Xiaomi launches low cost US$205 Mi 4i smartphone in India

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 April, 2015, 7:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 April, 2015, 8:07pm

China's largest domestic smartphone maker Xiaomi on Thursday launched the Mi 4i, an upgraded version of its flagship Mi4 phone.

The firm's vice president of international operations Hugo Barra introduced the new device at a live event in New Delhi that was also broadcast online, though the live feed was unavailable for many users for large parts of the event.

"We're setting in stone our commitment to India," Barra told an enthusiastic crowd. 

The device will go on sale in India on April 30 for 12,999 rupees (US$205), around half the price of the comparable Samsung Galaxy A7. The phone will initially only be available on Flipkart, the country's largest e-commerce site, before rolling out to other platforms.

Barra said that the phone would be available in four other markets, including Hong Kong and Singapore, in May.

The device features a 2nd generation Snapdragon 615 processor, 8-core 64 bit architecture, 2 gigabytes of ram and 16 bg flash memory.

"Mi 4i shows flying colours in the key benchmarks," said Barra.

Barra said the Mi 4i will be Xiaomi's first device to run Android Lollipop, the latest version of Google's open-source operating system, as well as MIUI 6, the Chinese firm's own user-interface.

The 7.8mm thick, dual-sim Mi 4i will come in five colours: black, white, orange, light blue and pink. The phone has a 1080p, 5-inch display and weighs 130 grams.

It includes a 13 megapixel back camera and a 5 megapixel front camera. The front camera comes with the firm's 'Beautify' photo-editing software on by default, smoothing out and adjusting photos in a similar manner to Chinese competitor Meitu's "selfie phone".

Barra also unveiled some new software specifically designed for the Indian market. Using the Indian Railways Enquiry System as an example, he asked whether there "could be a simpler, faster way to navigate through [phone menus]", before introducing 'Visual IVR', which turns audio menus into an interactive set of choices on the phone's display.

MIUI will also support six Indian languages: Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.

Xiaomi entered the Indian market in July last year, seeking to recreate its success in the Chinese market which has seen it become the country's top smartphone brand. In October, the company said it sold 100,000 of its Redmi 1S phones in India in just 4.2 seconds as part of an online flash sale event.

It has not all been smooth sailing on the subcontinent however, in December Swedish telecoms equipment firm Ericsson obtained a court order temporarily halting Xiaomi shipments to India, claiming the Chinese company had not been paying royalties on its patents.

Despite the pending court case, Xiaomi announced plans last month to open 100 stores in India, and also begin local production in the country in the next 12 to 18 months. Speaking at the time, Barra described the situation as "business as usual".

According to market research firm Canalys, 23 per cent of smartphones sold in India cost less than US$100, while 41 per cent were priced between US$100 and US$200. Xiaomi's Mi 3 device retails in India for around US$225, more expensive than domestic smartphone marker Micromax, which leads the Indian market with a 22 per cent share, but far cheaper than Apple, whose iPhone 6 costs upwards of US$780 in the country.