Chip-Monks  ⁄  Xiaomi

Seeing the explosive growth of smartphones ever since 2007, with the iPhone and other exclusively priced devices being lapped up by the millions, serial entrepreneur Lei Jun saw opportunity in a niche ripe for the taking. Give people the best technology in the world, but don’t charge the earth for it.

He established Xiaomi with seven other partners in April 2010, to fulfil that simple ideology.

In order to bring that vision to life, Xiaomi took many novel approaches.

To get a running start, they brought in loads of trade-savvy people from Google, Kingsoft, Microsoft, Motorola, Yahoo and other Internet and tech companies from around the world.

Four months later Xiaomi launched a custom-built firmware based on Android (called “MIUI”), and included key elements inspired from Samsung’s TouchWiz and Apple’s iOS platforms.

Exactly a year later Xiaomi announced its first smartphone, the Xiaomi Mi. Not only did the Mi run Xiaomi’s MIUI firmware, it could also be equipped with stock Android! Thanks to this best-of-all-worlds UI, the Mi received great user feedback.

Exactly a year later, Xiaomi launched their next smartphone, the Mi2. Once again the superior hardware at an extremely affordable price made the Mi2 a rip-roaring success. The company claimed to have sold over 10 million Mi2 devices within the 12 months.

With the success of it’s third smartphone, the Xiaomi Mi3’s (launched in September 2013), Xiaomi was reported as the fifth most-used smartphone brand in China. It sold 18.7 million smartphones in three months and 26 million smartphones in the first half of 2014.

Their international expansion began at Singapore (where the first batches of Mi3 were sold out within the first two minutes of the opening day sale. Next, Malaysia and Philippines.

Along the way, Xiaomi’s first phablet, the RedMi Note was launched. It featured a massive 5.5 inch HD display with OGS technology and an octa-core MediaTek processor.

Xiaomi shipped 15 million devices in Q2 2014, beating Samsung (13 million devices in the same period).

In December 2014, Xiaomi was tagged as one of the most valuable private technology companies in the world with a valuation of more than US$45 billion!

In April 2015, Xiaomi entered the Indian subcontinent with an online-sales-only arrangement exclusively with Flipkart. They launched the inspired-by-India Xiaomi Mi4i in April 2015, along with the Mi Band.

Since launch, Xiaomi’s growth has been outstanding, to say the least. Tagged as the 4th largest smartphone manufacturer in the global smartphone market as of Q2 2015, Xiaomi is gunning to for the global top-spot for smartphone sales.

Xiaomi has tons of technologically advanced devices to showcase in it’s impressive product line as of today. These include the Mi series, Redmi series, Mi Note and Mi Note Pro, MiPad, MiWiFi, MiBox, MiCloud, MiPower Bank, Mi Band.

  • The Mi WiFi router, launched in April 2014, is an extremely powerful and multipurpose wireless router. It can be used as a Router, Media Server and a Smartphone center. It even has a 1 TB hard drive onboard!
  • The Mi Box Pro – the world’s first 4K Ultra HD Android-powered set-top box.
  • The Mi TV 2 (2014) is a 49-inch television with a Ultra High Definition (4K) display, ultra-thin frame, quad-core processor, WiFi support, MIUI TV Android based OS
  • Mi launched a blood pressure monitor in September 2014. Its associated app tracks blood pressure, heart rate, average pulse and provides recommendations for improvement.
  • Some smart home gadgets were launched by Xiaomi in October 2014. These include: Mi Smart power plug, Mi Smart remote center, Ants smart webcam and Yeelight smart lights.
  • Xiaomi also launched the Mi Air purifier in December 2014. It had a dual fan and 4 air ducts for large indoor circulation, produced nearly 10,000 litres of clean air per minute, real-time air quality monitor and auto speed control, smartphone remote control and alerts and was extremely portable.
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Xiaomi's Doubling It's Bet On India

Xiaomi Billionaire CEO Is Doubling Smartphone Bet on India

Xiaomi, best known for catapulting it’s way into unforeseen success in the smartphone world, and it’s amazingly low prices, experienced rampant growth not just on an Indian scale but in every country it entered.

When Hugo Barra took over the steering wheel a few years ago, the brand was an unknown entity, and Barra, along with a young, hungry team made magic happen, bringing the company global repute, and a place at the top-five brands table. The tide was high!

Then in 2016, Xiaomi hit some breakwaters that stemmed it’s high-tide momentum. The company had a tough year, with their global growth and revenue ebbing into a little bit of a slow pool. But it seems like a bet that Barra made on India might be paying off.

The company spent about USD 500 million on India since its debut in 2015. India was also the country where Xiaomi crossed USD 1 billion in sales revenue in a single year, for the first time.

It’s no surprise thus, that Xiaomi’s doubling the bet on the India!

Xiaomi’s co-founder, Lei Jun recently pledged another investment of the same size over the next three to five years. He also added that he expects to double revenue in India this year to USD 2 billion.

So it seems like Jun is letting India hold the key to rejuvenating and reviving the brand after having been eclipsed by local competition here and even in its own home country of China.

We faced many challenges. Many negative reports about us,” Jun said, “But it was never as bad as it was made out to be. We have gone back to healthy growth. We will resume rapid growth in the next two years”.

At a time when the global demand for smartphones seems to have stagnated, India has surprisingly been one of the very few markets that is still moving rapidly. This could be owing to the hunger for more and more connectivity in a country that still has a long way to go in that respect, or to the simple arithmetic of the humoungous population of India and that of the neighbors in the subcontinent, that depend upon it for all sorts of advancements.

Regardless of the reason, what is quite clear is that this market is attracting foreign players who are very effortlessly moving Indian brands like Micromax to the side, with their superior quality and customer focus, not to mention superior devices.

Xiaomi’s devices (like Oppo’s) have got the looks, the feel, and the features and the likes of Micromax, Lava, Karbonn are once again being relegated to a quiet, dark corner of the market where only the very basic customers ever venture.

The country is undoubtedly Xiaomi’s most important foreign market, especially given a brand like Xiaomi would be eaten alive for the patent violations if it even tried to step into the Western markets.

With this latest re-doubling investment, Xiaomi joins the growing list brands manufacturing their devices in India, others being Huawei, Lenovo, Samsung, and very recently Apple.
A large part of this investment, would go towards a second manufacturing plant built with partner Foxconn. This would create 20,000 jobs in the next three years, and as Jun says, will manufacture one new phone per second.
There is also talk of a third production plant in the wind.

In the next two years we want more and more influence in India”, Jun said. “We want to take more risks in India. But we want to take controlled risks”. This would include boosting production closer to projected demand, moving away from its traditional reliance on flash sales to maintain scarcity.

Xiaomi’s bet on India paid off at a time when the global smartphone market seemed to be dipping. It is now expected that the global smartphone market will bounce back from the low it saw in 2016, but however that goes, Xiaomi’s bet on India, counting on the dynamic and growing market, should keep it going – provided the products match up to our ever-increasing expectations!

Xiaomi Mi 6 Announced: Snapdragon 835, Dual Cameras And Lots Of Hope

Xiaomi Mi 6 announced Snapdragon 835 and dual cameras for dollar360

Xiaomi has finally announced its much-awaited flagship for 2017 – the Xiaomi Mi 6. Having skipped the telecom industry’s largest annual event, the Mobile World Conference this year (where it had actually announced the Mi 5 last year), Xiaomi made 2017’s announcement at an event in Beijing.

The device inherits its 5.15 inch display from Mi 5, and comes with 6 GB RAM – the most a Xiaomi device has had so far. The over-done RAM is coupled with the latest, and most potent processor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, which has so far only been seen in Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8+, and will be seen on the Sony Xperia XZ Premium (towards the end of this summer).

The phone comes with a 3,350 mAh battery that some may consider a little under par – however considering the Mi 6’s carrying a smaller screen than most other devices and the fact that the Mi 6 will launch on the most streamlined Android ever – the Android 7 Nougat – that much juice should suffice for one day.

Other notable features include dual speakers for stereo audio, improved 2.2 dual Wi-Fi technology, and new screen options that include a new night display which reduces the blue component of light.

What could prove to be a highlight for the phone is the fingerprint sensor, which is supposed to be under the glass, which could prove to be a trendsetter. Even though Xiaomi did bring this in their Mi 5s last September, presently no other brand in the market has an under-glass fingerprint sensor.

A few biggies have patented the related technology, including Apple, so we might see more of it in the market soon.

The most noticeable thing about this smartphone though, is that it shares plenty of similarities with Apple’s iPhone 7. The most obvious of these is the lack of a headphone jack on the device. Now here if Xiaomi is following a market trend, or simply doing what makes technological sense, is up for debate.

The device also includes a 12 megapixel dual rear camera, quite like the iPhone 7, but that is not all; it also borrowed a bokeh-style photography option, alongside 10x digital zoom, 2x lossless zoom, and optical image stabilization (OIS) technology. The device has an 8 megapixel front camera which should do well for selfies under most conditions.

Xiaomi does indeed share a lot with Apple on this device, but what it does not share is the price point. The variant featuring 64 GB of storage is priced at USD 360, the 128 GB option at USD 420, and the special Ceramic edition is priced at USD 435.
While all these are certainly far cheaper than their Apple equivalents, what is also noteworthy is that the range is more expensive than the usual Xiaomi flagships. Which is where one believes Xiaomi is breaking it’s mould of “inexpensive” smartphones, and busting a self-imposed glass ceiling of sorts.

The phone goes on sale in China on April 28th, for now, and will come to selected markets soon, as Xiaomi prepares for its global launch.

There is a lot riding on this phone for Xiaomi. given how the company has suffered a sales slump in the last year. They have been trying to build off on it, with the idea of treating this as a transitional period after growing too fast. But this could indeed be a make or break for them, a device that could put them back on track, and finally back on the scene.

Phone Brands Shifting Focus To Brick And Mortar Stores In India - Here's Why

Phone Brands Shifting Focus To Brick And Mortal Stores In India - Here Why

The differences in the prices of smartphones between online and offline stores are expected to diminish soon, with the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) – which is due to roll out on July 1.

In preparation of this transition, smartphone companies such as Asus, InFocus, Xiaomi, Motorola, ZTE and Huawei have had to come up with a new and more efficient strategy to retain the demand for their smartphones, in the offline market.

Currently, when you buy a device online, you find it at least a couple thousand bucks cheaper than you would in a neighborhood store. For brands like Xiaomi, and Motorola, that have majorly stuck to online stores so far, this plays into their court; they already have comparatively lower prices, and they can sell their devices at a lower tax rate online.

Presently, online sellers based in areas like Bengaluru and Hyderabad sell smartphones at a lower VAT (Value Added Tax) i.e. 5%, than those who are based in locations where the VAT% on smartphone devices are much higher (usually in the 10-15% range).
The national average is about 12%.

It is this imbalance in the VAT levied, that will soon become uniform across the nation via the GST since it is a national tax, and not a state-drive one.

So, even though these brands have off and on, been working on their offline sales strategies, to sell to the larger group of Indians that are not online, their focus has been the urban educated buyer who is already online. A change in this focus seems around the corner now, but the reason might not necessarily be a want for further expansion into the market; the reason this time is the need to get a better grip on the offline market before the playing field is leveled.

These brands have chalked out some novel plans of action to enhance the sale of their devices in India’s challenging market. Direct distribution, a partnership with large-format retail, building separate models for the offline market, putting together their own stores, expanding marketing expenditure – are some of the ways in which the smartphone makers are planning their extension.

There is a scramble amongst online smartphone brands to expand into offline retail. While a couple of brands like Xiaomi and Huawei are intensifying efforts, most others are making fresh attempts. With GST, the value added tax (VAT) advantage, which the online sellers enjoy, will disappear completely, making online and offline a much more level playing field”, announced cellphone retail chain Hotspot’s director, Subhasish Mohanty.

With the new approach that the brands are gearing up to adopt, they would directly sell the smartphone to the retail stores – not just any retail stores though – only stores that they have collaborated with.

Xiaomi, for the same, has recently collaborated with four of the major South Indian retail stores, namely, Sangeetha, Poorvika, BigC and LOT. The Chinese budget brand also plans to set up self-owned Mi Home stores in India, just like the ones they have in China.

Asus is another Chinese brand that has mostly had an online presence in the country so far, and is now planning on expanding into the offline market.
InFocus, a Foxconn-owned brand, which plans to invest big money in offline trade and marketing replicating the strategy of Chinese rivals, Oppo and Vivo, too, is re-launching its offline business and building a portfolio of models.
ZTE is also going into offline expansion, including expansion into smaller towns, and so is Huawei.

These changes are going to be interesting not just for the smartphones they bring, but also for the Indian e-commerce market, given that the business of smartphones is quite a chunk of it. It is because of that, that companies such as Amazon and Flipkart are drawing up plans to foray into the offline distribution of smartphones for brands like Coolpad, OnePlus and Lenovo.

This, altogether, could be an interesting change in the smartphone world. Bigger brands such as Samsung, LG, HTC etc., already sell through their offline stores heavily in India. Even Apple has third party reseller stores in the country and is soon opening up its own stores.

Thus, these “economical” brands might find it difficult to sink their teeth in to a market that is already quite populated, and to an extent, these brands may be outclassed by the larger ones.

On the other hand, they might also be welcomed open armed, given how well they’ve done through their online channels so far.

Huawei Smartphones Face A Ban In The U.K. For Patent Infringement

Huawei is facing a ban in UK for their smartphones

It looks like the dragon might finally be coming home to roost.

After an order by the High Court of the United Kingdom, Huawei, the Chinese megabrand, faces an injunction on the sale of its smartphones in the U.K.

The company has been in a long-running legal battle with Unwired Planet, an American patent owner, over royalty payments related to key networking technology used in Huawei’s devices.

The High Court ruled this week that Huawei must pay Unwired Planet for patent infringement. The ruling also specified that in order to keep their sales going, Huawei must license the patents from the patent holder.

The catch is that Unwired Planet is adamant on issue only a global license, which will obviously cost Huawei more, and Huawei wants one specifically for the U.K. Unwired Planet is clearly working on the premise that the nature of the license is such, that it is by standard, only issued on a global scale.
But on the other hand, the only reason Huawei has even come to the table to talk about the license is because a court is holding a gun to its head; its natural for them to want to cut the cheapest possible deal.

An element of the ruling might, however, also be a relief for Huawei in that regard though. As a part of the ruling, the global royalty rates ordered by the court were much lower than the ones sought by Unwired Planet. This might give Huawei the much-needed nudging to cut a deal.
We welcome the decision by the Court that Unwired Planet’s royalty rate demands have been found to be unreasonable”, a spokesman said. “Huawei is still evaluating the decision as well as its possible next steps. Huawei does not believe that this decision will adversely affect its global business operations”.

Huawei, currently, is the third largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world. Even though its share of the market in the U.K. is considerably lesser than it’s standing on the global scene, the Chinese megabrand has established itself quite well in this usually-unfriendly Western market.

Unwired Planet, before the suit with Huawei, had also gone to court with Google and Samsung, within the U.K. Both of those companies have successfully reached a deal with Unwired Planet to keep their shops running.

Even though the move of granting an injunction for the sale of a smartphone company’s products is an unprecedented move in the British territory, it comes in the light of what has been quite a hot topic for debate lately – intellectual property right and violations.

The thing about brands like Huawei, most of them incidentally Chinese, is that they are usually quite lax and loose about using technology that already exists in the market. This make their devices cheaper, yes, but technically, the secret sauce is not always theirs.

It is thus that they become the possible hot spots for patent infringements and violations of intellectual property. This is also the reason why Xiaomi has not yet entered the U.S. market, as they are said to be vulnerable to tons of lawsuits the moment their smartphone portfolio sets official foot on U.S. shores.

It is for the same reason (possible patent infringements) that Huawei too, does not sell in the U.S. market. The company has built itself up as a mock-up of Apple, but it can only sell smartphone accessories in the U.S. market for now, for the fear that the country’s patents and intellectual property laws will eat them alive.
Their sale, in the European markets, is also quite selective and cautionary, by the way.

Huawei, however, is not alone the allegations of patent infringements and violations of intellectual property. It is because of the bowl of soup that intellectual property rights have become around the world that smartphone makers have clashed a lot with each other and with specialist patent owners in courts around the world in the last few years.

