As Sony announced its first VAIO phone in China, we look at the other handsets not making it into UK stores
While we in the West tend to get most of the best smartphones appearing in our regions, we don’t get everything our own way.
Thanks to a number of increasingly strong manufacturers in Asia – particularly China – there are some truly great handsets we never get to see in the UK.
Here are five smartphones we would dearly love to see in the UK – though we’re not holding our breath.
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro
Xiaomi, China’s hottest smartphone brand, didn’t announce the Mi5 at CES back in January as expected. That doesn’t mean it didn’t announce a compelling new flagship, however.
The Xiaomi Mi Note Pro (there’s also a less-specced non-Pro variant) is an impressive-looking phablet that’s clearly intended to compete with the iPhone 6 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and the Google Nexus 6.
And with specs like these, you’d better believe that it can do just that. The Mi Note may have a whopping 5.7-inch QHD display, but it comes in a shell that’s just 6.95mm thick and weighs just 161g.
Underneath that it has a Snapdragon 810 CPU and an impressive 4GB of RAM. It also has a 13-megapixel camera with OIS – and it doesn’t stick out of the back like Apple’s effort.
The Xiaomi Mi Note Pro is coming to China this month for 3,299 yuan (£349), but we really want to see it here in the UK.
The American company better known for making projectors, recently launched this budget handset in India and reading through the specs list, we are little disappointed there’s no sign of it making it to the UK.
Built by Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer famous for being the production home of the iPhone and Amazon’s Kindles, the M2 features a 4.2-inch 1280x 768 resolution screen with an iPhone 6-rivalling 355 pixel density.
It’s powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core MT6582 processor with 1GB of RAM and runs on Android 4.4 KitKat. There’s 8GB of internal storage with micro SD card support and a decent-sized 2,010mAh non-removable battery to keep things powered up.
Where it really impresses though is in the camera department. There’s 8-megapixel sensors on the back and the front with a LED flash to help brighten up selfies.
It’s currently only on sale through Indian online retail site Snapdeal, but all of the 15,00 units were snapped up on the first day of launch. Clearly this is a phone that’s going to be hard to get hold of.
Lenovo Vibe Shot
Lenovo is another massive Chinese manufacturer with an enviable range of smartphones that are tantalisingly out of reach to us in the West.
The Lenovo Vibe Shot shows how brave and interesting modern Chinese smartphones can be. It’s essentially a sophisticated point and shoot camera and smartphone rolled into one.
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Featuring a 16-megapixel BSI Samsung image sensor, OIS, infrared AF, and a physical shutter button, it promises to be a great snapper.
It’s also a handsome-looking, if chunky, smartphone, with a premium iPhone 5S-like metal design and a 5-inch 1080p IPS display.
It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 CPU, which is a rather mid-range processor, but it’s a very modern mid-ranger built on a 64-bit architecture. It also runs on Android 5.0.
The Lenovo Vibe Shot is set for a June release, but will that include the UK? Probably not.
Motorola Droid Turbo
Announced back in October, the Motorola Droid Turbo is a bit of an oldie in smartphone terms. However, its continued lack of availability in the UK still makes us want it.
Oh, and so do its awesome specs.
For those of you who don’t keep up with Motorola’s US exploits, the Droid Turbo is a super-charged version of the Moto X 2014, complete with a sharper QHD display, a faster Snapdragon 805 CPU, a superior 21-megapixel camera, and a frankly obscene 3,900mAh battery.
It appears to address all of the issues we had with the Moto X, whilst retaining that ace near-stock Android OS.
Some would argue it’s the device that the Moto X should have been. We’d say give us a UK device with the specs of the Droid Turbo wrapped up in the slinky body of the Moto X, and you’ve got yourself a deal – Galaxy S6 Edge be damned.
It might sound curious that we’d want to see the Vaio Phone here in the UK. Other than the fact that it’s the first phone from the the former Sony laptop brand, it’s a distinctly unremarkable bit of kit.
This is a Japan-only mid-ranger with a 5-inch 720p display, a modest 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, and a 13-megapixel camera. It’s also got a pretty unassuming black slab design that’s somewhat reminiscent of the Nexus 4.
However, there’s something about the fact that it’s a modest 5-inch phone running stock Android 5.0 Lollipop that makes us want to check it out. Seriously, do you know how rare it is to find such a phone without loads of hideous custom UI trinkets slathered onto it?
Too rare, that’s how.
ZTE Grand S3
ZTE has made some of its phones available to purchase in the UK in the past, so we’re hopeful that the Grand S3 will follow. For now, though, it’s China-only.
Why are we interested? It’s a well-specced smartphone, with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU, and a 16-megapixel camera. Good, but hardly cutting edge, then.
What is interesting about the ZTE Grand S3, though, is that it comes with retina-scanning authentication technology. Yep, forget scanning your fingerprint – this sucker scans your eyeball.
Eyeprint ID uses the S3’s front-facing camera to check out the pattern of your eyes. Apparently, it’s impossible to fool it with an image of your eyes, so it appears to be more secure than Touch ID.
SEE ALSO: ZTE Grand S3 hands-on