back to article Is China dumping smartphones on world+dog?

We’ve heard much this week about China dumping steel, but less so about China dumping smartphones onto the rest of the world. But the latter accusation is actually far closer to truth. For years, the leading phone brands like Samsung, Sony and HTC have spent huge amounts in the hope of gaining the windfall profits that follow …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much?

    I have to say that I am happy with my Cubot GT95 which Amazon sold me for all of £45.

    It makes calls. Does text. And does e-mail, Firefox and Open Street Maps. What's not to like?

    1. dotdavid

      Re: How much?

      "What's not to like?"

      Any security updates?

      Sorry that's unfair; it's not like even the expensive Android handsets get those, unfortunately.

      1. PaulM 1

        Re: How much?

        This would not be such a problem if they were Android One compatible phones running standard software builds supported by Google. As it is many of them run old insecure versions of Android and some come pre-loaded with malware. I am glad that I have a Nexus 5 running Marshmallow.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: How much?

          Just out of interest do those actually get security patches, rather than just a whole new ROM version once in a blue moon?

          1. dotdavid

            Re: How much?

            Android One devices get whole new ROM versions which include the patches, plus additional features if it's an Android version upgrade, and retain user data. This allegedly happens for up to two years although I wonder if it's two years from the sale of the device or two years from the release-to-market of the device. I suspect the latter.

      2. whoelse

        Re: How much?

        Nexus devices do (for a few years anyway)

        and of course there's....

        <awkward pause, tumbleweed>

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. asdf

      Apple smartphone profits in a whole other stadium

      >Samsung alone makes a profit on its smartphone business

      Prefaced by saying in the Android ecosystem. Apple probably made more profit off their phones just in the last year or two than Samsung has made total on smartphones ever.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Why build up services?

    Samsung does and all you get is two or three slightly different copies of each app. It's not as if they're particularly loved anyway, people will use what they're already using.

    I suppose Xiaomi and OnePlus' Chinese market prices let them generate profit while they build up momentum in the West. I still wouldn't buy one though, if it goes wrong you're stuck with an expensive brick.

    What I would look at are the European rebadgers like Wileyfox and bq, you've got support that way. (And official CM with Wileyfox.)

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Hmm, what sort of features would make a sensible person spend £600 on a flagship phone when a £250 handset is nearly as good?

    With current technology, there isn't an answer to that question that is immediately obvious to me. Sure, there are esoteric features that might appeal to a few consumers - an IR camera, or Kinect-style 3D sensor, or perhaps a laser range-finder for site workers - but nothing obvious to appeal to the mass market.

    If anyone of you think you know how to justify an extra few hundred quid on a handset, I'll expect you'll keep it to yourself and make money from it, rather than post it here.

    1. Matt Ryan

      Ignoring the sensible part...



    2. Phil W

      An actual stylus.

      By which I don't just mean a stick with a bit of conductive material on the end, but a proper Wacom (or equivalent) stylus with pressure sensitivity (and 1 or more buttons on the stylus), like the Samsung Note series have.

      Unfortunately no-one besides Samsung seem to have bothered with this, and as a result there are no cheaper options.

      1. Bc1609

        Re: an actual stylus


        I know it's not for everyone, but having a stylus that is not only built into the phone but has proper software integration (take the stylus out of my Note 3 and it automatically opens a notepad over the top of your current application, for example - not to mention the screenshot/clipping/annotation etc.) is such a great feature, and I wish more manufacturers would adopt it. I don't know if it's worth the £300 posited by the OP, but it's certainly worth a lot (to me).

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      @Dave 126

      "Hmm, what sort of features would make a sensible person spend £600 on a flagship phone when a £250 handset is nearly as good?"

      The main feature that made me buy a £600 flagship phone was the fact that it actually only cost £400 if you bought it on Amazon instead of direct from the manufacturer or from a network. And the cheaper the list price on a phone is, the less discount you'll get on it. You can find the more popular high-end phones for close to half price even when they're new, but you'll be lucky to get as much as £50 or so off a £250-300 one for exactly the reason the article notes - they're already being sold at or near cost. A £600 phone may not be twice as good as a £300 one, but it often can be £100 or more better.

    4. aeonturnip

      For me, the additional money isn't all that justifiable, but things I look for are a really good large screen (for the not-so-young eyes), excellent camera (as I don't want to take two bottles into the shower), removable battery and microSD slot. Generally only the high-end phones have the first two, but I haven't found one that ticks all my boxes - my Note 3 is still going strong. The MS Lumia 950XL or LG V10 may replace it when they come out, but until then there's no low, mid or high end device out there to cover all my requirements. Given how much use I get out of my phone, and that it's good for three years, I'm prepared to pay the premium.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        thanks for your replies guys!

