Kissing Apple and Samsung goodbye — Chinese flagship smartphone face-off

Five major Chinese smartphone manufacturers offer premium devices in South Africa that make for solid alternatives to Apple and Samsung’s offerings.

Whereas major smartphone markets like the US and UK are dominated by Apple and Samsung, China has an incredibly healthy ecosystem of manufacturers.

These smartphone makers are in fierce competition and must impress customers with the latest and best in hardware to stand out from the pack.

This leads to China’s manufacturers often being at the cutting edge in terms of camera and battery performance.

Those not subjected to US sanctions can also equip their handsets with the fastest chips available from Qualcomm and MediaTek.

MyBroadband compared the top-end models available from the five major Chinese smartphone makers — Honor, Huawei, Vivo, and Xiaomi — in South Africa.

We only considered models that are officially sold in South Africa. Devices only available by custom or parallel import were excluded.

Unfortunately, companies like Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi do not offer their flagship models in South Africa.

However, they have highly capable mid-rangers, with performance falling somewhere between the more affordable Samsung A-series mid-rangers and flagships.

At the time of publication, the best Chinese smartphone you could officially buy in South Africa was the Honor Magic 6 Pro.

The former Huawei subsidiary’s latest flagship boasts the top-performing chip and camera system, fastest Wi-Fi connectivity, and biggest battery of the best Chinese smartphones in South Africa.

However, it comes at a hefty premium over the other smartphones, with a minimum asking price of R24,999 at the time of publication.

Nevertheless, for those in the market for a high-end device it could be good value for money considering it beats the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in camera performance (DxOMark) — one of the most important factors in high-end devices.

The next-best model in terms of hardware was the Huawei P60 Pro, which launched in South Africa in early 2023.

This powerful flagship also sports an impressive camera system that bests Apple and Samsung’s, a cutting-edge display, and superfast wired and wireless charging.

Unfortunately, the P60 Pro does not officially support Google apps or Google Mobile Services (GMS), like most of Huawei’s flagship releases from the past few years.

This is due to the US banning companies from selling their software to the Chinese government-linked tech giant.

In addition, the P60 Pro does not have 5G connectivity, as the US also bars companies from selling chips to Huawei with patented US technologies.

The device which has bucked this trend — the much-hyped Mate 60 Pro — is yet to go on sale outside of China.

However, it remains to be seen if the company will proceed with this as there is controversy surrounding its procurement of certain components in the phone, which might have violated the US’s trade sanctions.

Huawei Mate 60 Pro

The top-end options from Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi are high-performance mid-rangers rather than flagship smartphones.

The Oppo Reno 10 Pro+ is the most capable option, but it comes with a rather hefty price tag for a mid-ranger — R21,499.

On paper, it has some noteworthy specifications in the display, RAM, and wired charging departments.

However, it has no IP rating indicating how water- or dustproof it is — a big caveat for a phone more expensive than the base iPhone 15 and Galaxy S24.

Vivo and Xiaomi’s top-end options on sale in South Africa are the V30 5G and Redmi Note 13 Pro+, respectively.

The latter had particularly impressive specifications for its starting price of R10,999, including its large OLED display, 256GB entry-level storage, 120W wired charging, and IP68 rating.

Below are the specifications and images of the top-end Chinese smartphones available in South Africa.

Premium Chinese smartphones in South Africa
Specification Honor
Magic 6 Pro
P60 Pro
Reno 10 Pro+
V30 5G
Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro+
OS MagicOS 8 on Android 14 EMUI 13.1
on Android 12 (no GMS)
ColorOS 14 on Android 14 Funtouch 14 on Android 14 MIUI 14 on Android 13
Display Curved 6.8-inch 1,280 x 2,800 OLED with 120Hz refresh rate Curved 6.67-inch
1,220 x 2,700
120Hz refresh rate
Curved 6.74-inch 1,240 x 2,772 OLED with 120Hz refresh rate Curved 6.78-inch inch 1,260 x 2,800 OLED with 120Hz refresh rate 6.67-inch 1,220 x 2,712 OLED with 120Hz refresh rate
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 4G Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 Mediatek Dimensity 7200
RAM 12GB | 16GB 8GB 12GB | 16GB 8GB | 12GB 8GB | 12GB | 16GB
Storage 256GB | 512GB | 1TB 256GB
nanoSD up to 256GB
128GB | 256GB | 128GB | 256GB | 512GB 256GB | 512GB
Rear Camera 50MP + 50MP + 180MP 48MP + 48MP + 13MP 50MP + 64MP + 8MP 50MP + 50MP + 2MP 200MP + 8MP + 2MP
Front Camera 50MP + 3D ToF sensor 13MP 32MP 50MP 16MP
Battery and charging speeds 5,600mAh
80W wired
66W wireless
88W wired
50W wireless
100W wired
No wireless
80W wired
No wireless
120W wired
No wireless
Connectivity Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.4 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3
Cellular 5G LTE 5G 5G 5G
Ports USB-C 3.2 USB-C 3.1 USB-C 2.0 USB-C 2.0 USB-C 2.0
Biometrics Under-
display fingerprint reader
Under-display fingerprint reader Under-display fingerprint reader Under-display fingerprint reader Under-display fingerprint reader
Protection rating IP68 IP68 None IP54 IP68
Dimensions 162.5 x 75.8 x 8.9mm (225g or 227g) 161 x 74.5 x 8.3mm (200g) 162.9 x 74 x 8.3mm (194g) 164.4 x 75.1 x 7.5 mm (186g) 161.4 x 74.2 x 8.9 mm (199g or 205g)
Price From R24,999
(12GB+256GB — Technomobi)
From R15,999
(8GB + 256GB — Technomobi)
From R21,499
(12GB+256GB — Takealot)
From R18,999
(12GB+512GB — Technomobi)
From R10,999
(8GB + 256GB — Incredible)

Honor Magic 6 Pro

Huawei P60 Pro

Oppo Reno 10 Pro+

Vivo V30 5G

Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro+

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Kissing Apple and Samsung goodbye — Chinese flagship smartphone face-off