These phones often support dual SIM cards (or triple) which means that you can make and take calls from multiple phone numbers and/or networks. A great feature if you want one phone for both work and personal calls. Please note that making use of this feature usually significantly increases power consumption, and for this reason many phones come with two batteries.
Although some of these models look unique, many are copies of popular models. iPhone replicas are very common, and there are some interesting copies of many models including the Sony Ericsson Xpedia X10 Mini Pro, Nokia X6, Nokia E71, just to name a few.
They might look virtually identical to the original but they usually differ in terms of operating system software. Some may have Android or Windows Mobile but most have software based on an open source operating system called Nucleus Plus (click here for manufacturer's site). They usually have processors made by MediaTek (MTK) of Taiwan.
There are some interesting phones available (and very inexpensive)... Fancy a wrist watch phone? How about a phone that can be used as a projector?
Chinese phones are obviously not locked to any local network. But an important point is that some models do not support all common GSM frequencies so may not be compatible with all networks, and most do not support 3G or CDMA.
Some general tips about these phones:
- Many phones have an analog TV receiver built-in, with a retractable antenna (it's not digital TV so will not work in a few years time in Australia)
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are common features
- The rear camera is almost always 1.3MP and the front (if fitted) is 0.3MP
- A GPS receiver is available on some models but often Australian maps are not available
- Multi-tasking is not supported by the operating system
- Accessories like spare batteries are generally not easy to come buy (keep hold of the seller's details)
- Warranty is usually 12 months, but requires that you return the phone to China
Where can you learn more about Chinese mobile phones?
- Chinese phone information and master list
- Forum for fixing and hacking Chinese phones
- Interesting Nucleus Plus RTOS downloads
Important note: If you are in Australia and planning on buying one of these phones then be aware that it may be illegal to import some of these phones, or use them on an Australia telephone network. Some of these phones may not have passed the same testing as official locally available models and may be more dangerous to your health. You should check with the relevant government body if you are unsure.
by John Avis | June 13, 2019
My son has been asking what the pipes in our house look like inside so I bought the cheapest 2-metre waterproof pipe inspection camera I could find.
by John Avis | June 23, 2014
My parent in-law's Fisher & Paykel DW60CSW1 dishwasher stopped working. When you turn it on all lights came on but none of the buttons did anything.
by John Avis | April 14, 2011
Having been looking for a new phone on eBay I had been exposed to the many cheap clone phones from China and was curious about what they were like. Unfortunately there isn't much information online about them, although there are plenty of warnings not to buy.