        I was thinking more of what the next 'feature jump' might be... some people used to pay £600 for a tiny polished Nokia 8210 when it was state if the art, but 6 or so years later a handset would have to do much much more to have that price tag.

        Agreed, the list price is usually way over what a phone can be had for - at least in Android land.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "moves those emissions to China"

    You're correct that EU and even more so UK policy is simply about offshoring emissions. DECC glibly claim that the UK economy has decoupled emissions from GDP growth, but that's only on the basis of (1) made up GDP numbers, and (2) only considering UK territorial emissions.

    Properly adjusted the data looks to indicate that (through spending rebound effects) over forty years, GDP remains as carbon intensive as it ever was. And fiddling around with energy policy won't fix that, because domestic energy use is only a fraction of our combined territorial + imported emissions. All that the idiotic energy policy does is increase the cost to users, whilst in net terms making a paltry reduction in net emissions. The scandalous deal just signed by that intellectual flyweight Cameron for Hinkley Point C only makes the situation worse, because the costs are out of this world, but even before it is operational the existing AGR's will be reaching the end of their already extended lives.

    A consequence of this is that the EU ETS could never work, and never will work - it just pushes up costs for EU industry (although France & Germany bend the rules to support their industrial base). And it also means that if carbon emissions haven't been decoupled from growth, you have only two options: Adapt to any climate change, and push for cheap, nuclear or fusion as a longer term goal, or go back to middle ages standards of living.

    Unfortunately DECC, and the retards of Westminster are in firm denial on all of this, so we can expect the same failed, flawed, expensive policies to be continued.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: "moves those emissions to China"

      Some valid points however (boo hiss) Apple seems to be trying to do something about it

      The Church of St Jobs is at least (on the surface anyway) trying to reduce emissions all round.

      I am sure that the people who report on things like child labour in Foxconn will greet this expansion of their implied remit with welcome arms and very soon they will be reporting where the Fruity Company have gone rotten.

      Watch this space (or somewhere else on the internet)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "moves those emissions to China"

        The Church of St Jobs is at least (on the surface anyway) trying to reduce emissions all round.

        Window dressing. The whole point of making things in China is that everything is cheaper there for the simple reason that China has lower living standards, lower emission standards, lower pollution controls, lower labour standards, lower human rights standards, no tolerance of dissent or whistleblowing, and a very relaxed approach to forcing people out of their homes to suit industrial or infrastructure needs. Having a few wind turbines connected to your OEM's factory doesn't avoid the vast embodied energy of all the infrastructure, manufacturing and housing facilities, and it doesn't do anything for the embodied energy of the significant raw materials. Or for the transport halfway round the world to sell at high prices into the US or EU markets.

        Apple (and anybody else) can claim what they want about reducing emissions in their supply chain, but the only zero emissions smartphone is no smartphone. Even in the EU this still applies: Jaguar Land Rover make a big thing about their low emissions supply chain, but thinking about what they make, and what they make it with, and what and how it is used, is any Land Rover a low emissions vehicle? And would it make any difference if it were an electric Land Rover? Not in my book.

        Now, as many will know I'm not signed on to the various globalwarmistpaedoterrorist agendas, so I'm relaxed about buying devices and the emissions that generates. But those who are convinced of the climate change argument really need to go back to hair shirts, crofting, and early death. A few token gestures doesn't decarbonise either an iPhone or a Range Rover. Whilst the British government are so convinced of the need to save me from climate change that they want to exile all of our remaining manufacturing base, eventually they'll find that you can't import everything and export nothing (other than a few token financial services, often supported by a web of offshored support).

        So the choice remains: Hair shirts and hope the AGW goes away, or a modified form of BAU and a side order of deal with it if it happens.

    2. ma1010 Silver badge

      Re: "moves those emissions to China"

      Exporting emissions is one of the stupidest ideas ever. Back in the 90's, California did that same idiotic thing with power plants. They wouldn't let anyone build new power plants in the state, despite increasing population. Their attitude was "Oh, let's let them build the plants in other states and we'll buy electricity from them." Result? Power cuts in the middle of the summer when it's 105 degrees F (40 C) or more. They then got into some amazingly crooked deals where the state bought electricity and bled out hundreds of millions of dollars in budget surplus we used to have. This whole situation got people so mad they actually fired the state governor in a special election. After that, the state authorized quite a few "peaker" natural gas power plants that run only when demand is high, such as when it's very hot.

