Are Those Cheap, Little-Known Android Phones Actually Worth Buying?
When people come across an Apple or Samsung smartphone while shopping online, there is little to no doubt about its durability or overall quality. The concern is typically about the features it has to offer. These brands have a track record of making quality smartphones.
However, the dominant smartphone brands are not the only ones you’ll find on e-commerce stores like Amazon and AliExpress. They’re dozens of little-known phone brands that are making exciting-looking products. But can you trust them? Which of them are worth trying out and what unique features do they have to offer?
Greater Value for Money
One of the distinguishing features of most little-known smartphone brands is their relatively cheap prices. Ironically, their cheap prices are part of the reason people avoid them. However, in this thousand-dollar smartphone era, are little-known alternatives that offer similar specs at lower prices worth considering?
For instance, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus retails at around $700. With 8 GB RAM, 256 GB ROM, and impressive processing power, there’s a lot to love about the device specs. However, the Umidigi Bison Pro—which has relatively similar specs (at least on paper) and which you’ve probably never heard of—retails for $170.
Is the cheaper brand worth considering if you need a phone that can handle the basics?
To be clear, the Samsung model outperforms the Umidigi model. We’ve previously discussed why Android phones can have similar specs but different real-world performance. However, the quality difference is not alarming if you need a phone that can handle basic smartphone operations. Considering the $530 price difference, it is tempting to say that the Bison Pro seems to offer greater value for money.
It’s not just Umidigi, there are dozens of other little-known brands that great value for money. Their products aren’t necessarily the best there are, but they produce budget phones with mouth-watering specs. You’ll find brands with phone models that offer incredible battery capacity, camera quality, charging speed, and processing power at pocket-friendly prices.
Price is certainly the stand-out feature of most small smartphone brands. But beyond the significantly lower prices, what’s special about these little-known brands?
Why Should You Consider Buying Little-Known Brands?
Realistically speaking, buying a no-name Android phone brand is a risk. There’s a 50/50 chance of either regretting the decision or getting a happy ending. So if you’re seeing signs that your current phone needs to be replaced, why should you consider little-known and unproven brands?
Well, smaller brands have a lot to prove. As a result, they typically try to go above and beyond but within the constraint of their retail prices. While they might use mid-range hardware to build some of their parts, they try to augment this by innovating.
For example, the Umidigi A9 uses the mid-range Helio P60 chipset, but it also comes with an Infrared thermometer. Similarly, the Oukitel WP7 augments its weak points with the adoption of a “night-vision” camera system backed by a massive 8000 mAh battery capacity. For every feature they lack, these smaller brands typically throw in something enticing.
Unlike the big names, the no-name brands aren’t afraid of trying out new ideas. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it goes wrong, but they keep trying anyway. If you want to try out something radically different, less popular smartphone brands are a great place to go searching.
Additionally, and perhaps the best thing about little-known smartphone brands is their ability to offer premium features without purse-draining prices. These brands spend a lot of time trying to get as many premium features as possible into phones that are typically available for a quarter of the price that popular brands with similar features are sold.
You’ll get a lot of storage space, huge battery capacity, a gaming chipset, and fast charging slapped into budget offerings.
However, they aren’t all worth considering. Some are hurried and ridiculous clones of popular flagships while others are, put simply, engineering failures. So how do you pick the good ones? How can you pick out, say, a $150 smartphone, that offers impressive specs and a happy ending?
Some Little-Known Smartphone Brands Worth Trying Out
You’ve probably come across a lot of little-known smartphone brands on e-commerce sites like AliExpress and Amazon. But how do you know which one works and which one doesn’t? Here are some little-known Android phone brands that make cheap, durable products with premium features.
Umidigi smartphone models are mainly mid-tier, sleek metallic phones with trendy specs and good battery life. You’ll find a lot of models that are similar in specs to popular flagships but cost only a third of the competition. Their cameras are a bit hit-and-miss depending on the model, but some can go toe-to-toe with some flagship models from popular brands.
