Importing smartphones from China – Is it worth it?

by Tim Howard

Are you thinking of importing smartphones from China? Since China is one of the world’s biggest players in this segment, it could be a potentially big deal. However, you should read the article before making your decision.

You might be confused about a lot of issues. Is it really profitable to import smartphones? What are the things to consider if it is worthwhile? All of these questions are answered in the article. So stay connected till the end.

Importing Smartphones from China

import china smartphones

According to market experts, by 2030, almost one-fourth of the global population would be carrying smartphones. In such a context, China gives the greatest items at the lowest price quotations, making it an attractive deal all around. Even the recent economic slump felt globally could not retard the immersive smartphone market in China. In 2020, according to Statista reports, smartphone shipments from China reached 325 million units – roughly 25% of the global volume of smartphone shipments! 

However, before importing smartphones from China, you should have a deep understanding of some aspects, which will be covered in extensive detail in the following segments.

Why should you import smartphones from China?

If you are a new distributor or wholesaler who wishes to start his own smartphone business, you could be confused about one thing – why China is the primary topic of conversation here. What makes China so attractive for smartphone imports? Let’s look at some of the compelling facts.

Costs of Importing a Smartphone from China

The costs of importing smartphones from China depend on the brand that you are trying to import. It’s quite difficult to buy big brand smartphones in bulk like Xiaomi & Huawei. Non-branded smartphones or even smaller brands like Ulefone, Meizu & TCL.

A $100 smartphone can be sold for around $150 to $170. Margins are quite thin for smartphones. So unless there’s a USP, it’s quite difficult to sell Chinese smartphones at a higher price.

Unbelievable edges in the costs and technologies of the smartphones

The costs of Chinese smartphones are significantly cheaper than those of other brands. You may be wondering how they are capable of providing phones at such low prices. The first reason is that they make use of their large population to acquire very inexpensive labor. Apart from that, manufacturers can readily employ domestic components and materials, minimizing overhead and needless expenditures. 

Other businesses must pay Intellectual Property Royalties in all other countries, but Chinese brands don’t need to pay them as they are obligated to follow a set of policies created by the government to encourage the development and prosperity of their high-tech industries.

According to Statista figures, China’s smartphone income generates almost US$117,809 million, and that was not subdued even against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chinese smartphone products can provide very high quality in the following –

  • camera lenses,
  • good display and
  • appearance,

As a result, they are considered a notch above the rest. However, the recent Chinese smartphone brands are also building really strong smartphones with substantial battery backup and advanced software to increase their market capitalisation. They also provide their products at cheaper rates. As a result, there is no question that they will continue to be people’s preferences for a longer time in the future.

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China has been one of the firsts to incorporate a 5G connection

Through its cutting-edge technological implementation, China has also been able to test and create 5G technology. Since 2019, they have been able to implement 5G connections in smartphones and have deployed them in various states. 

This solution also enables smartphone manufacturers to include 5G-capable networks into other devices like tablets. China is the very first country to mass-produce 5G-enabled smartphones. Hence, if you wish to import smartphones with 5G connectivity, China is your best bet.

Shenzhen is one of the World’s biggest markets for the different parts and accessories of smartphones

If there is a demand for mobile phones all over the world, it is understandable that there is a demand for mobile accessories and parts such as speakers, camera lenses, batteries, etc. China leverages this factor too. 

This achievement is due to the city of Shenzhen, which has the world’s largest electronics market. Anyone who buys a new phone will need to get some complementary accessories such as a back cover, tempered glass, and so on, and they can get them all in Shenzhen.  All of these are accessible in mass quantities from China, which is also the world’s largest supplier of mobile accessories. This makes China a provider of all-in-one solutions for smartphone-related needs.

The delivery network to import smartphones from China is very efficient

China has created very tactfully good commercial contracts with the majority of other countries, and many items can be readily imported without any legal complication. This ensures that the distribution procedure is both safe and efficient. With a huge number of ports, including some of the largest in the world, China can ship products at competitive prices to all major ports around the world.

Comparisons between Hong Kong and mainland China while importing smartphones

  • Import of smartphones from mainland China

Mainland China is one of the greatest places to buy mobile phone components and accessories. As previously said, Shenzhen is one of the largest hubs for electronics, and you can easily get various smartphone components such as speaker modules, LCD screens, etc. in bulk at a cheap cost. 

Guangzhou is another well-known name in the market of cell phone accessories. Guangzhou is the place to go if you want to import phone covers, headphones, stylus, earbuds, and other phone accessories. If you are in this line of work, then mainland China is preferable to Hong Kong. 

  • Import of smartphones from Hongkong

Hong Kong is a free port, which means that commodities in transit are excluded from customs duty. Hong Kong ends up winning this round because no customs charge is required if the goods arrive at a free trade zone. As a result, the cellphones imported from Hong Kong are less expensive. Capital gains, dividends, and interest paid by firms are likewise not taxed in Hong Kong. Lastly, in the region, there is no wealth or estate tax. Thus, importing cellphones from Hong Kong will unquestionably provide you with substantial profit margins.

