These unlocked Android phones from CES 2016 are the real reason why Apple is going to struggle in 2016

The Consumer Electronic Show(CES) wrapped up today in Las Vegas and it really validated my thoughts on 2016 being a boom year for unlocked Android smartphones.

Let me start by stating these opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the other writers here at AndroidGuys.com.

Going to CES is not all it is cracked up to be in terms of being a fantastic experience. There are over 165,000 attendees from around the globe who jam pack the hotels and the Las Vegas Convention Center. With huge crowds, even getting to the halls and convention center can easily take over an hour. And then you have to deal with people bumping into you because they are looking down into their smartphones or stopping to look at products.

I went to CES this year to check out all of the unlocked smartphone companies that I could make time for. I also wanted to match faces to email addresses of people who I regularly communicate with, to bring you readers the latest news and product reviews.

My take home message from CES this year was that unlocked Android smartphones are here and they are here to dominate 2016.

I learned that the terms “budget”, “mid-range” and “flagship” categories mean nothing anymore. They’re nothing more than marketing terms to make you think phones are of lesser or higher quality based on the amount of money you spend.

Just because a smartphone costs $199 does not mean it is a “budget or mid-range” phone because of the price. A couple of years ago those two monikers meant the phones were made from cheap materials, had low quality screens, slow processors and very minimal RAM and memory.

2016 is the year of high-quality smartphones that won’t break the bank while exposing the ridiculous prices that Apple and Samsung charge for their “flagship” devices.

What I also learned is the people who represent these smaller or lesser known companies are real people who genuinely want to bring us value, and take tremendous pride in that. It is my goal in 2016 to bring you as much news as humanly possible about these unlocked Android smartphones.

Let’s start 2016 with some of my favorite unlocked Android smartphones and companies I saw at CES 2016. I have made a commitment to give up “flagship” devices from the likes of Samsung, Motorola and Apple in 2016. I will leave those over-priced devices to the other writers here at AndroidGuys.com. There will always be a market for those phones – they just aren’t for me anymore and I think they aren’t for the vast majority of users too.

I would much prefer to save my hard earned money and help you readers do the same.

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Honor 5X by Huawei

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One of the most mind blowing phones from CES is the Honor 5X made by Huawei. Most of you know Huawei from the Nexus 6P is rocked 2015 in partnership with Google. You’re now going to know Honor 5X by Huawei which is one of the nicest phones you can get your hands on, starting Jan. 31 from Amazon.com or HiHonor.com.

  • Unlocked Dual SIM LTE smartphone with three card slots. Supports nano-sim, micro-SIM, and a microSD card up to 128GB. Works with AT&T and T-Mobile Networks.
  • Sleek, robust housing crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum made with four metal finishing processes.
  • An accurate fast fingerprint sensor improves with time and unlocks in 0.5 Seconds. Set your fingers as shortcuts to call contacts and take photos.
  • Powered by Android 5.1 Lollipop with 16GB Internal memory and 2 GB RAM. A Qualcomm 64-bit Octa-Core Processor renders a smooth, responsive experience.
  • A picture perfect 5.5-Inch, 1080P full HD display can Show off your 13MP Camera pictures with shooting modes like time-lapse, slow-motion, and perfect-selfie.

Puts specs aside, because the Honor 5X in my initial hands-on experience provided a super smooth and fast software experience. When the kind people at the Huawei booth told me the price is going to be $199.99 my jaw instantly dropped. If you have ever used a Nexus 6P, the Honor 5X feels very similar in hand with a solid and cold metal feel. The 5.5″ 1080p display is as gorgeous as any I have laid eyes on, including my 2k LG V10 that costs over three times as much.

Not all of the phones we get there at AndroidGuys.com are review units, and many of them we buy with our own money. As soon as I got back to San Diego the first thing I did was pre-order my Honor 5X, even though I was told I would be on the list to get a review unit. I believe in the Honor 5X so much that I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. I have high hopes for the Honor brand and you should too. I think this phone is going to get back ordered which is why I got my order in now. You need to check it out.

honor 5x order
My pre-order from Amazon.com

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ZTE and Nubia

ZTE has been making phones for quite some time now, but has forgone using its own brand name until the past year or two. ZTE has been brought us unlocked phones under different brands, and they are professionals at making affordable and unlocked devices. With smartphones like the Axon, Axon Pro, and Max 2, ZTE is definitely looking to cover all areas of needs for customers.

