what you did with the Mi Note and the Mi Note 2, which were flagships, Xiaomi has relegated the My Note 3 to the mid-range. And he has done so by blatantly copying the design of the Mi6. In fact, you could say it’s the same phone, but with a larger screen and, interestingly, with a less powerful brain. Because, although it keeps the 6 GB of RAM that would classify it in the high range, Xiaomi has chosen to replace the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip with a 660 that works with 8 cores at a maximum frequency of 2.2 GHz. It has also changed the completely glass body of the Mi6 to another one in which metal is used for the frame.
Despite this, there is no doubt that they are high-end specifications for a terminal that, due to its price, belongs to the mid-range. No other ‘smartphone’ offers a better value for less than 300 euros, which is why it has been easy to decide who would lead the list in this segment. In addition, the camera remains the dual of the Mi6, which offers excellent results, and its 3,500 mAh battery, with fast loading it can be extended up to two days. However, in the era of the ‘infinite’ screens, which are also reaching the mid-range, the frames seem excessively fat.
The Meizu M6Note is an all-rounder. It has an elegant and robust metallic body, in which the distinctive touch given by the four LEDs of the double tone flash, and a generous 4000 mAh battery are appreciated. that will delight those who use the mobile intensively. Without a doubt, its technical specifications are not the most suitable for those who demand a very high performance – especially with video games – but the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip and the 3 or 4 GB of RAM that it incorporates are more than enough for most of the users.
Perhaps the only downside is that it is something thick and heavy for a terminal with a 5.5-inch screen. It is difficult not to compare the dimensions with those that have reduced the frames to the minimum expression. In the M6Note, the wasted space at the top and bottom ends seems excessive, but in return we have the fingerprint sensor on the front panel. In any case, in this price range Meizu offers a very decent dual camera, a fast charge that achieves 100% of the battery in less than an hour and a half, and a fast and very effective fingerprint reader. All this, of course, with the Android Flyme layer, which combines ease of use and a great capacity for personalization.
Xiaomi Mi A1
As with the Meizu M6Note, it incorporates the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip and 4GB of RAM that allow fluid use in almost all circumstances. But what is really peculiar about the A1 is that it is the first terminal of the Chinese brand with Google’s Android One system.
Thus, the only difference between both terminals is in the software. On many occasions it has been claimed that the Android layer developed by Xiaomi -MIUI- is too complicated for Western tastes, which is why it has opted for the Android One, simpler and lighter. However, the Google system misses some of the great advantages that MIUI has, especially in the possibility of adapting the mobile to our preferences. In any case, the A1 is a large terminal that is on the border of the economic and average ranges.
The M5Note is the oldest mobile in the list. But, although it began to be commercialized in the first quarter of the year, it continues to be a very solid and recommendable terminal. In fact, it has been one of the first mid-range devices that have adopted a ‘unibody’ metallic body, and its 4000 mAh battery. it has been, thanks to the good management of the Flyme operating system, the one that has lasted the longest during the tests we have done.
Taking into account that it also includes the M-Charge quick charge and the single M-Back button, which integrates the three functions of Android and the fingerprint reader, and which offers a two-year guarantee. Of course, it is missing that Meizu has not opted for a more advanced Mediatek chip, since the M5Note has been left with the Helio P10 of its predecessor, the M3Note, and with the same 3 GB of RAM.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X
The Redmi 4X series – in its standard version and Note – has been one of the most sold of the year in China in the most economical segment. And it is easy to understand why. The quality-price ratio is the best in the market. Although the finishes do not have the quality of the Meizu, the ‘hardware’ is at the height: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of internal storage that accompany a 4000 mAh battery. However, the performance is lower and the battery lasts around two hours less than that of the M5Note. Also, it does not include fast charging.
In any case, it is a mobile phone that satisfies the basic needs of any user: it takes decent photos, it has a generous 5.5-inch screen with FHD resolution, and, as usual in Chinese mobile phones, it incorporates a slot in which can be used simultaneously two SIM cards or one SIM combined with a MicroSD memory card. This is especially interesting for those who want to clone applications to use two accounts simultaneously. In favor of Xiaomi also plays the fact that the brand continues to update the system of its models even four years after its release.