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Top 10 Most Popular Smartphones in China 2017 (According to Weibo)

Just before the biggest online shopping events of the year, these are the most popular smartphone brands in China 2017 – a top 10 list compiled by What’s on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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The sales of smartphones are going through the roof during China’s annual e-commerce shopping festival Single’s Day (11/11). What smartphone brands and models are the most popular on Chinese social media this year?

 
UPDATE! Now read our Top 10 of Most Popular Chinese Smartphones in 2018.
 

The countdown to Single’s Day, China’s annual largest online shopping event on November 11, is about to start. Smartphones are always amongst the top-selling items during the yearly big sale, and the various newly-launched models are hitting the social media top trending topic lists on a daily basis weeks before. Time to take a look into what phones are currently most popular amongst Chinese netizens.

Sina News recently reported that an increasing number of young Chinese consumers are willing to spend their entire monthly income or even more on a new mobile phone. Since more than 95% of Internet users in China use mobile devices rather than desktop computers to go online, chosing the right mobile is all the more important for Chinese consumers.

And for this season, the ‘right mobile’ (1) has a futuristic ‘bezel-less’ screen without edges: the bigger, the brighter, the better. With the growing importance of selfies in this social media era, the perfect phone of the moment (2) also has a high-performing front facing camera. It is also noteworthy that (3) many of the hottest phones of this moment come in various sizes and especially in various trendy colors to offer buyers more choice, tailored to their personal taste.

To create more insight into the most popular smartphone brands in China, we have compiled a list of ten Weibo smartphone brands with the most followers here.* Note that we did not include the iPhone, because despite the various channels related to iPhone on Weibo, there is no official iPhone channel.

To give you an indication, however, the Sina Weibo iPhone User Channel (@微博iPhone客户端) has a staggering 53.3 million followers – which would still make it one of China’s most popular mobile phones on social media, despite its declining popularity due to competition from domestic brands. The launch of the iPhone X on Friday is also a much-anticipated one in China.

The following smartphones currently have the largest following on Sina Weibo. With Single’s Day coming up, all brands are promoting their latest models, giving a hint to consumers on what to buy for the big November 11 online sales:

 

1. OPPO @OPPO企业官方微博

27.222.000+ followers

The number one smartphone brand in China – according to Weibo – is Oppo, a Guangdong-based brand officially launched in 2004. Oppo is mainly known for targeting China’s young consumers with its trendy designs and smart marketing. In 2016, the brand was ranked as the number 4 smartphone brand globally.

Right before Single’s Day, Oppo is now pushing forward its newest Oppo R11s model phone on social media. The phone will be released on November 2, and together with the much-anticipated R11s Plus model, could become one of the top-sellers on November 11.

Oppo is launching the Oppo R11s as a smartphone that is not just beautiful (with an all-screen ‘bezel-less’ display), but also smart. The phone can be unlocked within 0.08 seconds through the latest facial recognition technology.

Oppo’s smartphones are known as excellent selfie-making-tools, and its latest model is also promoted for having a 20-megapixel front and back camera. Oppo uses the Weibo hashtag ‘Oppo’s All-New 20MP Front&Back R11s’ (#OPPO全新前后2000万R11s#) to discuss the new model. On Tuesday, two days before the official launch, the hashtag was already viewed over 640 million times. There’s no pricing announced yet (will update). Update: prices start at CNY 2999 (±450$).


 

2. Vivo @Vivo智能手机

23.337.000+ followers

Vivo is another Chinese domestic brand that has gained worldwide success, first entering the market in 2009. Its headquarters are based in Dongguan, Guangdong.

On September 30, Vivo launched its Vivo X20 Plus and VivoX20, the successor of best-seller Vivo X9. With a price of CNY 2,998 (±$450) on JD.com, it is a popular phone that offers some advanced features, 6.01 inch (18:9) full view display, and dual camera setup, for a very reasonable price.

The popularity of the Vivo X20 is evident on Weibo. Hashtag (#vivo全面屏手机X20#) has been viewed over a billion times.

(NB: there is something noteworthy about the Weibo account of Vivo, which had 23+ million followers on October 26, and a staggering 29+ million followers only five days later. Although most reputable brands do not want to associate their brand with fake accounts, it is possible that some fans were bought – or perhaps the brand has just hugely gained popularity over the past week. In that case, it is actually Vivo that is the number one on this list. For now, we’ll stick to the follower numbers as counted between October 24-27.)


