Xiaomi, the Chinese phone manufacturer who have had runaway success in the Asian mobile phone and tablet markets, has launched a new larger-sized model which it is touting as its biggest challenge to the Apple iPhone yet. The device, known as Mi Note, is the latest to join the ever-growing list of ‘phablets’ to hit the market, as consumers move away from wanting to spend big funds to purchase separate phones and tablets and look towards gadgets that combine the best of both worlds.
The Mi Note comes at a good time for Xiaomi, who have recently been declared the world’s most valuable start-up, according to technology news site TechCrunch. The company’s new-found bravery in its launch to break the hegemony of Apple Inc. comes as it enjoys runaway success in the rapidly developing and emerging markets of the Gulf, India and east Asia. The company plans to become the world’s premier manufacturer of smartphones in the next decade, knocking Apple off the top spot. It is now China’s largest, and the world’s third largest, smartphone giant.
The Mi Note, which bears a strong resemblance to the Samsung Galaxy Note as well as its newer iPhone rivals, was launched at a special press conference in the PRC capital, Beijing this past Thursday. At the launch event for the Mi Note , which retails at 3,299 yuan ($530, £350) for the largest 64 gigabyte model, and its more advanced sibling the Mi Note Pro, the Xiaomi chief executive officer and co-founder Lei Jun was said to have been very keen to play off the iPhone 6 Plus and his new product together, making frequent comparisons and references between the two in his speech. He claimed that the Mi Note devices were lighter and thinner than the latest reincarnation of the iPhone, all the while bearing a larger screen. Jun also took a swipe at the iPhone’s back-facing camera, criticising its jutting out from the main body of the iPhone, while the Mi Note has a flattened back camera incorporated into the body of the Mi Note, so no annoying obtrusion.
A selection of products manufactured by Xiaomi, China’s largest smartphone manufacturer. The company has recently released its lightest phablet yet, the Mi Note.
The Mi Note was not just better than the iPhone merely for having a flat camera lens; CEO Jun told the gathered media at the launch event. He also claimed the new front camera boasted 13 megapixels and came with image stabilisation which will put an end to shaky and blurred snaps.
The Mi Note also comes with a 5.7-inch screen, with a Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz processor under the bonnet, alongside 3 GB RAM. As for the Mi Note Pro, that comes with a more powerful 64-bit, 8-core Snapdragon 810 processor, and a whopping 4 gigabytes RAM. The device includes 64 GB of storage and costs 3,299 yuan ($535, £350), while the cheapest 16 GB model will retail in at 2,299 yuan ($370, £244) — Xiaomi says support LTE-CAT will give users lightning fast 450Mbps download speeds. The Mi Note Pro is the most expensive phone that Xiaomi has ever sold, and its best on paper too, in TechCrunch’s opinion.
The phone has a revolutionary new ‘curved’ screen. While LG have already burst into the market with ‘flexible screens’, and Samsung have recently released a version of its Galaxy Note phablet with a screen that stretches over the side of the devices and offers virtual buttons, the Xiaomi recipe goes for aesthetics, giving the Mi Note sleek curves and a more natural design.
Xiaomi has gone in for slimmer phablets, treading a path well worn by its rivals. The Mi Note has a thickness of only 6.95mm, tipping the scales at 161 grams, making it incredibly lightweight compared with the iPhone or many other phablets, which have been criticised for being clunky and demanding on users’ pockets. Finally, Jun mentioned the Mi Note’s battery life; the best of its products yet, with a 3,000 mAh battery manufactured by Korean electronics firm LG. Xiaomi also produce its own range of portable chargers, although it is not known if the company will be producing chargers for the Mi Note in particular. The phone can also support multiple SIM types, such as micro-SIM, which is very rare in the phone world.
The Mi Note will be available in China from 27 January. There are no currently scheduled release dates for markets abroad as of yet.