      Eventually the EU and UK policy of driving out heavy industry will backfire, too, and there will be hell to pay.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "moves those emissions to China"

        Therein is a big problem with the internationals. They move their (I'll use steel production) from a place with good emission's standards to a place with low standards. The emissions produced offshore are higher for making a ton of steel than onshore. Yet, the Green types proclaim a victory for the onshore crowd. Sorry, the emitted crap still goes into the atmosphere of this big blue ball.

        I'm not a Green, nor a denier or supporter of climate change. But... the logic of what they are doing totally escapes me.

        1. asdf

          Re: "moves those emissions to China"

          >Therein is a big problem with the internationals. They move their (I'll use steel production) from a place with good emission's standards to a place with low standards.

          IE the race to the bottom that makes global capitalism so great. At this point I will just be happy when capital starts having problems finding child and slave labor. Probably be another generation at least before that is the case.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: "moves those emissions to China"

            "At this point I will just be happy when capital starts having problems finding child and slave labor. "

            You do know the origins of the word "robot" don't you? (It's Czech, from "rab"(slave), meaning forced labour)

            Child labour is getting expensive. Robots work 24*7 with the lights off and they don't need feeding, housing, toilet breaks or shift changes.

        2. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: "moves those emissions to China"

          ....the logic of what they are doing totally escapes me.

          It's called politics and it has no logic.

          Some bunch of third-rate fonctionnaires[1] desperately wanted an agreement for their master to fly in and sign at Kyoto to help them in their quest to become second rate fonctionnaires. As they didn't stand a cat in hell's chance of getting one if they put the lid on rampant industrialisation in China, India et. al. they played the "post imperial guilt" card, handed an exemption to the "developing world" and we are where we are.

          The end result is the usual. A treaty that looks good in the press but actually isn't worth the paper it's printed on. This is why I always say that we should be spending the money on finding ways to live with a warmer climate, because there's absolutely fuck-all chance of anything meaningful being done about it, no matter how many agitprop twats wave placards and/or do their Christmas shopping for the cost of a brick.

          [1] I find this invokes "parasitic waste of skin" rather better than "civil servant" and a load of adjectives.

  6. Mage Silver badge


    Interesting comparison.

    I was reading earlier in the year how before WWI UK coal mining was uneconomical, and again before WWII. The wars made it strategically important.

    You have to wonder if without economic coal and iron ore mining in UK, was steel production doomed anyway apart from carbon taxes?

  7. WibbleMe

    Yes after buying the worlds cheapest smart phone for £52 it came from china 2 weeks to get here has crap speakers and bloat ware pre installed

  8. djswivel

    I'm into week 3 of running a £40 Doogee X5.

    Does everything I need, and even the kids can play games on it.

    Never buying a branded phone again.

    For those bothered about security, what are you doing running Android anyway?

  9. Lallabalalla

    The £600 Android isn't twice as good as the £300 android

    It also isn't half as good as the £600 iPhone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The £600 Android isn't twice as good as the £300 android

      Yes, my £120 delivered I6S quad core replica, with working fingerprint sensor, Android 4.2.2 and an interface that looks just like IOS but has the added benefit of being able to install and run Android playstore apps, is so much better than a £600 Android phone. And indeed, a £600 Iphone...

      No bloatware, a few Chinese applications that needed removing, other than that, a great device.

      I actually have 2 now, the other is the I6 Plus replica with an octacore processor, otherwise a similar spec. Just a bit big for my pocket.

  10. davenewman

    UK prices profit gouge us

    Far from selling below cost, smartphones in the UK cost a lot more than in the domestic markets of China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

    I ordered a 4G smartphone from China for £50. I had to wait for it to arrive by surface mail, but apart from a lack of RAM, it is as good at the over £250 Samsung models.

    So they are certainly not dumping.

  11. Ali on the Reg

    Remember Samsung in the 1980s/1990s?

    My recollection is that they were the cheapo Korean alternative for people who couldn't afford Sony or even Sanyo TV sets. My guess is that they weren't making big bucks back then. Xiaomi's strategy seems sound and would seem to be holding true considering that they are the 3rd biggest smartphone company.

  12. jzl

    Rightwards Ho

    The Register continues its march to the hard right with verve. There aren't many places where you'd see the FT described as "utopian".

