Even as Xiaomi makes a soft launch of its own online store in India, starting with selling accessories, Chinese rival Meizu Technology has announced its imminent entry into the Indian market.

Xiaomi, which is preparing to start manufacturing its handsets in India as early as next year, has started selling add-ons such as phone covers, earphones and external battery packs. The company is also offering free delivery for orders over 500 rupees ($8).

Burgeoning demand in India, the third-biggest smartphone market in the world, hasn’t gone unnoticed by Xiaomi’s Chinese rivals. Lenovo Group and its Motorola Mobility unit, which were both selling phones in India before Xiaomi arrived on the scene, have stepped up efforts with highly competitive products.

Meizu is the latest to join the fray. “Hello, India! We've just launched our latest contest on the official @​Meizu_India Facebook page! Check it out here: http://bit.ly/MeizuIndiaFB,” the company tweeted Thursday.

Meizu recently won a strong fund infusion from Alibaba Group Holding, which allows the company, known for its minimalist and elegant smartphone designs, to expand into promising markets such as India. Meizu is older than Xiaomi, but its phones are less popular in China.

It will have a fighting chance in India, where Google Play and much of Google’s services are freely available and even consumers who own Xiaomi’s Redmi or Mi phones are less likely to be tied to Xiaomi’s ecosystem.

Based on its Facebook teaser for India, Meizu will likely make its India entry March 21, with its relatively high-end M1 Note -- a 5.5-inch phablet with 64-bit octa-core chip and 3140mAh battery. Pricing has yet to be announced.