The claims have always been that the technology in the smartphones has either been unlawfully copied, or someone is not being paid enough for the use of technology, or that someone is demanding too much.
The truth of the matter however is that in most cases, it is a chicken-and-egg situation, where it is impossible to tell what exactly happened historically – hence the correct lens is not usually available to apportion blame for the circumvention.

For now, though, Huawei seems to be stuck. Even though it believes that the impending injunction on the sale of its smartphones in the U.K. might not have an impact on its global sales, Unwired Planet might be ready to file in more courts in other countries where it believes its patents are being infringed upon. And until they do reach a deal, the noose is only going to tighten around Huawei.

So, will Huawei finally come home to roost and cut a deal, or will they go toe-to-toe in court?

Well, they have some strategising and thinking to do on that.

MediaTek Still In The Line Of Fire For Slowing Down LTE Connections In India

MediaTek Still In The Line Of Fire For Slowing Down LTE Connections In India

We’d reported about MediaTek based dual 4G SIM smartphones facing degraded 4G connectivity, about a week ago. Set when the issue was first reported, our article covered the why’s and the how’s (of resolution).

Since there’s been a bit of movement on the matter, we thought we’d provide you an update on the matter.

Despite MediaTek’s claims to the contrary, the Cellular Operator’s Association of India (COAI) still maintains that the cause of the problem are faulty MediaTek chips (that come on most budget-smartphones these days).

The COAI reportedly wants to eliminate the MediaTek processors from smartphones in the Indian market and wants to sanction a higher quality of handset testing.

Given such a staunch allegation, the COAI had written off a letter to the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and is still awaiting a reply from the Regulator.

The letter which stated “Placing a SIM (which has only 4G LTE capability) in the number 2 slot (2G-only) significantly deteriorates the throughput of any other operator’s 4G SIM present in the main slot, by as much as 40 per cent” is fairly certain in it’s premise.

This explains why some of us face slow network connectivity every time we put in a 4G/LTE SIM in the second slot of our smartphones, and could never figure out as to why our handsets suddenly started functioning at a reduced speeds.

To prove whether the said allegations are true or not, certain smartphones which harbour the specific MediaTek chips were tested for their quality of cellular network connections. Different models from different brands were used – Lenovo A7000, Lenovo K4 Note, Moto G4, Xiaomi Redmi 3S, Redmi Note 3, Oppo A35 and Samsung’s Galaxy J7 – and issues were found on most of them.

The media’s attention then moved to manufacturers and most of them denied any such culpability or even reports of such issues. Xiaomi, too denied the existence of any of such issues with it’s handsets.
The analysis in the report specifically points out a degradation in network quality of service (QoS) for handsets that have a MediaTek chipset. All our smartphones are shipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon processors in India and are optimised for India-specific bands for the most efficient usage of 4G/LTE,” announced a Xiaomi India spokesperson.

TRAI is yet to respond to our letter. Neither has Department of Telecommunications (DoT) got back to us. TRAI has informally asked us to submit some additional information on the testing and indicated that they would like to call an industry meeting to discuss the matter”, said Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI.

In a later development, it came to the fore that the COAI assumes that this network degradation problem has more to do with a software malfunction than a flaw in MediaTek’s hardware.
The telecom Regulator has recently been requested to issue an order which calls out all the smartphone brands to roll out their respective Over The Air (OTA) updates within a (suggested) stipulated time frame of 4 weeks to fix the bug.

MediaTek made a statement recently assuring the public, “We recently became aware of these reports and it is of the utmost priority to address. We are already working closely with all the telecom operators to ensure any reported issues are resolved”.

It will be interesting to see how TRAI responds to the COAI’s letter and how MediaTek manages to come out of this fix. India is an important market for MediaTek, and it will undoubtedly be keen to win back the trust of its loyal customers and of course, the brands that use MediaTek wares in their phones.

Xiaomi Aims To Create 20,000 Jobs In India In Three Years

Xiaomi will help create 20000 jobs in India in three years

In a recent development, the Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi announced on Monday that they intend to create over 20, 000 job opportunities in India over the next three years!
If this goes through, this will nearly triple the number of jobs created till date by Xiaomi in India.

This would be a major step on the part of the company that has been endeavouring to go global and gain a stronger footing outside of the home domain of China.

Xiaomi’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, Lei Jun, met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his week-long visit to India, to discuss the company’s journey in the country so far. The discussion reportedly also extended to how smartphones are changing the lives of Indian consumers, and what more lies in the future.

The company first stepped into the Indian market in 2014 and in a scant two years, India has emerged as one of the biggest markets for this evolutionary firm. You’d recall, the Chinese brand crossed USD 1 billion in sales in India, within the year 2016.

The budget products that are the backbone of the company have clearly caught India’s imagination. And popularity in the Indian market, is a trump card for any brand hoping to make it big internationally.

Clearly this phenomenal track record, and the fact that there’s still a lot of untapped potential in the dynamic Indian marketplace, that has fuelled Xiaomi’s decision to expand it’s base in India.

The declaration came during The Economic Times global Business Summit 2017, where the founder, Lei Jun acknowledged India’s huge contribution to Xiaomi’s global revenue. In addition, he talked about China’s the Internet Plus policy to integrate the internet with traditional industries and in turn, catapult economic growth.

There’s another fuse waiting to be lit – the expansion of 4G networks in India will ensure easier access to the internet, and create even more appetite for supporting products like smartphones, hotspot equipment and the like.

Xiaomi seems to be counting upon exactly that.

Xiaomi already has an existing plant in Andhra Pradesh, set up in 2015, which currently manufactures (reportedly) 75% of the company’s products sold in the country.
Once the newly announced second plant becomes functional, almost 95% of the smartphones sold by the company in the country will be manufactured in-country!

Quite to the beat of the Prime Minister’s overarching economic initiative, isn’t it?!

The company’s newly-made Vice President, Manu Kumar’s words second Jun’s sentiments.
Last week, at the launch of Redmi 4A, Kumar conveyed that Xiaomi shall be able to manufacture one smartphone every second with the new plant.  The plant shall be located in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh.

What might be even more notable, is Xiaomi’s aim – to incorporate 90% women in the workforce. This could be an incredible step towards women empowerment, in a country that quite starkly seems to be struggling with engaging and employing women.
Their first plant, which employed over 5,000 people from the nearby villages, also included 90% women. So the aim might not be far-fetched at all.

More power to Xiaomi!

The World's First Phone With The Fingerprint Scanner In The Screen

The World's First Phone With The Fingerprint Scanner In The Screen

Xiaomi, one the world’s foremost movers and shakers in the smartphone world just launched a pair of new flagship Android smartphones, currently aimed only for the Chinese market.

Called the Xiaomi Mi 5s and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus, both the devices pack high-end hardware parts and cutting-edge technology… for under USD 400 (~ INR 27,000)!

The Mi 5s is the smaller device of the new duo, but it is also the first smartphone in the world to feature an Ultrasonic Fingerprint Scanner.
The biometric sensor is built right inside the glass bezel, below the display. So, the front has no real bezels or breaks, so to speak. It’s all one piece of unbroken glass with no physical home button. The phone looks super sleek! 

Given how good the device looks, no one is really sure why Xiaomi decided to stick with a traditional rear panel based fingerprint reader on the Mi 5s Plus – though it might be to keep costs down for the larger phone.

The Mi 5s Plus makes up for it with a pair of 13 megapixel Sony cameras. One sensor focuses on colour while the other shoots in monochrome, combining photos from both of them to offer sharper images.

The Mi 5s on the other hand, carries a single 12 megapixel rear camera. Both devices pack a 4 megapixel shooter in front.

The Mi 5s Plus also comes equipped with a 5.7 inch 1080p display, a Snapdragon 821 processor and a 3,800 mAh battery. The Mi 5s offers the same Qualcomm chip with a smaller 5.15 inch 1080p display and a 3,200 mAh battery.

Buyers get four colour options to choose from – Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold.

The design is pretty standard-Xiaomi, with a brushed metal frame and a slight curve in the back.

Both these devices are impressively thin and the cameras are totally flush with the rest of the body. Xiaomi also notes that the Mi 5s Plus is 20 grams lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus.

Xiaomi’s new phones go on sale in China towards the middle of 2017. The Mi 5s starts at USD 300 with 64 GB of storage and 3 GB of RAM, and jumps to USD 345 for 128 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM.

The Mi 5s Plus starts at USD 330 for 64 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM, or USD 389 for 128 GB of storage and 6 GB of RAM.

It never ceases to amaze me, that Xiaomi manages to provide such high-grade devices at such affordable prices. But am I complaining? Heck no!!

Can’t wait to get your hands on one of these new babies? We’ll let you know when they arrive on Indian shores.

After Apple And Samsung, Xiaomi To Manufacture It's Own Chipset

After Apple And Samsung Xiaomi To Manufacture It is Own Chipset

Xiaomi, a brand that’s become a global name in just the last couple of years recently announced that they’re going to be working on manufacturing their own chipset.

And that, is a big deal.

As the company’s founder, Lei Jun aptly put it, “The ability to create its own chipsets is the pinnacle achievement for any smartphone company”.

The reasons for this big step are simple. As Lei Jun put it – “For Xiaomi, the move is an essential next step in our development. In order to deliver on our promise to make innovation available to everyone, we need to master the core technologies of our industry and tightly integrate the development of our hardware with our software, helping us to make even better smartphones that will consistently surprise the industry and delight consumers.”

Xiaomi has experienced probably the most spectacular growth ever seen (Apple aside) since it arrived on the international scene just three short years ago. It became the darling of affordable-masterpieces section.

Yet, in the last few months, times have been getting tougher for Xiaomi – along with the rest of the market, which seems have reached almost a point of saturation.

This move will allow the company to join the ranks of Apple, Samsung and Huawei – the current top the brands in the market – who also form the triumvirate of brands that manufacture their own processors.

Truth be told, this does not have the appearances of a whimsical flavour-of-the-month from Xiaomi. The journey to create their own chipset actually began 28 months ago, when Pinecone, a fully-owned subsidiary of Xiaomi was set up to start researching and eventually develop a chipset that were built to Xiaomi’s exacting specifications.

Xiaomi calls their chipset Surge S1, and the first phone to run on it is going to be the Xiaomi Mi 5C.

The chipset is said to use an octa-core ARM Cortex- A53 processor with a big design, incorporating four 2.2 GHz cores and four 1.4 Ghz cores. Clearly, Xiaomi’s thought process began with the idea of achieving a balance between performance and power efficiency.

Now that the Surge S1 is ready, it’s performance metrics are gratifying.
The Surge S1 outperformed other chipsets in its range, even the vaunted Snapdragon 625!

With this move then, the brand would also be turning away from manufacturers like Qualcomm and MediaTek – two names that have become almost synonymous with smartphones – splitting the high-end and mid-range markets between them.

But the question remains, will it really help the brand set itself apart?

Given that processors are important for processing power, optimizing battery performance, even managing the overall function of a smartphone, Xiaomi’s phones may be better for the change. Yet, processors don’t by themselves, drive sales of smartphones. There is a lot more that goes in, especially when competition is just as well equipped..

The fact is, thanks to it’s dream run, Xiaomi climbed the ladder rapidly – once possessing the badge of the third largest phone manufacturer by market share. But now, it’s fallen out of the top five, primarily being dethroned by Huawei.

Huawei worked to expand its market share and turned itself into a global brand by making the use of it’s huge telecom network. And they didn’t do it just here in India.
Xiaomi has been facing a lot of competition even in its home country, China, where Huawei and Lenovo, have leapfrogged past it in the last year.

While the implications of this move towards technical independence are many, we must also question if this move will be able to make a genuine change in the trajectory of the company, and help keep it afloat in the face of declining sales and increasing struggle in the market.

But there’s another reason. A big one.

To climb back up the ladder, Xiaomi needs to do one critical thing – enter the U.S. markets and wrench out some fan following there. But, it’s hindered by some patent conflicts.
While Xiaomi entered the U.S. in 2015, it was forced to tiptoe into the market, selling only accessories and add-ons, but not it’s crème de la crème wares – smartphones.
In fact, a huge uproar was caused in 2016, when U.S. Mobile, a virtual mobile network, listed a few Xiaomi products for sale on it’s website. The virtual mobile network was forced to take the products of their site in extreme haste.

In order to overcome patent conflicts, Xiaomi even obtained over 1,500 patents from Microsoft, for what must, most definitely have been a tidy sum.

So, part of the reason for this entry into the Chips space may also have to do with gaining respect and sovereignty in the U.S. market – so that Xiaomi’s devices can finally land on U.S. shores.

The question then arises as to has Xiaomi been a little too late in making this move?! Will this move really bring much of a change in the performance of its devices, and help Xiaomi beat off competition, here or in the U.S. – or is it more of a notch-in-the-belt at this juncture?

Manu Jain To Take Hugo Barra's Place At Xiaomi

Manu Jain To Take Hugo Barra Place At Xiaomi

In the light of Hugo Barra leaving Xiaomi, Senior Vice President Xiang Wang was said to have been all set to replace him.

But recent announcements have indicated that the wind’s blowing another way.

The word now is that Manu Jain, who has until now been leading Xiaomi’s operations in India, will now be taking Hugo Barra’s place. The company confirmed the news on Friday.

This development, and the vacuum surrounding the place of the Global VP came as Hugo Barra, the man who has been known to practically turn Xiaomi from a “Chinese” brand to a global one, announced that he will be hanging his shoes to dry and exiting Xiaomi for a sweet trade-off at the Virtual Reality arm of Facebook, back in the Silicon Valley.

Before Manu Jain’s confirmation, Xiang Wang elevation to fill Barra’s chair was not a speculation. In fact an announcement to the effect had already come from Bin Lin, Xiaomi’s co-founder and President in a Facebook post, stating “Xiang Wang, Xiaomi Senior Vice President, will lead our entire global efforts moving forward”.

Clearly, there seem to have been some changes in that decision, the reasons for which are currently unknown.

The announcement regarding Manu Jain’s move up came in a tweet from the official Xiaomi handle, stating “@manukumarjain, congratulations from the entire Xiaomi family on your promotion to Vice President of Xiaomi!

Jain will also be elevated to the post of the Managing Director of Xiaomi’s operations in India.

In case you’re wondering about Jain’s background – he joined Xiaomi back in 2014, after a successful tenure at Jabong. At Xiaomi, he has served as the Head of India Operations since the day the Chinese brand opened shop in India in 2014.
It was during his tenure that the company became the #1 brand for online smartphone sales in the country and carved out a sizeable slice of India’s smartphones pie overall.

It was also under Jain’s tutelage that Xiaomi exceeded USD 1 billion in sales in India last year.

Though Jain has received quite a lot of limelight for his work with Xiaomi in India, it has however always been Barra who had been the global face of the brand. The bad news on the anvil is that Barra’s exit may act as a blow to the company’s prospects in international markets.

What’s going to be interesting to watch now is how Manu Jain handles stepping into such big shoes, and how he handles the pressure to succeed outside of his home market.

Jain’s appointment is quite definitely a reflection on India’s position as an important market for Xiaomi. India is the second-biggest market in the world, after China, and Jain’s dual position now will have a critical role in maintaining Xiaomi’s position within the India market.

Meet The Man Who Will Replace Hugo Barra

Meet The Man Who Will Replace Hugo Barra

With Xiaomi’s Vice President Hugo Barra hanging up his boots by end of February, Senior Vice President, Xiang Wang is all set to replace him to lead Xiaomi’s global efforts.

Hugo Barra, the most prominent global executive at China’s Xiaomi Inc. and the face of the smartphone maker’s global expansion, has left the company citing health concerns and a new role.

Xiang Wang, Xiaomi Senior Vice President, will lead our entire global efforts moving forward. Xiang Wang joined Xiaomi in June 2015 as the senior vice president of strategic cooperation and had worked as the president of Qualcomm Greater China since April 2010.
We have ambitious expansion plans for 2017 and are confident in Xiang’s leadership to take our global business to even greater heights,” announced Bin Lin, Xiaomi co-founder and President in a Facebook post.

Similarly in a Facebook post on Monday, Barra had announced he was leaving the company after three-and-a-half years for a new project based in Silicon Valley.

