Samsung, Apple and Google got some very stiff new competition today from Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi Inc. The company unveiled two new phablets, the Xiaomi Mi Note and Mi Note Pro, primarily for the Chinese and Indian markets.
The Mi Note and Mi Note Pro aren’t Xiaomi’s first phablets, but they are the company’s first ones that compete spec-for-spec with the best phablets on the market, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Google's Nexus 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, but at a lower price. Taking inspiration from Apple’s design and Samsung Electronics Co.’s "Note" name, the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro could easily be the next hot seller in Asian markets.
But with newer, beefier specifications and higher prices for each smartphone (2,299 yuan/$371 for the Mi Note and 3,299 yuan/$532 for the Note Pro), Xiaomi could be laying the groundwork for a global expansion that would take it out of emerging markets and into Europe and even the U.S.
Creative strategies analyst Ben Bajarin says Xiaomi’s choice of components for the Mi Note and Mi Note Pro suggests it is trying to resolve various intellectual property issues, which thus far have prevented the company from being able to move to outside of East Asian markets. The devices include chips by Qualcomm, camera lenses by Sony and displays by Gorilla Glass, which are common components for many devices and likely require licenses and deals with the suppliers before they can be used.
Feels like Xiaomi is progressing its products in ways that certainly open the US door to them.
â€” Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin) January 15, 2015
Xiaomi has said it has no plans to enter the U.S. market, a place it has no brand and very established competition. Instead, the manufacturer plans to expand to markets including India and Indonesia, and later this year to Brazil, Russia, Thailand, Mexico and Turkey.
But looking at the specs, if Xiaomi did decide to move into the U.S., they'd do just fine. These devices have some of the most advanced technology on the market, many nearly matching components in the Note 4 and Nexus 6 such as Qualcomm brand processors and QHD displays. The phones will be on the market by the end of the month, giving high-end consumers cheaper alternatives than other brands, though they would be much more expensive than other Xiaomi phones.