    Guys, the climate change denial is getting stupid now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rightwards Ho

      Aye, it's windy outside, autumn?

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Rightwards Ho

      Quite right. Clickbait with a headline about how cheap Chinese phones are sweeping the planet and use it as a lever to talk unscientifically and simplistically about the collapse of the steel industry. As if it hasn't been collapsing since the 1980s.

      I live in Germany and know damn well what I pay for electricity (€ 0.25 per kWh). I don't even mind paying more, well the extra we're going to pay to keep the Bavarians happy is annoying, but nevertheless I'm in general agreement with the policy. I also know that this is much more than what any of the many industrial factories pay for their power. I also realise that power in the US is even cheaper, though that particular advantage is somewhat by the current artificial exchange rates.

      Steel isn't that fungible but with the current stupidly engineered oversupply some producers are desperate to get rid of it. I think WTO talks about US claims of dumping by the EU have only recently been resolved.

    3. Phil.T.Tipp

      Re: Rightwards Ho

      The climate cares not for your poxy politics.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rightwards Ho

    "Guys, the climate change denial is getting stupid now."

    Being patronising is even more stupid now!

    This is one of the things that irritates me about many pro AGW people. Their use of the word "denial" in a prejorative fashion. Vastly over-simplifying, passive aggressive and a logical fallacy -

    I do not deny there is climate change - only a fool would deny that as it stands to reason that the climate will change. And has done, for lots of reasons, historically.

    I challenge the notion that consensus is right - another logical fallacy and dangerous, the dissenting voice sometimes has a point; and there are many.

    I challenge that the science is settled; it's not. If it was, the models would work.

    I challenge the level of thermocalypse predicted; historic evidence suggests that warming may not be so bad. And Amazingly, humans are adaptable (we won't wake up to a 60ft sea rise tomorrow morning).

    I do not challenge that reducing our energy consumption is bad; nor that we should look after the planet.

    Call me a climate change challenger; let's have the debate.

    But calling someone a denier is as stupid as claiming the climate does not change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rightwards Ho

      Whilst you have a logical argument, the OP was jzl and if there's one thing I've learned in life it's that you don't want it on your face.

    2. captain veg

      Re: Rightwards Ho

      Climate science is hard. Actual climate scientists are smart guys who have had to wrestle difficult stuff.

      You are an Anonymous Coward.

      Your opinion, for that's all it is, is worthless. Nothing to debate.


    3. MondoMan

      Re: use of "denier"

      The "denier" epithet was originally chosen by climate alarmists since it evokes beyond-the-pale Holocaust denial. Perhaps that's stupid, but it has been effective in tarring their political opponents.

      1. Phil.T.Tipp

        Re: use of "denier"

        I would suggest usage of the ridiculous term is more effective in tarring the sender rather than the intended recipient.

  14. mpinco

    Why spend for a more expensive device? One word - security.

    Why buy a "smart"phone if your not going to use it for some level of financial activity? Devices produced at cost come with virtually no support and "maybe" someday updates? There are better places to save.

  15. MyffyW Silver badge

    The effect of this Chinese smartphone-dumping being to potentially kill off the vibrant and flourishing UK-manufactured smartphone industry, I take it?

    Me thinks designing the chips in the buggers might be better employment for an advanced economy.

  16. Bota

    I was having this discussion with my wife r.e is it worth buying a flagship over a budget handset? Last year we both bought Huawei honor c3s. At the time my phone was playing up and she hated the Samsung phablet she got lumped with. About 40 quid each for the phones, within 4 months my screen no longer works yet hers is fine. I got a broken s4 working and updated to lollipop but now with all the security issues Samsung are saying the s4 won't be updated to marshmallow. This is why I'm probably going to get an iPhone. The cost of the budget phone, fixes to the s4 and the original cost would have been equal to getting something fruity and at least I'd be getting updates. As for the man made climate change, look into the club of Rome and their book the first global revolution. It details (in the 70s) how governments would need to push man made climate change for control of resources and further taxation.

    1. MondoMan

      cost of phone vs. service

      Bota, how does the cost of your phone compare to the monthly cost of cellular service? In the US, the 3rd and 4th place cell companies have recently been pushing subsidized promotional leases where the iPhone 6s costs $0 to $15/month for 18 months (with a final residual value/purchase cost of about $150), depending on your trade-in. However, the promotional monthly lease rate only continues while the phone remains in service with the specific cell company.

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