Why would you rather have your smartphones imported from Hong Kong than from China directly?

  • Lower price tags:

After being manufactured in mainland China, the phones are shipped to Hong Kong. When products reach the Hong Kong area, they are classified as export items, and the Government of China will grant a tax rebate. The amount of tax refunded to the exporters by the governmental authorities is known as a tax rebate. As a result, many exporters would already deduct the tax rebate amount from the value of the phone when shipping it to Hong Kong. So, the pricing of phones in Hong Kong is lower than they are in mainland China. This has also resulted in a considerable smartphone penetration rate in Hong Kong – 92.1% from 2012-2020. 

  • Universally accepted versions:
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The packaging of cellphones imported from Hong Kong will include all specifications in English, making it a worldwide version. However, when importing from mainland China, there is a risk that the labeling will be in Chinese. Furthermore, many applications that are restricted in mainland China, including Google Play, Gmail, and Facebook, will come preloaded in global versions offered only in Hong Kong.

Since phones imported from China directly are not internationally compatible in most cases, it is rather desirable by traders and dropshippers to get their smartphones imported from Hong Kong.

The points to remember while importing smartphones from China

You should always keep these tips in mind and act accordingly. Safe purchasing and safe shipment are two critical factors to consider when importing smartphones from China.

  • Buy only from the verified and official distributors of smartphones in China. They are expensive products and so you should be very careful with all the chances of scamming. Since several Chinese products are really smart duplicates of originals, your business’s reputation will be at stake if you don’t purchase responsibly. 
  • Pack the smartphone inside the box with cushion material during shipping. This will protect the phone from external harm, such as cracking during delivery.
  • For shipment, smartphones employ the air shipping method. Electronics of any type create electromagnetic waves, which can interfere with the plane’s avionics, resulting in disaster. As a result, make certain that you are packing an electromagnetic wave diffuser inside the box containing all mobile phones. This will bring the EM waves to a halt.
  • Batteries should not be packed separately while shipping the smartphones. The phone serves as a grounding for the batteries and completes the current circuit in the battery. This eliminates the need for heat dissipation and prevents batteries from exploding.
  • Make certain that you are using secure payment methods like Paypal.  Before making any payments, make certain that correct contracts are in place. Alibaba trade assurance is another excellent payment method.

What specifications to look at when importing smartphones from China?

Before importing the smartphones from China, check all of these details to crack the best possible deal.

  1. Check the fundamental features such as screen size (height X width), phone weight, the material used to build the front and back, sim technologies, display type, and so on. These features fall under the category of body structure. is the best website for comparing phones and their dimensions.
  2. Examine its operating systems, such as the most recent version of Android or the latest version of iOS that are available with the smartphones you are importing. You should also ensure that your imported smartphones take system and application updates normally. 
  3. The next things to consider are memory and storage, specifically ROM and RAM. However, you should also consider provisions for external storage via a memory card.
  4. Nowadays, one of the most important specifications is related to the camera.  Check the image quality offered by the smartphone’s front and rear cameras. Check all the relevant details like pixels, focus, shutter speed, stabilisation, etc. 
  5. Look for the communication and charging ports you require in your devices, such as Bluetooth, WLAN, GPS, NFC, USB, etc.
  6. Apart from that, don’t forget to look at the color schemes, sensors and speakers too.
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Importing Smartphones from China

Importing smartphones from China can be a tricky affair as you have to consider all the above points and make a wise decision. However, once you have sorted all the relevant details, it can become one of the most profitable business decisions of your life. 

  1. Who are the top 4 Chinese sellers of different smartphones?

According to Libra statistics, Huawei has ranked in the top ten in over 40 nations and regions across Asia, Africa, Europe, and America. Its extraordinary achievement has always been due to the corporate strategy that involves successful partnerships with international telecom providers and good cellphone hardware manufacturers.

Thirdly, there is OPPO. OPPO’s major focus has always been on providing a comprehensive entertainment experience for youthful groups. 

The fourth is VIVO. VIVO’s high-end image quality has remained consistent across the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East, making it a successful brand.

  1. What are the documents needed to import the smartphones from China?

You must have the following documents to import the smartphones from China.

  1. Import Declaration Form
  2. Certification of conformity
  3. Commercial Invoice
  4. Bill of Lading
  5. Packing List
  6. Multiple certifications will be needed by the importing country.

However, these are just the basic documents. There could be specialized documents that vary according to the importing nations.

What is the average cost of smartphones imported from China?

The average pricing for the most cost-effective smartphone is between 180$ and 200$, while high-end devices would cost around 200$ and 300$. The key reason why global firms chose China as a manufacturing base for cell devices is the cheaper prices associated with China’s fast-increasing technological manufacturing and processing capability. As a result, prices will be substantially lower in China. As of the second quarter of 2020, the average price of a 5G smartphone unit in China is around 464$.

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