In 2014 we saw a half dozen new Chinese Android phone brands, including OnePlus, Smartisan, and IUNI. Unlike previous Chinese mobile phone makers, they emphasised the appearance, design and branding, adopted a low-pricing strategy, sold phones online, and did fancy launch events. Their overall strategy is followed that of Xiaomi, the Chinese Android phone maker that has surpassed Samsung to become China’s top smartphone brand in terms of shipments in 2014, according to IDC.

Given nowadays there’s no major differences in the specifications and prices, the selling point for the new brands as against Xiaomi lies in the design of hardware or software, or both. But some creative hardware designs led to manufacturing problems. Shipping delays was one of the causes that Smartisan, which hired American consumer electronics designer Ammunition Group and iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, only shipped 122,000 units by December 5th, 2014.

Some brands performed better outside China, like OnePlus which was warmly welcomed by Western tech media and announced shipment of one million units before the end of 2014.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com