Xiaomi was briefly the world’s most valuable startup and had hopes to be China’s equivalent of Apple Inc. however the firm has recently grappled with slowing smartphone sales and fell out of the top five in China for smartphone vendors in 2016, after reaching No. 2 in 2015.

Is this the reason for the change of leadership at the helm?

Hugo Barra Is Leaving Xiaomi

Hugo Barra is leaving Xiaomi

Xiaomi’s Global Vice President, Hugo Barra recently announced via Facebook that he will soon be leaving Xiaomi and returning to the Silicon Valley.

Barra’s unexpected announcement caught the entire tech world by surprise, ever more so, as Barra had become the world-wide face of the brand.

No one outside of China had really heard of Xiaomi back in 2013 when Barra left a top job to work for what could then only be called a ‘promising’ startup.

Under his aegis, the face of the company changed, and became not only a force to be reckoned with by way of product sales numbers, but also as a brand that youth the world over started to associate with.

Barra, was a popular figure at Google’s Android division before he was stolen by Xiaomi. He created a spot for himself within Xiaomi quite fast, both, in Beijing, and abroad.

Back in 2012, Xiaomi sold 7.5 million smartphones in 2012 and just two years later in 2014, they sold 61 million smartphones. This would put their rate of growth at an astonishing 800% in two years!

The brand that started its sales from China made a place for itself in the top five global smartphone brands, having set the trend for not only budget phones in the market, but also flash online sales, and many other marketing and sales tactics.

The company did come into the negative light many times for its notoriousness to copy every last detail of Apple’s devices and marketing strategy, knowing there was precious little Apple could do to stop it. It is also thought to have copied some of Samsung’s designs.

It is precisely because of the patent issues that could crop up (for these ‘inspirations’) that Xiaomi could only sell it’s devices in limited markets, with most of Europe and the entirety of the U.S. being off-limits to them.

Regardless of this criticism, though, the company’s growth has been noteworthy.

But, quite like what happens with most volatile markets, the brand seems to now be plateauing, mostly because the smartphone market has oversaturated in the last year. Xioami in the last year has been hit where it would hurt the hardest, the home market. Lenovo (having acquired Motorola) and Huawei, both Chinese brands, have been taking over the market, leaving Xiaomi struggling to keep up.

With Barra stepping out, Xiaomi is losing more than just a top executive. They also have to keep in mind that they have bigger challenges to deal with at the moment, than just finding someone to fill Barra’s shoes.
It’s important for them to put resources back into China to bring momentum back for their smartphone business”, said Canalys’ China Research Director, Nicole Peng.

As we said, Barra has played quite an important role in the growth of Xiaomi – he almost became the face of the company in China, not only within the employees and the office grounds but because of his media presence, amongst the populace as well.
When Lei Jun and Bin Lin came to me nearly four years ago with the opportunity to help turn a young rockstar startup into a global player, I embarked on what has been the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life”, Barra wrote, of his time at Xiaomi. “I moved to Beijing, 6,500 miles out of my comfort zone in Silicon Valley, to build from scratch a startup team within a bigger startup. This journey has been nothing short of spectacular in every way, and I can proudly say that Xiaomi Global is the first baby I helped bring into the world”.

He has, most notably, been responsible for having expanded the company’s sales into Russia, Mexico, Malaysia and others – a total of 20 additional markets.

For his departure, Barra is taking the plea of homesickness, having stated that he misses his home and family too much.  In his Facebook post, he called his time with Xiaomi “the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life“, and added that he feels he’s leaving Xiaomi in a “good place on its global expansion path“.
At the same time, with respect to his life in Beijing, where he was now based at Xiaomi headquarters, he said that “living in such a singular environment has taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health“.

Regarding the company and the CEO Lei Jun, Barra wrote that he has “been very supportive of my transition and has asked me to remain an advisor to Xiaomi indefinitely“. He added he’d be “transitioning out of my role at Xiaomi in February after Chinese New Year,” then taking time off before “embarking on a new adventure back in Silicon Valley“. He did not, however, elaborate on what it is that he would be doing next.

Xiaomi Mi Max: Welcome To India

Xiaomi Mi Max Welcome To India

After the conclusion of its first flash sale in the first week of July, the Xiaomi Mi Max is now available in open sale via the their Indian online retail partners – Amazon India, Flipkart (currently out of stock), Paytm, Snapdeal (not yet listed), and Tata Cliq.

One tiny situation that has cropped up though is that most of these sites as of the present moment are showing only the 3 GB RAM+32 GB internal storage version in stock; even Xiaomi’s own mi.com doesn’t appear to have the higher-end 4 GB RAM+ 128 GB storage model.

Not only is the new flagship openly available, Xiaomi is sweetening the deal for it’s upper-end customers. The first one million Mi Max, Mi 5, and Redmi Note 3 users in India will get 3 months of free movies on Hungama Play and 1 year of unlimited music on Hungama Music.

Mi Max is available to buy in Dark Grey, Gold, and Silver colour variants. Thus far, the variant of the all-metal body smartphone made available in-country (3 GB of RAM/32 GB of inbuilt storage) carries the Snapdragon 650 SoC, at INR 14,999.

Other specifications include:

  • Huge 6.44 inch Full-HD (1920×1080) 342 ppi display
  • 16 megapixel rear camera with phase detection autofocus (PDAF) and LED flash
  • 5 megapixel front camera along with 85-degree wide-angle view
  • Adreno 510 graphics processor
  • 4G LTE with VoLTE
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS/ A-GPS with Glonass
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac with Mimo
  • Huge 4,850 mAh battery
  • Fingerprint sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, and proximity sensor

Both cameras have an f/2.0 aperture. But, there’s no NFC on board.

The other variant with 4 GB of RAM &128 GB of inbuilt storage with Snapdragon 652 SoC will be made available soon in India, priced at INR 19,999, the Chinese conglomerate announced last month.

This variant will also support an expandable storage via a hybrid dual SIM configuration same as the existing version.

Whether you go for the currently available version, or hold off for the 4 GB version, this promises to be a great phablet to own and use, provided you can wrap your hands around the large form factor.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 To Launch On January 19th

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 To Launch On January 19th

For years at end, an unwritten, yet well-established taboo was associated to Chinese products – low prices, abysmal quality, and even lower lifetimes. Comparisons with homegrown products, or even those from Japan drew people away from anything “Chinese”.

Well, those days when Indians had problems buying Chinese products are way gone now.

Thanks to Chinese electronics companies like Xiaomi, not only have the face and outlook of electronic gadgets changed to a large extent, but more importantly, they’ve bludgeoned that stereotype into smithereens now.

Xiaomi, established in the early months of 2010, entered the Indian market in April 2015 and has since influenced most circumspect buyers with a wide range of potential products that are built with exemplary quality.

To it’s credit, Xiaomi never stops reinventing itself, regularly introducing new products that push the bar of “budget devices”. It’s latest launch, the Redmi Note 4, is another example of Xiaomi’s mission of capability at a low price.

Redmi Note 4 is slated to be released on January 19th, being made available on the official Mi website. It’ll hit Flipkart starting Jan 23rd.

Note 4’s release has been a much-anticipated one and Mi fans took to Twitter to express their joy over the release of the new phone. Redmi Note 4 is the successor to the Note 3, which was launched in March last year. The latter, garnered a lot of attention and praises for its high battery capacity and other features which made the phone seem a bit underpriced at INR 13,000; if reports are to believed, Redmi Note 4, will be priced in the same range.

Note 4 will could set a benchmark at the beginning of the the year. Xiaomi, has been witnessing an unlikely dip in their sales in China, so this launch and success in India is extremely important for the brand.

The Redmi series (Note 3, Redmi 3 and 3S Prime) have generated a lot of appreciation in India, – clearly apparent from the fact that the Redmi Note 3 sold more than 2.3 million units within 10 months of its launch in India.

Stating the obvious, the Redmi Note 4 is the upgraded version of its predecessor and would sport features better than Note 3. But, to quote a fan who tweeted, “What possible upgradation could they make now ? Affix a toaster?”.
Well, clearly an exaggeration, but makes a valid point.

Note 4 was previously launched in China in August 2016. There would not be much change to the Chinese Model however phone’s features are tweaked depending upon the geography of the market.

Note 4 should sport a 5.5 inch FullHD display with 1080p resolution and 2.5D curved glass and retain common USP of all the Redmi phones – their large battery life. Note 3 had a 4,050 mAh battery backing the phone and Note 4 could have a humongous 4,100 mAh battery powering it.

Since Xiaomi has been barred from selling MediaTek-based devices in the country, the upcoming model would probably flaunt a Snapdragon 625 and is also expected to come in different colour variants.

Xiaomi, has hugely expanded its empire in the last 3 years, to emerge as the third largest phone manufacturing company after Samsung and Apple.

A lot rides on Note 4; and if the reports are to vouched upon, Xiaomi with Note 4, is going to be a blast. No Samsung, not the kind you had!

Xiaomi Hit $1 Billion Revenue In India Alone!

Xiaomi Hit 1 Billion Revenue In India Alone

Xiaomi, a smartphone company that entered the Indian market as recently as July 2014, crossed the impressive mark of USD 1 billion in revenues for the year 2016, from just it’s sales in India!

Global CEO, Lei Jun, upon entering the Indian market, had famously announced his ambitions to make his company the largest smartphone vendor in the country, and it seems like Xiaomi is on track with his vision.

Thanks to lean prices, great specs and fairly good build quality, several of Xiaomi’s smartphones, including the Redmi 3S, and the Redmi 3S Prime have fared well in the Indian market.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, which features a 5.5-inch full-HD display, 16 megapixel rear camera, and large 4,050 mAh battery, was also an instant hit in the country.

Xiaomi’s products have been highly sought after as they bring features that premium brands offer (at quite an exorbitant prices), at price tags that are far more palatable to the cost-conscious Indian customer.

Xiaomi, long considered an inherently Chinese company, is actually one of the leading budget brands in the world, especially in developing countries like in South Asia.
Xiaomi is also working to shed the budget-phone tag. While they do specialize in bringing premium features to devices that have comparatively low numbers on their price tags, their sights have been shifting up the value-ladder, and are now affixed on prime spot in the Premium range.

Xiaomi has had a blockbuster 2016 in India and the announcement of the USD 1 billion Indian revenue milestone came from Xiaomi’s India head, Manu Kumar Jain.
He also believes that this short duration of (eighteen months between) July 2014 to December 2016, could be the fastest a smartphone company has ever reached this milestone in the Indian market!

Xiaomi was in the right place at the right time“, Jain told Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst at research firm Counterpoint, Mashable India. He talked of Xiaomi’s growth curve, also adding that it was “equally critical for Xiaomi was ramping up its portfolio and distribution network in India last year”.

Xiaomi started its Indian portfolio with smartphones, but now they have expanded to also include accessories and air purifiers. In the third quarter of 2016 Xiaomi reached the spot of the third largest smartphone brand in the country, after having sold over 2 million smartphones here. This puts their growth at 150% – a number most global companies dream about, on particularly starry nights!

When the company came to India back in 2014, it relied solely on online channels of sale. In fact, it was Xiaomi that started the trend of flash sales on e-commerce websites in the country. Consequently Xiaomi has shipped the highest number of smartphones ever via online channels in the Indian market place.

Instead of focusing only on incoming revenue, they showed tremendous savvy by building on their infrastructure, services, and local channels, to set up a viable, long-term stint in India.

In late 2015, the company decided to also be inclusive of certain offline channels of sale.
Xiaomi tied up with Redington, Innocomm, and Just Buy Live big offline retailer chains among others, to make it easier for people to discover and purchase its smartphones. This served them well, helping them farther their reach (Indian statistics show that seven out of ten smartphones sold in India are bought through an offline channel).

India has become quite an important hub for smartphone sales with high-end companies such as Apple, HTC, and Samsung also exploring the Indian market, not only from a sales point of view but also from a from a growth and production point of view.
Xiaomi, however, right now seems only to be sticking to sales. “India is an extremely important market in Xiaomi’s globalization strategy“, CEO Jun said last year. “It has become our largest market outside of mainland China”.

Growth in India quite certainly does mean a lot of Xiaomi. But to keep succeeding in this market that is perpetually looking for something “newer”, Xiaomi would need to keep expanding its portfolio, and would quite certainly have to come up with outstanding successors to their previous mainstay, the Note 3. This success could also help forward many of Xiaomi’s ongoing and future ambitions, such as the expansion of Mi ecosystem (which we believe is their ultimate goal) as device sales are slowing down, believe it or not!

Nougat Updates Are Rolling Out

Nougat Updates Are Rolling Out

While the roll-out of Android Nougat 7.0 is still underway, Google has already started rolling out the beta version of Nougat 7.1.1 for certain devices.

The Nougat 7.1.1 version was put out in the developer preview in November, and was subsequently released for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Nexus 6P, Google Nexus 5X, Google Nexus 9, Google Pixel tablet, the Nexus player and other General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices.

With the Nougat 7.1.1 update, Google is interestingly bringing some features that were initially seen only on the Pixel devices to the Nexus devices.

  • One of these is the app shortcut feature which now comes directly to your home screen and functions quite like the functionality of the iPhone without the pressure sensitive display.
  • The update also includes support for Google’s “Image Keyboard”, which basically lets you find and send pictures and GIFs without leaving your messaging app of choice.
  • An additional set of emojis to promote gender equality also come with the package.

While Google has moved on, most other non-Google brands are still yet to roll out the Nougat 7.0 version entirely.

  • Sony just started their roll out for their top range. This would include Multi-window support, longer battery life and a new messaging app for users.
  • HTC has started rolling out the version to unlocked versions of HTC One M9, HTC 10 in the US. They haven’t yet given a timeline for their other devices or regions.
  • Samsung has rolled out the update for their Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge phones too and is soon bringing the update to its other devices.

As budget smartphone brands, most of them Chinese, have been climbing up the charts for their products’ specs and capabilities, they all use heavily personalized versions of Android, to distinguish their products from the rivals in the market.
What this basically means for the users of these devices is that brands such as Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo, Vivo, Coolpad and LeEco, are almost always among the very last to roll out updates to their respective devices.

This time around, however, with Nougat 7.0, things seem to be a little different.

  • Huawei and Lenovo have already rolled out the update for some of their devices, Xiaomi reportedly is next in the line to do the same, and more is to follow in the next weeks around New Years.
  • Lenovo-backed Moto’s latest Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, as well as some of the Moto Z devices, have the update now as well.

And it is good news, as Android Nougat brings several improvements over the older versions of Android for the users.

  • It boasts redesigned notifications that crams more information into the Notification area without wasting screen real-estate, along with an overall clean design that makes it quicker and easier to read alerts.
  • It also promises a better battery life, in addition to a system UI tuner, quick replies, dozens of new emoji, to name some of the new features.

All this is very impressive. Android has historically be infamous for the glacial reach across brands. With the 7.0 update in the market for over a month now, and the 7.1.1 version already starting out, it stands to reason that updates should be rolling out even faster, as more and more companies seem ready to bring it to their devices.

For more information on if the update is yet available on your device or not, check for the update on your device, or stay tuned for more information.

Will Synaptics Revolutionise Fingerprint Sensors?

Will Synaptics Revolutionise Fingerprint Sensors

2017 looks like a year that will have bezel-less smartphones pouring in!

Xiaomi recently released its bezel-less smartphone called Mi Mix and there are strong rumors floating around that Samsung’s adopting a bezel-less OLED display for their Galaxy S8 too!

What’s more, even the next iPhone from Apple is expected to abandon the physical home button for a fingerprint scanner embedded within the screen itself.

Back in October 2014, Synaptics acquired fingerprint ID provider Validity for $255 million, giving it an entry into the fingerprint identification market that had, for years, suffered in relative facelessness.

Not complete anonymity though. It was with the launch of iPhone 5 in September 2012, that biometric sensing to unlock the phone via fingerprints suddenly became the hot new thing. Once Apple did it, everybody else did it too. And devices changed forever.

Keeping in line with these rumours is the actual news of a new model of an optical fingerprint scanner called the ‘Natural ID FS9100’ by Synaptics.

