Xiaomi Takes Aim at Apple With New MacBook Pro and iPhone X Rivals

Chinese company Xiaomi today held an event in Beijing, where it unveiled new products that will rival the MacBook Pro and iPhone X.

First up was the new Mi Notebook Pro, with a fully metal enclosure that looks virtually identical to Apple's latest MacBook Pro in Space Gray.


Mi Notebook Pro is equipped with a 15.6-inch display with narrow bezels, a full-sized backlit keyboard, custom Harman Infinity speakers with Dolby Atmos sound, and seven ports: USB-C, data-only USB-C, dual USB 3.0, full-sized HDMI, a 3-in-1 SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The notebook is equipped with up to Intel's new eighth-generation Core i7 quad-core processor, up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card, and 256GB of SSD storage. It will run Windows 10 Home Edition out of the box, with support for Windows Hello fingerprint authentication.

Mi Notebook Pro pricing ranges from about $850 to $1,075 based on current exchange rates, which is under half the price of the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro, but The Verge found it only has a 1080p display.

Next up was the Mi Mix 2 smartphone, which has a nearly edge to edge 5.99-inch display on the front of the device, beyond a small bottom bezel or "chin" that is 12 percent slimmer than the original Mi Mix.


Mi Mix 2 is equipped with a 64-bit Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, up to 256GB of storage, a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with four-axis optical image stabilization, and a rear fingerprint scanner. An earpiece speaker is hidden along the top edge, while the front-facing camera is housed in the bottom bezel.

Mi Mix 2 will likely ship with Xiaomi's MIUI operating system, based on Android. Pricing starts at about $500 at current exchange rates.

Like other Xiaomi products, the Mi Notebook Pro and Mi Mix 2 will be available soon in China, followed by other global markets. The devices will likely be available through resellers only in the United States.

Other announcements included a special ceramic edition of the Mi Mix 2 and a new Mi Note 3 phablet with dual cameras.

Xiaomi's event took place just one day before Apple's first-ever event at the brand new Steve Jobs Theater at its new Apple Park headquarters.

Tag: Xiaomi

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Xiaomi to Debut Mi Mix 2 Smartphone the Day Before Apple’s ‘iPhone 8’ Launch Event

Xiaomi has announced that it will unveil the second-generation version of its nearly bezel-free Mi MIX smartphone on September 11, just one day ahead of Apple's expected "iPhone 8" launch event in California.

The Chinese mobile maker confirmed rumors of its event in Beijing next month by sharing a launch poster over microblogging site Weibo featuring a profile of the "full screen" Mi MIX 2 and the accompanying phrase "Evolution, approach to final perfection".


Xiaomi turned heads in October of last year when it unexpectedly announced the 6.4-inch Mi MIX, which it called "the world's first edgeless display" smartphone, just as iPhone 8 rumors were beginning to gain steam. The device was pooh-poohed by some as "vaporware" when Xiaomi described it as a "concept phone", but the company began shipping the Mi MIX in December in limited quantities and received some respectable reviews.

Once again, French designer Philippe Starck is said to have worked with Xiaomi on the Mi MIX 2, which is expected to feature an even higher screen-to-body ratio than its predecessor, but will adopt a slightly smaller 6-inch display with an 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio.

Speculation suggests Xiaomi may choose a metal rather than ceramic chassis to make the handset easier to mass produce this time. Internally, the Mi MIX 2 is thought to include a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 3,400mAh battery. Prices are expected to start at around $600, with a higher tier model featuring 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for around $750.

Other China-based smartphone vendors rumored to be launching all-screen handsets to rival Apple's so-called "iPhone 8" include Huawei and Gionee, with others expected to follow suit. Apple will reveal its first iPhone with edge-to-edge OLED display alongside upgraded versions of its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus next month.

Tag: Xiaomi

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Chinese Mobile Makers Set to Ride Wave of ‘iPhone 8’ Fever With All-Screen Models

China-based smartphone vendors are set to follow Apple lockstep into the all-screen handset era as competition in the Chinese smartphone market heats up in the second half of 2017 (via DigiTimes).

With much of the media attention focused on the imminent launch of Apple's "iPhone 8" with edge-to-edge OLED display this September, rival mobile makers including Huawei, Xiaomi, and Gionee have been quietly pushing ahead with their own all-screen alternatives.

Mi Mix 2 concept by Benjamin Geskin

Following a successful comeback in the Chinese smartphone market in the first half of 2017 after a setback the previous year, Xiaomi plans to further enhance its position with the upcoming release of its Mi Mix 2, according to industry sources.

MacRumors readers may recall the company's first Mi Mix which raised eyebrows in October 2016 for its almost bezel-free design, despite largely being considered a "concept phone" rather than a mass market device. The second-generation model aims to change that perception, with Xiaomi set to boost supply in order to grab more market share.

Meanwhile, Huawei has reportedly stepped up its purchases from component suppliers since the beginning of the third quarter for a planned rollout of its next-generation flagship model, the Huawei Mate 10. The device is said to feature a 6-inch 18:9 (2:1) all-screen AMOLED display from Japan Display.

