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James Martin/CNET

, and have long been mainstays on the global smartphone leaderboard, but in recent years there’s been a string of new players. , Oppo and Vivo might sound unfamiliar to most Americans, outside a tech-savvy bubble, but they’re right up there with the world’s top brands.

While Samsung wears the crown as the world’s largest smartphone company and Apple still pulls in the most profit, Chinese phone-makers have ascended rapidly worldwide and are displaying resilience amid the pandemic.Huawei surpassed Apple to become the world’s second largest seller of last year, achieving this coveted milestone without selling any phones in the US, and briefly eclipsed Samsung in April. A Shenzhen-based phone company, Transsion, meanwhile, has since its launch there in 2018. 

„Chinese smartphone-makers have captured around 40% of the global market share, showing that Chinese firms are increasingly capable of building consumer products with global appeal,“ said Dan Wang, technology analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, a research firm. 

In addition to enticing shoppers around the world to buy their handsets, Chinese vendors have worked hard to shed the reputation that they’re merely cheap copycats — they’re starting to drive innovations such as foldable designs or pop-up cameras, which offer a window into the future of smartphone technology.Royole, a Shenzhen-based company, unveiled the , beating Samsung to the pun

 that looks at the areas of technology where the country is looking to take a leadership position.

Along with these innovative designs, Chinese phone brands are increasingly churning out high-end phones and pushing price boundaries, aiming to transcend their budget phone image and compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple after focusing on the budget or entry level market for years.Critics say they still have a long way to go. 

„These competitive pressures drive changes in pricing, innovation and marketing, but I’m not convinced that Chinese vendors, aside from Huawei previously, pose a significant threat to Apple’s brand,“ said Tuong Huy Nguyen, senior principal analyst at Gartner. „Apple is a high-end brand and an ecosystem-driven experience.“

To be fair, China’s smartphone industry has witnessed its fair share of failures along with the meteoric rise of companies like Huawei and Xiaomi as the smartphone market consolidates.Gionee, a Shenzhen-based manufacturer that was among the first Chinese firms to break into the lucrative Indian market, went bust last year.

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