Recommending a non-Chinese smartphone in 2019

While Chinese phones have a huge chunk of the global smartphone marketshare, there are over 100 non-Chinese smartphone brands in existence now. If you were asked to recommend a non-Chinese smartphone in 2019, what brand would you pick it from?

Yesterday, a friend buzzed me up on WhatsApp. He was shopping for a new smartphone and wanted me to recommend one. He did not want a Chinese smartphone. I will reproduce a small chunk of our conversation here for context.

Friend: Bros…You are the master of this game. That’s why I want to ask you.

Me: Shoot.

Friend: Abeg recommend me a phone of between NGN60,000 to NGN70,000, but good battery life.

Me: Are there any brands you don’t want?

Friend: I do not want most of the Chinko (Infinix, Gionee) aside TECNO and Huawei. I can even extend budget to NGN80,000. I am tired of always charging.

So, I did a quick audit, and having eliminated all Chinese brands, I was left to pick a phone for him from Apple, Nokia, and Samsung. Those were the only non-Chinese smartphone brands left standing.

Someone will ask, “What of Motorola?” Motorola used to be an American brand but now belongs to Lenovo, which is Chinese. So, there’s that.

And what of BlackBerry? Well, it is still a Canadian brand, but when last did anyone here see a store selling a BlackBerry phone? Aha. I cannot remember when last I did.

Motorola Accompli 008 open
Motorola Accompli 008: long before arrival of the iPhone and the droids

The Swing from Europe to China

Years ago, most mobile phone brands were European: Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson, Alcatel, etc. While there were brands from elsewhere, it was Europe that dictated the trends and had the numbers. But things soon began to change, and today, we are at a point where European smartphone brands are an endangered specie.

Nokia is the last major European brand standing, though there are others in operation all over the EU. Samsung and LG are Korean, and Apple and Google are American.

Made In China?

I expect people to respond and point out that most modern smartphones, including Apple, Nokia and Samsung, are made in China. That is true. But it is still not the same thing as those brands being Chinese. All three of them have design and software input from their home bases. The labour force that put iPhones together may be Chinese, but the heart and soul of that phone is unmistakably American.

So, no; Apple iPhone is not a Chinese smartphone. Neither are Nokia and Samsung smartphones. As a matter of fact, here is a good place to list the best non-Chinese smartphone brands that are available in the market now in 2019.

What smartphones are not made in China in 2019?

2019 update: Note that if you are hunting for smartphones that are not made in China, you are going to search hard and long. But I can point you in the right direction. In October 2019, Samsung closed its last mobile phone factory in China. Sony also closed its China factory months earlier. Some iPhone models are also no longer made in China.

The best non-Chinese smartphone brands

There are over 100 non-Chinese smartphone brands in existence right now. Yes; over 100. The problem is that most of them are very small players and command a very tiny marketshare even when combined together. It would be a tough job listing all of them here, so I am going to restrict this list to those that are the most visible and the best.

Apple Products
Apple is one of the best non-Chinese smartphone brands.
  1. Apple – American
  2. Samsung Mobile – South Korean
  3. Nokia Mobile – Finnish
  4. Google Pixel – American
  5. Sony Mobile – Japanese
  6. LG – South Korean
  7. BLU Products – American
  8. Lava – Indian
  9. Sharp – Japanese
  10. Fairphone – Dutch
  11. Philips Mobile – Dutch
  12. Yotaphone – Russian
  13. BQ – Spanish
  14. Acer – Taiwanese
  15. Asus – Taiwanese
  16. HTC – Taiwanese
  17. Essential Products – American
  18. Cherry Mobile – Philippino
  19. DoCoMo – Japanese
  20. Panasonic Mobile – Japanese.

These are the 20 best non-Chinese smartphone brands in the world today, for your information. Like I said, there are over a hundred of them – some of which you have probably never heard of before. Because most of them are minority players, Chinese smartphones currently take up the largest chunk of the global smartphone market share. And they are likely to corner more of it in the coming years.

But I digress. Let’s return to the focus of this blog post.

a non-Chinese smartphone?

A non-Chinese smartphone in the Future?

Here is the thing: there is a strong possibility that one day, if you do not want a Chinese smartphone, it would mean that you do not want a smartphone at all.

Once upon a time, Motorola was so big and successful in mobile that it was inconceivable to think then that it would be sold one day. Not just sold, but sold to a Chinese company. Yet, it happened.

Those of us who lived through Nokia’s hey days could have sworn that there was no way the company’s fortunes in mobile could change so drastically. But we saw it happen.

Samsung is currently struggling against the onslaught of Chinese smartphones – all droids – in the market. It does not look like they will win this battle. What is to stop an acquisition one day? Samsung Mobile as a subsidiary of say Huawei? Preposterous! But history tells us to not say never.

Or Apple in the hands of Xiaomi. Or Nokia in the hands of Transsion. *ducks and dodges stones and sticks* Calm down. None of these scenarios are impossible. If you have been around long enough in mobile, you are used to seeing it.

Sony Ericsson P800
Sony Ericsson P800

I watched as the great Ericsson merged with Sony to form Sony Ericsson. At the time, it was Ericsson that had the great smartphones and numbers. Sony was a small-time mobile manufacturer restricted mostly to the shores of Japan.

But after Sony Ericsson struggled for a while, guess who bought out who in the partnership? And so it was that the great Ericsson Mobile was swallowed up by Sony. It is sad that Sony is still struggling till today though.

Anyway, you get my point by now. China has a huge and growing army of droids that are taking over the world. At the present rate, one day, all smartphones in the world might be Chinese. Just one day. Nothing is ever too far-fetched.

By the way, I got a recommendation for my friend. I am not telling you what non-Chinese smartphone it is. I don’t kiss and tell. *wink*

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9 comments

  1. The one who says he doesn’t want a Chinese brand phone is living in denial (or under illusion).

    I suggest he take a look around him when at home, and notice how practically every appliance in his house is Chinese_made. The non Chinese_made would be the exception.

    Something being designed elsewhere is NOT important.. where it was MADE is the koko .. so we can agree.. almost everything electrical / electronic. is Chinese brand..

  2. People have a bit of prejudice with Chinese products, but many are great! and dude, if you stop to think Chinese products (not just cell phones) are everywhere! It’s worse than cheap hahaha
    clique aqui

    1. Do you know how the Chinese are treated by the government. They have death camps were they hang they them on the wall and torture them by pulling out their nails ect.

  3. Generally, I think we have three ‘concepts’ of Chinese phones: (a.) ‘Chinko’ which is essentially either an adulterated versions of mainstream or a very inferior, quality-wise, phones. (b.) Then the Chinese brands: Gionee, Xiaomi and the likes. The third are other brands that now assemble their products in China or with Chinese workforce. So most time when someone says ‘I don’t want Chinese phones’, it is reference to (a.). And many also confuses (b.) with (a.) concluding that since it is Chinese it must be inferior quality.

    1. Bro you are spot on.
      You’ve just hit the nail on the head.
      Many people aren’t educated in this line, at best they misinterpret the whole.

  4. Sony and Blu are two other non-Chinese phone brands as well. They may not be doing great or s well known as Samsung but they’re still out there making pretty decent products.

    Lava from India has just entered the market – remember a few years ago we were rather excited at their potential in the Nigerian market? They kind of left it a bit late.

    You can still get a UK Wileyfox Swift 2 at a knocked-down price. And there’s the Spanish BQ brand with their Aquaris range (remember the Ubuntu phone?) Thing is I suspect a lot of smaller phone brands will eventually be bought out or taken over by…Chinese brands.

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