Top 5 – International smartphones for July

Saqib Shah
July 28, 2014

On this month’s list of the best international smartphones;  Huawei and ZTE go flagship crazy in China, Xiaomi declares a price war with its impressive new handset and Indian e-retailer Flipkart’s new devices set the entry-level market ablaze

[alert type=alert-blue]Huawei Honor 6[/alert]

Huawei Honor 6 6

The Asian manufacturer that is currently gaining the most traction in the West is Huawei. Its recent releases, including the Ascend P7 and G6, both looked great and had decent specs to boot, not to mention innovation in the hardware department (case in point; the P7’s 8MP group selfie camera).

However, the company has reserved what arguably looks like its best handset yet for its domestic market. The Honor 6 takes a leaf out of Apple’s book in terms of design, which basically means its exterior and UI look a lot like an iPhone’s. There are worse brands to emulate, so you won’t hear us complain about that.

In terms of specs, it’s got a a quad-HD resolution 5-inch display, a 13MP rear-facing camera made by Sony and 3GB RAM. The handset also packs an octa-core processor developed by Huawei itself – which the manufacturer claims is a combination of  four Cortex-A15 cores paired with four Cortex-A7s, and is as powerful as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 ‘ if not more.

Beyond such hardware innovation, Huawei has also used unorthodox methods to promote and sell the device in China. For example, it became the first smartphone maker to sell a product via the WeChat messaging app, attracting 550,000 pre-orders for the Honor 6 in the process.

The handset is currently on sale for 1,999 yuan ($322) in China. Huawei has not confirmed a worldwide release yet.

[alert type=alert-blue]ZTE Nubia Z7[/alert]


Another Chinese manufacturer that is currently making waves in its domestic market is ZTE. The company’s diverse range of products include an Android gaming console and a host of top-notch phablets (one of which, the Nubia X6, made it on to last month’s Top 5).

Recently, ZTE also refreshed its line-up of flagship smartphones launching the new, high-end Nubia Z7, alongside its cheaper counterpart the Z7 Max and its compact version the Z7 Mini.

The Nubia Z7 is ZTE’s answer to the LG G3. Not so much externally, where its rather large size – a 5.5 inch display – and design bring to mind the Sony Xperia Z2. It’s internally that the Z7 resemble’s LG’s flagship.

Sat behind that display is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, just like you’ll find inside the G3 (as well as a host of other flagship devices). That’s a quad-core chipset with 2.5 GHz of power. It’s also got a 13MP rear-facing camera, but we doubt it matches the functions of the G3’s superior snapper.

The real talking point, and where it inevitably beats its rival, is the price. At 3,456 Yuan ( £325), the Nubia Z7 is almost £200 cheaper than LG’s flagship.

[alert type=alert-blue]HTC Desire 616[/alert]


We’ve criticised HTC in the past for not releasing enough new products. Luckily, the Taiwanese manufacturer recently graced us with two new launches in the West, including the HTC One Mini 2 and the Desire 816. Meanwhile, like many of its rivals, it’s also gunning for emerging markets with the release of the Desire 616.

The device, which is currently on sale across Asia and Russia, is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core processor, a 2000 mAh removable battery and comes with 4GB onboard storage with the option of an additional 32GB of microSD storage. It also comes equipped with an eight-megapixel rear camera and a two-megapixel front-facing camera, both of which take 1080p HD videos as well. Like most recent HTC handsets, the 616 also contains BlinkFeed – the company’s news and social network aggregator.

Prices for the handset tend to differ from country to country. In Singapore, for example, it is currently retailing for S$298 ( £139). Unfortunately, HTC has no plans to release it elsewhere at present.

The company will be hoping that its push into emerging markets, which also saw the release of the E8 in June (a plastic version of the One M8), will add to its good fortunes. HTC recently announced that it had turned a profit for the first time in a year.

[alert type=alert-blue]Flipkart Karbonn Smart A11[/alert]


Earlier this year, Amazon made its first foray into the smartphone market with the Amazon Fire. The device, however, had a muted reception. Many analysts criticised the e-retailer for releasing a gimmicky handset (referring to its 3D visuals) rather than focussing on retail innovation – in terms of pricing – as it does in its e-commerce business.  

The same cannot be said about Flipkart – India’s answer to Amazon – which also recently released a range of new smartphones, in conjunction with Indian manufacturer Karbonn, and its own tablet.

Although both devices don’t offer anything new in terms of hardware, they are still solid products that cater to their market – particularly in terms of price.

The Karbon Smart A11 handset, for example, is a compact 4.3 inch Android handset that comes with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and a 1,400 mAh battery. It also packs 512MB of RAM and a 5MP rear-camera. Not that far off from a Moto G in terms of specs, then. Priced at Rs 4,499 ( £44), it’s also a bargain by anyone’s standards.

Meanwhile, the retailer has lent its own name to its first tablet – the Flipkart Digiflip Pro XT712. The dual-sim slate boasts a 1280 x 800p HD resolution with IPS display, is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. Weighing in at a light 285 grams (it’s also lighter than most compact slates – including the Kindle Fire HDX).

Priced at an attractive Rs 9,999 ( £97), it should appeal to the e-retailers 18 million customer base.

[alert type=alert-blue]Xiaomi Mi4[/alert]


Xiaomi’s newest flagship in its Mi range was being hyped up in the days prior to its launch as a premium metal-bodied device. The company delivered on that promise, but also went beyond it in terms of price.

That has led many to believe that Xiaomi is targeting both its domestic market (which alone has boosted it to the status of the sixth best-selling mobile manufacturer in the world) and the rest of the globe.

The Mi4 could certainly challenge most smartphone’s in terms of specs – not to mention giving them a run for their money (and flat out beating them, too).

Priced at an astounding CN ¥1,999 (roughly £189), the Mi4 boasts a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 1080p full HD 5-inch display, a 13MP rear-facing camera and an 8MP front-facing snapper. Add to that 4G LTE capability and a powerful 3,080 mAh battery and you have an all-round high-end device for the price of a mid-range handset.

Meanwhile, the rumour’s regarding its design proved to be right to a certain extent. The Mi4 is set to be Xiaomi’s first smartphone to feature metal, with a stainless steel frame connecting the screen and plastic removable back cover. It seems that Xiaomi is looking to please everyone, with the mix of materials allowing for removable, customisable back covers too.

No release date has been announced and, as is the case with all the phones mentioned here, there is no word of a Western release either.

About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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