Five Top-Shelf Smartphones Made Outside China

Are there any current cell phones not made in China?

Initially, when we published this story, we listed a few phones not made in China but mentioned that, as time goes on, fewer and fewer devices are manufactured elsewhere – and few phones in general are manufactured in a single country.

In 2023, the landscape has shifted so much that some companies are indeed not making tech in China anymore and slowly moving their products elsewhere.

For those who really are against technology manufactured in China, a report published near the end of 2022 in New York Times brings good tidings:
“In the coming weeks, Apple and Google will unveil their latest generation of smartphones, jockeying to distinguish the new devices from previous models. But one of the most significant changes will go largely unnoticed by consumers: Some of these phones will not be made in China,” wrote NYT.
According to the outlet, Apple started producing a small fraction of iPhone 14 models in India for the first time. Their sources also say that Google’s newest Pixel phone production has moved to Vietnam, though those sources did not specify which models.

With production lines for each components set up in China, India, Thailand or elsewhere, tracking where Samsung phones are manufactured, or where iPhones are made, could be a detective exercise and puzzle fit for a new Knives Out movie.

Cell phones made in the USA: There is only one American-made phone left

Some people think that CAT phones are made in the USA but they’re only designed there, with manufacturing shifted offshore.

The same goes for BLU phones, which are not manufactured in the USA, as well as NUU Mobile, which makes affordable and unlocked, carrier-free phones. NUU Mobile is headquartered in Irving, Texas, USA, but manufacturing happens elsewhere.

That’s also the story with Nokia. While the company is a famous Finnish brand, Nokia phones are not made in Finland – just designed there and then assembled in Chinese factories.

So, is there an American-made phone?
Yes, just a single model, and the good news is that this is an ethical, consumer-friendly phone.

Meet the Librem 5, an American-made phone that’s focused on privacy and runs its own operating system, not Android or iOS, built with open-source code.

Made by Purism, the Librem 5 phone is the very last phone made in the USA, and even comes with a Librem AweSIM, a truly unlimited cellular phone plan that’s just $99. For heavy data users, the Librem 5 and the Librem SIM sell themselves at this point, which is evident in the fact that Purism has issues keeping up with the demand.

librem 5 phone made in the usa - american-made phone with privacy focus

We don’t want to sound like fanboys but the Librem 5 phone is made in America – the very last of its kind, an unicorn. Even moreso, it’s a fully independent phone on the software side too. Librem 5 runs a fully free and open-source operating system that has no ties to either Google or Apple, the two major OS makers around. If you’re looking for a phone that’s sustainable, ethically built and with a strong privacy focus, this is the one…and unfortunately only choice. Even the fantastic Fairphone 4, despite being a truly repairable and sustainable, consumer-friendly phone, is made in China.

If you’re looking for a phone not made in China, the list of choices is very slim.

However, outside of the Librem 5 smartphone and a couple of Samsung and Pixel phones, we did find a few older top-shelf phones not made in China whose specs are still relevant nowadays.

Also read: That Explains It: Apple Has 1,200 Quality Control Workers for iPhones, Android Only 100

With many international companies just starting to move away from the Chinese market, looking to Vietnam, India, or Taiwan for a better deal, and with the new status quo created by the corona pandemic, getting phones made in China might prove difficult at the moment. 

Sure, Blackberry was a top-notch smartphone once upon a time, but this changed as iOS and Android devices rose in popularity, leaving the company behind. Soon even Apple, a US-based company, had to move its manufacturing operations to China, followed by Google and many others. They did this to cut costs and provide a better price-to-quality ratio.

But things are about to change again. 

At the moment, Google is looking to move away from China to manufacture its phones in an old Nokia factory in Vietnam. Some Motorola smartphones, which are owned by Lenovo, will be made in India, although the Beijing-based company is going to still make some devices in mainland China. 

The shift is caused by piracy or counterfeiting concerns on one hand, and privacy fears on the other hand. Suspicions that CCP controls some aspects of the tech market in China also arose. So, the change is bound to happen sooner or later.