ZTE showed us at CES 2016 that it takes no shortcuts. Look how great its cameras perform.
ZTE showed us at CES 2016 that it takes no shortcuts. Look how great its cameras perform.

 

Nubia is also a brand that ZTE owns, and it is one of the phones that I hope makes it stateside sooner than later. A representative from Nubia said it  is looking to bring its phones to the U.S. by the end of Q1 2016. You can currently buy Nubia phones directly at the Nubia Mobile Shop and I honestly could not pick a favorite from their entire lineup of phones because they are all amazing.

Nubia did have a completely side bezel free design phone, and all I could think was how sexy the Z9 Elite looked. I was even more impressed with the gestures built into the sides of the phones like swiping up and down on the left bezel managed the brightness of the display. I’m hoping to have the Nubia Z9 Elite review for you within a few months. It is one of the best looking phones I have laid my eyes on lately.

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Nuu Mobile

Nuu Mobile is a company you probably have not heard of, yet they need to be on your radar. First things first – the people at Nuu Mobile are downright genuine and are from Rochester, Minnesota just 90 miles south of Minneapolis. There is something to be said for supporting a company with great people. From the sales reps all the way up to the executives, Nuu Mobile is a company that truly cares about giving us what we want and nothing more.

You can tell the entire team has a deep understanding of what most customers actually use their phones for – web browsing, social media, gaming, email, texts and calls. Nuu Mobile understands that customers demand value for their money and are even promising Android 6.0 on the X4 which retails for an incredibly low price of $169.99.

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I will be providing full reviews of the Nuu Mobile Z8 which is loaded with specs this month followed by the X4 next month. The Z8 has actually been my personal daily driver and it is everything and more than I expected. Nuu Mobile is even allowing me to giveaway both phones so you can verify my review. And they also know some people cannot afford smartphones and would love to giveaway what they can.

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You can find Nuu Mobile phones directly from the Nuu Mobile Store, Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com, or Target.com. Most importantly Nuu Mobile’s team cares about its customers first, and I have to give a shout out to Nick who represents Nuu Mobile from the PR side. He is a well traveled and well read man who’s smile will light up a room.

The folks at Nuu Mobile are people who have a rare quality where their true focus is giving you the best product for your money.

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Blu Products

Blu has quietly been selling unlocked smartphones since 2009 and has done quite well. They are ready to explode with its most recent releases of the Vivo XL and Vivo 5. Blu’s aim this year at CES was to let us know that its products offer luxury while maintaining bargain basement pricing. The Vivo 5 is attractively priced at $199 with a AMOLED HD 5.5″ display, octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of memory. Second to the price is the Vivo 5’s incredible all metal design.

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Blu also showed us the Vivo XL, which has very similar specs as compared to the Vivo 5, but comes in at $50 cheaper at $149.99. For $50 less you will get a plastic finish which is still luxurious, and you’ll get 2GB of RAM with 16GB of memory.

Both phones are due out sometime this quarter and can both be ordered at retailers like Amazon.com and Frys.com. They also support the latest standard in USB with USB type-C.

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2016 is the Year of the Unlocked Smartphone.

And is also the year we will see a massive decline from Apple. Samsung phones have been on the decline for a couple of years now ,even with its great offerings like the Galaxy Note5, but the ability to stomach $750 smartphones is weaning with customers. Companies like Blu, Huawei, Nuu Mobile and ZTE are cutting into the deep sales of Apple and Samsung.

I know Apple and Samsung both make great phones, they just charge $500 too much for them. They can continue to advertise during the NFL Super Bowl rather than give us better value, but the companies like Huawei and ZTE are just going to continue to eat their sales with great products at incredible prices.

