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I am doing Customer Support and I need to tell my user that their phone is from "a less well known" brand (e.g. from Xiaomi instead of Apple, Samsung). Which words to use in this courtesy context?

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    Your title and context contradict each other. Are you looking for a word that means "less known brands" or not ? – BiscuitBoy Jan 13 '16 at 6:05
  • It depends on your reason for mentioning it. For example, you'd likely answer differently depending on whether the customer asked, "Is it a well known brand?" or "Why are you holding less stock of this cheap phone?" – Lawrence Jan 13 '16 at 7:20
  • Thank you guys, I think off brand is perfectly fine. I am doing Customer Support via email. @Mari-LouA sorry, fixed the question! BiscuitBoy I am looking for a word that means "less known" – boh Jan 13 '16 at 8:33
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    @boh Why do you need to tell your customers this? Is it to explain that it is more difficult to fix their phone? – Araucaria Jan 13 '16 at 9:10
  • Are you replying to customers' complaint emails? How would you know which mobile they have otherwise? You can have a low-end model from a famous brand, it's just a less expensive version. If you're telling customers their phone is an off-brand they could be ticked off, it's like saying to someone: "Oh, you can't afford a real iPhone so you've got that model instead". – Mari-Lou A Jan 13 '16 at 10:06
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You can tell the person that their phone is "off-brand." It means the brand isn't a well-known.

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    Yeah, but that could have a pejorative connotation in a "courtesy context". Off-brand: an unknown, unpopular, or inferior brand of retail product. To OP: Why not just say 'not well-known brand' or a "lesser known brand"? – GoDucks Jan 13 '16 at 6:55
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    It depends on the tone. Off-brand seens a perfect fit to me, with a neutral voice. – Laurent Duval Jan 13 '16 at 7:00
  • The term "off-brand" is not pejorative. Just like many things, it could be insinuated as pejorative if used with a certain tone, but it isn't innately pejorative. Example: "Phones like iPhone and Android, as well as off-brand phones, have improved in overall resiliency to the elements." There is nothing pejorative about "off-brand." – Benjamin Harman Jan 13 '16 at 7:30
  • But the OP is using the expression in an email, there is no tone of voice in emails. – Mari-Lou A Jan 13 '16 at 10:09
  • I have read: "I need to tell my user". Where is the email mention? – Laurent Duval Jan 13 '16 at 18:38
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The OP could inform customers that they are using a low-end brand or a low-end model

low-end (The Free Dictionary)
1. Cheapest in a line of merchandise
2. Informal Of, relating to, or intended for low-income consumers; downscale

Otherwise, the OP could simply say that the customer's phone is not a top brand. I believe that phrasing is the least equivocal, less offensive (or derogative) and the easiest to understand.

A: I have a problem with my cell phone, it's a blah, blah
B: OK, it's not a top brand, but we can still help you.
B: OK, it's a low-end model (or brand), but we can still help you.

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I asked my baker for a croissant. "Butter or ordinary", she said with a depreciative tone on the last word. I bought the butter one... I propose ordinary or generic. Generic brands seem to be used in supermarkets.

But off-brand by @Benjamin Harman is excellent.

EDIT: as the answer above is checked as the best (deserved), let me add options for the sake of completeness: for smartphones, cheap and low-cost are quite related to the fame of a brand. Fuels exist in regular and premium. Standard was my last option.

  • By definition, a croissant is made with a lot of butter. What could "ordinary" mean in this context, since an ordinary croissant IS buttery? – Steven Littman Jan 13 '16 at 18:31
  • Generally, vegetable oil. Could be better (not the taste) for vegans – Laurent Duval Jan 13 '16 at 18:34
  • Then it wouldn't really be a croissant. I guess that vegans eat things that they call burgers that aren't really burgers, but that's a whole different issue. Plus, it wouldn't be the ordinary type; it would be the exception. – Steven Littman Jan 13 '16 at 18:37
  • In The Best Croissant in Paris you can read: "Whatever pâtisserie you visit, be sure to only ingest a true croissant au beurre, which has that unmistakable smell of deeply-toasted, caramelized-crunchy French beurre. Stay away from croissants ordinaires". Whether we like it or not, the concept exists – Laurent Duval Jan 13 '16 at 19:06
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    .........Sacre bleu! – Steven Littman Jan 13 '16 at 19:43
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Low-end or off-brand connotes something that is cheap and is of low quality. Generic means that the item does not carry a brand at all; i.e a box of tissues that is marked "Tissues". Ordinary just means the same as any other; i.e. an ordinary can opener just opens cans, while a deluxe model may have a corkscrew or a knife sharpener included.

You were on the right track to begin with. It's fine to say a lesser-known brand. (Note: not a "less well known brand."

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Though this is primarily used in music industry, indie is applicable here also

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