No, that's not a bulk purchasing price. According to the folks at Beijing chip designer NuFront, some Chinese retailers are now selling 7-inch 3G phablets -- powered by NuFront's TL7689 chipset -- to consumers for as low as CN¥330 or about $54 per piece (the prices pictured above are for distributors). That converts to a mere $6 profit for every device sold, which is apparently the norm in the affordable market. On paper, though, it's still a seemingly complete package: you get a 1,024 x 600 LCD screen, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, 0.3MP/2MP cameras, a 1,800mAh battery and even HSPA+ connectivity.

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As you probably know, Huawei is one of the many Asian mobile companies that are obsessed with phablets due to local demand. As such, it's no surprise that there's a follow-up model to the 6.1-inch Ascend Mate 2. Announced at IFA just now is the slightly smaller 6-inch Ascend Mate 7 (yes, somehow it skipped four model numbers), which, as you've probably already seen in the leaks, features a fingerprint reader on the back. As it turns out, unlike the traditional swipe-style scanner on, say, the similar-looking HTC One Max, the Mate 7 uses a more convenient one-touch sensor similar to that of the iPhone 5s.

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Xiaomi may be the darling of tech publications when they look to the Chinese smartphone market, but let's not forget that Meizu is the real pioneer of community-centric phone brands. As such, Meizu is sparing no effort to one-up its arch rival with its latest flagship phone, the MX4, as announced in Beijing earlier today. Thanks to the MediaTek MT6595 SoC, we're looking at an octa-core (four 2.2GHz A17 and four 1.7GHz A7) device that can connect to both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE networks right out of the box, thus beating the Xiaomi Mi 4 whose LTE variants aren't due until end of this year. More importantly, the MX4 manages to undercut the 3G-only Mi 4 by about $16 to $33 off-contract, depending on the storage capacity.

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Xiaomi's regular channeling of Apple -- from its stage presentations all the way to disguising Aperture's icon as a phone's camera -- has earned its CEO Lei Jun the "Steve Jobs of China" nickname. Or rather, "Lei Bu Si," a Chinese combination of "Lei" and "Jobs." It's also a double entendre -- something along the lines of "endless shocks" -- that mocks Xiaomi's aggressive marketing. It's no wonder Lei hates the comparison. Fortunately for Lei there's another Chinese CEO gunning for that title. Meet Luo Yonghao, an English teacher turned founder and CEO of smartphone startup, Smartisan, with designs on being the next great tech visionary.

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HTC may have some problems behind closed doors, but outside, it's still widely regarded as one of the world's top phone makers. We already gave this year's One M8 flagship a rather jolly review, and now it's time to see if the same qualities are preserved in its mid-range counterpart, the Desire 816. Indeed, back at Mobile World Congress, HTC called this $390 LTE phablet the "flagship mid-range" to emphasize its competitiveness. But has it lived up to its name? Or is it too little, too late in a world full of affordable options? Let's find out.

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Vertu CEO Max Pogliani

Last month was a special one for Max Pogliani: Not only did it mark his first anniversary as Vertu's CEO, but it also saw the launch of his very own baby, the Android-powered Signature Touch. This new phone's up-to-date specs have already silenced critics; and despite the luxury market's slowdown, the Italian exec said his team's already ahead of budget in the first half of this year. Vertu's not stopping there, as it plans to expand its portfolio with an even more affordable smartphone, as well as new accessories like audio products and maybe even smart wearables.

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With Vertu finally offering an up-to-date luxury phone, we naturally had to check out the Signature Touch up close and personal. After all, it's not everyday that one gets to play with a $21,900 phone for free (though you can do so at any Vertu boutique, as long as you're nicely dressed). For those who haven't caught up with the announcement, we're looking at a 4.7-inch 1080p display, a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 chip, 64GB of storage, 13MP/2.1MP cameras, a 2,275mAh battery, Qi wireless charging, NFC and a handful of LTE bands. With the exception of the battery (which, to be fair, is already much larger than those on previous models), these are all very decent for an Android 4.4 device.

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HTC's betting big on its recently unveiled E8 by pricing it almost half as much as the similarly-specced M8 in China, so naturally, we had to check it out for the sake of curiosity. To our surprise, the plastic body was quite solid -- more so than the Desire 816 -- and felt good thanks to the ergonomic curves on the back. The design also looked better in real life than in the official renders, though only time will tell how scratch-proof that glossy body is. Slower camera and lack of TV remote feature aside, the E8 is easily a steal given the near-identical guts as the M8 (Snapdragon 801, 5-inch 1080p screen, microSD expansion and more) plus the reassuring build quality; and there's even a hilariously large limited edition packaging that doubles as a mood light -- check it out in our video after the break.