Financial analysts are seeing the light too. The LA Times and Forbes recently covered the downgrade of Apple.

As writers, we can sometimes feel the pressure to cater to companies like Samsung and Apple because they give us products to review. Quite frankly I write for the readers, and not for Apple or Samsung. I am well aware that I would be wasting my money if I continued to buy their phones and I am here to help you all save some money too.

Look out for reviews of more unlocked Android smartphones this year from AndroidGuys.com. We will be doing giveaways at the end of most of our reviews too so make sure to keep an eye out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love writing about tech and hope to bring a different perspective. Twitter - @pandab55. Email [email protected] Instagram - derrick.androidguys
  • tiger

    Derrick, we have come to a conclusion already that YOU ARE AN IDIOT. You don’t know jack about tech yet still write for this crappy site! You need to stick to writing about wallpapers! Do you have another day job? Tell me that you do!

    Love this gem: “And is also the year we will see a massive decline from Apple.

    Companies like Blu, Huawei, Nuu Mobile and ZTE are cutting into the deep sales of Apple and Samsung.”

    Really? Cutting DEEP into sales of iPhones?? Where? Dumbass, these cheap brands are ONLY hurting Android OEMs…none of these are touching anything Apple!

    Let me guess, you still believe that more cores are better, right? Or Ghz is everything? Your previous article CLEARLY shows that you know NOTHING about processors! So, please keep your thoughts to yourself!

    Do you want to bet REAL MONEY on Apple’s “massive” decline? Come on dude, put REAL MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS.

    The only one in real decline is Samsung…the rest of Android OEMs are borderline bankruptcy!

    • Clint Anthony P. Dangaran

      Wang…wang….wang…..isheep spotted

      • Clint Anthony P. Dangaran

        This guy think that iphone is heaven send for humanity.

      • tiger

        You wanna talk tech differences b/w Android and Apple? You seem well knowledgeable…want to play?

        • aergern

          Come up out of your mother’s basement. #troll

          • tiger

            Well, considering that Android customers are poor ignorant folks, that would mean that you’re talking about yourself.

            Wait a minute…my lawn person has Android…and YOU have Android…WTF dude?! Why are you wasting your time on this shitty blog?! Get off your lazy butt and cut my damn grass!!

          • Hikari D. Gol

            Poor & ignorant ?
            Which world do you live in ?

            iSheep are called so, because they are ignorant enough to spend their money on brand name rather than utility.

            As for Android, 90% of Android fans may be poor, but the rest of us(10%) own more wealth than all iFans combined.

          • tiger

            Well, i was answering him/her to his level of thinking…keeping it simple.

            But iSheep spending their money on brand name? and not utility?

            So, Android rich folks are buying phones with 2k and 4k displays coupled with processors that cannot run them without lag and frame drops? Or one with audio latency issues? Or one with -1 updates to current software version? Or one with security issues galore? Or one with zero privacy since stock Google services lack proper encryption?

            Oh yeah, plenty of utility there! I stand corrected! NOT! I can see businesses stepping on each other grabbing Android tailcoat!

          • Hikari D. Gol

            Lag & frame rate drops ? Even my “Apple” iPad does it when overheated !
            Audio latency issues – no clue about this one.
            Those who care about the most current Android software, buy Google Nexus / Pixel brand.
            Security issues – I believe you forgot about the iCloud nude-gate.

            Do tell me which “US” company offers REAL privacy.
            -because as far as I know, it is now legal for US companies to share personal info with the US government. Remember NSA/CSS PRISM ? It’s only getting worse – think Minority report – indefinite detention for future crimes you might commit, in FEMA concentration camps.

          • tiger

            When overheated? OK…lag and frame drops occur EVERYTIME on Android.

            Audio latency? google it dude. Educate yourself. Google “Android audio latency”

            iCloud nude-gate? Ahhh, the ignorant argument. Answer me this:

            1. How many lawsuits did Apple get from the celebs (or anyone who got affected/victimized)? (HINT: number less than 1.)

            2. Who got SUED by the celebs for Fappening? (Hint: not Apple, but someone who you know well.)

            3. Did Apple get hacked? Or was it phishing?

            Feel free to answer these questions…and you will see how STUPID it is for you to bring it up!

