Xiaomi crowdfunds a US$29 phone with AI assistant
Feature phones don’t have to be dumb
The cheapest of the two versions, the Qin1, sports a 2.8-inch Gorilla Glass screen, supports 2G and Wi-Fi, and doubles as a remote control for home appliances. It sells for 199 yuan (US$29) and comes in two colors: metal gray and china white.
But the star feature is the voice assistant. Xiao AI (pronounced “show I”), which was first unveiled on Xiaomi’s smart speaker last year, already exists on most Xiaomi smartphones. It’s similar to Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa or Cortana: It can set an alarm, make voice calls, play music, read bedtime stories, translate foreign languages, and check currency exchange rates.
Many of these things aren’t actually made by Xiaomi. Instead, the company partners with more than a hundred companies to sell a wide variety of products on its platform. The so-called “ecosystem” strategy helps Xiaomi attract more customers, while the smaller sellers benefit from more exposure.