Synaptics claims it to be the industry’s first optical-based fingerprint scanner for smartphones and tablets where the fingerprint scanner can be placed under a covering glass including a 2.5D glass that rides atop the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge etc.

source url This is quite a big breakthrough.

A fingerprint scanner that can work without a physical button, under glass, is a big deal as it can completely eliminate the space-hogging bezels above and below the screen, and make the face of the phone one complete sheet of glass. What a beauty the device would be!!

Additionally, eliminating cutouts and shaving of glass around the cutouts would result in cleaner industrial design and significantly reduce the amount of glass wasted due to cracking during production.

Synaptics elaborates on the functionality of its new fingerprint scanner on its website: “Under cover glass biometrics eliminates button cut-outs and glass thinning processes required by capacitive under-glass sensors, leading to glass yield improvements. The highly reliable FS9100 optical solution excels with wet finger performance, and being protected by glass, is durable, scratchproof, waterproof, and eliminates ESD concerns”.

Now you know what the FS9100 is capable of!

buy generic Lyrica india This is not all for the new-age sensor, though.

The company also highlights the fact that the sensor is equipped with PurePrint anti-spoof technology, which does the job of examining the fingerprint images through artificial intelligence, thereby enabling the sensor to distinguish between fake and actual fingerprints.

Just so you know, Synaptics is not the pioneer in the field of optical sensor technology. Earlier, Qualcomm had introduced Sense ID, which works primarily through glass, sapphire, aluminum, stainless steel, and plastics. The recently launched Xiaomi Mi 5s can be considered amongst the first wave of smartphones to feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sense ID fingerprint sensor under glass.

http://thermograve.co.uk/portfolio_entries/pos/ Back to Optical Sensing Technology.

Les Santiago, Research Director for IDC elaborates upon the benefits of Optical sensing technology: “Optical sensing technology, which is very high performance and widely proven in other markets, has many advantages such as durability, scratch resistance, and resistance to ESD, but optical has not been widely adopted in smartphones and tablets due to form factor and power consumption limitations. Synaptics is enabling the elimination of the home button which is a critical next step to full top-to-bottom, edge-to-edge smartphone and tablet displays”.

By bringing optical sensing technology with the right form-factor and power consumption envelope to smartphones and tablets, Synaptics is enabling the elimination of the home button, which is a critical next step to full top-to-bottom, edge-to-edge smartphone and tablet displays“, said IDC Research Director Les Santiago in a press release.

The fingerprint sensors will go into the mass-production phase in the second quarter of 2017, which almost overlaps with the current rumors of Samsung going bezel-less in its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, which is expected to hit the shelves late-March 2017 after being officially disclosed at the MWC 2017, in February.

If Samsung indeed chooses to opt for Synaptics’ optic-based fingerprint sensors, then it could kickstart a new trend in the smartphone industry and bezel-less phones imply a farewell to physical buttons on smartphones.

The rumours around the ‘iPhone 8’ also picking up steam are implying that Apple too, is opting for the fingerprint sensor to be directly embedded within the screen.

Synaptics first launched what we now call touchpads in 1995, and its capacitive touchpad technology is now used by most notebook PC manufacturers. However, with the announcement of FS9100 now, it seems that the company is inching closer towards its dream of being the independent supplier of fingerprint recognition technology to the remainder of the industry, as professed in 2014.

Will Xiaomi's Mi Note 2 Fill In For The Explosive Samsung Galaxy Note7?

Will Xiaomi's Mi Note 2 Fill In For The Explosive Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Xiaomi, a once China-only brand that has been gaining a lot of international traction lately, just launched its Mi Note 2 phablet in China. And it seems a lot like Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 – minus the explosive tendencies, hopefully!

Looks aside, will the Mi Note 2 fill the void left by the Samsung Galaxy Note7?

Let’s see what the device brings to the table, in order to answer that one.

The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 comes with a 5.7-inch flexible OLED display that is curved on both the edges with a rectangular home button on the front (which triggers the Note7 comparison).

Like the Galaxy Note7, it also boasts of a high screen-to-body ratio (74.2%). While the Note7 had approximately 78% screen-to-body ratio, the iPhone 7 only manages a 65.5% ratio. So the Mi Note 2 is clearly alright on that front (pun somewhat intended).

Digressing a little, Xiaomi is introducing a concept phone, Mi Mix that has a 6.4” screen with a 91% screen-to-body ratio!

Back to the story: The Mi Note 2 runs on the current Qualcomm-best Snapdragon 821 processor which includes a quad-core Kryo CPU set up with an Adreno 530 graphics processor. It is powered by a formidable 4,070 mAh power source with Quick Charge 3.0, giving you almost 80% charge in about 30 minutes.

While running Android 6.0 Marshmallow it is expected to update to the latest version of Android 7 in due course. The device uses a Type-C port.

The surprises do not stop here; the phone comes with a 22.56 megapixel (f/2.0) camera with Sony’s IMX318 Exmor RS sensor. This resolution puts it considerably over the current industry high-water marks attained by most smartphones this year. It comes with electronic image stabilization (EIS) along with the usual features of phase detection autofocus and a dual-LED (dual tone) flash, with an ability to record 4K videos and much more. It has an 8 megapixel (f/2.0) front camera with autofocus, and features like group selfie optimization.

Amongst other goodies, the phone will also have High Fidelity (HiFi) sound, SAP high-precision GPS, and NFC support, in addition to supporting global LTE bands: 6 types, 37 bands.

Three versions of this dual SIM phone are currently available in Piano Black and Glacier Silver color variants. There is a 4 GB RAM with 64 GB internal memory costing 2,799 RMB (~ INR 28,000) followed by 6 GB RAM with128 GB internal memory costing 3,299 RMB (~ INR 32,000). Then there’s also a Global Edition Version with 6 GB RAM and128 GB internal memory, albeit with a fractional increase in the cost at 3,499 RMB (~ INR 35,000).

The one downside to this device is the absence of expandable memory, maybe that is why the 32 GB memory variant is absent.

The phone also seems to be hitting the market at the right moment, ready to stand in the gap left in by the Samsung’s Note7 disaster. This is only highlighted by the fact that on the date on launch in China, the phone got sold out in under 50 seconds!

It is quite certain that the phone is meant to hit the global markets, at least the South East Asian markets, soon, but that might be at the beginning of the next year.

Now that you’re armed all those specs (phew!), I think you’d agree, the Mi Note 2 seems equipped with all the internal hardware to raise a flag for the Galaxy Note7 proxy. That said, internals aside, will the Mi Note 2 feel good in the hand, will it perform like Samsung’s vaunted business machine? Time will tell, and the consumers will take the final call basis that real-world performance.

One thing’s for sure though, if Xiaomi wanted to alleviate itself of the “mid-range” brand and play with the Big Boys, it may not be able to find wildcard like this again – not any time soon. So, hopefully, Xiaomi will ensure that they put up their best effort with the Mi Note 2, so it doesn’t crash and burn. Oops!

Xiaomi Just Launched 'Tap To Pay'

Xiaomi Just Launched Tap To Pay

Xiaomi, a company that has already taken the world by storm since it’s market reveal just a few years ago, just made another bold move.

They introduced the ‘Tap To Pay’ feature on their devices, making money transactions of all kinds simpler for those who do not like to carry cash.

They call it the Mi Pay, and for now, but it is available only in China.

The concept of ‘Tap To Pay’ is not at all new to the market. Apple (with Apple Pay) and Samsung  (with Samsung Pay) have had it for a while now and are both doing reportedly well.
Certain third party banking and payment services (say like Android Pay) also have various versions of tap to pay or ‘scan’ to pay, in the market.

Yet, Mi Pay does something that makes it unique since neither of the two big-wigs has come up with yet.

Before we get into that, however, let us first discuss what Mi Pay is all about.

Okay, so it’s a ‘Tap To Pay’ service that works pretty much like a credit or debit card does; instead of swiping the card, you are tapping your device (that has been previously set up for such transactions).

It works through an app, with which various cards and bank accounts can be integrated, and once set up, it can be used for any and all kinds of payments.

In the event that your integrated device is lost, one can expect a good amount of security, through passwords and fingerprints, of course. One can additionally turn off the payment service through the corresponding website.

Launched on the 1st of September, 2016, the service is available on Xiaomi phones that have an NFC chip. Currently, the Mi 5 is the only Xiaomi phone that has the required chipset integrated within, to support this service.
But we can expect the upcoming Mi Note 2 to feature it as well, along with a possible expansion to other devices.

We believe that Mi Pay will be a key driving force in promoting the development of China’s mobile payments industry, and deliver much more convenience to our users“, Xiaomi founder and CEO, Lei Jun, said in a statement.

A strong competition from Apple Pay and Samsung Pay is obvious, but amongst home-grown competition, Xiaomi can expect to have to battle Alibaba’s Alipay, and Tencent’s WeChat Pay.

To make it all happen, Xiaomi had to work ties with over 20 banks, including Bank of Communications, China Construction Bank, China Merchants Bank, Huaxia Bank, Industrial Bank, Minsheng Bank and Ping An Bank. But the ties with the banks were of course not enough.

To widen its reach, Xiaomi, like Apple and Samsung, signed up with UnionPay. China UnionPay is the country’s largest interbank network that facilitates fast and smooth transactions between various points. They reportedly have about 5 million contactless point-of-sale terminals across the country. Working with them would enable Xiaomi to get the widest possible reach, and ensure that all avenues of growth are open to them.

Finally, let’s tell you what’s unique about Mi Pay!

Well, Mi Pay users would also be able to use it to pay at certain public transportation platforms. The obvious question is if ‘Tap To Pay’ can be easily used at a store, then why not on public transportation?! Well, payment methods on public transportation systems are extremely complex and are different in each country, if not in each region. That makes it almost impossible to design something that would work everywhere, especially because of the variety of NFC chips that are used in different systems. Apple, for instance, plans to embed a new chip in their iPhones sold in Japan to enable the integration with the Japanese system. In Singapore, users need to get a new SIM card with a chip embedded on it, to enable them to use such a service on the trains.

What Xiaomi has done is that to make this a little simpler, they have enabled the users to add their transportation cards to their ‘Mi Pay’ accounts, and that is what facilitates their transactions.

So, with Xiaomi’s ‘Tap To Pay’ operational even on public transport, all they have to do when entering a bus is tap their phone, and voila, the payment is made. This service, for now, is only available in six Chinese cities – Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangdong, Suzhou and Wuhan – but it would be safe to assume that Xiaomi is planning to expand it soon.

Xiaomi runs neck to neck in the Chinese market with several international brands. What would be interesting it to see how this pans out for all of them.

Xiaomi Redmi 3S and 3S Prime Come To India

Xiaomi Redmi 3S and 3S Prime Come To India

Think of a large battery, an indefatigable one, no matter what you throw at it; think of a nice, mid-sized screen. Now picture them in a pretty little package.

Well, that’s what recently went on sale on Flipkart!

The Xiaomi Redmi 3s (in two versions – Redmi 3s and the Redmi 3s Prime). And the duo have since been silencing the debate around battery life with their stellar 4,100 mAh battery, ever since.

The two smartphones by the Chinese megabrand are finally in the Indian market after being launched in the Chinese market earlier this year.

Quick rundown of the Specs:

The standard features for both the phones are identical and the difference is only in the RAM and the memory.

They both have a 5-inch IPS display, with a 1080p resolution, which has become fairly standard for the budget smartphone market. Powered by Snapdragon 430, the devices run on the latest version of Android Marshmallow 6.0.

The smartphones seat two SIMs, have a 13 megapixel primary camera with an LED flash on the back, and a 5 megapixel front camera. The 13/5 MP camera combination is well within the ballpark of the average budget device in the market today.

The battery (ah! the battery) of the phones is 4,100 mAh, which is a big plus at this price point, and is well above the average 3,000 mAh battery that most phones in the market have to offer.

Of the two devices, the Redmi 3s has a 2 GB RAM and a 16 GB internal memory, which is expandable to 128 GB via microSD card. This will be available in the Indian market for INR 6,999.

The second is the Redmi 3s Prime – the highlight of which is its build quality. This smartphone packs 3 GB RAM a 32 GB internal storage, which is also expandable via a microSD card. The Prime version also comes with a fingerprint sensor, which might give it an edge over its sibling, but not necessarily in the market as a whole.
The Redmi 3s Prime will be available in the Indian market for INR 8,999.

The smartphones look premium for the price range. They sport all-metal bodies and pack large batteries. One of the things about the 3s Prime is that it looks quite like Redmi Note 3. Why that is significant is because this might be a way to establish a linear look throughout its product portfolio for the company. This has gone too well for Apple in previous years, but didn’t go too well for Samsung.

The competition in the under-INR 10,000 market has become quite stiff lately, with brands like Xiaomi, Asus, Micromax, and Huawei (to name just a few), coming out with budget devices that offer great features at considerably lower prices. The majority of the phones in the price bracket have great specifications and the companies are still racing to offer more for less.

Xiaomi has had its fairly good run in the same segment as well, with Redmi Note 3 and Mi Max. These two new smartphones clearly are the company’s attempt to strength it’s position in the market.

After The Drone, Now A VR Headset From Xiaomi

After The Drone, Now A VR Headset From Xiaomi

After the Mi Drone, China’s Xiaomi Technologies is expected to launch its VR headset on Monday, 1st August.

Xiaomi has managed to gather popularity for it’s devices like Mi 5 and the Redmi Note 3 and is constantly treading towards diversifying into new product categories, launching IoT and smart home automation products like air-conditioners and bedside lamps in its home market.

To refresh your memory, Xiaomi’s Mi Drone equipped with a camera was launched in May and came in two variants – an affordable one with the ability to shoot 1080p video priced at roughly INR 26,000, and the other one which is capable of shooting videos in 4K available at a slightly higher price of about INR 31,000. The Mi Drone packs a 4-propeller system with removable shields and is powered by a 5,100 mAh battery at 17.4V which is claimed to deliver 27 minutes of non-stop flying.

Recently, to widen the array of products that it offers, Xiaomi launched its first-generation Mi Notebook Air laptops that draw inspiration heavily from Apple’s MacBook design aesthetics, albeit at a significantly lower price.

The same event also witnessed the launch of a brand new smartphone called Redmi Pro, which is so far the company’s most expensive Redmi-branded device with a promise to deliver decent performance at an attractive price point.

Xiaomi has a lot more to offer as the company’s official Weibo account makes it clear with the teasers around the first generation VR product that has been in the tube for long. The teasers indicate a headset expected to be launched on August 1, however the text, as seen in the images is entirely in Chinese, which could be a bad news for countries other than China with the possibility  the headset will be launched only in the home country for now.

Xiaomi has done its homework quite well and seems to be preparing the base for its VR users with the company releasing  software and audio-visual content for the buyers to have sufficient VR content to enjoy on their VR headsets right away.

Virtual reality is gradually taking over the consumer tech industry and a lot of technology companies, from established multinationals like Samsung, Sony and HTC to internet colossuses like Google and Facebook, have all made huge investments in the field over the past few years.

It’s not that only these big names rule the products in this emerging sector of Virtual Reality. Small tech firms are also coming forth with their own products varying from under USD 10 for basic Google Cardboard-inspired devices to more classy headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, both of which are complex products.

The headset was announced at Google’s I/O event last month and Xiaomi’s General Manager Tang Mu confirmed that Xiaomi’s VR headset will be compatible with Google’s Daydream.
Mu believes that this is the best possible way to provide a VR experience that has been adjusted for MIUI users. However, no details regarding the price of the VR headset have been shared.

With this new entry Xiaomi is perhaps indicating that it is capable of doing almost everything.

Little Birdie Says Xiaomi Is About To Announce A Deca-Core Based Smartphone

Does Xiaomi Redmi Pro have a deca-core MediaTek processor

Talks are swirling around, about a special Xiaomi event on July 27th, where the mega-challenger brand seems set to launch two new products – a new Redmi smartphone and its first laptop!

Ahead of the launch, Xiaomi has already begun teasing the product on China’s social networking platform, Weibo.
The first teaser showed a smartphone with a dual rear camera.
Another teaser suggested that Xiaomi will launch the ‘Redmi Pro’ with an OLED display. Or could the Redmi Pro feature a Super AMOLED display from Samsung? Won’t that be interesting!
Even more intriguing is the fact, that the company could be launching two variants of Redmi Pro.