Umidigi tries to offer trendy features like side-mounted or in-screen fingerprint scanners, edge-to-edge AMOLED displays, and fast charging. Some good Umidigi models worth considering include the Umidigi A9 Pro, A11 Pro Max, Bison Pro, and the Bison X10.
If you’re wondering how long you’ll be able to enjoy the offered specs before things start going haywire, it varies. While the durability of recent Umidigi models (2021 upwards) can be described as “impressive” and “admirable,” finding an older, low-end model that is durable is, to put simply, a game of luck. As a rule of thumb, avoid older models.
2. Tecno and Infinix
If you want to give little-known brands a chance, Tecno and Infinix are good places to start. Both brands are subsidiaries of Shenzhen-based Chinese tech company, Transsion Holdings. Tecno and Infinix aren’t exactly newcomers, they enjoy considerable patronage among middle-income markets in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.
Infinix and Tecno smartphones are typically mid-tier budget devices that adopt as many features of popular flagship devices as possible. You’ll find a lot of models with sleek premium designs, impressive cameras, and high-end MediaTek and Qualcomm processors. Their products are generally durable.
Tecno models worth considering include the Pova 2, Pova 5G, Camon 18 Premier, and Spark 8p. Infinix models worth considering include the Zero X, Hot 10i, Hot 11s, and Note 12.
Both brands typically offer models with a large battery capacity and high refresh rate display as well as mid-range and high-end chipsets that are good enough for lag-free mid-level gaming. Their cameras also offer mid-range performance.
Both brands offer models that either place emphasis on certain features (like battery and camera) or try to give equal attention to all offered specs. The Tecno Pova series, for instance, emphasizes chipset and battery life and could be suitable for gamers on a budget.
The Oukitel phone brand is yet another Shenzhen-based Chinese smartphone manufacturer. Oukitel smartphones are mostly mid-range performance devices with particular emphasis on battery life and toughness.
You’ll find dozens of Oukitel smartphone models that can last several days on a full charge. Some Oukitel models (the rugged WP series) go as high as 20,000 mAh in battery capacity.
Camera quality varies extensively based on the model. Some are good enough while some are outright poor, and even for the “good enough” don’t expect Google Pixel levels of camera quality. Nonetheless, Oukitel models are capable and impressive considering their price points. Some models come with features you’ll only find in high-end flagships from big-name brands.
However, a lot of Oukitel models are bulky (specifically the WP series) owing to their massive battery capacity. The C series are much slimmer although with less battery capacity. But this doesn’t mean the C series had poor battery life. Since you’ll likely be ordering online, it’s important to crosscheck the size and weight before placing an order.
What Could Go Wrong?
The biggest problem with buying unknown brands is software support. Devices may not launch with the latest version of Android, and most of them are unlikely to be updated. More importantly, regular security updates are also less common, and you’ll get them for a shorter amount of time.
There are undoubtedly security concerns when your phone no longer gets updates, and this is one area where paying more for your Samsung or OnePlus phone is really worth it.
One of the other major problems with buying smartphones from little-known brands is purchasing a defective unit. This is typically a result of poor testing processes. From time to time, a few defective units slip in and end up with unlucky buyers. This doesn’t necessarily mean the entire model is bad, just a few units that weren’t properly vetted. However, this occurs rarely.
And then there’s the problem of after-sales support and replacement parts. Since these brands do not have a global reach, it might be a bit hard to access support and get repairs if you need them.
Are No-Name Brands Worth It?
If you’re on a budget or simply want a different smartphone experience, trying out an alternative little-known brand is worth it. They provide immense value for money, and you’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of premium features without worrying about the price.
Sure, you might have to deal with a few shaved-off features. But for every shaved-off feature, you’ll enjoy a significant price reduction. Just make sure you know what you’re buying first. As a rule of thumb, thoroughly research any little-known brand before making any financial commitment.