Elsewhere, Gionee will continue its aggressive strategy – which began with the release of the world's first four camera (dual front and back camera) phone, the Gionee 10 – by rolling out all-screen models of its flagship devices in time for the second half of 2017, according to sources.

Even smaller mobile vendors have gotten in on the act, with Japan-based Sharp making a return to China's smartphone market recently with the launch of its all-screen model, the Aquos S2, priced at CNY2,499 ($375), targeting the mid-tier segment.

Last year Apple experienced its first ever year-over-year decline in the Chinese smartphone market, with the company's phones continuing to be outpaced by cheaper alternatives and the iPhone 7 failing to kick up a frenzy among consumers compared to previous launches, according to analysts.

Apple faced a similar story at the beginning of the current year. Despite recording record results, Apple's Q1 2017 earnings call revealed revenue was down 8 percent in China, but CEO Tim Cook claimed half of that decline was down to currency devaluation.

Apple currently stands in fifth place in China's booming smartphone market, where combined sales reached 131.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, accounting for nearly a third of worldwide shipments.

It remains to be seen whether the iterative "S" cycle updates to its iPhone 7 range due this fall, combined with the appeal of a premium alternative in the form of the so-called "iPhone 8", will help to boost its success in these booming Sino markets, which are typically dominated by cheaper-priced, high-spec handsets.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Huawei, Xiaomi

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Xiaomi Unveils $360 Mi 6 Phone With Dual-Lens Camera, ‘Four-Sided 3D Glass’ Casing, No Headphone Jack

Chinese mobile maker Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 6, its latest flagship smartphone, at a packed-out event in Beijing on Wednesday.

The Mi 5's successor features curved "four-sided 3D glass" and a front that isn't bezel-free like the company's Mi MIX, but the phone does boast a lot of tech for a device that starts at 2499 RMB, or $360 – about half of what a base iPhone 7 goes for in China.


Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the new 5.15-inch Mi 6 includes a 12-megapixel rear dual lens camera combining a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. It also matches Apple's latest smartphone with 10x digital zoom, 2x lossless zoom, image stabilization, and depth of field effects.

Similar to the Mi 5s, the Mi 6 features a Qualcomm-based ultrasonic fingerprint reader built under the glass at the bottom of the phone. The "button-less" technology is said to recognize a 3D map of each user's fingerprint through ultrasonic waves, although it only works within the bezel's concave indentation that marks out the home button.


The Mi 6 includes 2x2 Wi-Fi, which is meant to improve connectivity speed, and does away with the headphone jack, settling for a single USB-C port instead. Elsewhere the handset features the latest Snapdragon 835 processor (also found in the S8), 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage memory on the entry model, dual stereo speakers, a 3,350mAh battery, a new "night display" screen mode, and water resistance.


The Mi 6 with 128 GB option costs 2899 RMB ($420) while a special Ceramic edition goes for 2999 RMB ($435). It's unclear at this time whether the phone will become available in Europe or the U.S.


The announcement of a new flagship phone comes at a particularly important time for Xiaomi, which suffered its first sales slump last year. The company's former VP of Global Efforts Hugo Barra left in February, while CEO Lei Jun recently admitted the firm had grown too fast and was now entering a transitional period, as it focuses on its main markets in China and India.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: China, Xiaomi

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Facebook Hires Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra to Lead its Virtual Reality Division

Facebook has hired Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra to lead its virtual reality business, following the vice president's announcement earlier this week that he would be leaving the Chinese smartphone maker.

On Monday, the former Android executive at Google said he would be returning to Silicon Valley next month to reunite with friends and family, and to take some time off before "embarking on a new adventure".

hugo-barra
His appointment at Facebook was announced on Wednesday by company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said Barra would lead all of Facebook's virtual reality efforts including the Oculus team.
"I've known Hugo for a long time, starting when he helped develop the Android operating system, to the last few years he's worked at Xiaomi in Beijing bringing innovative devices to millions of people.

"Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform. Hugo is going to help build that future, and I'm looking forward to having him on our team."
Sometimes referred to as "the Apple of China", Xiaomi announced a VR headset last year under Barra's watch. The device was certified to work with Google Cardboard apps and some of its mobile phones. In reply to Zuckerberg's welcome, Barra said he aimed to make VR a mainstream technology.
Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun always says that the highest calling of an engineer is to make technology breakthroughs quickly and readily available to the widest possible spectrum of humanity. That will be my mission at Facebook and I look forward to building the future of immersive technology with Mark Zuckerberg, Brendan Trexler Iribe, Mike Schroepfer, and the visionaries in the Oculus team.
Facebook has made VR and augmented reality two focal points of its long-term innovation roadmap, with artificial intelligence and connectivity being the additional lynchpins for future research.

While Apple's interest in related technology has leaned more towards an AR experience – most recently suggesting a feature that would be integrated into the iOS camera app – the company has been rumored to be developing a full-on VR headset as well.