In one leak, when Xiaomi’s new device underwent benchmarking trial on Geekbench, the resultant score suggested that the device it will be powered by MediaTek Helio X20 chipset, running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and can include MIUI 8 ROM.

Yet, other sources also indicate that this device is coming with a deca-core processor (and the Helio X20 is not a deca-core unit). That leaves the impression that there are possibly two variants on the anvil. One with 3 GB RAM and another with 4 GB RAM.

It is possible that the former would be powered by a MediaTek Helio X20 SoC, while the 4 GB RAM variant could be getting the slightly faster Helio X25 chipset. But we (Chip-Monks) aren’t certain if that’s the only possible interpretation.

As an aside, Xiaomi has been known to announce smartphones with MediaTek processors for China but follow through with a Snapdragon version in other parts of the world. That could possibly be the twist in the tale.

Coming back to the event, it is being said that the company will also launch its first laptop. Expected to be named as ‘Mi Notebook’, the laptop is expected to be represented in three display-variants of 12.5 inches, 13.3 inches and 15.6 inches.

The smaller two variants are rumoured to be unveiled at the July 27 event, while the 15.6 inch model is expected to be introduced at a later date.

The purported Xiaomi notebook is expected to come with Intel Atom processors and aluminium bodies.

Why is all this important? Well, of late Xiaomi has been active in asserting its dominance in the tech world with launches in Entertainment and Wearable segments.

Be that as it may, smartphones are where the real money is at. For Xiaomi, the Redmi Note 3 has been one of the most important smartphones in the past few months. According to the Antutu listing, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is the most popular smartphone in India, China, Hong Kong, Russia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Time has proven that there’s no other way to establish yourself as a major player – you have to be consistent. And Xiaomi is nothing if it is not determined.

So… it’s going to be an awesome 2016-17, the way things are shaping up!

Xiaomi Mi 5s To Flaunt Dual-Camera

Xiaomi Mi 5s Flaunts Dual-Camera

A render of Xiaomi’s alleged Mi 5s smartphone recently has surfaced and, in-line with some of the earlier leaks, it suggests that the phone will specialise in a dual-camera setup.

According to earlier reports, Samsung was supposed to start supplying dual camera modules to Xiaomi and LeEco from July.

Earlier leaks suggested that the smartphone will feature a “Force Touch screen,” expected to work on similar lines to Apple’s 3D Touch, while other leaks suggested that the Xiaomi Mi 5s would include Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and carry 6GB of RAM, but none of those have been further substantiated, yet.

Along with Xiaomi Mi 5s, the company is rumoured to be working on another handset, currently referred to as the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, which is expected to come in three models – Standard, High, and Top-end.

According to the leaked details, the alleged “Standard” variant will feature single rear camera setup, Hi-Fi chip, and will also support quick charging. The High variant of Mi Note 2 is rumoured to pack a dual camera setup at the back.

However, there has been no official word from Xiaomi regarding the successor to Mi 5 and we should all take these rumours with a pinch of salt and wait for the company to reveal the smartphone’s specifications and features

The Mi 5s is expected to be announced in August. Given Xiaomi’s run with successful launches so far, we’re holding our breath. You keep breathing, we’ll tell you when to get excited!

Xiaomi About "Make (More) In India"

Will Xiaomi Make In India

PM Modi’s ‘Make In India’ club will now have a new addition, Xiaomi.

The Chinese company, encouraged by its remarkable performance in India in terms of smartphones and wearables, is in talks with some state governments from India to set up manufacturing plants in association with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn (best known as the maker of the iPhone).

This move would enable the company to meet increased demand by boosting production. It is noteworthy that the company already has a manufacturing unit in Andhra Pradesh in collaboration with Foxconn. The Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime launched in India last year was the company’s first ‘Make in India’ smartphone.

India is the second largest smartphone market in the world, only preceded by China. At the same time, Chinese market is quite saturated at the moment and India’s market is kicking in strongly, with every passing day. Keeping in view this potential in India, Xiaomi’s decision to set up more manufacturing plants in India seems like a very wise decision. Adding to all this is the ‘Make In India’ program launched a while ago, whereby manufacturers enjoy various benefits if they manufacture in India.

This perhaps is a temptation enough for companies like Xiaomi to join the wagon.

We are looking to expand capacity and set up more lines and plants. We are proactively looking at it and are working with our partner Foxconn. Currently, discussions are on with different governments“, Manu Jain, India head at Xiaomi, told ET. “We have also been increasing the capacity at the existing plant“.

China of course remains the priority for Xiaomi, however, the company is aware of India as a potential smartphone market and Xiaomi’s need to expand their presence in India.

Xiaomi has recently launched its largest device, Mi Max in India, and while the first batch of this device was imported from China the company plans to start the domestic production for this particular model around mid-July.

Over the past few months, smartphone shipments in the country have witnessed a decline; however, Xiaomi said that its sales have grown every month due to their focus on online selling and pocket friendly pricing.
Xiaomi’s Global VP, Hugo Barra claimed that the company had sold over a million units of its Redmi Note 3 smartphones, which helped it bag the position of the second-largest smartphone brand in the online space in April, behind Samsung.

The demand for Redmi Note 3 is higher. We brought in 6 lakh units for the first two months, which is a fairly big number. Still, we are running out of stock. We have sold more than a million Redmi Note 3 units in India“, Jain said.

Redmi Note 3 is available in the offline stores as well, which could be because after achieving success through the online sales, Xiaomi is moving to the next level through offline sales. Further, Xiaomi has even applied for single-brand retail in the country, but is waiting for an approval from Indian authorities.

Chinese smartphone makers are staking heavily on creating online and offline presence simultaneously. LeEco in the same vein has opened their website, LeMall.
Xiaomi, meanwhile, has created the Mi Community website, where fans can register themselves for events, launches and exclusive deals.

There are a few products, which are not being launched in India despite Xiaomi being quite successful here. Mi Band tasted quite a lot of success and is the most sold wearable in India, yet there has been no news yet of Mi Band 2 being launched in India. On the other hand, Xiaomi in China is diversifying as it recently launched a ‘foldable’ electric bicycle that costs 2,999 Yuan.

This scenario might change with Xiaomi expanding their production in India, as with manufacturing plants being set up here, production, supply chain and even costs would make this entire ecosystem for leaner and significantly more profitable.

Better for all of us!

Xiaomi Now The Top Wearables Vendor

Xiaomi Now The Top Wearables Vendor

Xiaomi with its flagship affordable fitness tracker, Mi Band, has managed to secure the top position with a 27.1% market share in the first quarter of 2016 for the Wearable category in India, according to research reports by IDC.

International Data Corporation (IDC) is a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.

The study puts GOQii at the second position with 18.1% of market share during the Q1 2016. Fitbit arrives third, with 6.2% market share in terms of units, however the brand leads in terms of market value share, with it being currently over 10% greater than its closest competitor.

In terms of units, Xiaomi and GOQii together contributed over 45% share, however Fitbit had maximum market value share.

Korean smartphone maker Samsung bagged the fourth position in the wearable segment with a 2.5% market share. But, Samsung has a 20.4% market share in the Smart Wearable category owing to the success of its Gear S2 smartwatch.

Motorola stands at number five in the list with 1.4% market share.

Smart Wearables (any wearable that is capable of running third-party application) were low at 12.3% as compared to fitness bands with 87.7% market share according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report.

The smart wearables have not yet gained enough ground because of the higher price attached to them“, shared Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices at IDC Raj Nimesh.

The wearable devices have become immensely popular in the past one year, and more players are expected to make an entry into the market in both the basic and smart wearable categories“, Nimesh said.

The first two positions here were bagged by Samsung and Motorola while surprisingly enough the global smartwatch leader Apple stood third due to channel-related issues.

The increase in volume is giving more scope to the vendors to come up with better features such as display and NFC. Both Intex’s recently launched Fitrist and Xiaomi’s soon-to-be-launched Mi Band 2 come with a display at affordable prices“, IDC India Research Director Swapnil Bhatnagar said.

To recall, Mi Band which helped Xiaomi secure the first position with 27.1% market share in the first quarter of 2016, was launched at an amazingly low price of INR 999.

Compatible with iOS and Android devices, the Mi Band has two components – the band and a Bluetooth capsule that tracks your activity. The three LED indicators on the top of the Bluetooth capsule let you know about how close you are to achieving your daily step goal at any given point, and in addition the capsule is capable of tracking your sleep patterns, let you unlock your phone without a password when it is nearby (a feature enjoyed by the Android users), and vibrate to alert you about incoming calls and alarms.

Xiaomi has been active this year with a number of launches in their portfolio, ranging from smartphones, tablets, wearables (the Mi Band 2 was recently released), add-ons and even a drone. Now, they really are a force to reckon with.

Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2, The New Affordable Fitness Tech

Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2, The New Affordable Fitness Tech

Xiaomi’s never been only about smartphones. Though that’s what most Indian consumers believe (thanks to the immense focus that Xiaomi’s been laying on smartphones in the Indian marketplace). Little do most people know, Xiaomi makes electric bikes, electric scooters, home networking equipment, smart TVs and only God knows how many consumer electrical products.

If that wasn’t enough, Xiaomi just announced their rather emphatic entry into the Drone arena.

I’d say, Xiaomi has more products in its roster than perhaps AB de Villiers has strokes off his bat!

It’s fairly obvious then, that they’d focus hard on the Wearables space too. Their new fitness band, the Mi Band 2 is finally official (after months and months of speculations). Replacing the original Mi Band, the 2 continues the Chinese mega-brand’s tradition of economically priced, reasonably feature-rich products.

The company’s super competitive pricing enables Xiaomi to take on established industry stalwarts with of the likes of Apple, Motorola, Samsung and Fitbit to name a few. But that’s not all.

Like a good military strategist, Xiaomi is marshalling all its troops.

Leveraging it’s learnings, techniques and technologies from the smartphone arena, Xiaomi’s  blessed the Mi Band 2 fitness band with a a 0.42-inch OLED screen. Smartwatch-style notifications arrive on the scratch resistant glass protected screen. For additional real-world experience, the glass even has smartphone-like anti-fingerprint coating for that extra layer of visibility.

The screen also houses a single physical button below the display, which enables the user to scroll between three different screens for time, steps and heart rate information. The only metric missing here is distance.

The silicone strap holding the screen in place is made from a more breathable, anti-sweat material, with it being available in black, orange, green and blue colour variant. We hope the design is better so the Mi Band 2 module, unlike its predesessor, does not pop out under strenuous workouts.

The Mi Band 2 features an IP67 water and dust-resistance certification, which allows the user to wear it in the shower and its okay to get a little splash of water when you’re washing your hands or working in the kitchen but is not protected against swimming or long interval immersions in water.

With the addition of a display, you do get some smartphone notification features here as well. The Mi Band 2 will vibrate for incoming calls and texts and like its predecessor, the Mi Band 2 can be used to unlock a selection of Android smartphones. Wish they could incorporte the same feature for iOS and Windows!

As tracking goes, you still get an optical heart rate monitor that Xiaomi claims will offer improved accuracy over the previous Mi Band Pulse. A new pedometer algorithm coupled with ultra-low power accelerometers is designed to deliver improvements to step tracking, and of course, sleep tracking is still a key feature, breaking down your deep sleep and light sleep patterns. A built-in vibration motor which gives inactivity alerts, giving you prompt when you’ve been sitting too long at your desk.

The Mi Fit app has been given a makeover introducing a new-look user interface, and adding more ways to drill into your data. It’ll work with Android phones running 4.4 or later OS and iPhones running iOS 7.0 and above.

In terms of battery life, the Mi Band 2 packs a 70mAh battery that can deliver up to 20 days on standby, a feature we simply love. If you look at the offering, it is a pretty neat device at a very competitive price point.

A band which covers all useful features ranging from notification alerts to activity measurements with a 20 day battery life, what is there not to like (albiet if you are not finicky about the accuracy of the fitness measurements, which we will coment on once we have put the band into a grind).

At present the Mi Band 2 is only officially on sale in China for 149 Yuan. The company did the same with the original Mi Band, but there’s no problem picking one up from a reseller regardless of where you reside. There’s no word on Amazon availability yet, but Geekbuying has the Mi Band 2 at USD 39.99.

Moving on to compare the device, in early 2016 the Mi Band Pulse went on sale, packing an optical heart rate sensor, for 99 Yuan (~USD 16). The band did not have the three screen unlike the new Mi Band 2 and is also not officially on sale outside of China yet – but you can grab one on Amazon for USD 23.99.

There have been negotiations regarding the price of the Mi Band 2 and has been prevailed to be set at something equivalent of just USD 22 in China, which makes the Mi Band 2 a whole lot of fitness tech for not a lot of money.

Xiaomi Obtains 1,500 Patents From Microsoft: Here's Why.

Xiaomi Obtains 1500 Patents From Microsoft

Xiaomi, a Chinese brand has managed to reach the Top-5 international smartphone brands slot in just the first five years of is existence. Yet, it has been looking to expand to the United States of America for quite some time now.

The brand’s primary problem making this move into Global Super Brand terra (that US success would ensure) is that of the stiff patent regulations that the US has in place, making it impossible for Xiaomi to sell their smartphones in the US.

To overcome this impediment, and seemingly as a move to enable this expansion into the world’s prima donna country, Xiaomi, this past week, struck a deal with the American megabrand Microsoft.

Not much has been disclosed about the deal by either party yet. But, from the information available, it is said that Xiaomi is buying 1,500 patents from Microsoft in exchange for preinstalling the Microsoft Office Suite and Skype on its devices, including Xiaomi Mi 5, Mi Max, Redmi Note 3 and Mi 4S.

The monetary aspect of the deal has not been disclosed yet, but we can sure expect there to be one. It would probably be a one-off payment or one over a period of time.

This gives rise to two obvious questions: What’s in it for Xiaomi? And, what’s in it for Microsoft?

Well, the first one is easy to answer!

Xiaomi has been facing patent issues in the US and thus has not been able to bring its products to the country; it is vulnerable to intellectual property violations. For now the only presence Xiaomi has been able to establish in the US market has been of accessories, that can be bought online through the Xiaomi website.

So far, the primary market for the brand remains its home country, China, yet, the brand has seen a considerable success in Asian countries like Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan.
In the international market, it is struggling with competition from brands like Samsung, Apple, that have been around for far longer. Another brand that has been a major competitor for Xiaomi, and that just bumped Xiaomi off of the Top-5 list this quarter, is one from its own country: Huawei.

In such a predicament, Xiaomi can either now grow, or perish. To grow, the US market is essential to Xiaomi’s timeline.

With the patents from Microsoft, Xiaomi seems to be gathering ammunition to defend itself against issues of intellectual property it might face upon entering the US market.
The patents reportedly have got to with wireless communications technology and the technologies of the like, which shall help Xiaomi defend itself.

Even though this deal seems like a first substantial step, we still do not have a timeline for the company to be moving to the US. They have brought certain products to the US market, including an announcement for a US-specific Android TV, yet we can only speculate as to what more products can be expected when.

The latter question – What’s in it for Microsoft? – is a more perplexing one to answer.

China is a country that does use a lot of Microsoft software, but the catch is that most of it is usually pirated, and Microsoft does not see a dime for its products.

There is not doubt that Microsoft does not need to expand into China in terms of the software; it already has presence enough. What it now needs is to be able to make money off of it, and the deal with Xiaomi seems to be giving it precisely that.

These patents are a small fraction of the over 60,000 patents that Microsoft owns, and they say it is a regular trade move for them to give something out in return for a good deal.

Microsoft is on a move to collect royalties from electronics makers who majorly use Google’s Android operating system because they believe that the OS uses some of their technology.
This deal then, which comes right before the Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella’s visit to China, could be a step towards that.

Microsoft is also facing a continuing anti-trust investigation in China over the bundling of software, and making an ally in the country would be a good idea.

Xiaomi also recently launched a tablet that runs on Microsoft Windows operative, along with a series of connected home products, all of which goes to prove that they could certainly be good partners-to-be.

The deal thoroughly discussed now, we need to also look at the fact that patents alone won’t ensure success for Xiaomi in the US market, or in any market for that matter.

So, Xiaomi also needs a strategy.