 

3. Xiaomi @小米

16.872.000+ followers

Since the launch of its first smartphone in 2011, Beijing-brand Xiaomi has become one of the world’s largest smartphone makers.

The Xiaomi (Mi) brand was initially often called an ‘iPhone copycat,’ but it is now a trendsetting brand in the smartphone business. With its 2016 Mi Mix model, the brand was among the first to ditch thick bezels and go beyond the 16:9 aspect ratio to introduce the ‘all screen’ or ‘bezel-less’ screens, which are all the buzz now. The Mi Mix became one of the year’s hottest smartphones.

The Mi Mix 2, Xiaomi 6, and Xiaomi Note 3 are the devices currently being promoted through the Xiaomi official Weibo channel.

With a Phillipe Starck design and premium IPS LCD screen, the Mi Mix 2 has already been getting ravenous reviews on tech sites. Some reviews, however, do note its ‘underperforming camera.’

The ‘Xiaomi Note 3’ topic #小米Note3# is also very popular on Weibo, where it has received 560 million views thus far.

It is sold for CNY 2199 (±330$) on JD.com; much cheaper than the Mix 2 which is sold for approximately CNY 3299 (±496$). With a price of CNY 2999 (±450$), the Xiaomi 6 is in between.


 

4. Honor (荣耀) @荣耀手机

16.638.000+ followers

Honor, established in 2013, is the budget-friendly sister of the Huawei brand. The company’s sub-brand has been doing very well over the past year. Rather than focusing on hyping up its brand name through celebrity campaigns, Honor focuses on great value for money.

On the brand’s Weibo account, it promotes its Honor V9 and Honor V9 Play as the to-buy models for November 11. The latter is currently sold for as low as CNY 999 (±150$). The Honor V9 starts at CNY 2599 (±390$).

Both the Honor V9 (#荣耀V9#) and Honor V9 Play (#荣耀V9play#) have received a lot of attention on social media this year, with millions of views and comments.

The Honor V9 has a 5.7-inch curved glass screen. It has dual SIM and an internal storage of either 64GB or 128GN expandable to 256GB by microSD.

The latest Honor models are available in multiple trendy colors. But above all of this, it is the affordability that makes this phone popular.

 

5. Huawei @华为

14.631.000+ followers.

Huawei remains to be one of China’s top smartphone brands. Its new model Huawei Mate 10, the follow-up to last year’s Mate 9, became a trending topic on Weibo earlier this week, with the hashtag #华为Mate10# receiving over 480 million views in some days time.

In China, the Mate 10 (128GB) is available at approximately CNY 4499.00 (±675$). With its thin bezels, 5.9-inch display, fingerprint sensor, fast-charging battery, and trendy colors (Midnight Blue, Titanium Gray, Mocha Brown, Pink Gold), this model forms a serious competition to the iPhone X.


 

6. Meizu @魅族科技

13.509.000+ followers.

Meizu is another Chinese homegrown brand, established by high school dropout Jack Wong (Huáng Zhāng 黄章) in 2003. Since then, it has grown out to be the 11th best-selling smartphone maker in the world.

Its newest model is the Pro 7, starting from CNY 2499 (±375$), follows all the latest trends: it has thin bezels, a strong battery and dual camera, and a slick design. The model is also available in various colors, which is one of the major trends of the season – of course, a pink edition is crucial nowadays.

 

7. Samsung @三星

8.690.000+ followers.

Samsung has three official accounts on Weibo; Samsung Electronics, Samsung China, and Samsung Galaxy. The latter, by far, has the most followers of the three. This account, with well over 8,5 million followers, is fully dedicated to Samsung’s high-end mobile phones.

The brand is now especially highlighting its Samsung Galaxy Note 8 model. Starting from CNY 6980 (±1050$) this is amongst the most expensive popular smartphones around.

Despite the fact that it is high-tech, the phone has not seen a very warm welcome in China. There could be various reasons for this; political tensions between Korea and China over THAAD, Samsung’s harmed reputation over its battery catastrophe, or simply the fact that Chinese consumers are value-oriented.

The Note 8 is barely any bigger than the cheaper Galaxy S8+. Although Samsung’s Note series became all the rage when they set the ‘phablet’ trend, the newest flagship models of other brands all have comparably large, bezel-less screens. With phones such as the Huawei Mate 10, the Xiaomi Mix 2, Oppo R11s, iPhone X, and Vivo X20, Samsung Note 8 is facing some serious competition within its range.


 

8. Sony Xperia 索尼Xperia

4.471.900+ followers.

