Xiaomi is struggling to remain relevant in the smartphone market against competition from fellow Chinese companies as well as dominant players like Samsung and Apple. Its latest effort to reverse a recent slowdown in sales is to launch its biggest smartphone to date — the Mi Max, which features a 6.44-inch display.
Despite the almost tablet-sized screen, Xiaomi is claiming it still fits in your pocket, thanks to the svelte 7.5 mm (about a third of an inch) profile, which is only slightly thicker than the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus (7.3 mm). However, the Mi Max's footprint (173 mm x 88 mm) is significantly bigger than the larger iPhone (158 mm x 78 mm), meaning many people may struggle to cram the new device into their pockets.
The new phone features a metallic chassis and will run the updated MIUI 8.0 operating system, which is a version of Google's Android developed by Xiaomi and which, in China, features its own stores for apps, music and games in place of Google's official services.
Xiaomi struggled in 2015, missing smartphone sales targets significantly. Further, it has seen declining sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period last year. While Xiaomi describes itself as an internet company rather than a smartphone company and is pushing smart home products as a potential way of growing revenue, its smartphone division drives the vast majority of its earnings.
Xiaomi only sells its smartphones in a handful of countries, and with its primary market of China becoming saturated it is looking to grow its market share in India where there is still huge potential for growth in a market with just 20 percent smartphone penetration.
One of the key drivers of smartphone growth in India is large screen size, as smartphones are typically people's sole computing device. Another major factor in India is price, and with the Mi Max due to go on sale in China for 1,499 yuan ($229), the device is well placed to compete in the increasingly competitive Indian market.