Until now Xiaomi has depended mostly on online flash sales for the international market, especially in a country like India. This is quite similar to what the brand OnePlus has been doing. But Xiaomi would need to understand that the smartphones market now, especially the US market, is saturated; hence, quality and product range might not be enough.

Xiaomi would need to differentiate itself, to make its own space. They might want to go with an approach that combines the traditional go-to-stores along with the online sales.

Navigating the US market, is not going to be easy. Patent issues are only the tip of the iceberg, but we must acknowledge that there is scope for a company like Xiaomi to do well in the US market.

After all, it has been their goal for quite some time now.

Xiaomi Seems To Be Toting A Full Goody-Bag This Year

What Is Xiaomi Up To With Their Recent Launches

Xiaomi has in the last couple years, become a go-to brand for budget smartphones. It brings top-notch features at quite affordable prices, making it an amazing fit for the markets of the developing world like China, India and the likes.

But it no longer wants to play just in the smartphones market. It now wants to expand at an equally fast pace, as it did into the smartphone market, into that of Wearables, and beyond.

Or at least so it seems with its recent announcements.

Xiaomi has had a fitness tracking band by the name of Mi Band in the market for a while now. As expected, it is doing quite well.

Now Xiaomi is all set to launch a sequel, the Mi Band 2. The Chinese megabrand recently announced the date for the launch of the Mi Band 2 – 7th of June. The launch, for now, is China-only, but based on the company’s track record, we can safely assume that the products will hit the other countries soon after.

There are two major additions to the fitness tracker that can be expected. The first is that of a better heart rate tracking tech. The Mi Band 2 can be expected to borrow the superior technology from here. The second major edition would be that of an LED display. This is in addition to the usual things a fitness tracker does, like counting steps and keeping track of daily objectives and the likes.

Lei Jun, the Xiaomi head, wore the band during a live broadcast on Chinese social media site Weibo. It also seems to have certain buttons for controlling the features and that leads to a speculation that it will be less dependent on the smartphone. It seems to have a rubber strap just like the original Mi Band did, available in different colours, expectedly. Not a lot has been given away about it yet, though.

As far the prices are concerned, Xiaomi has been sure to stick to its word and keep them pocket-friendly. It was only earlier this year that the Mi Band was seen on the international market, and it is available for a mere US$ 15. The Mi Band Pulse has not yet hit the international ground retail market but is available in the Chinese market for an equivalent of US$ 16. It can also be bought online for less than US$ 25.

The price for Mi Band 2 is expected to be in similar range. Fitness trackers start from an average of US$ 35 but also go above US $200 for some of the pricier models from fancier brands.

Xiaomi’s prices are certainly then going to give it an edge over the others.

The next big thing that Xioami has been working on is the Mi Cube Controller.

It is literally just a cube, which recognises actions like Shake, Rotate, Nudge, 180-degree flip, 90-degree flip, or Double Knock. What it does is it helps you control devices and gadgets around the house – so it’s a smart home controller in a novel form.

Your home devices can be paired simply, and this one cube will help you manage them better with the toss of a hand. It could even work as an ideal gaming controller for virtual reality. It works like the Google’s Daydream controller too, which is not on the market yet though.

With this Cube Controller, you can control all of the Xiaomi-made Mi Smart Home Devices you’ve already got around your home will work basically automatically with this cube.

The Cube Controller will be available only in China for now, for an equivalent of almost US$ 10 – again an extremely inviting price.

That’s two new ventures that Xiaomi is going to be on. The third thing it just announced is the Mi Drone, which is a drone camera system which can record a 4K video.

It is a lightweight device, with 12 megapixel Sony BSI sensor with 6P lenses along with three-axis image stabilisation and support for RAW image capture. There are two versions that will be available, the 1080p version, and the 4K video version, available for about US$ 380, and US$ 450 respectively. With those prices, this will pretty much be the best and the cheapest drone camera system in the market anywhere. The project is crowd-funded and is expected to start delivering this July.

And of course, Xiaomi has another smartphone up its sleeve, the Mi Max, with a 6.44 inch display. There are three variants that are available in the Chinese market, for US$ 225, US$ 260 and US$ 300 respectively.

The phones come with enough RAM, several storage options and a memory card slot, a whopper 4,850 mAh battery, top notch 16 megapixel/5 megapixel back/front cameras combination and other high-quality features.

The company claims that the devices offer better gameplay experience, which might be true, but how true, can not yet be known. It is certainly going to be an advantage for those who use their smartphones for navigation since the larger screen will make map navigation better. The connectivity options are the usual and plenty, and the smartphone has dual SIM slots.

It is available in three colours: White, Gold and Grey. The beta registration starts 16th May and the phone can be expected to start delivery soon.

So, in short, Xiaomi is up to a huge lot in with the recent launches and announcements. Not only is it still working to keep going in the smartphone market, but it is expanding in a manner it takes companies years to work towards.

Xiaomi Introduces It's Mi Drone

Xiaomi Introduces It’s Mi Drone

The Consumer Electronics world is replete with amazing innovations, concocted by companies large and small. Each of these creators’ strive to differentiate themselves to gain that all-important competitive edge and if possible, the first-mover advantage.

Xiaomi, a popular Chinese Consumer Electronics company is not usually a first-mover, it is definitely known to be a fast mover. This nascent company (set up as recently as six years ago), is already the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer!! And it’s not sitting on it’s laurels.

While it is best known for its smartphones and tablets, Xiaomi is already dabbling with a plethora of real-world electronics and trying to improve on them. The list of their interest is seemingly endless.

Now, Xiaomi is putting it’s hat in the Drone-ring.

Recently, the company revealed it’s Mi Drone, a 4K camera-wielding quadcopter that looks more-than-a-little like DJI’s Phantom series of drones. Understanding Xiaomi’s speed-to-market mantra, no one is really expecting Xiaomi to reinvent the wheel, however a little more introspective discretion would’ve perhaps made this a little more inconspicuous.

That said, since these two behemoths are vying for the (apparently) booming quadcopter business, Xiaomi needed to be extremely competitive on price. And it has.
At about USD 460, the Mi Drone is considerably cheaper than DJI’s Phantom 3 4K that retails at USD 799.
Though the buyer probably won’t get as polished a product as the DJI, yet the specifications of the Mi Drone- Xiaomi indicate a compelling package.

While people are now used to seeing Xiaomi’s name crop up in diverse regions of the consumer electronics field – Xiaomi has been expanding its ecosystem of connected devices, including a rice cooker, a kid’s smartwatch, a self-balancing electric scooter, an air purifier and a water purifier; however such a major change in arenas is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser.

That said, the introduction of its Mi Drone, Xiaomi is being looked at as a company of many to technological capabilities, but with a single, critical differentiator. The Chinese company is  continues to provide amazing technology, with high-end specs, and excellent performance – all at incredibly competitive prices – ‘We want everyone to be able to afford good products. That was why I set up Xiaomi in the first place’, CEO Lei Jun once explained during a press conference. And they are sticking to that premise.

Back to the drone. The company reveals that the Mi Drone will come in two versions – one with a 4K resolution camera and the other with a lesser 1080p camera.

The 4K version will be available in late July 2016 for approximately USD 455 while the 1080p version is priced at around USD 380 and will be crowdfunded through the company’s Mi Home app, starting on May 26th.

Hardware wise, the Mi Drone carries a ball-shaped 4K camera beneath it, which quadcopter-buffs might think looks similar to the built-in shooters found on Yuneec’s Typhoon series.
The camera uses a Sony 12.4-megapixel sensor that can capture video at up to 30 fps (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) and is even capable of taking RAW photos. It’s detachable gimbal does 3-axis stabilization which corrects itself 2,000 times per second assisted by an optical flow sensor positioned between the camera and the battery bay on the back.

On the other hand, the Mi Drone containing 1080p camera features a 16-megapixel Sony sensor and supports photo capture in RAW format, just like its elder brother.

The cameras being removable and the landing gear foldable for transportation, this is one portable little kit.

Other features in there – the drone comes equipped with GPS and GLONASS support for accurate outdoor positioning, Visual Positioning System for stability when flying indoors (and even when flying without GPS. It can last up to 27 minutes of flight time (powered by a 5,100 mAh removable battery).

The Mi Drone comes with automated assist features like Automated Take-Off, Automated Landing and Return modes. Flight Path Planning and Point-of-Interest Orbiting modes make usage extremely comfortable and importantly, battery efficient.

Historically, a lot of the first-time buyers of remote controlled aircrafts never made repeat purchases as they found the controls, instructions and the overall handling of the aircrafts unwieldy and extremely complicated. Hence the RC industry never became mainstream (even lesser so, in India).
Recognising the lack of customer dexterity, and to reduce complexity, Xiaomi shrewdly equipped an enclosed controller (more on that in a bit) with a dedicated button just for take-offs and landings. And they made things really simple – a short press to take off and a long press to land an airborne drone! There’s even a switch for returning the drone ‘home’ (back to your location) as well. You can use that feature as you like it – to wind up after a tiring flight, or even to show off; though it’s actually meant to automatically return the drone home when the onboard battery (which is good for up to 27 minutes) is running low or when it loses contact with the controller.

Other than that, and like many other modern drones, the Mi Drone is able to autonomously fly itself to a preplanned point of interest, or follow a planned route, and even circle around a certain point of interest while filming it!

Now, while the drone looks unoriginal and perhaps a bit too familiar, its Controller has a cute appearance – it somewhat resembles a bunny! Well, it has two antennae that stay in contact  with the drone over a distance of about 2 kilometres (the 1080p version can do only 1 kilometre though), all the while streaming in a 720p video stream to a Mi smartphone cradled on the controller. The controller also has a dial on the left for tilting the camera, and a shutter button on the other side. Sweet!!

There was a rumour that the Mi Drone might have a “follow me” feature that worked with the company’s super cheap Mi Band, alas this turned out not to be, at least not yet. It wouldn’t take much for Xiaomi to create those connections sometime in the near future. God knows, they already have quite an ecosystem of devices and their own Android version going already. So why not link all of them?

If the Mi Drone ever manages to leave China, India should be its first target market, we just hope it’s Chinese roots do not get it in trouble with the authorities in India!

Xiaomi's Going To Have A Busy 2016

Xiaomi's Going To Have A Busy 2016

Xiaomi’s much talked about smartwatch will finally land in May/June this year. Xiaomi’s Co-Founder and Vice President Liu De confirmed this at the release of the Mi Bunny smartwatch for kids in Beijing,.

That’s not all that Xiaomi’s going to spring on us in 2016.

Besides the ‘Mi smartwatch’, there are reports swirling about the Mi Max smartphone, the new Mi Band 2 and the MIUI 8 ROM.

The company has quite a lot of interest in the wearable industry, unsurprisingly, given that it’s Mi Band wearable is doing so well, everywhere. A report by GizmoChina quotes the CEO of Huami (the company which actually manufactures the Mi Band) indicating that the Mi Band 2 will appear in Q2 2016.

The indications are that the Mi smartwatch will utilise a screen larger than that on the Mi Band 2, and would “focus on a particular function“.

Now what could this be? Given the fact that smartwatches these days have loads of apps that are fitness oriented, could the new headline feature be some amazingly accurate and efficient health related app/functionality, perhaps?

Since Xiaomi’s smartphones run on Google’s Android operating system, it is expected that the smartwatch too, will be based on the same platform.

On other topics, Liu De also made it clear that the company is not planning to release any automobiles as of now. But this shouldn’t call for disappointment – products like electric bikes and self-balancing walking robots might just appear on the scene nonetheless.

Over on the retail and service side, Xiaomi has also made it a point to emphasize on the offline outlets this year, apparently, the number of offline outlets might touch 60 during the course of the year.

This is good news.

Brands that are focused on customer-touch and personal interaction are currently pulling ahead of those that are shying away and focusing only on online sales and service.

On the smartphone side, Xiaomi’s 6.4-inch Mi Max phablet is also reportedly around the corner, and is said to be launching around May 10. This news was confirmed by Xiaomi via a Weibo post and its official Twitter handle.

The company it seems, has made sure that the phablet with its 6.4 inches display fits into a regular jeans pocket. While that is good news, it could also imply that a lot of tweaks might have gone into making it suitable for pockets.

We’re going to have to wait and watch on this one.

Here’s hoping the folks at Xiaomi keep cranking away and spoiling us with more and more products that bring amazing features to the table, at the remarkably affordable prices that Xiaomi has been charging so far.

Levelling The Playing Field - Xiaomi's Mi Bunny Smartwatch For Kids

Levelling The Playing Field - Xiaomi's Mi Bunny Smartwatch For Kids

While their parents will have to wait till June of 2016 for Xiaomi’s Mi smartwatch, their kids could get a smartwatch for themselves now!

Xiaomi just launched a super cute yet totally technologically with-it smartwatch for kids called the Mi Bunny.

While it may seem strange for a brand to launch a goody for offsprings before their full-grown parents, yet Xiaomi maybe onto something smart on this one…. Not only are they attracting the more influenceable and influencive members of the household first, they’re also leveraging the fact that parents will be just as eager for the kids to get these gadgets a.s.a.p.

Well, the Mi Bunny smartwatch packs a lot of features that enable the parents to keep a tab on their child and monitor their safety.

For starters, the Mi Bunny includes the all-important feature of GPS connectivity combined with GLONASS (an alternate to the US-based GPS system. Does much the same thing).
It also supports voice calling and comes with a pre-embedded SIM card out of the box.
This smartwatch enables the users to store upto 6 family members’ contact numbers and talk to them for free.

The associated app also allows parents to interact with their children, when they are not around hence it provides the peace of mind that with the Mi Bunny smartwatch strapped on, your kids are just one tap away.

Mi Bunny has some other, more unique features to boast of too. Such as:

  • Parents can mark a safety area using their smartphones. Commonly used routes via which the child travels on a regular basis such as while going for a guitar class, among others. Now, what this does is, that it helps the parents to monitor the location of the child through the smartwatch and in case the child deviates from the preset area, parents will receive a notification.
  • It also includes an SOS button for emergency situations whereby the parents are alerted at the press of a button. Intelligently, the smartwatch can reject calls from strangers automatically, if so desired.
  • The smartwatch app can automatically record (continuously for upto three months) daily activities of kids such as sleeping patterns. There are other things it can record too, and those are configurable by parents too.
  • Obviously (considering the audience) the smartwatch is waterproof.

The best part? Even with all these cool high-end features, the smartwatch manages to look very cute. In fact its perfect for kids – its LED dot matrix display is much easier to read than the AMOLED etc. versions that adorn adult-oriented watches, and its Corning liquid silicone strap looks fairly durable too. From the imagery we’ve seen, and knowing Xiaomi’s attention to detail, we’re sure the straps will be able to handle a lot of abuse and wear-and-tear that ensue during a child’s daily activities.

This watch is compatible with Android 4.2 and above, as well as iOS 8 and above. That makes the practically the whole world the target audience for this watch. Smart move, Xiaomi!

The smartwatch will be available in Blue and Pink colours in China (to start with), where its priced at just 299 Yuan (approximately INR 3,000).

Given all the above, wouldn’t you agree that it’s a smart move by Xiaomi? We at Chip-Monks believe that the Mi Bunny is surely one gadget that most the parents would like their kids to have. We’ll keep you posted when it hits Indian shores.

Xiaomi's Creating A Transformer Tablet

Does Xiaomi Have A Transforming Tablet

Xiaomi has come up with a tablet that can be converted a la a Transformer.

Magically, Xiaomi has succeeded in creating a tablet that can actually transform, yet been able to retain the same look, feel and dimensions as a traditional tablet like the Mi Pad 2, which can trick you into believing that it is a vanilla tablet, which it precisely is not.

All of you who got excited reading just this bit of the news, sorry, you’re going to have keep a hold on that excitement, since the tablet isn’t functional at this time.

But, hey that doesn’t mean it’s not coming, now does it? Of course not! Any brand that can teach it’s tablet the perfect hocus-pocus to the witchcraft of converting itself into a Transformer would want to cash in, quickly, wouldn’t it?

Xiaomi made this possible by collaborating with American toy manufacturer Hasbro who launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund its production. At the time of writing, the project had already raised twice the amount of it’s original target.

