Buying on Chinese sites: pros and cons

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Lluis Enric Mayans
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Do you want to buy hi-tech on Chinese sites? Have you seen a cheap Chinese smartphone and don't know if you could get a bargain? In this article I want to tell you about pro and against in buy on Chinese sites taking into account the guarantee, customs and the best Chinese e-commerce of the moment.

Until a few years ago, Chinese smartphones, also called cinafonini, were mediocre products created to reproduce the aesthetics of top-of-the-range smartphones. Today the situation has changed considerably, just mention the Chinese smartphones of Huawei, Meizu, Lenovo, OnePlus e Xiaomi, also sold with a 24-month Spain guarantee.

The names of these companies have also become known in Europe, demonstrating that products made in China are able to compete with smartphones from Western brands, such as Samsung and Apple. For medium-level products there are Zopo, Umi, iOcean, iNew, THL and No.1. While for the medium-low range products, the most active Chinese companies are: Xiaocai, TingJing, Changjang and Star. All brands not distributed in Spain but that you can still find online.

In buy on Chinese sites it is necessary to take into account not only the technical characteristics of the product but also carefully choose the dealer from which to make the purchase. The vast majority of cinafonini are distributed online through more or less specialized sites. The categories of these large Chinese distributors can be divided into two: those who sell directly from China and those who sell through intermediaries.


This distinction is crucial because if you buy from retailers, with company name and VAT number registered in Spain, you will pay a higher price but you will have among the pros: two-year warranty and after-sales assistance. If instead the dealer operates in a country other than Spain, you will be able to get a lower purchase price but you will have to live with the fact that the warranty is limited to only 6 months and forget about possible after-sales assistance. In addition, in the event of defects during the warranty period, you must necessarily ship the product to the manufacturer in China or to a foreign base.

For this reason, if you want to buy Chinese or other smartphones, I strongly advise you to carefully read the conditions of sale, warranty and ancillary services that should be specified in detail and explicitly on the site, including the address and the national headquarters of the center. assistance or the operator himself. In the event that these minimum guarantees are not present, I strongly advise against buying.

READ ALSO: European Guarantee and Spanish Guarantee: here are the differences


In addition to the guarantee if you want buy on Chinese sites with retailers directly in China, then you will also have to consider the shipping times that can even reach 45 days. Furthermore, since China is a country outside the European Union, you may have to pay, compared to the initial price, a little more to cover duties customs.

In practice, among all the parcels that will arrive at customs, some are drawn by lot to carry out a check. On each checked package, 10 euros of fixed office expenses are paid, plus 20% of the amount marked on the delivery note of the product. This surcharge is calculated on the total including shipping costs, so the cost could rise.

Usually to reduce the amount to be paid at customs, Chinese sites apply a little trick: on the packing slip they mark a lower amount than the one paid at the time of purchase, in this way the calculation of the duties is done on a lower figure.

In the case of delivery by courier, the issue of drawing lots does not occur, as the transit through customs is carried out within the company itself, therefore paying the duties. To get around this problem, some Chinese sites that sell smartphones from China have equipped themselves with warehouses in Europe. For example, buying Chinese smartphones with shipping from Europe, from one of these warehouses, will allow you to avoid paying import taxes. However, please note that the prices of products shipped from a European warehouse are higher.


Having made the decision of the retailer, before proceeding to the article I recommend that you examine the technical specifications of the mobile device. The functioning of the product is bound by some technical aspects that could have a heavy influence. First you will need to take into account radio frequencies, the compatibility of the smartphone with cellular networks. If you don't know, mobile phones communicate on different radio frequencies depending on the type of connectivity used. In Spain, to connect to 3G you need a device that supports Wcdma frequencies at 900 and 2100 MHz. For 4G, things are different, since not all operators support the same frequencies.

TIM e Vodafone operate on 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz, H3G on 1800 and 2600 MHz, wind on 800 and 2600 MHz. In purchasing a Chinese smartphone you may find yourself in your hands a device that does not manage 800 MHz even if it has the other frequencies. This could be a problem as each frequency has different characteristics. For example, the 800 MHz band offers better penetration inside buildings thanks to the low frequency, the 1800 MHz band is ideal for open environments, and the 2600 MHz band covers a smaller range but guarantees better operation in crowded areas. . Giving up one of these frequencies could lead to connectivity that is not always satisfactory.

READ ALSO: Chinese smartphones and 4G Spain network compatibility


Another aspect of high importance is the Rome, the operating system installed on the Android-based phone, and pre-installed apps. There are two official platforms for Chinese smartphones: the international one with a large number of languages, and the national one. When buying a chinaphone, you need to pay attention to the operating system installed and the options available since often the configuration present is the Chinese national one with access limits to the default Android services.

Another issue to consider is the language. By purchasing a top-of-the-range Chinese smartphone you may find yourself a Chinese version operating system, while containing the option for the English language with incomplete translations. Often the apps are useless and the app store is Chinese. Furthermore, you may not have the famous Google Play available to download apps of any kind.

You can still replace the operating system with an alternative version (that would be the international version), but this could void your warranty. Alternatively, check the features of the smartphone you want to buy and check if an edition with the international ROM pre-installed is available.

If you still prefer to do it, then just type in your smartphone make and model on any search engine to find international Roma. For example, for Xiaomi smartphones you can find international Roms directly on the site.


After explaining all the elements of attention in buying a Chinese smartphone, here are the best Chinese sites to buy at really advantageous prices.

  • onorbuy - buys the products in advance, imports them and ships them to Spain by courier. It offers benefits such as support service and a two-year warranty on every smartphone.
  • Gearbest - offers products arrived from China with a 6-month warranty, long shipping times and the presence of a national Roma or cooked by Gearbest itself. The after-sales service is online.
  • Smartylife - Chinese site in Spanish ships directly from China.
  • Flosmall - boasts an attractive Amazon Warehouse service for sale in Europe. A little limited to a few accessories.
  • TekniStore - ships from China and also has a Spanish version. The site buys the products in advance, imports them and ships them to Spain by courier from its warehouses. It offers after-sales service in Spain and a two-year warranty.
  • Spemall - very popular Chinese site includes tablets, smartphones, sports accessories and wearable devices.

READ ALSO: The best Chinese sites to shop online safely

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