            StageFright…….how long did Google take?

            Google this next: END-TO-END encryption. Understand what it is first. Then, name me all the Google services that have this.

          • Gol D. Hikari

            Lag and frame rate drop everytime on Android ? Not on my watch! I believe you are mistaking glitchy Windows nightmare with your Android experience.

            I never had any audio latency issues.

            1) don’t try to create scapegoats to shift the blame ! Lawsuits don’t matter, because we are talking security, not legalese !
            2) Google was the scapegoat, not the one responsible for keeping those private things private.
            3) it was hacking.

            I believe GMail, Google docs & Chrome browser has full line encrypted.

          • tiger

            Frame drop? Try actually some games! LOL

            Check this out: https://www.gamebench.net/en/blog/iphone-6s-gaming-ranked-against-android-rivals

            This is an Android-centric site that compares REAL WORLD gaming among the top phones. Even a 2-year old 5s beats the crap out of the best of Android!

            Audio latency…never experienced it? BS! Try again with your pathetic response!

            Link: http://superpowered.com/androidaudiopathlatency

            HUGE problem on Android world! And this is why you guys don’t have real-time DJ apps…or one of quality that actually works! And this affects everything, from apps to Netflix etc..

            Ahh, you finally read up on the Frappening.

            1. In a world where a lady can sue McD for hot coffee, you think that Apple getting ZERO lawsuit from celebrities is because people were being nice?? Really?! Those hungry lawyers just love Apple so much?

            2. So, instead of suing Apple, these celebs use GOOGLE as scapegoat???? HELLO?! Anyone home up there? This makes sense to you? You are an idiot.

            3. No, celebs got hit thru phishing…google what that means! Their password and user name were stolen thru this method and then used to enter iCloud account. THUS, celebs had no leg to stand on in terms of suing Apple because it was NOT Apple fault that their password was stolen!

            NO. Gmail does NOT have end-to-end encryption. Google can read your emails. So, whoever Google hands the key to, he/she/government can indeed read your emails/attachments in full glory!!!!!

            Read up on Chinese revolution a few years ago (2009?). Plenty of Chinese humanitarians/human rights got thrown in jail because the Chinese government HACKED Google servers and was able to read the human rights activists emails and found who they were!!!

            End-to-end encryption is standard on ALL Apple services. This means that NO ONE can read my emails, texts, FaceTime, etc.. NO ONE includes even Apple. So, if someone were to hack into Apple, then they cannot read my emails nor texts because Apple does NOT have the encryption key (hence end-to-end).

            READ up on end-to-end encryption. And this is why i use Apple services. And this is why Congress and NSA are pissed off at Apple.

        • Smithy

          Would be a short game for me,or us :’D

          Sheeps don’t have good arguments and mostly an iq at room temerature.

          • tiger

            Oh, that’s it? That sounds like a coward response!

            So, what is the difference b/w A7 (two years ago Apple chip) CPU and Android’s best right now (pick one)?

          • Smithy

            Okay lets compare nvidia k1 or x1 with apples A7, who has better performance?
            You can also compare with A9 and k1 and x1 are still better!

            And btw cpu isn’t everything!

          • tiger

            K1 was in what again? Oh yeah, an overheating lag-fest TABLET. Oh yeah, so much for that performance, right?! How many cores did it have? LOL It cannot even run properly! Google could not even design software to make it run without lagging and overheating!

            X1? Uhhh, no. A9 kills it CPU…and easily matches it in GPU.

            But, again, why are you not mentioning S810 or Samsung Exynos? I love that you went straight to NVIDIA, which will soon abandon mobile biz. There goes the support too! LOL

            But, you want real world since you said CPU isn’t everything? This is an Android centric real-world gaming comparo: https://www.gamebench.net/en/blog/iphone-6s-gaming-ranked-against-android-rivals

            Notice how good a 2 year old iPhone is vs. current Android crop/crap?!