Soundwave, is what Xiaomi’s brainchild is called and this name has obviously been inspired from the Transformer Generation One story, where the Transformer had a cassette recorder as its original design. Thankfully, the makers have given it a smart makeover to fit it in with the present times.

Xiaomi and Hasbro are collaborating for the first time crowdfunding a kickass robot model named Soundwave in China”, Hugo Barra, VP of International for Xiaomi, wrote on Facebook. “Instead of a vehicle transforming into a robot, this time, it’s Mi Pad 2 that gets the Transformers treatment. How cool is that?”, said Barra.

Super cool indeed..!

The R&D team felt the heat when they faced the challenge to turn such a slim 7 mm tablet into a 3D robot, while retaining the color and details of the Mi Pad 2 at the same time. However, the team emerged victorious as they made it possible with a 30-step folding assembly.

You read that right!

To morph the tablet into a Transformer, one needs to follow 30 steps every single time. This might sound a huge task to some who don’t want to spend this much time and effort on playing with a toy but for all those who like solving jigsaw puzzles or are Transformer fans, 30 steps assembly is nothing to sweat about.

This special edition Mi Pad 2 is a gift made by the company to memorialize its birthday, for it’s fans in China as Xiaomi turned six years old on April 6.

Unfortunately, the Mi Pad 2 Transformers edition, will only be available in China and is expected to start shipping on May 13.

The original Mi Pad 2 comes with a 7.9-inch display with a 2048×1536 resolution, a 2.24 GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor powered with 2 GB of RAM. In terms of cameras, the tablet sports an 8 megapixel rear camera along with a 5 megapixel front facing camera.

Xiaomi already has varied product lines like smartphones, smart TVs, air purifiers and connected lamps. Now the company has one more extremely interesting product to add to the list.

Windows 10 Now Available For Xiaomi Mi 4 Users

Windows 10 Now Available Exclusively For MI4 Users

Xiaomi has already created a niche for themselves as a leading Android phone manufacturer, producing intelligent smartphones at a fraction of price when compared to premium smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, LG and Apple.

Recently, they took yet another big leap, with Lin Bin, co-founder and President of Xiaomi announcing the introduction of Windows 10 OS for selected Xiaomi models, including the Xiaomi Mi 4!

This change is surprising, but also very intriguing as it will now enable users to operate Windows 10 OS on their Xiaomi phones, which have so far been exclusive to the Android platform. In fact, Xiaomi uses their own proprietary MIUI based on Android OS.

The idea behind making the Windows 10 software available on Xiaomi devices is for Microsoft to receive feedback for it to rollout their software for more Android smartphones in the future.

Microsoft could be looking at minimizing its production of smartphone handsets and want to license the Windows OS to other OEMs, replicating their success like their PC vertical.

According to the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Windows has less than 1% market share in the Chinese market, which makes it important for Microsoft to piggyback on the already trusted manufacturers in China.

With the option for the user to revert to the Android OS at will, they have an incentive to try the Windows OS without fear or apprehension. Just in case this ‘switch-over’ does not function too well or the user is having some kind of a problem operating his/her phone on Windows OS, the option of switching back to Android will always be open.

The Xiaomi Mi 4 being pretty much similar to the Nokia Lumia 830, makes for the perfect candidate to mimic the Microsoft Lumia series and give the Windows team invaluable data on adoption, usage and performance of the Windows 10 OS versus that on an Android base.

Microsoft has made the OS available to select Xiaomi user critics, who are very active in their discussions to garner detailed feedback for the team from Redmond.

Such a move could also be to propel the Windows App Store by providing it some necessary visibility and traction with prolific Chinese users as they adopt the Windows OS on their Android devices.

With Google not being in good books with the Chinese government, this could be a chance the Microsoft has been waiting for, but they have to be quick and swift as HTC, Samsung are also promoting their home grown OS’.

The Mi 4 has not been Xiaomi’s best-selling smartphone so far, but it sure should be exciting to use the Mi 4 hardware with the Windows 10 software!

Samsung Remains on Top In India

Samsung Remains on Top In India NEW11111

India is a huge market and lots of international brands have descended upon this “goldmine” hoping to make a mark in it’s effervescent waters. And a lot of them seem to have hit paydirt.

Budget smartphone mega brands like Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo seemed to be staking major claims in the marketplace, however Samsung, the South Korean monster-brand has retained its lead in the market.

In the past year, these budget brands have brought out flagship devices which have earned them fairly big shares in the already saturated market space. International Data Corporation (IDC) released data for the Indian smartphone market that shows 64.3 million units were sold in the fourth quarter of 2015, which is a drop of 11% from the last quarter and that of 5% from the previous year. This clearly signifies there’s some saturation setting in now.

That said, Samsung has managed to keep their lead in the market, retaining its number one position for the total number of devices sold. Given that Samsung is a brand that has a device for you in every single price bracket you can think of, from a feature phone to a flagship smartphone. With the J-series and On series, Samsung has managed to retain a little more than 29% of the smartphone market in the top 30 cities in the country.

Micromax, enjoyed a good run too, in it’s home-market, with a 14.7% share coming in at second position in the ranking, having gained credibility and trust in the Indian market over the last couple of years. It has however, suffered a loss of about 2.5% of it’s market share in the last six months, facing severe competition from brands like Intex and Lava.

With 10.1% market share, Lenovo and Motorola hold a joint third position in the market.  With devices such a Lenovo K3 Note, Lenovo Vibe P1m and Motorola Moto G ( Gen 3), the brands have gained a “value for money” reputation, with both brands having moved up on the Brand popularity ladder.
Intex with 8.2% and Lava with 7.1%, bagged the fifth and the sixth position respectively. Both brands have slipped by a couple spots, having been nudged over by Lenovo and Motorola.

This is only the second time that Intex has featured on the top 5 list, and could be owed to its focused launches and increased retail presence strategies. Lava also seems consistent in its market presence, despite its slip in position this year.

One of the notable brand movements since the last quarter in the market was Apple, with 4.6% share of the overall market, managed to pass Xiaomi.
At the end of the last quarter, the ranking was the other way around. While Apple dominates the over INR 20,000 market with a 42% share, Xiaomi has turned into a big name in the budget smartphone market, bringing feature-loaded devices to people. It has managed to gain a 3.5% share of the overall market in spite of having received a ban on a certain handset, and other hiccups over the quarter with its online-only approach.
Xiaomi’s Head, Hugo Barra, reportedly said that they do not plan to focus on competing with Apple, nor have they been doing so as of now.

That’s an interesting claim since I (and quite a few others) feel that their detail to construct, and even their website has inspiration from Apple written all over!

Proving their quality, the traction that these Chinese brands, and their established citizen brand, Motorola are gaining in the market is impressive, even though their low-end prices continue to make some people doubtful of the said features. The technology in their devices and the promised user experience thereafter are gaining trust and popularity faster in the leading cities.

There is a clear trend of migration from feature phones to low end smartphones in smaller cities and towns, making these markets the next growth engine for the smartphone industry. With the first time mobile phone users coming on a smartphone, it will be their only connected device which meets all of their internet and entertainment needs,” reportedly said Swapnil Bhatnagar, Research Director, IDC India.

One of the brands that has disappeared from the top ranking in the last six months has been Nokia. It was taken over by Microsoft last year and had been struggling to keep up with the current smartphone market, however things could change for them as they now enter into the ever growing Android ecosystem.

Looking at the data with regards to cities, New Delhi, followed by Mumbai, has managed to be the leading city in the country to having generated maximum demand. As per IDC’s monthly city level smartphone tracker, the top 30 cities in the country make for 51% of the smartphone market in the last quarter of 2015, with the top 5 cities making up about 60% of the online smartphone market.

Segments wise, Samsung has managed to be the biggest winner in the market, dominating both, the high-end as well as the budget market by sheer length and breadth of their product offering. Apple seems to be dominating the high-end market, while the mid-range Android smartphone market has Motorola, Lenovo and Micromax fairing well and Xiaomi for now seems to be dwindling between the midrange and budget segments.  

Xiaomi Mi 5 Launch - Some More Conjectures

Xiaomi Mi 5 Launch

Xiaomi is all set to launch its Mi5 range on the 24th of February this year. The Xiaomi range has so far been popular – since it provides robust construct and decent specs on devices that are priced at user-friendly numbers.

Hence Xiaomi is catering to the pocket of the average man in developing countries, and that fast seems to be becoming it’s strategy versus it’s competition.

The questions that arise are how will the Mi5 brethren be different, and is the range more of the same strategy or is Xiaomi upping it’s game?

First up, the market is playing the guessing game on how many models Xiaomi will launch under the Mi5 tag – earlier reports said two, however now the reports say four variants make up the batch.
The latest reports say that Xiaomi will give its buyers a lot of choices on the basis of build and storage options. One major variant will be a metal variant while the other will have a 2.5D curved glass on the back and front. Both these models will then have two variants each, basis their storage capability.

The metal variants of the Mi5 will come with 32 GB and 64 GB storage, with 3 and 4 GB of RAM respectively and are expected to be bearing Full HD screens.

The glass variant shall come in similar storage configurations but both of them with 4 GB RAM, and Quad HD displays.

Confirmations about the storage being expandable could not be found and thus the speculation is that the storage would most probably not be expandable in either of the four devices.

All models will sport the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, which puts the model at par with the best of the market, like the upcoming Samsung S7 and LG G5.
Add to this mix, a 16 megapixel camera with LED flash and laser autofocus, an 8 megapixel front camera for your selfies, and a 3,600 mAh battery.

Does the device now command your attention? We like it!

The phone is also expected to feature dual card slots for your SIMs, 4G LTE and NFC capability along with a fingerprint scanner and IR blaster. The software for the phone is also still causing speculations and we haven’t yet been able to ascertain if they’ll run on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop or Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The 32 GB metal model said to be priced at INR 23,000 would be the starting of the Mi5 range, with the glass 64 GB variant being the costliest expected to be priced at INR 32,000.

The company has repeatedly promised the Mi5 range to be “worth the wait”.

In the past year and a half since the company launched the Mi 4 handset, talks around campfires alluded to the fact that the company lacked a proper flagship smartphone in its portfolio, despite possessing a wide range of products like Redmi Note and the Mi Pad that placed it across decks more than just handsets.

Is the Mi 5 range then the company’s dig at bringing out a flagship smartphone? I really am not sure. Somehow, while Xiaomi catches my attention, none of it’s devices seem to be out to kill the competition. Let’s wait to get the Mi5 quadruplets, to see if they’ve broken the shackles yet.

Xiaomi has been competing in the developing world (which is an extremely challenging market for the best of brands out there) and since it has managed to get the top spot in China, its home country, with Huawei at the second spot, one feels that Xiaomi needs to push the right buttons in the other countries too.

In the absence of anything new, Xiaomi could have its position questioned. Let’s hope they’ve rethought their mid-level strategy and that the launch of the Mi5 changes things for them ex-China.

Xiaomi Mi 5 Speculated To Launch In January 2016

Xiaomi Mi 5 Speculated To Launch In January 2016

Xiaomi’s Mi 4 was acknowledged for its craftsmanship, the materials used (stainless steel sides) and its fairly slick UI thanks to the custom-MIUI 6 (later upgraded to MIUI 7). That said, it did underperform.

It is completely understandable thus, that the speculated release of its next avatar, the Mi 5 has garnered a lot of interest and is drawing much speculation. Rumor mills have been working overtime, and now, a post by a tipster in Weibo pins the release date as January 21.

The Weibo tipster claims to have rock-solid sources backing this ‘knowledge’. To further justify his claims, the tipster also posted an image of the purported device, clearly showing the Mi 5 to have a physical home button – a first for Xiaomi.

Prior to this, other sources have also speculated that the device will have the Force Touch feature (akin to Apple’s 3D Touch) and that it’d be powered by Snapdragon’s Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology.

The Mi 5 is expected to ride on MediaTek’s deca-core Helio X20 processor (which is being pitted against Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor).

Rounding up the rumours so far, the Mi 5 could feature:

  • An all-metal design with a fingerprint scanner housed in the physical home button
  • Adreno 530 Graphics Processor with 4 GB RAM
  • 5.2 inch Quad HD screen (1440×2560) pixels resolution display with 554 pixels per inch
  • 8 megapixel front camera and a 21 megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
  • 16 GB or 64 GB fixed-memory variants
  • 3,000 mAh battery

On a separate path, not all is well in the Xiaomi empire.
Blue Spike, has invoked a patent infringement lawsuit against the Chinese manufacturer. Seemingly the claim asserts it’s for infringement arising under “patent laws of the United States and not having any permissions of using patent held by Blue Spike,“ Plaintiff Blue Spike, LLC files this complaint against Defendants Beijing Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd. (“Xiaomi”) and Shenzhen Tomtop Technology Co., Ltd., (“Tomtop”, together with Xiaomi the “Defendant”), and alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,930,719 (the ’719 Patent or “Patent-in-Suit”) titled “Data Protection Method and Device”.

This seems like a classic jab from Blue Spike (who is termed a ‘Serial Litigant’ by some parts of the media) with little basis for the lawsuit.

We just hope this does not delay the launch of the Mi 5!

ARM-Based Mobile Chips By Lenovo And Xiaomi

ARM-Based-Mobile

Recent times have witnessed a growing trend where prolific smartphone manufacturers are designing their own systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) instead of equipping their devices with a Intel or Qualcomm chip.

Apple and Samsung have been in the business for long now. Inspired by them, quite a few other manufacturers seem to be attempting to enter this manufacturing domain.    

With a clear intention to compete against Apple and Samsung, Lenovo and Xiaomi are likely to build their own adaptable SoCs.

While Xiaomi has partnered with a leading chip designer Leadcore Innovation for ARM-based SoCs to be fitted in Xiaomi’s 2016 devices, Lenovo has been constantly making serious efforts towards developing its own ARM chips in-house.

This can’t bode well for full-time chip manufacturers! With the world’s two largest brands having become self-reliant, the long-established chip producers have already witnessed significant losses in business.

In 2015, San Diego-based Qualcomm experienced a significant drop in shipments and if Samsung succeeds in fully replacing the need for Snapdragon processors by it’s self-made Exynos line, then the chipset maker could behold further plunges.

There’s another side to consider too.

With the increased competition in the chip manufacturing business from budding smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi and Lenovo, Apple and Samsung themselves need to gear up for some improvements, or it would not take China too long to assert their dominance in the chipset sector too.

Clearly, chip designing is a strenuous task which takes quite some time to get right and it demands continuous improvements from a set of skilled engineers working for several years to perfect the technique.

As the chipsets from Xiaomi and Lenovo get ready for launch, it’ll be interesting to watch how their products fare against those of the existing eminent specialists, and those of the behemoths. 

Redmi Note 3 Is Xiaomi's Upcoming Smartphone

Redmi Note 3 Is Xiaomi's Upcoming Smartphone

Xiaomi’s President, Lin Bin posted a teaser image of an upcoming phablet on his Weibo account, that revealed a device with a metal design and fingerprint sensor on the back.

A lot of the world has been speculating so far, that the next smartphone from Xiaomi would be an all-metal variation of the existing Redmi Note 2, and would be known as the Redmi Note 2 Pro.

However, the Lin’s recent post indicates that Xiaomi might actually be ready with something really bigger and better – Redmi Note 3.  

The Redmi Note 3 is expected to feature a 5.5 inch Full HD display and will be powered by a 2 GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor paired with 3 GB of RAM for the 32 GB variant, while the smaller 16 GB variant will have 2 GB RAM.

It should have dual SIM capabilities with an expandable memory using SD cards and have their MIUI 7 UL (based on Android 5.0 Lollipop). The smartphone will offer a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 5 megapixel front-facing shooter.

The Note 3 is expected to have LTE connectivity, feature a 4,000 mAh battery and offer three colour variants – Gold, Silver and Grey.

With its launch, the Redmi Note 3 will become Xiaomi’s first device to flaunt a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor too, in addition to the all-metallic chassis.

However, there have been no announcements regarding the long-awaited flagship, Mi5 and all eyes are also tuned into the unveiling of their smartwatch.

Oh, almost forgot, Lin’s post indicated November 24 as the launch date of the phablet!