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Huawei Closing in on Apple, Aims to Become World’s Largest Smartphone Maker Within Four Years

Since 2011, the worldwide smartphone market has been dominated by Apple and Samsung. The elusive third-best spot, meanwhile, has failed to be held down by one vendor for an extended period of time, changing hands between Nokia, BlackBerry, Xiaomi, and Huawei over the past six years.

huawei-honor
In 2014, it looked like low-priced Chinese vendor Xiaomi had firmly cemented its position as the world's third-largest smartphone maker, but fewer than three years later, it has fallen out of the top five or even six vendors, according to the latest quarterly data from research firms IDC and TrendForce.

Xiaomi's recent decline can be attributed to a limited physical retail presence and increased competition from Huawei's lower-end Honor brand. Xiaomi continues to avoid selling premium smartphones—its most expensive model costs around $400—and some of its Mi smartphones have received mediocre reviews.

Huawei has since dethroned Xiaomi as not only China's largest smartphone maker, but the world's third largest. And now, the company has its eyes set on challenging Apple and Samsung for the crown, reports Fortune.

"We want to grow into top two market share, and, in the future, top one by 2021," Huawei's consumer head Richard Yu told the publication.

In the first quarter of 2016, Huawei sold ten times as many smartphones as Apple in Finland, according to research firm IDC. In Europe, it is now the top-selling smartphone maker in Portugal and the Netherlands and the second biggest in Italy, Poland, Hungary, and Spain, according to the report.

But if Huawei ever wants to truly challenge Apple and Samsung, it will have to conquer a key market where it has failed to make a dent: the United States. Huawei does not even crack the list of top ten smartphone makers in the country, trailing behind smaller rivals such as BLU and OnePlus.

It doesn't help that Huawei lacks agreements with the U.S.'s "big four" carriers, namely Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. U.S. customers have to resort to retailers such as Best Buy or Walmart, or Huawei's direct sales website, to purchase one of their devices, reducing the brand's visibility in the country.

For its sake, Huawei appears to recognize it needs to take a new approach to the American market:
“The past five years we were not taking the right strategy,” Yu says. “We didn’t have the right people.” Huawei recently hired Michelle Xiong, a former Verizon wireless executive with experience negotiating with device makers, to help sell Huawei’s smartphones. But a Huawei staffer cautions that any carrier agreement is at least a year away, pushing meaningful success in the U.S. at least three years down the road.
Apple reported sales of 45.5 million iPhones in the third quarter, while IDC estimates Huawei shipped 33.6 million smartphones on the quarter, so the Chinese company is within striking range. But whether it can continue its momentum, or fall back into obscurity like Xiaomi, is something only time will tell.

Tags: Huawei, Xiaomi

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Hugo Barra Leaving Xiaomi and Returning to Silicon Valley Next Month

Xiaomi vice president Hugo Barra today announced that he will be leaving the Chinese smartphone maker next month.

hugo-barra
The former senior Android executive at Google said he will be returning to Silicon Valley in February after the Chinese New Year to reunite with friends and family. He described moving to Beijing, some "6,500 miles out of his comfort zone," as the "greatest and most challenging adventure" of his life.
But what I've realized is that the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health. My friends, what I consider to be my home, and my life are back in Silicon Valley, which is also much closer to my family. Seeing how much I've left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return.
Barra generated headlines in late 2013 when he left his senior position on the Android team to join Xiaomi. As Vice President of International, he helped expand the company's global presence, although it has yet to officially enter the U.S. smartphone market dominated by the iPhone and other Android-based smartphones.

Xiaomi has made inroads in other countries, including India, where it generated $1 billion in annual revenues faster than any company in the country's history. The smartphone maker has expanded into over 20 new markets overall, such as Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Mexico, and Poland.
As I thought about this late last year, I concluded that Xiaomi is in a very good place on its global expansion path, and if there was ever going to be a good time for me to come back home, that time is now — when I can confidently say our global business is no longer just an in-house startup.
In 2014, Xiaomi rose to become the world's third largest smartphone maker behind Apple and Samsung, but it has since fallen out of the top five vendors, according to the latest data from research firm IDC.

mi-5
Xiaomi was sometimes described as "the Apple of China" after releasing a number of iPhone lookalikes, which Apple design chief Jony Ive took issue with.
"I'll stand a little bit harsh, I don’t see it as flattery," Ive told Vanity Fair in 2014. "When you're doing something for the first time, you don’t know it's gonna work. You spend seven or eight years working on something, and then' copied. I think it is really straightforward. It is theft and it is lazy. I don’t think it is OK at all."
Barra defended Xiaomi against the copycat accusations, claiming "people couldn't bring themselves to believe a Chinese company actually could be a world innovator, could build amazingly high-quality products."

Barra expressed tremendous gratitude for the opportunity he was afforded and said he will now take some "much-needed time off" before "embarking on a new adventure" back in Silicon Valley in the United States. He noted Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun has asked him to remain an advisor to the company indefinitely.

Tags: China, Xiaomi

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