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A little over a year ago, a fresh Chinese startup by the name of Smartisan ("smart" and "artisan" combined) showed off its first work: the Android-based Smartisan OS. What caught our attention was its truly unique UI and insanely thoughtful UX features, so naturally, we had very high expectations for the company's own hardware back then. At long last, the Smartisan T1 phone was unveiled in front of some 5,000 people -- along with 2.74 million online viewers -- at the two-hour long event earlier this week, and despite the usual flagship-level specs, it was still full of nice surprises. Don't be mistaken: unlike the low-cost, high-end devices from Xiaomi, OnePlus, Nubia and other young Chinese brands, the T1 isn't about affordability; it's positioned as a more premium smartphone with much more differentiation. How so? Read on to find out.

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Despite its relatively small presence outside China, Vivo is still a mobile brand that's worth keeping an eye on. The company's known for its fondness for high-end audio chips, and it's also often one of the very first to pack the absolute latest components into a phone, as demonstrated by its Xplay plus Xplay 3S. At one point, Vivo even boasted the world's thinnest phone until local rival Gionee broke the record. This time, the ambitious brand has launched a camera-centric smartphone dubbed the Xshot, which is the first to pack a camera with both a fast f/1.8 lens speed and optical image stabilization. Naturally, we had to get our hands dirty with it.

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Rarely do we see a tech startup spending five months actively hyping up an unborn product; and when we do, most of them end up being vaporware. Luckily, that's not the case with OnePlus. Today, the Shenzhen-based company has finally unveiled its first smartphone, the One (not to be confused with the HTC One). While the device's impressive specs have already been listed in detail beforehand, OnePlus had remained tight-lipped about the actual prices (unsubsidized) until today: $299/£229/€269 for the 16GB model, and $349/£269/€299 for the 64GB flavor; both due mid to late May. This aggressive pricing is obviously going right after the Nexus 5 ($349 for 16GB, $399 for 32GB), but is this too good to be true?

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The "all new" HTC One has been one of the worst-kept secrets of 2014, but today it's a secret no more. The Taiwanese manufacturer has taken the wraps off its latest flagship and fans of last year's model (count us among them) won't be disappointed. The phone boasts the same aluminum unibody construction as last year's model, but with more pronounced curves and even more metal this time around. A full 90 percent of the body is made of aluminum, quite a bit more than the 70 percent on the previous model. That means it's about half an ounce heavier, but it seems like a small trade-off given the incredible design and spacious 5-inch screen. That panel is still a 1080p S-LCD3 one, which means you can count on the same bright colors and deep blacks. Plus the whole front is protected by a sheet of Gorilla Glass 3. Oh, and before we go any further -- the pair of capacitive buttons have been replaced with the standard trio of Android soft keys! (Phewww...)

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We've seen the teasers and we've seen the leaks, so it's about time to see the real thing. Oppo has finally unveiled the Find 7 in Beijing just now, and as promised, this Android 4.3 device really can take 50-megapixel photos! But as with many things in life, there's a catch here: the sensor is actually a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 CMOS, so it's a software trick. Still, the results we saw earlier were surprisingly good, so read on to check out how it's done and what the rest of the phone is like.

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When Gionee's spin-off online mobile brand IUNI -- taken from "I am unique" -- launched back in November, it vowed to go right after Xiaomi with a similar sales strategy, but it's also differentiating itself by delivering "stunning" hardware design and "elegant" UI at the same time. Earlier today, the Chinese company finally showed off what it's been working on: the U2. This 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 device is positioned as the best single-hand metallic phone, featuring a 4.7-inch 1080p LTPS display -- similar to that of last year's HTC One -- tucked within a 65mm-wide aluminum body, which is narrower than the Huawei Ascend P6 and even the Moto X. Oh, and it's cheap, too: the 32GB version with 3GB of RAM is just CN¥1,999 (about $320) unsubsidized, whereas the 16GB version with 2GB RAM is just CN¥1,799 (about $290).

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Despite Qualcomm's odd stance on octa-core and 64-bit in the past, the company has clearly changed its mind since last week's launch of its Snapdragon 615, which includes both features. Qualcomm's marketing VP Tim McDonough, who briefly spoke to us after his meeting with Oppo at MWC, admitted that this new chip is partly aimed at the ever-demanding Chinese market.

"It's very interesting. Consumers in China want octa-core. It's very high on their list; while in the US and Western Europe, it's totally other things that consumers want," the exec said. "So we've really recognized that if that's what Chinese consumers want, that is what our Chinese customers, our OEMs want, and Qualcomm has to care for that need; so that's what we're doing."

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