Chinese brands and knockoffs/look-alikes from AliExpress, Alibaba, etc...
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I've searched these forums and have only found references to a few of the brands (i.e. Elephone) that are featured on these direct-to-consumer sales sites like AliExpress.com.

 

Leo LaPorte has referenced, in a mostly-positive light, a few Chinese phones such as the iPhone clone that runs Android.  Since money is a big factor for us, I'm looking...

 

Does anyone out there have practical experience with one of these phones?  I can speculate and read specifications all day and night but, until the phone is in someone's hand, specs are only "theory."

 

I am not asking for opinions on them unless you've seen them in action.  Unless you're willing to share your money and buy me a domestic phone, I don't need any of your flaming. 

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  • Not specifically on topic, but a word of caution if you intend to use them on Ting. Even some brand new phones might not be fully compatible with Ting GSM or pass the Sprint CDMA ESN Check.  If you have a way to get the ESN of the phone you are buying first (or a liberal return policy), you might lessen that risk. 

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  • in another thread https://help.ting.com/entries/89253168-iPhone-6-plus-unlocked-Compatible-but-unable-to-activate-

    Ting is quoted as saying, "I'm afraid we aren't able to bring this over to use on our CDMA network, likely because it was bought in China. Sprint aren't recongising the MEID, so there's no way for us to pull it over. It isn't so much a block that's on there as Sprint just not having the phone listed in it's database."

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  • Absolutely, Some of these sellers are going through US-based shipping locations (probably some guy's garage).  Prior to purchase, I'd ask for a picture of all the ID numbers and verify frequencies.

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  • Joshua, I think even bringing up Sprint and CDMA isn't useful in this context.  There are some good quality and really great value phones from some of those smaller companies, but they are all going to be GSM models because anyone can make a GSM phone, and no one is at the mercy of having to work out an agreement with Sprint or Verizon to get each phone's serial number added to a database.  There are places at some of the markets in Chinese cities where you can pick up an actual brand new, but cheaply made GSM cell phone for $10, and just put in a SIM card to use.  That's kind of why most of the world likes the freedom and availability of phones with the GSM system.

    Sean, I think you have a great idea here getting a good phone value, and if you have decent GSM coverage on T-Mobile where you live, this should work pretty well for you.  Here are a couple of suggestions then for finding one that works on the right frequencies.  First, here is the page from Ting showing what frequencies and specifications would be needed for various features on GSM:

    https://help.ting.com/entries/105240696-Can-I-Bring-My-GSM-Device-to-Ting-Compatibility-and-Unlocking-Guide

    Secondly, there is a great site called www.phonearena.com that I use for looking up the specifications of any phone or tablet.  So for whatever phone models you are looking at, rather than going with the text on some seller's site that may or may not accurately list the details you need, you can look up that model on Phonearena and see exactly what connectivity types it supports.

     

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  • Rocky, I trust you know more about this than me. Sounds like it's best to avoid CDMA and you won't fall into whatever trap that guy on the other thread did.

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  • The phone has to be unlocked and support the GSM bands used in the US. the US uses different bands than the rest of the world.

    See https://help.ting.com/entries/105240696-Can-I-Bring-My-GSM-Device-to-Ting-Compatibility-and-Unlocking-Guide

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  • I"ve been checking the GSM / 4G LTE bands on the Chinese phones (some are familiar names, possible copies of Lenovo, HTC, Samsung, etc... along with their Elephones and the like)  Those that are advertised as US-English operating systems have acceptable frequencies, although I am curious if there's a need to have more than one matching frequency if there's a bad reception or high-traffic area.

     

    Since my kids go to Japan every year, a dual SIM phone is appealing too, but that'll take a ton more research on top of what I'm doing already.

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  • Joshua, I saw all that discussion about that guy's iPhone he bought in China.  All the iPhones now have the physical capabilities for either CDMA or GSM because Apple doesn't want to have to make different models and the hardware is cheap enough now to just include both.  But it does show some of the difficulties with Sprint maintaining a database, and them not adding all the Chinese ones because they probably don't run a network there, so they don't bother with those models, and they don't want to go to the effort to add one phone from one guy's unique situation, etc. etc.  You will notice what the other part of the answer was, though.  That same phone is totally fine to bring onto Ting as a GSM device, though, which they had been telling him.  He just flipped out at the part about it not being recognized as CDMA and the financial eligibility checker.

    Bruce, yeah, the locked/unlocked thing for GSM devices is one of the yucky things that mainly exists in the U.S. because of people buying their phones through subsidized contracts with their cellular providers, and that's one of the terrible side effects of it.  In most of the world, people just buy a phone, and they are always unlocked because there is no plan or carrier attached to it, and the person activates it with a carrier, who doesn't care where you got your phone.  Yes, other countries use different frequency bands, and that is where the relative price of the phone comes in sometimes.  For some really cheap ones, they may just have the frequencies for that country because they are trying to shave pennies off the cost to build, but for a decent mid priced smart phone, they usually include the radio support for everything because they want to be able to sell it around the world.

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