When looking for smartphones made outside China, users have started looking at countries like Japan or South Korea to find non-Chinese manufactured phones. Luckily, the products are there, just ripe for the picking. 

The best phones not made in China (older models)

LG ThinQ series (LG V60 5G and LG G8X 5G) 

These are two phones that can change your mind about what a phone does and how a phone looks, feels, and sounds. The looks are memorable, the dual-screen can be spotted a mile away (and it’s easy to brag about) and the prices are more affordable compared to their Samsung counterparts. 

You can also go for the V60 ThinQ and the LG G8X ThinQ, which are also showstoppers and the specs are nothing to scoff at.

The sound quality is also the same, seeing that the phones are DTS-enabled, providing a good experience all around. 

Sony Xperia 1 II 

We’ve seen a renaissance of the brand in the last years, the Japanese Sony moving towards some new design philosophies and marketing strategies.

The Japanese-made Sony Xperia 1 II is a good example of that, with specs that can rival any 2020 competitor (Snapdragon 865 chip), good sound quality, OLED screen and Android 10. If you are looking for a good old Japanese device that holds the test of time, this might be it. Sure, you can go for any Xperia phone, seeing that the company is manufacturing all its devices in Japan, but we are talking about top-shelf here. 

LG Stylo 5

Same company, different approach towards its user base. The LG Stylo 5 is for the business savvy or the ones that need more interaction with the device, LG gunning for the Note market with a 6.2-inch screen, a 14 nm Snapdragon 450 chipset, and a ton of bells and whistles to help the user in the productivity department. While yes, those specs might seem out of place considering the craziness of 2023 expectations, if you use your phone for work, the LG Stylo 5 is still a good platform – especially on a budget.

Samsung Galaxy S20 series, Galaxy S21 series and Galaxy S22 series

We can’t talk about top-shelf, and not mention the South Korean giant Samsung and the Galaxy series. The S20 series is one of our top picks when it comes to a good replacement for your Chinese-made phone. On the specs front, you get nothing but the best that the South Korean company can offer. And, if you are serious about not buying a phone made in China, for whatever reason you might have, you might rest easy knowing that Samsung Galaxy phones are made in Vietnam and South Korea.

And you get to pick your favorite according to your budget, Samsung offering options for the S20 and S22 series for most budgets.

The octa-core processor takes most of the load, and you get 3 gigs of RAM to help out with the rest. Also, you get features like NFC transfer, an audio jack, and a 13MP camera. And, let’s not forget, the phone comes with good sound quality, being DTS 3D Surround-enabled. 

Honorable mention

Moto G Stylus

Have you ever wondered ‘where are Motorola phones manufactured’? If you are curious about where are Motorola phones made, the answer might surprise you. Motorola smartphones are manufactured in India, with the manufacturing facility located in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

For example, the G Stylus is maybe one of the best budget-friendly phones on the list, build outside of China. The manufacturer started producing G Series smartphones in 2020 and became a popular low-cost smartphone manufactured outside of China. It has a large screen and a 665 Snapdragon processor, but it comes with some caveats, like the lack of advanced pen support that we find in some of its bigger budget rivals. But, if you want to get something with a big screen and not break the piggy bank, this might be a good alternative. Other Motorola smartphones manufactured in India are the Motorola Razr, the E-series (Moto E6s, E5 Plus) and the One-series (Moto Fusion One+, One Action, One Vision, One Macro).

*Article originally published in 2021 by Andrei Ene and updated continously by our editors to reflect the current landscape of phones not made in China or exclusively manufactured in the USA.

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  1. Kay

    June 21, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    When you say not made in china. You mean even the components used are non-chinese?

    • Andrei Ene

      June 23, 2020 at 9:16 pm

      In theory, yes! But it’s hard to say where all the components come from, especially with the current ecosystem.

  2. Anon

    March 10, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    That’s 100% false. All of these phones get the majority of their components from China. The brands aren’t Chinese and a few parts are made in other countries, but they’re as much Chinese phones as an iPhone.

  3. LetsPlay

    April 11, 2021 at 5:37 am

    Lies. Motorola brand is now owned by Lenovo, a Chinese company.

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