Date
21 October 2017
Xiaomi founder Lei Jun unveils the Mi 5 smartphone which features an innovative ceramic body and class-leading technology built on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820. Photo: Reuters
Xiaomi founder Lei Jun unveils the Mi 5 smartphone which features an innovative ceramic body and class-leading technology built on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820. Photo: Reuters

Xiaomi unveils US$400 ceramic flagship smartphone

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has launched its highly anticipated Mi 5 flagship, featuring a ceramic design and a price tag that significantly undercuts rivals.

The top-end model will cost 2,699 yuan (US$413) in China where it goes on sale in March,  significantly less than comparable units from Apple and Samsung, Reuters reports.

“This is the most beautifully designed phone we have ever made, and it’s the one that packs the biggest number of technological breakthroughs,” vice president Hugo Barra said.

The Mi 5 is been built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, the same processor that powers Samsung’s Galaxy S7 launched Sunday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Xiaomi did not announce any plans to break into new markets, a step analysts say is necessary for it to continue to grow rapidly as the Chinese market matures.

The company, founded less than six years ago, is China’s most valuable startup with a US$45 billion valuation and was the fifth largest smartphone maker worldwide last quarter by shipments, according to analyst Gartner.

But it faces tough competition from companies such as Huawei and Lenovo in a saturated home market and lags rivals in expanding into other markets.

Its shipments last year of more than 70 million smartphones fell short of its own 80-100 million predictions.

“We are going to keep growing our phone sales, we have a huge amount of room to grow, not only in China, but in countries like India and others,” Barra said.

“But really our focus is going after internet-savvy consumers, they are e-commerce buyers, they are not only buying our phones, but they are buying accessories, they are buying a lifestyle product”.

Industry analyst Ben Wood from CCS Insight said the Mi 5 was impressive given the ratio between price and specification.

“But the challenge is Xiaomi needs to now expand beyond China, because it’s become a victim of its own success there so the addressable market has shrunk, particularly as the market has slowed down,” he said.

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