    • Mr.Unknown

      Stop dancing apple puppet

      • tiger

        So, you AGREE with this dumbass editor?

    • fitnesspro22

      Why the Hostility? Obviously, you are ignorant of the first principle of waging pursuasive argument. And that is “Never to attack your opponent personally.”

      • tiger

        Sorry, have you seen his previous article??? Pure utter ignorance from a SENIOR editor!

        This guy needs to go away…he’s making this site look bad!

        • fitnesspro22

          Regardless, what I read here is pure rubish – absence of FACTS, mostly opinions and plenty of insults, all of which serve no purpose, whatsoever. Regretfully, many ot these self proclaimed “editors”, etc., often write, right off the top of their collective heads wihtout checking the facts, the numbers etc. Instead of providing correct, objective information to the readers, they engages in pure speculations and often times wishful thinking, all of which makes no sense at all. I, myself began interested in reading about electronic devices in order to make well informed purchasing decisions, however to my disappointment most of the articles are poorly written, said otherwisde-unprofessional.

          There are of course some worthy of checking out. Have you read the Android Central or Android Police?

        • CharlesJorgenson

          A SENIOR editor you say? How SENIOR is he? I know there are a lot of SENIOR editors who are SENIOR and say SENIOR things, maybe he is a lesser SENIOR editor? He must have some big SENIOR balls to say that CRAPDROID will ever effect APPLE. APPLE is a SENIOR company, much more SENIOR than GOOGLE and CRAPDROID. lol

  • tiger

    And Apple sends YOU iPhones to review??? LOL. That is pure BS! Delusion of grandeur i see! Apple could care less about you…and why would they?? You don’t know jack about tech!

    • Clint Anthony P. Dangaran

      isheep alert

      • tiger

        So, YOU agree with this idiot SENIOR editor?

        You think that iPhone sales will go down BECAUSE of these Android handsets?

        Lets talk FACTS here.

        • Hikari D. Gol

          Android has too much of a fragmented base to be even dented by Apple. In other words, Apple is not diversified enough.

          if anyone looses here, I believe it will be the Windows desktops, bieng eaten by Android desktops.

          Apple will hang in there, but just barely.

          • tiger

            LOL…Android not being dented? Dude, Android is only dominant because it has poor customers in poor countries! Where it counts (high profit regions), Apple rules! Why do you think LG is making just PENNIES for every G4 they sell? Why do you think HTC is bankrupt? Samsung profits is sinking faster than the Titanic!!

            What has Apple been doing? Beating their previous year in profits!

          • Gol D. Hikari

            Android handset profit is low because of Lawsuits, by patent trolls.
            As I already said, 90% of Android fans may be poor, but the rest of us(10%) own more wealth than all iFans combined.

          • tiger

            WTF?! Patent trolls?? You have no clue!

          • Gol D. Hikari

            Microsoft gets billions from suing Android OEMs.
            Recheck your facts !

    • NunYaBuziness

      yea, and LG popped out of the woodwork with flagship phones and most of the reason for the profit margin was due to the investment in R&D. Samsung was sitting pretty in the Android Market and suddenly LG comes out of the blue making headlines and you think they can’t afford that? You must by joking. They supply the majority of the world with their LCD screens and I am pretty sure they can tolerate a hit during 1 QTR in 2015 to make such a big jump in the android phone market. Their flagships now rival all top competitors and just might be the one to beat.. You make it sound like they been running on fumes when only 1 QTR of earnings posted showed that profit margin. When someone only takes bits and pieces of information to suit them and their agenda instead of looking at the whole picture, they have what is called a “NARROW MIND” If I were you, I’d acknowledge that that dunce cap you’re wearing right about now

