Mears and Laugher who won 3m synchro gold in Rio last year, had to settle for second place in Guangzhou despite scoring more than 90 points on their last dive of the competition.
The City of Leeds pair had started the world series where they left off in Rio with a silver in Beijing last week and showed their strength from the start of the competition with a score of 104.40 points for their required dives.
They moved into second place in the third round and remained in there throughout the rest of the competition.
The world bronze medallists scored 86.58 points for their penultimate and hardest dive - the Front 2 1/2 Somersaults triple twists piked.
They finished the competition with their highest score of 92.34 for the Front 4 1/2 Somersaults tucked which gave them a final score of 450.60 points.
China's Cao Yuan and Xie Siyi won gold with a score of 466.02 while Russia's Ilya Zakharov and Evgenii Kuznetsov took bronze with 430.86 points.