China is where virtually all smartphones are produced, but chances are if you’re in North America, you’re not familiar with any Chinese smartphone brands. Huawei, OnePlus, and Xiaomi are three companies producing some interesting handsets, with some equally interesting ideas on how the software on a smartphone should look and behave.
OnePlus has been selling phones in the US for a few years, and it builds devices targeted towards an enthusiast audience, with high-end specs and simple software tweaks. Its version of Android doesn’t stray far from what you might find on a Google Pixel phone. On the other end of the spectrum is Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2, which has a completely overhauled Android that looks much closer to iOS than anything that comes out of Google. You can’t yet buy Xiaomi phones in the US, but the company says that may be changing in the next year or two. (For what it’s worth, the company has been teasing its phones coming to the US for years, so we’ll just have to see if it follows through this time.)
Huawei’s take on Android splits the difference between what OnePlus and Xiaomi do — it’s got some elements of Google’s Android with many ideas cobbled together from iOS. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work all that well, and doesn’t do justice to the high-end hardware that Huawei produces. And then there’s Huawei’s struggle with the US government, which would be a lot happier if the company didn’t do any business in America.
For more on these various Chinese smartphones, check out the clip above and see the full episode of this week’s Circuit Breaker Live below.