oppo-r7-front-back-resized
Chinese brands often offer high-end specs at a much lower price pointOppo

Does a premium phone have to come at a premium price? Not necessarily. Despite the wallet-busting prices often demanded by top-tier manufacturers, it is possible to get a device packing an equal amount of power for half the cost.

In China, the smartphone market is booming. The country is at the vanguard when it comes to mobile technology and Chinese brands are gradually becoming household names thanks to the westward march of companies like Huawei. These brands are now taking the fight directly to the doors of Samsung, Sony and other premium manufacturers by offering products that match their flagship handsets on specs, whilst at the same time undercutting them drastically.

Here, we've drawn up a list of five Chinese-made smartphones that offer great alternatives for money-conscious buyers who want maximum bang for their buck.

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Honor 7Huawei

1. Huawei Honor 7

Display: 5.2in 1080 x 1920 Full HD LCD, 424ppi

Processor: 2.2GHz octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 935, 3GB RAM

OS and interface: Android 5.0 Lollipop (upgradeable to Android 6.0 Marshmallow), Emotion 3.1 UI

Special features: Fingerprint sensor, fast charging, smart key

Storage: 16/32/64GB, expandable via microSD

Battery: Non-removable 3100mAh

Camera: 20MP primary with F/2.0 aperture, autofocus and dual-LED flash, 8MP front-facing

Price: From £267 ($380, €340) SIM-free

Huawei is probably the most obvious and well-known Chinese manufacturer to have gone from a relative outsider in the UK smartphone market, to a brand that's more than happy to go toe-to-toe with spotlight-hogging rivals. The company has made huge efforts to instil itself in Western markets in recent years, even cinching the deal to manufacture Google's 2015 Nexus 6P smartphone.

Huawei's Honor series is testament to the company's ambition of establishing itself as a serious player in the premium smartphone game, with its latest Honor 7 handset offering an octa-core CPU, svelte metallic design and an excellent rear-facing camera. The "smart key" is also a nice touch, a physical button on the side of the device that can be customised to perform different functions.

OnePlus 2 smartphone hands-on
OnePlus 2IBTimes UK

2. OnePlus 3

Display: 5.5in 1080 x 1920 AMOLED, 401ppi

Processor: 2.15GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820, 6GB RAM

OS and interface: Android 6.0.1 Mashmallow, Oxygen OS 3.2.2 UI

Special features: Fingerprint sensor, USB-C

Storage: 64GB

Battery: Non-removable 3000mAh

Camera: 16MP primary with F/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus, OIS, dual-LED flash, 8MP front-facing

Price: From £329 ($435, €389) SIM-free

OnePlus cracked the smartphone market in 2014 by offering the winning formula of flagship specs for a budget price. A cult following quickly developed, and it's now moved from strength to strength with the OnePlus 3, which carries the same ethos of packing plenty of muscle for a puny price.

At 5.5in, the device squares up directly to the iPhone 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Blackberry Priv. Yet at a cost of just £329 Great British Pounds the OnePlus 3 punches well above its weight, and its impressive specs deliver a knockout blow to current heavyweights. The best part? An invite is no longer needed to own one.

Meizu Pro 5 (Ubuntu Edition)
Meizu Pro 5Canonical/ Meizu

3. Meizu Pro 5

Display: 5.7in 1080x1920 Full HD AMOLED, 386ppi

Processor: 2.1GHz octa-core Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa, 3GB/4GB RAM

OS and interface: Android 5.1 Lollipop, Flyme 5.1.2 UI

Special features: Fingerprint sensor, USB-C, fast charging

Storage: 32/64GB, expandable via microSD

Battery: Non-removable 3050mAh

Camera: 21MP primary with F/2.2 aperture, laser autofocus and dual-LED flash, 5MP front-facing

Price: From £389 ($550, €500) SIM-free

Meizu is a brand that the majority of typical smartphone buyers will never had heard of, but one that is increasingly registering on the radars of technology enthusiasts.

The company's latest device, the Pro 5, is comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S6 on the inside, with both devices sporting Samsung's octa-core Exynos 7420 Octa chipset clocked at 2.1GHz. Unlike the Galaxy S6, however, the Meizu Pro 5 also comes with expandable storage and up to 4GB RAM, although it's also a slightly more unwieldly device, with its 5.7in screen putting it firmly in phablet territory. An Ubuntu Edition of the device is also available, although we'd recommend the vanilla experience, meanwhile the Meizu Pro 6 was launched in May but failed to capture to same magic as its predecessor.

Xiaomi Mi 5 smartphone hands on
Xiaomi Mi 5Reuters

4. Xiaomi Mi5

Display: 5.15in 1080x1920 Full HD LCD, 428 ppi

Processor: 2.1GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 3GB/4GB RAM

OS and interface: Android 6.0 Marshmallow, MIUI 7 UI

Special features: Fingerprint sensor, USB-C, fast charging

Storage: 32/64/128GB

Battery: Non-removable 3000mAh

Camera: 16MP primary with F/2.0 aperture with autofocus, optical image stabilising and dual-LED flash, 4MP front-facing

Price: TBC, available March 2016 for approximately £330 ($470, €420)

Xiaomi has seen a meteoric rise in China, where the company is commonly referred to as the "Apple of China" due to its huge, devoted fanbase and penchant for putting out highly desirable smartphones. With the Xiaomi Mi5, the manufacturer wants not only to reassert this status amongst its fans, but also signal to Apple and Samsung that they have something to worry about.

When looking at the hardware on offer, it's hard to figure out how the Mi5 can be so competitively priced. The device packs a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, up to 4GB RAM, USB-C and a fingerpint sensor – in other words, everything you'd expect for a handset at double the cost. The only thing that arguably isn't top-of-the-range is the lack of a Quad HD screen, but with a 5.15-inch 1080p display on offer it's hardly something to cry about.

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Oppo R7Oppo

5. Oppo R7

Display: 5in 1080x1920 Full HD AMOLED, 445 ppi

Processor: 2.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, 3GB RAM

OS and interface: Android 4.4.4 KitKat, Color OS 2.1 UI

Special features: fast charging

Storage: 16GB, expandable via microSD

Battery: non-removable 2320mAh

Camera: 13MP primary with F/2.2 aperture, Schneider-Kreuznach optics, autofocus and LED flash, 8Mp front-facing

Price: From £199 ($280, €260) SIM-free

The Oppo R7 is a slightly older handset than the others on this list, but still worth a mention due to its robust feature set, solid build quality and of course, that low-low price.

Those few month's difference between the Oppo 7 and the other smartphones listed here means the handset's hardware appears a bit dated by comparison, but don't count it out just yet: for a price tag of just £200, users can pick up a octa-core Snapdragon chipset, Full HD AMOLED display, a 13MP camera and 3GB RAM, all neatly packaged inside a slim metallic body weighing just 147g. There's also fast charging technology on board that allows you charge the Oppo 7 to 75% in 30 minutes.