Sony Xperia is the only Japanese brand amongst China’s most popular smartphone brands.

The brand is currently promoting its Xperia XZ Premium, which was first spotted in red back in May when it appeared on Weibo.

The Xperia XZ Premium has a 5.2-inch LCD display and specific rectangular design. With 1,3 million views for the ‘Xperia XZ Premium Launch’ (#索尼xperia xz1发布#) topic on Weibo, the phone is currently not amongst the top hottest models in China.

The brand is promoting its smartphone’s “3D Creator” on Weibo. This feature allows users to scan their face, food, or other objects and makes a 3D avatar of it that can be shared on social media or 3D print. “Can I take a picture of an Xperia XZ Premium and then make a 3D print of an Xperia XZ Premium?”, some netizens jokingly comment.

The model was officially launched in China on October 27, its price (64GB/red) is approximately CNY 6399 (±962$) – a lot more expensive than the budget-friendly red Honor V9.

 

9. Gionee @金立

3.134.000+ followers.

Gionee is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer based in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Founded in 2002, it is one of China’s largest mobile phone manufacturers.

Gionee is now actively promoting the successor of last year’s M6: the M7 model, which was launched in September 2017.

Its campaign for this phone actively focuses on China’s 30-something generation who are worried about their career and (young) children. Perhaps because Gionee is one of the older brands amongst its new smartphone competitors, it tells the 30-somethings “we’re growing (and advancing) together.”

The M7 has a 6.01-inch full HD display, fingerprint sensor, DUAL-sim, and goes with the trend with its full view 18:9 display. It is priced around CNY 2799 (±420$).

 

10. Nubia @努比亚

2.518.000+ followers.

As with Meizu and Gionee, Nubia is a Chinese brand that is generally less well-known in Europe or America than other Chinese brands such as Xiaomi or Huawei. Nevertheless, Nubia, owned by parent company ZTE, has been doing very well in China’s top-scoring smartphone lists since it was officially launched in 2015.

Before Single’s Day, the brand is now promoting its newly-launched Z17S and Z17 Mini S model. The first is priced around CNY 2999 (±450$) and the latter is more budget-friendly with CNY 1999 (±300$).

The Z17S (#努比亚Z17S#) competes with all the more expensive flagship models in offering users a 5.73 inch full HD+ screen of 18:9 ratio, and two cameras on the front. It comes in colors black and blue.

An addition to the list

With 2.2+ million followers on Sina Weibo, OnePlus (@一加手机) should also be mentioned here.

Founded in 2013, OnePlus (一加科技) is a relatively new Chinese smartphone brand. Its headquarters are based in Guangdong. The brand’s One Plus 5 model is currently also popular on Sina Weibo, despite being the most expensive phone (CNY 4288/645$) the brand has ever made.

Recent top-selling lists

A recent top 30 list (in Chinese, September 27) of best-sold smartphones on e-commerce platform Tmall shows the following top 10:

 

1. Honor8 32 GB (¥1099/±165$)
2. iPhone7 Plus 32GB (¥5198/±785$)
3. Vivo X9 64GB (¥2598/±392$)
4. Huawei Mate9 32 GB (¥2899/±437$)
5. Oppo RII 64GB (¥2999/±452$)
6. Samsung Galaxy S8 64GB (¥5688/±858$)
7. Honor V9 64GB (¥2699/±407$)
8. Oppo R9S Plus 64 GB (¥3199/±482$)
9. Gionee M2017 128 GB (¥6999/)
10. Moto Z 65 GB (¥3699/±558$)

 

According to this week’s (last week of October) best-selling smartphones (热卖排行), Suning and JD.com – some of China’s top mobile phone retailers – both show a different top 3:

Suning:

1. Apple iPhone 8 64GB
2. Apple iPhone 8 Plus
3. Xiaomi Redmi 4x 64GB

 

JD.com:

1. Xiaomi Mix2 64GB
2. Xiaomi 6 128 GB
3. Vivo X20 64 GB

 

The many different top smartphone lists on Chinese tech and e-commerce sites show that smartphone trends are changing fast, and also suggests that best-phone-lists on Chinese media sites often differ from each other for various reasons.

According to some predictions by experts on Weibo, the hottest phones of this year’s online e-commerce festival on November 11 will be the iPhone X, Xiaomi MIX2, Meizu Pro 7, Oppo R11, Vivo X20 and the OnePlus 5.

By Manya Koetse

* This list does not take the possible use of manipulated followers into account here.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    November 6, 2017 at 3:25 am

    OnePlus is basically owned by Oppo.

