I have some inquiries from people who have no idea about the cost to develop a new phone, they want to have a phone made by a Chinese cell phone manufacturer, the requirements for a customized phone are very complicated or they want a phone to be like a specific model of a popular brand like ZTE, Xiaomi or LG. The specifications that they need look very easy, they want a special size of a screen, special shape, and special performances. For example, they want a 6.25″ screen, they want 1TB memory and also support external memory that is 512GB, they want the huge battery. However, I can tell you that some of the requirements are not even possible for the manufacturers of cell phones here in China. Most of the current smartphones that are produced in Shenzhen China usually have a main chipset from either Qualcomm or MTK, huge companies like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei have their own chipsets, but other companies like Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, ZTE, LG, Nexus and so on, don’t have their own chipsets, they buy chipsets from Qualcomm and MTK. You can Google what a cell phone chipset do to a phone, in short, when you search by the chipset model and get the datasheet of that chipset, you know the capability of that phone. There are always new models of phones available every year from Xiaomi, Oppo, Lenovo, Vivo, LG, if you can 2 models from 2 different brands have the same chipset, you know that both phones have similar specifications, the difference might be on the screen size, battery size, and shape. As for the display, as you know that there are only a few LCD manufacturers in the World, there is only one LCD manufacturer in China called BOE, a lot of display manufacturers buy LCD from BOE, AUO, and Sharp and assemble the touchscreen and top glass, if the big companies don’t have the LCD size you want, the display manufacturers will not be able to supply you the screen you want. Only the big phone manufacturers like Apple, LG, Samsung, Xiaomi, and ZTE can ask the LCD to produce the size they want because they can buy many millions of LCD from them, if you only need one million of LCD, they will not bother to set up a production line for the size you want.
Other than the size of screen and the main chipset as well as the Operation Systems (as you know that there are only 2 main OS in the smartphone industry, one is iOS, another one is Android, the majority of Chinese smartphones use Android), you can still customize a lot of features, you can tell the ODM phone manufacturers who to put the camera and audio jack, you can also put your own logo on the phone and the booting screen.
If you are going to use a phone that the manufacturer produced before and you just want to add your logo on the phone, the cost for the setup of the production is probably 100,000 RMB plus a MOQ of 3000 phones.
If you need to make a customized look of a phone, you will need a set of tooling(molds), it takes a couple weeks for the drawings and also a couple months for the tooling production. The cost can be 1,000,000 RMB only for the work of drawings and toolings.
If you are going to have your own PCB boards, it can be another million of RMB just for the setup a prototype.
If you want to have your own UI, it can be very expensive, for this you need to ask your software company.
As you see, it can easily 2 to 3 millions of RMB if you want to have a customized phone made in China.