The worst Chinese smartphones in history
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Let's start with the only model on the list that we have thoroughly reviewed, namely Xiaomi Mi 5C. A unique smartphone in the history of the brand, as (to date) it is the only one to have made use of a proprietary SoC. The Surge S1 represented a notable milestone for Xiaomi, but for which there was no follow-up, despite rumors. And this is not surprising, given that it was a decidedly unsuitable experiment. We were able to test first-hand the difficulties that came from using an immature SoC to say the least, between excessive energy consumption and network limitations. Not to mention the bad software support, having been born and died with Android 7 Nougat. Who knows if we will ever see a Xiaomi smartphone equipped with a homemade chipset.
It would be an exaggeration to define a product like the Xiaomi Mi MIX Alpha as “flop”, capable of amaze and excite tech enthusiasts from all over the world. Its Surround display has everyone's eyes rolling, with a look that looks straight out of a futuristic concept. The word "concept" is the key to everything: for no one knows what reason, the Mi MIX line has suffered a setback and we have not had any Mi MIX 4. In its place a little more than a prototype Xiaomi Mi MIX Alpha, very expensive and almost impossible to buy. A technological display that turns out to be half successful, without considering the practical difficulties that derive from the use of such a screen.
Like Mi MIX Alpha, Meizu PRO 7 is also not a real flop: to understand the reason for its presence in the list you need a context. A step back in history takes us back to the 2014/2015 two-year period, when the company flexed its muscles against the big names in the sector with products such as MX4, M2 Note but above all PRO 5. The good things seen with the PRO series made it very promising, but with the subsequent top of the range Meizu has lost focus. First with a not entirely convincing PRO 6 and then with an even less concrete PRO 7.
His way of distinguishing himself was a second display that probably did not feel the need. Especially when Nubia X showed how it was done, although a prototype revealed that Meizu was also working on such a solution, never officially arrived. From then on, the road went uphill for Meizu, between declining sales, problems with Google and an abandonment of the PRO series with consequent rebranding of the top of the range.
A very different speech for Meizu Zero, whose flop was clear to everyone. Despite having won the prestigious iF Gold Awards, it is probably one of the most disappointing meteors of recent years. Meizu has decided to take the winding road seen also by the Vivo APEX series, with a highly technological smartphone, without buttons and holes. There are those who could argue "Who needs such a phone?": Is the game worth the candle? Who would spend more than € 1000 for a phone without a charging port and no buttons, with all the trade-offs that come with it? Evidently none, as the crowdfunding campaign turned out to be a failure. The CEO then commented on what happened: it was all a marketing ploy and there was never a real intention to sell it. But personally I don't know how well the media figure of the company came out.
In itself Lenovo Z5 is a smartphone without infamy and without praise. It is one of the many mid-ranges of 2018: Snapdragon 636, display with notch, dual camera and a modestly sized battery. So why insert it? Not so much for the device itself, but for the way Lenovo has decided to promote its release. Before we found out what it would be like, the company released teasers that raised several eyebrows. Especially this teaser photo, in which a piece of screen was shown.
You will understand for yourself that such an image suggested that Lenovo Z5 would offer a full screen look which, for 2018, would have been a high-profile novelty. If that weren't enough, there were further teasers to say the least misunderstood, which mentioned 4 TB of memory and a battery capable of lasting 45 days. Too bad that in the first case it was a hard disk and in the second a smartwatch. Clearly the public, including us, did not respond well to the bitter surprise, and Lenovo has been treated with a certain amount of skepticism ever since. May it be a lesson to him.
The situation around Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is quite different, whose disappointment is attributable more to Google than to Lenovo. It was the first smartphone in the world with Project Tango: you might be wondering what it is, and this is already a sign of the poor success of what is in effect one of the many projects abandoned by Big G.
The smartphone was equipped with a specially modified photographic compartment to carry out a 3D mapping of the environment. This was possible thanks to a sensor system capable of carrying out 250,000 measurements per second for the detection of the surrounding space. What, in part, happens with the ToF sensors that we find in many phones today. The potential of this approach to augmented reality was multiple, according to Google: the fact is that Lenovo Phab 2 Pro was practically the only smartphone in the Project Tango, officially closed the following year.
We conclude with Royole FlexPai, what we can consider to all intents and purposes the very first folding smartphone in history. The problem lies precisely in the need to be the first at all costs: as the saying goes, "the hasty cat made blind kittens". Royole immediately attracted the attention of the media all over the world, even with partnerships with luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton. Unfortunately, this company fully embodies the extreme resourcefulness of the Chinese industry, often morbid in arriving first without thinking of concreteness.
If you have seen our video, as well as that of all those who have had the opportunity to try it, you will have noticed that Royole FlexPai is anything but a concrete product. It may have a flexible screen, but the body is patched up, the folding system is anything but refined, and the software is – to be nice – raw. Okay, they have already launched a second model, but do we really need such immature products, in a sector as delicate as that of leaflets?
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