Recommending a non-Chinese smartphone in 2020

Posted by

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 2020, what brand would you pick it from? Are there any cell phones not made in China? And are there any American-made cell phones in 2020?

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.

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

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.

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.

Are there any current cell phones not made in China in 2020?

The big question is, are there any current cell phones not made in China? If they exist, which ones are they and where are they made?

2020 update: Note that if you are hunting for smartphones not made in China, you are going to search hard and long. But, yes; cell phones that are not made in China exist.  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 Apple iPhone models are also no longer made in China.

So, we definitely know for a fact that Samsung and Sony smartphones are not made in China any more. For Samsung, some production happens in South Korea and India. Sony phones are produced in Japan.

And there is ASUS, which has production facilities in Taiwan. Lastly, LG also makes its phones in South Korea. Here is the full list of phones that are not being made in China right now:

4 Best smartphones not made in China

  1. Samsung – South Korea
  2. Sony – Japan
  3. ASUS – Taiwan
  4. LG – India, Brazil

We also know that some Apple iPhones smartphones are also not made in China. Some of Apple’s production happens in India as well.

LG, Motorola, and Samsung also have mobile phone manufacturing plants in Brazil, but production in the country keeps reducing and may be brought to a halt erventually.

Are there any American-made cell phones in 2020?

A number of cell phone and smartphone brands used to manufacture their products in the United States of America. These include Motorola in its hey days. Motorola had a manufacturing facility in Forth Worth, Texas.

As at the year 2020, however, all manufacturing of American smartphone brands happen outside of the united States. There are no cell phones made in America any more. All Apple iPhones and Google Pixel phones, for example, are manufactured in Asia.

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.
  21. Afrione – Nigerian
  22. Mara Phone – Rwandan

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 – non Chinese smartphones.

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*

Connect with MobilityArena on social media…

Do not forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.



  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..

    1. That why I’m looking at everything I buy ….no my China products in my house except the one that I have already bought..

  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.

  5. It’s like, Ford Car with Peugeot engine (Ford’s TDCI Duratorque engines are Peugeot) but still we call it FORD / American Made. I think quistion should be rephrased here to get your answers.
    Which Mobile company have head office outside China?
    or precisely you should ask…
    Which famous mobile phone is Designed in USA? Bingo…. answer is “Apple Iphone”
    Which famous american phone manufactered in China? Answer again “Apple Iphone”

    More than 90 percentage of electronic manufacturers either use Chinese parts or Chinese cheap labour.
    Otherwise you may be paying 10000 dollers(bit exaggerated) for iphone or even that companny may not be be existed now due to marketing/price competition.

  6. For me, I believe SONY is better than 90% of most smartphone brands out there. The reason people talk down about Sony is because Sony don’t do copycat like the rest of other mobile phone brands does. And that is one thing I like more about Sony, be creative on your own way and standout among the rest. And Sony doesn’t lie about the number of its battery size and RAM size, the phone works so smoothly and the battery life is fantastic. Sony 3GB RAM phone is better than some of those phones with 4GB and 6GB.

  7. Its been a long time since I am not buying anything made in China. This would also include iPhone, since it uses Chinese labor. China is evil and a cancer for humanity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *