Xiaomi, a Chinese company and the third largest smartphone maker in the world, held one of its big events in Beijing on Thursday. Among the now-standard Xiaomi launch fanfare, the company introduced two new smartphones, a pair of premium headphones, and a TV streaming stick that looks similar to a smartphone charger.
The two smartphones Xiaomi launched on Thursday, the Mi Note and the Mi Note Pro, use Xiaomi’s high-end Mi moniker, and shouldn’t be confused with its lower-end Redmi Note, or Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy Note, which it resembles. The Mi Note is a dual-SIM smartphone, with a 5.7-inch 1080p display, powered by a Snapdragon 801 chip and 3GB of RAM. It comes in both 16GB and 64GB versions starting at RMB 2299 ($370). It’s running on Xiaomi’s tweaked version of Android and the MIUI ineterface.
Both Mi Notes have a Sony 13-megapixel camera module with optical image stabilization as their rear shooter, and a 4MP front camera with larger 2-micron pixels.
Xiaomi doesn’t just make smartphones, though, and it also introduced two new intriguing electronic products at its event. Taking a page from Apple and Samsung, which both have premium headphone lines, Xiaomi is selling its own cans, and going even farther, Xiaomi is advertising they work with the high-definition playback supported on the new Mi devices.
The Mi Headphones are semi-open (so sound will leak) headphones for the affordable price of RMB 499, or $80 — which is a lot less than a pair of Beats, but still expensive for many of Xiaomi’s customers in Asia.
Xiaomi also introduced another TV streaming box, and this one looks a lot like an iPhone wall charger. The Mi Box Mini is packing a quad-core CPU based on Cortex A7 ARM cores, 4GB of internal storage, and HDMI 1.4. The box isn’t running Android TV, but it is running Android 4.4. KitKat. If you can get the content you want on it, it seems like a good deal for RMB 199 ($30).
Xiaomi is now selling its wares in China, India, Indonesia, and soon Brazil, but it’s unlikely to set up shop in the United States in the near future.
In the west, Xiaomi is often compared to Apple (because of its similar hardware designs) or Amazon (because of its approach to profit margins.) But the Chinese giant, recently valued at $45 billion, seems to be marching to its own beat, expanding its product lineup to include all kinds of home goods, including TVs, air purifiers, and routers. But the smartphone is where Xiaomi got its start, and with the new Mi Notes, it hasn’t forgotten its core fanbase: Chinese consumers who want dynamite smartphone hardware at a good price.