    I personally wouldn’t look at Weibo followers or online sales to determine the popularity of smartphones. As you mentioned, zombie-followers can be bought and ‘old followers’ do not necessarily have to use that phone anymore.

    Online sales on specific platforms are influenced by promotions and do not take into account the offline sales, which are pretty important for brands like Oppo, Vivo and Huawei.

    I would advise to look at figures by the IDC instead. Earlier this year, based on market share, the top 5 was: Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, iPhone and Xiaomi.
    Another source, Gfk, showed the same ranking in May, while market research firm Counterpoint had Apple and Xiaomi switching places.

    Ed

    • Avatar

      admin

      November 6, 2017 at 3:37 am

      It is true that popularity on Weibo does not necessarily represent sales figures. This is just a list we wanted to provide of the brands with most following on Weibo, of which the hashtags of new model announcements are topping the trending topics lists daily. If readers are looking for a different type of list they should certainly follow the lists you advice.

  2. Avatar

    Compare phones side by side

    January 9, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    This is really one of the best post and great information about smartphones, I liked it and enjoyed reading it. Keep sharing such an important posts

  3. Avatar

    mobile makr

    January 30, 2018 at 11:48 am

    oppo and vivo are no.1 stupid phones xxxxxxxxx 🙁

  4. Avatar

    Srinivas

    February 8, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Well, the article very much useful about top china mobiles. Also read about top 5 Indian Smart phones (Non-China) with price and specification
    CLICK ON LINK
    http://gstrendsnow.blogspot.in/2018/02/top-5-indian-brand-smart-phones-non.html

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China Digital

Waves of Support for Huawei on Chinese Social Media following US Blacklisting

“My next phone will definitely be a Huawei.”

Manya Koetse

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The US blacklisting of Huawei has left many Huawei owners across the world shocked and wondering if they will need to stop using their phone. In China, however, social media users are seemingly less worried, cheering on Huawei as China’s ‘national pride.’

Huawei smartphone users will allegedly receive no future updates from Android now that Google has suspended Huawei’s access to its mobile Operating System, following orders issued by the US Trump administration, Reuters reported on Sunday.

The Chinese telecom giant was added to a trade blacklist earlier last week,as the China-US trade war reached another tipping point.

Huawei has been using Google’s operating system for over a decade. Huawei debuted its first Android smartphone in February of 2009.

Besides being cut off from the world’s best-selling operating system, some of the world’s leading chip designers and suppliers are also ceasing their dealings with Huawei until further notice.

The news left many Huawei users outside of China worried and panicked. On Twitter, Huawei users have been asking what to do with their new Huawei device, with some saying they want to switch brands as soon as possible.

On Chinese social media, however, many people discussing this news are vowing not to abandon Huawei in light of the recent developments. “I’ve always used Huawei, and will never change,” some said, with others even commenting: “I’m preparing to switch to a Huawei phone, I hope they can stand firm.”

Huawei responded to the recent developments on May 20th, saying that Huawei does not need to depend on American suppliers for their chips, nor for their Operating System (OS). Huawei has reportedly been working on its in-house ‘Hong Meng’ OS since 2012.

They also promised to continue providing security updates and after-sale services for its smartphones and tablets, The Guardian reports.

Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of Chinese online responses to the issue are rather positive at the time of writing. The larger part of comments on Weibo are not necessarily anti-American, nor pessimistic about Huawei’s future, but instead confident that Huawei will have no problems in overcoming the recent hurdles.

On Weibo, the hashtag “Huawei Doesn’t Need to Rely on America for its Microchips” (#华为芯片可以不依赖美国供应链#) had over 19 million views by Monday night. The hashtag “Huawei’s Self-Developed Operating System Hong Meng” (#华为自研操作系统鸿蒙#) also took off on Monday in response to the news that Huawei has been developing its own OS for years, in case it would no longer be able to depend on Google for the Android OS.

“What’s been happening with Huawei recently teaches us an important lesson,” one Weibo user (@叼着猫的小花鱼) wrote: “Sometimes, it’s essential to have a plan B!” The Chinese idiom ‘Jū ān sī wēi‘ (居安思危) is used by many, meaning “think of dangers in times of safety” or “be vigilant in peacetime.” The second character of the idiom, ān 安, is also the first in the Chinese term for ‘Android’ (安卓).

