A popular question that we get asked here at Solar America is, where is the best place to buy a Chinese OEM phone? Maybe you want an Oppo handset or something from Xiaomi, Meizu or even THL, but where to get it?
The answer to that question is simultaneously quite easy and quite hard! It is easy because you just need to go to one of the websites which are listed below and place you order. Simple! It is hard because ultimately there is no guarantee that you will have the smoothest purchasing experience of your life. Before I reveal my list of probably reliable wholesalers, let me tell you about the negative side.
To illustrate the possible problems you may encounter, let me tell you a true story. I ordered a handset for a friend of mine from a popular online wholesaler. I paid via PayPal and opted for delivery via a well known courier. A few days later I got a tracking code and I was able to track my package as it meandered its way around the world. The package left Hong Kong and arrived in Europe (which was good as I live in Europe). It bounced around in Europe for a bit, and finally seemed to come to rest in Italy. I don’t live in Italy. I assumed it was just another stop over as the package made its way to me. The next time I checked the tracking information I discovered that the package had been delivered and signed for by one “Galeazzi,” in Modena, Italy.
“I just got ignored”
So I contacted the wholesaler. Sometimes I got a reply with platitudes about how they were looking into it, and sometimes I just got ignored. Eventually I used the “live chat” feature on the wholesaler’s website to actually talk with someone and explain my problem. The sales person promised to get back to me and in all fairness they did. The wholesaler blamed the courier, but I blamed the wholesaler.
It seems that the wholesaler thought that the courier couldn’t deliver a package to the right address. OK, I understand if the delivery driver confuses apartment 13 with apartment 31, because he is having a bad day, but to say that the courier delivered it to the wrong country is a little bit far-fetched. The good news is that after about three weeks from my original order I did get a refund from the wholesaler.
So, as Italians would have said a couple of thousand years ago, “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware.
Besides the official stores, there are lots of retailers which sell branded and unbranded (white label) devices, however personally I would steer clear of the unbranded stuff. Here is a list of sites that I have actually used, talked with the people who work there, and actually received a product.
I would steer clear of the unbranded stuff
- Zendrian may be one of the more comprehensive I’ve found. They have one of the best customer service team’s I’ve encountered, more products at a better price than most, and shipping is quite fast.
- Chinavasion sells everything from Android smartphones to LED lights. It is one of the best places to get THL devices. It also sells Zopo, Doogee, Elephone and Cubot devices.
- Geekbuying offers a wide range of products, not just smartphones, however its Android smartphone stock is quite impressive and includes brands like Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE and THL.
- GearBest sells more than smartphones, you can find a wide range of things including clothes and sporting equipment. But it also has a good range of Android devices. Its stocked brands include Meizu, OnePlus, Zopo, Lenovo, THL and even Asus.