    • NunYaBuziness

      Has anyone read the latest? Apple has lost ground to Android in every major market except one. That would be China. That is the real picture. Maybe you should read what all the independent analysts are saying instead of listening to what Apple’s CEO was trying to lead everyone to believe. The secret to Apple’s success was in Android switchers? OK, then the truth came out when Apple’s earnings reports from last quarter prove just how much steam Apple is actually losing. And now they admit it. If you had any sense, you would do more research instead of picking and choosing tid bits of information that suits you from all these different fanboy sites and then assembling some sort of hybrid wish that makes you feel better about the money you wasted on your last Iphone. You actually humiliated yourself. Apple sales dropped from 20% to 11% in the last quarter of 2015. The only market that saved them was china. But now, all android switchers are also in decline and so many prior Iphone owners prior to 2014 have not upgraded their phones as they had hoped. Gee i wonder why? Maybe because they are all becoming hip to phones like those being boasted in articles like these perhaps? maybe people getting wise to the fact that a phone costing 1/3rd the price doing everything an iphone can do and maybe even more just might have got some people’s attention Moron

  • tiger

    What is the resale value of these phones?

  • AbbyZFresh

    This is a fantasy article. Apple has a loyal fanbase and is viewed a a ticket symbol of wealth. It is not going to be affected very much by unlocked phones.

    • fitnesspro22

      Of course you are right. The “sheep” will keep on buying Apple without knowing the difference between shit and a shingle. Excuse me between g of RAM and g internal memory, let alone what they can do with a Pure Android.

      • tiger

        Do YOU know the difference? From reading your post, i doubt it! LOL

  • Debbie

    Where is the love for CDMA? Many of us are stuck with Verizon and no one wants to make unlocked CDMA phones? Why? Oh and sorry you have to deal with the Apple Trolls.

    • Derrick Miyao

      Companies rarely make CDMA phones because it is mainly a technology only used by Verizon and Sprint. I will definitely be on the lookout for compatible devices though. Apple fans are entertaining to me. As much as I love tech there are better things than to focus all of my energy on worrying about what people may or may not think. Have a great day Debbie.

    • NunYaBuziness

      I think that these phones were manufactured keeping in mind that most of the world uses GSM but I totally agree that if they are going to make these phones available in the USA, I think they should have CDMA cpability. But I do not think these phones will be available at the Verizon or Sprint stores. Or even T-Mobile and AT&T. I think mainly online order or more readily available in other countries. But I still would like to see CDMA support too. I always wondered why my former Verizon phones are able to work with a T-Mobile sim but I cannot take a T-Mobile phone and use it with a Verizon sim. Strange thing about CDMA. it will come out and play but it won’t let anyone in.

  • Chunga

    Just pre-ordered the Honor 5X and I can’t wait to try it out! On a different note, what are the requirements for becoming an apple user? What rituals are involved in joining this cult, or do you just have to be a ridiculous, reactionary asshole to total strangers about their consumer technology choices? I’m typing this from a Mac Pro that I own and I feel zero superiority over anyone. Please help!

    • Derrick Miyao

      Lol. I hope you enjoy the Honor 5X. I am looking forward to getting mine too.

      I too have a couple of Apple computers, and was an iPhone user too. I understand that some people have strong opinions and even when they are rude you I just have to be above it. Regardless I do appreciate the time taken to read my work.

      Let me know what you think of the Honor 5X after you have tried it out. I love talking tech.

  • ZxyLady

    If ANYONE wants to claim that Apple is for the rich, just go to a local welfare office! Literally 95% are all iSheep. They truly don’t know the difference between Apples APP LAUNCHER and the Android SOFTWARE that come with choice and real tech inside them. If course Apple makes more profits- they are always too busy suing everyone and “borrowing” the tech designed by the superior minds at their competitors companies. Not to mention paying their competitors to MAKE their internals in the first place. If Samsung is SOO bad, then why does Samsung MAKE apples processors etc.? Apple better than Android, PAH-LEASE!!!1

  • ZxyLady

    Apple getting all of the profits, Just shows that they are overcharging their followers for their products. iSheep tout Apples Profits and overcharging for the hardware from 4 years ago like a badge of honor. Amazing isn’t it? That they can be SOO clueless when they are being taken advantage of and are HAPPY About it?? LOL!

  • PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO ALL MANUFACTURERS
    FRONT FACING SPEAKERS