Many netizens commented that they are looking forward to the Huawei OS, and predict that one potential consequence of the China-US trade war will be that all Chinese smartphones might eventually switch to a Chinese Operating System and use made-in-China chips and electronics.

On China’s Douyin (Tiktok) platform, hundreds of people are sharing short videos of Huawei chief Ren Zhengfei (任正非) talking about Huawei as the world leader in 5G technology, with comment sections showing praise for the Huawei brand: “My next phone will definitely be a Huawei.”

“We [Chinese] are becoming more and more confident,” one of the 12,000+ comments on Douyin said.

Both on Weibo and Douyin, people express that Huawei is more than a brand to them, saying it is a “national pride.” The slogan “Go China! Go Huawei!” (“加油中国 加油华为”) is ubiquitous on social media.

“Some of my close friends are thinking of buying an iPhone, and I think it’s shameful,” one Douyin user wrote. “I will unconditionally support domestically produced products. Go Huawei!”, others wrote on Weibo.

For now, Huawei users will still have access to the Android version on their existing devices and will still be able to download app updates provided by Google.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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Backgrounder

What Are Weibo’s “Super Topics”?

Explaining Weibo’s “Super Topics”

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What are Weibo’s “Super Topics” (超级话题) and what makes them different from normal hashtags?

Over the past year, Weibo’s so-called “Super Topics” (超级话题) have become more popular on the social media platform as online spaces for people to connect and share information.

Weibo’s “super topic” function has been around since 2016. The function allows Weibo users to create and join interest-based content community pages that are online groups separated from the main Weibo space. One could perhaps compare these Weibo Super Groups to ‘mega-threads’ or ‘subreddits’ on Reddit.

These are the most important things to know about Weibo’s Super Topics:

 

#1 A Super Topic is Not the Same as a Hashtag

Similar to Twitter, hashtags make it possible for Weibo users to tag a topic they are addressing in their post so that their content pops up whenever other people search for that hashtag.

Different from Twitter, Weibo hashtags also have their own page where the hashtag is displayed on top, displaying how many people have viewed the hashtag, how many comments the hashtag is tagged in, and allowing users to share the hashtag page with others.

A Super Topic goes beyond the hashtag. It basically is a community account where all sort of information is shared and organized. People can ‘follow’ (关注) a Super Topic and can also ‘sign in’ (签到).

On the main page of every Super Topic page, the main subject or purpose of the super topic is briefly explained, and the number of views, followers, and posts are displayed.

A super topic-page can be created by any Weibo user and can have up to three major hosts, and ten sub-hosts. The main host(s) can decide which content will be featured as essential, they can place sticky notes, and post links to suggested topics.

 

#2 A Super Topic Is a Way to Organize Content

Super Topic pages allow hosts to organize relevant content in the way they want. Besides the comment area, the page consists of multiple tabs.

A tab right underneath the main featured information on the page, for example, shows the “sticky posts” (置顶帖) that the host(s) of the page have placed there, linking to relevant information or trending hashtag pages. Below the sticky notes, all the posts posted in the Super Topic community are displayed.

One of the most important tabs within the Super Topic page is called “essential content” (精花), which only shows the content that is manually selected by the host(s). This is often where opinion pieces, articles, official news, or photos, etc. are collected and separated from all the other posts.

Another tab is the “Hall of Fame” (名人堂), which mainly functions as a reference page. It features links to the personal Weibo pages of the super topic page host(s), links to the Weibo pages of top contributors, and shows a list of the biggest fans of the Super Topic. Who the biggest fan of the page is, is decided by the number of consecutive days a person has “checked-in” on the page.

 

#3 Super Topics Are a Place for Fans to Gather

Although a Super Topic could basically be about anything, from cities to products or hobbies, Super Topics are often created for Chinese celebrities, video games, football clubs, or TV dramas.

Through Super Topic pages, a sense of community can be created. People can be ranked for being the most contributive or for checking in daily, and comment on each other’s posts, making it a home base for many fan clubs across China.

The host(s) can also help somebody’s page (e.g. a celebrity account) grow by proposing them to others within the group.

Super Groups are ranked on Weibo based on their popularity. This also gives fans more reason to stay active in the group, making their Super Topic top ranking within their specific category (TV drama, food, photography, sports, games, etc).

What makes the Super Topic group more ‘private’ than the common Weibo area, is that people posting within the Super Topic can decide whether or not they also want their comment shared on their own Weibo page or not. If they choose not to, their comments or posts will only be visible within the Super Topic community.

 

By Manya KoetseGabi Verberg, with contributions from Boyu Xiao

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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