Chinese startup Xiaomi’s newest phone, the Mi Note, sounds like it’s poised to be a hit.
Xiaomi is four-year-old smartphone manufacturer that recently raised $US1.1 billion at about a $US40 billion valuation. It’s the biggest smartphone vendor in China and the fourth largest in the world.
Aloysius Low from CNET’s Asia bureau got an early look at the Mi Note.
His review is really positive. The Mi Note sounds like an amazing phone. It has a 5.7-inch screen, which puts it in the “phablet” category, just like the iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Even more impressive, the Mi Note is more powerful and significantly cheaper than the iPhone 6 Plus.
The highlights from Low’s review:
- Unlike other Xiaomi phones, the Mi Note looks nothing like any of the iPhone models. It’s a unique, gorgeous design.
- It has a bigger battery, higher megapixel camera, and more memory than the iPhone 6 Plus.
- The camera is really good, and doesn’t bulge out like the iPhone 6 Plus camera. That’s impressive because the Mi Note is also a hair thinner than the iPhone 6 Plus.
- Even with high-end specs, the Mi Note is very affordable. The best version costs about $US450, or about $US400 cheaper than an iPhone 6 Plus with the same amount of storage.
Does that mean Apple is hosed?
The iPhone is doing really well in China, Xiaomi’s home turf. In fact, Apple is expected to announce Tuesday that it sold more iPhones in China than in the US last quarter, according to The Financial Times. That’s mostly because Apple finally caught up to the rest of the industry and released iPhones with larger screens.
Plus, Xiaomi phones are only sold in China, India, and a few other emerging markets. The iPhone is sold in over 100 countries.
Another advantage: The iPhone offers a unique experience and ecosystem. Most Android phones offer similar features and apps, so people in emerging markets like China tend to buy the devices that provide the best hardware at the cheapest price. That’s why Xiaomi has been so successful.
This is really a bigger problem for Samsung in the near term. Xiaomi devices are better looking, yet just as powerful and do all the same things as Samsung’s Android devices. But they cost half as much.
That’s why Samsung’s profits have been tanking over the last year. Why buy an Android phone from Samsung when you can get one that’s just as good for half the price? Samsung’s big challenge will be to prove it can make phones with unique features and designs to justify their premium price.