Xiaomi launches its ‘iPhone 8 killer’ a day before Apple releases its much-anticipated model
Xiaomi, whose smartphones outsold Apple Inc in China during the second quarter, has released its most expensive device a day before the US company’s launch of its much anticipated 10th anniversary model, marking its progress up the value chain in the world’s largest and arguably most challenging mobile phone market.
The Mi Mix 2, featuring an all-ceramic “unibody” design by Philippe Starck, comes with a full-screen display that retails for 4,699 yuan (US$720). A variant retails between 3,299 yuan and 3,999 yuan. The phone, featuring a unique 18:9 aspect ratio, is smaller than its earlier generation, a hundredth of an inch smaller than 6 inches, but comes with a bigger screen display.
“We’re always striving to provide consumers with better products at cheaper prices” all the time, the Beijing-based company’s founder and chief executive Lei Jun said at a launching ceremony in the Chinese capital.
Affordable smartphones with high specifications were what propelled Xiaomi to among the world’s five bestselling mobile phone brands in the second quarter. A sharper focus on snazzy designs and slick marketing also helped the company bounce back from its worst shipment declines in the 12 months ended December.
Xiaomi’s got the steal on its launch a day ahead of Apple’s release of its phone on September 12 in Cupertino, California. The event is expected to see the world’s most valuable tech firm unveil three new models for the first time, including a rumoured ‘super premium’ iPhone X featuring a bezel-free display, an effort to make screen larger at an overall smaller phone size.
After six consecutive quarters of shrinking sales in Greater China, Apple needs a new product to revive its flagging fortunes in the world’s largest market for mobile phones, where as many as 2.33 billion devices were in circulation last year, according to data by the Internet Society of China.
Besides Xiaomi, the US company must also fight off competition from Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, all of which are releasing Android-based devices at cheaper prices, but with comparable, if not better, hardware specifications.
Apple has much cause for caution. Huawei, the world’s largest manufacturer of network and phone hardware equipment, surpassed Apple as the world’s second-largest seller of smartphones by shipment in June and July for the first time, according to report by Counterpoint Technology Market Research. August also looked like a good month for the Chinese company, analysts said.
“Chinese players such as Xiaomi and Huawei have become increasingly competitive in the high-end price range between 3,000 yuan and 4,000 yuan, that is in line with their effort to shed their old cheap image and Chinese consumers’ demands for better quality products, “ said Jin Di, research manager with IDC China.
Speculations have Apple’s 10th anniversary edition of its iPhone X at more than US$1,000 each.
“For the premium market with price tag of more than 5,000 yuan, they are still not capable of wining iPhone users over,” Jin said. “The iPhone is not just a phone but a device that can give the user access to the entire ecosystem of Apple,” she said, adding that the new iPhones are expected to give Apple’s revenue a big boost in the first quarter of 2018.