The US smartphone market is a highly competitive battle ground, with top players the industry constantly striving to attract more customers than the competition. But in recent years, Chinese smartphones have started drawing more and more attention upon themselves, while household names like LG and HTC are fading quietly into the background.
Products made in China are often viewed with untrusting eyes and suspicions that the low-price tags might be indicative of low quality are always of concern. But as we have seen lately, companies like Huawei and Xiaomi have demonstrated they are able to produce solid, premium smartphones and still sell them for affordable price-tags.
Some Chinese phone makers have been skittish of US, but slowly some have started migrating stateside. Most of these companies have seen enough growth in Asian markets to be able to venture out into the larger word, safely.
And here’s our list of what we believe to be the most promising Chinese Android OEMs which will probably manage to make a statement in the US market next year. Or so we think.
Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra has hinted numerous times the company will eventually bring its products to the States officially. However, Xiaomi acknowledged the US market is highly competitive, so the company does not want to risk entering it until it’s highly sure it can survive in it. Despite being nicknamed Apple’s China, Xiaomi always preferred to play it safe.
Now, for the first time ever, Xiaomi has announced it will be making an appearance at CES 2017 in Las Vegas and bring with it a few products. Even if we’re not sure a smartphone will be included.
Recently, the company released the beautiful Mi Note 2 phablet which is a bit reminiscent of the Samsung Note7 design and the visually stunning edge-to-edge Mi MIX. While the phones are available for purchase from third-party retailers like Geekbuying, it would be nice if you could buy such products directly from Xiaomi itself. Hopefully it will happen soon.
Huawei is riding the wave on the international market. The company is already the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer, but in two years Huawei wants to challenge Apple’s position. While Huawei is quite popular in Asia and Europe, its presence on the US market has been quite limited.
For starters, the company is yet to offer its latest flagship phone, the stunning, Leica-sensor equipped Mate9 into the States. Huawei might have a hard time penetrating the US, since the company has been involved in few patent conflicts with one of America’s largest carriers, T-Mobile among other things. Carrier support is very important for any company hoping to make it on the US market, and so far Huawei has been denied that. At the moment, the company is selling most of its products via Amazon and that’s where the Mate9 will probably land on January 6 (according to rumors).
Huawei is quite an innovative company that deserve a spot in the US market. Just look at their latest smartphone, the Honor Magic – a deliciously curvaceous handset blessed with an interesting set of AI capabilities. Now wouldn’t it be nice if this phone sold in the US as well? Who knows, maybe in 2017?
Oppo is virtually a non-name in the US, but in China the company has managed to outsell Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi in China in Q3 of 2016 to become the number one smartphone maker in China.
Well according to recent rumors, Oppo is expected to make an official entry on the US market as soon as the year’s end. The company has been selling Blu-ray players in the country so far, but when it comes to smartphones the company will probably lead with its line-up of high-end camera phones.
The device maker has just unveiled new version of the Oppo R9s in red, which will go on sale in China on Christmas Eve. The nifty phone can be brought for approximately $400 and we’re looking forward to be able to purchase it here in States, as well.
ZTE has been stationed in the US for a while, offering unlocked devices like the Axon 7 which we reviewed and liked quite a lot. The company also has a deal with US no-contract carrier, Cricket Wireless, but also with T-Mobile , so it’s doing much better than Huawei in this department.
ZTE also benefits from an active online community and has been trying to innovate the smartphone sector with Projects which invite fans to develop ideas for possible products (like the adhesive back, eye-tracking phone). The company is also considering a device aimed to fill the void left by the Google Nexus.
But ZTE has had its fair share of setbacks. Earlier this year, the company was accused of sending US technology intel to countries like Iran. The Commerce Department even hit the company with trade sanctions, which was eventually lifted a few weeks later.
Assuming ZTE can rid itself of these suspicions once and for all, the company seems to have a promising future here in the US.
UMi is the most obscure name on the list, but the company is slowly but surely attracting attention upon itself. The device maker offers the phones for really low rates and we’re yet to see a model that exceeds $300.
Anyway UMi is currently selling in the country via third-party retailers, but come 2017 things might change. The company just unveiled the world’s first Helio P20 + 6GB of RAM smartphone which is available for $199 a pop, but has plenty of models in the pipeline scheduled for 2017. Like the UMi Z flagship with Helio X27 CPU which recently leaked.
It remains to be seen if the obscure handset maker is ready to officially debut in the US in 2017, but it certainly looks like the company is striving in that direction.
While companies like LG, HTC or Samsung are leaking money through their smartphone divisions, Chinese OEMs seem to be the thriving. So 2017 might be indeed the year when we’re no longer going to get excited about LG’s new phones announcement at CES, but will be more interested in what companies like Xiaomi or Oppo have to offer.