Xiaomi Launches Its First Metal Body Smartphone With A Fingerprint Scanner

Xiaomi Launches Its First Metal Body Smartphone With A Fingerprint Scanner

With its amazing products that keep getting better with each iteration, Xiaomi has a fan following that’s growing by the week!

It kist added yet another feather to its cap on Tuesday, with the launch of Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, it’s first all-metal smartphone at an event in China.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, which was earlier rumoured to be called as the Redmi 2 Pro, has many good things going for it – a beautiful metallic body and a fingerprint scanner below the rear camera (design similarity it shares with the Nexus and LG flagship devices).

The phone will have two variants –

  1. 2 GB RAM with 16 GB inbuilt storage
  2. 3 GB RAM with 32 GB inbuilt storage

The Redmi Note 3 packs:

  • 5.5 inch Sunlight Display screen of Full-HD resolution, at 403 pixels per inch (which is good!)
  • Integrated Fingerprint sensor
  • 5 megapixel front camera and a 13 megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, autofocus and two tone LED flash
  • 2 GHz octa-core Mediatek Helio X10 processor with PowerVR G6200 graphics processor
  • Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 OS based Android 5.0
  • 4,000 mAh battery
  • Dual SIM capability, with both slots supporting 4G data services
  • Weighs 164 grams and is super sleek at just 8.65 mm at its thickest point.

The one feature that is sorely missed is the absence of expandable memory – no microSD card slot. This is quite a let down, unless the Xiaomi team wants people to use cloud services, which becomes another source of revenue for Xiaomi.

The metallic beauty is available in 3 colours – Silver, Dark Grey and Gold and is priced at approximately INR 9,000 for the 16 GB version and about INR 11,000 for the 32 GB version.

The phone is yet to be launched in India, and when it does, it’ll have to change its chipset to be able to sell here as Xiaomi is allowed to sell devices only with Qualcomm chipsets in India, due to a legal battle with an Indian brand, which has not yet been resolved.

Xiaomi To Enter The Smartwatch Space Very Soon

Xiaomi To Enter The Smartwatch Space Very Soon

After taking on the smartphones market and making significant inroads into the TVs and Tablets market, Xiaomi is now all set to enter the smartwatch space.

This news was posted on one of China’s most popular blogging website Weibo, who have mostly been bang on target with their predictions. In addition, a video on YouTube, featuring Xiaomi’s Vice President, Hugo Barra where he is seen asking people about the various features they would expect to see in a smartwatch, has fuelled fires even further.

Slowly but steadily, smartwatches are gaining quite a lot of popularity with companies like Samsung, Apple and Motorola already having entered this arena. We are hoping that Xiaomi, will bring a smartwatch that bears sensible features and that it’ll be reasonably priced, going by the brand’s USP – Xiaomi has always produced high-tech gadgets that are very easy on the pocket.

Xiaomi already offers its Mi Band (a fitness tracker) in a number of markets across the globe, helping you keep a check on your fitness. The company also recently launched an upgrade to its Mi Band called the Mi Band Pulse which has an inbuilt heartrate sensor and looks more or less similar to the existing Mi Band priced at 99 Yuan (approx. INR 999) whereas the price for the Mi Band has been slashed to 690 Yuan (approx. INR 699).

Entering the smartwatch space is definitely going to add to the company’s list of accessories portfolio and hence another feather to its cap.

Xiaomi has avoided the EU and the US markets for their smartphones, for the fear of breach of patents and have been making inroads with their accessories.

A smartwatch is an important addition to follow up on the popular MI Band. If Xiaomi manages to plug in all the right features (including a health tracker in its smartwatch) then this watch could see sales greater than even its Mi Band – which has already sold millions of units across the world.

Xiaomi is all hush-hush about the launch of its new wearable and isn’t responding to queries about it. All that we’ve got to know so far is that the Chinese giant is planning on launching it at an event in China on Nov. 24th, alongside the Redmi Note 2 Pro

Xiaomi never fails to keep surprising the world with its latest innovations and we at Chip-Monks are hoping to see, and use this super-cool gadget very soon. We’re hoping that India is on Xiaomi’s quick-launch list. I know I’m writing in to Santa, today!

Xiaomi Mi 4C To Launch In China This September

Xiaomi Mi 4C To Launch

Xiaomi unquestionably the biggest Chinese smartphone manufacturer, famous for producing high-quality budget smartphones has recently announced that it will hold an event on September 22nd to unveil the Mi 4C smartphone, yet another successor to the highly successful Mi 4 smartphone.

Lin Bin, Xiaomi co-founder and President at Xiaomi revealed a few details about the specifications of the device. Soon after which, the company posted details about the Mi 4C’s launch on official MIUI (Xiaomi’s custom OS) forums.

Xiaomi Mi 4C will offer two variants – one with 2 GB RAM + 16 GB internal storage and the other featuring 3 GB RAM with 32 GB internal storage. Apart from the differences in RAM and memory storage, all other features are identical across both the variants.

The Mi 4C will sport a 5-inch full HD display, a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera, and will be powered by a  hexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor and come with a 3,080 mAh battery.

Other than these, the other internals are expected to be identical to the just-released Xiaomi Mi 4i

Despite the devices having being packed with high-end features, the devices should be reasonably priced, in keeping with Xiaomi’s tradition. While the 16 GB variant will cost around USD 235 (INR 16,000), the 32 GB variant will launch at around USD 250 (INR 17,000).

The Xiaomi Mi 4C is expected to feature a reversible USB Type-C port for charging and output and will run on the latest MIUI 7 build.

As goes with any Xiaomi series, the upcoming device will initially be released in China, in the first week of October.

Nothing has been said about whether the device will be rolled out to the other regions anytime soon.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Announcement

Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 Announcement

In an event that will be hosted in China tomorrow, two variants of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 are expected to be announced, along with the much awaited Android Lollipop based MIUI 7 update.

Although there have been a lot of speculations regarding the specs and the price of the device, we need to hold on till we get an official confirmation.

Recently, a few blurred pictures of Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 have been leaked along with the speculative specs.

While the device is expected to come with a 5.5-inch full HD display with 1080p resolution and use matte plastic for its shell, it will supposedly be protected with Corning Gorilla Glass. The phablet is expected to be leaner than its predecessor with the dimensions 152x76x8 mm (as compared to 154x78x9 mm).

In addition, the devices will house a 13 megapixel rear camera, a 5 megapixel front camera, and a 3,100 mAh battery.

While one variant will be powered by a 2 GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor and have 2 GB of RAM, the other variant will flaunt the same processor with 2.2 GHz clock speed.

It is speculated that only one variant will offer 32 GB internal storage, while 16 GB memory option will be available for both the variants. It will run its new MIUI 7 custom ROM, based on Android 5.0 Lollipop.

The devices will be sold through the flash sales in China with the prices ranging between 7,999 and 9,999, and then subsequently, be made available for sale in the other countries as well.

Xiaomi's Going To Make A Stealthy Entry Into The U.S.

Will Xiaomi explore the US market soon and how will they fare

As Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone giant, begins it’s entry into the US market, it’s approach seems quite different from what was expected.

Now known for flamboyant, and flourish-laden launches, Xiaomi’s used a different tack.

The U.S. being a tricky market for Chinese brands, will be difficult to crack. Hence, the company is looking to tiptoe into the U.S. markets, selling accessories, rather than smartphones!

This came as a shock, when at a recent event, Xiaomi’s President, Bin Lin and Vice President, Hugo Barra, revealed that they plan to sell accessories like inexpensive headphones, low-cost fitness bands and power banks, while holding on to the smartphones and tablets’ launch for a while.

The company has successfully used online sales and social media to keep marketing and distribution costs low in China, and is taking the same tentative first step to get into the U.S. waters with the launch of the Mi.com commerce website later in the year, offering a wide range of accessories.

The plan is to become a recognised brand in the U.S., build a community of loyal fans there and then look to expand.

To that end, Xiaomi is using similar tactics which worked for them in India and China – fan events and interaction with users on social media involving suggestions for new features.

The obstacles that Xiaomi needs to surmount while taking on Apple in its home market, ranges from the process of certifying the devices for U.S. use and the modifications needed to localize its MIUI software experience.

With the already-high smartphone penetration rate in the U.S. and stringent patent laws, Xiaomi needs to be cautious with its smartphone launch as it could face issues with the Intellectual Property, patents and carriers.

After using the copyrighted photos of Apple in its marketing campaign, Xiaomi got away with it in China, however it will get difficult for the giant to survive in the U.S. market blessed with stronger IP laws where the past infractions could also find way to the courthouse.

The cost of licensing patents and fighting lawsuits has the potential to take a huge bite out of Xiaomi’s bottom line.

Will-Xiaomi-explore-the-US-market-soon-and-how-will-they-fare-2

Not only that. While hitting the U.S. market, the company needs to completely redesign its product and marketing approach as their tried and tested “online only” approach may have limitations.

However, a flash sale with limited stock reduces risk and generates more marketing buzz.

In the U.S., the telecom service provider has a contract with the smartphone sellers, such that the carrier subsidizes the price of the phone in return for a multi-term contract from the customer. In a market dominated by carriers and long term contract deals, it could prove to be difficult to get through with that kind of approach.

Reduction in the “sticker price” of the phone through carrier subsidies in the US wipes out the price advantage of Xiaomi. The low-margin business model won’t serve them with a distinct advantage, as the company has a small portfolio with long product cycles and they make money from accessories and apps.

It’s difficult to predict whether the Western consumers will buy into the accessories and app ecosystem.

Concrete plans for the U.S. are still very vague and Xiaomi needs to find some solution to these problems before getting ready for the smartphone launch in the US.

Xiaomi Mi 4C Specs Leaked

Xiaomi Mi 4C Specs Leaked

Xiaomi is in the news again, as the leaked image of an retail box supposedly packing the new variant of Mi 4 flagship, dubbed Xiaomi Mi 4C, is going viral all over the net.

The specs of Mi 4C are superior to that of Mi 4i, and it can be a game changer for the Chinese giants, as Xiaomi are holding back the launch of their Redmi Note 2, in India for now.

Fret not, the Mi 4C is one beast of a phone for the price tag it bears. While it will cost you around INR 14,000, it will come with all this:

  • 5-inch full HD display
  • 1.8 GHz hexa-core, Snapdragon 808 chipset
  • 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage
  • Adreno 418 graphics processor
  • 13 megapixel rear and 5 megapixel front camera
  • The latest MIUI 7 interface
  • 3,080 mAh battery
  • USB Type-C connector (expected version being 3.0)
  • 4G LTE

Mi 4C should be officially unveiled on 23rd September and start rolling out to consumers from 3rd October, 2015.

Now the catch – Xiaomi will bring out just 100,000 units for sale. That’s a downer. But you really should try and get there first!

Furthermore, Xiaomi are rumoured to bring out a new smartphone in October with complete edge display, dubbed Mi edge.

The rumored specs for Mi edge are:

  • 5.2-inch QHD display,
  • 3 or 4 GB RAM,
  • 16 megapixel rear camera,
  • Fingerprint scanner and more

Clearly, the Mi edge can give its South Korean counterparts, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and S6 edge plus a serious run for their money by eroding their exclusivity value with mass sales.

Hopefully, Xiaomi will set an affordable price tag of INR 26,000 for the Mi edge, and once again shatter the prized myth that durability and technology come at a higher cost.

Xiaomi Mi 4i Launched In India

Xiaomi Mi 4i Launched In India

Xiaomi launched their Mi 4i, a version of their Mi 4, in New Delhi today.

CEO and Founder of Xiaomi, Lei Jun as well as Global Vice President, Hugo Barra led the show.

The Mi 4i goes on sale on Flipkart with registrations starting today with the phone expected to be shipped starting April 30,2015.

The device is priced at INR 12,999 and will be available in White, Light blue, Pink, Orange and Black colours.

The device features a polycarbonate unibody with a soft touch matte finish and an added anti-greasing coating.

The Mi 4i is a dual SIM (dual standby) device where both SIMs are active on standby, however when one SIM is active, it disengages the other SIM.

When compared to it’s inspiration the Mi 4, the Mi 4i is thinner (7.8 mm) and lighter (130 grams) than the Mi 4, with both SIMs supporting 4G LTE.

The device is powered by a 3,120 mAh battery with the ability to charge completely in 3 hours (40% charge in 1 hr). It has a 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor (second generation) coupled with an Adreno 405 graphics processor and a 2 GB of RAM.

Additionally the phone supports WiFi 802.11 AC with Mu MIMO (Multiuser MIMO), Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and USB On-the-Go and will run on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop out of the box.

The Xiaomi Mi 4i has a 5 inch, 1080p full HD (a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch), fully laminated with OGS Corning Concore display with a 5 megapixel front facing camera and a 13megapixel rear camera with dual tone flash and host of features for the users like contrast tuning, colour correction, low light photography, halo suppression and HDR features.

The device comes with a 16 GB fixed memory with no memory expansion provision which could be a bummer for some users.

The pricing seems to be competitive based on the specifications it offers to its users, we will update you if the device cuts it with regards its competitors in the mid-range phones, when we get to take the Xiaomi Mi 4i for a drive.

Xiaomi Beats Samsung In Their Own Backyard

Xiaomi beats Samsung in their own backyard 1

Xiaomi has overpowered Samsung last year as the top smartphone company in China, having already amassed a 12.5% market share, according to a new report by the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

In the third quarter of 2014, Xiaomi became the world’s third largest smartphone maker, according to both IDC and Strategy Analytics and in August, it was entitled China’s top smartphone marketer by Canalys.

A total of 420.7 million smartphones were shipped to China in 2014, with a subsequent rise in the shipments along the quarters. The fourth quarter of 2014 turned out to be splendid for Xiaomi with a continuous rise in their market share from 5.3% in 2013 to a whopping 12.5% in 2014. Concurrently, Samsung’s market share declined to 12.1% from 18.7%.

Xiaomi asserts that it has sold around 61 million devices last year, a rise in 227% from 2013.

The Chinese market is also experiencing the influx of Apple, who already govern the U.S. smartphone industry and have very aggressive plans for engagement of the Chinese market. Apple’s market share has grown significantly to 12.3% in the fourth quarter of 2014 and can be attributed to the company’s new flagship devices – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Other companies like Huawei and Lenovo also saw remarkable growth, creating worries for Samsung in their own established market.

Xiaomi beats Samsung in their own backyard table

Xiaomi’s success is attributable to its marketing techniques – online flash sales, as well as modest pricing of their products. Hugo Barra, Vice President, told TechCrunch’s Jon Russell that Xiaomi manages to keep the prices reasonable through extensive sales with low profit margins while delivering a range of high-performance devices comparable to what Samsung or Apple provides.

The constant failure of the South Korean tech giant Samsung to bring about a revolution in the market with new technology, and also its overpriced flagship devices, attributes to the fall in its market share in a developing nation like China.

Although Samsung is in the second position overall, the huge drop should be a serious concern demanding immediate attention and implementation of relevant countermeasures. On the other hand, the strategy employed by Xiaomi is getting tough to crack and is its competitors sleepless nights, with gain in popularity and ever increasing fan base in China.

Xiaomi is all set to rule the market with its enchantment. The company is also performing competently in the other developing nations of Asia like India, and with the new investors willing to fund Xiaomi, the company can make substantial dents in the other markets in the coming year.

Xiaomi’s Mi3 Smartphone Gone In Under 5 Seconds @ Flipkart

Flipkart sold out Xiaomi's Mi3 Smartphones in 3 seconds

Following in the footsteps of Motorola, Xiaomi too has decided to team up with Flipkart to launch its handsets in India.

Flipkart is one of India’s leading e-commerce companies based out of Bangalore, Karnataka and has the distinction of being one of the 10 most visited sites in India.

Barely had the agreement had been inked, that the website listed Xiaomi’s Mi 3 smartphone for sale. Guess what happened next? Xiaomi’s Mi 3 entire stock sold out in a matter of just 5 seconds!

The question that seems to arise is, why did the big Chinese handset manufacturer choose Flipkart to sell their handsets in India?

Well, Chinese products have become notorious to break down and have a short life span and even though Xiaomi is dubbed as ”the Apple of China”, people don’t really believe it.

Xiaomi wants nothing more than to break that thinking. This could be a reason that they want to launch through an Indian company enabling them to create credibility for themselves in the market before they actually start their own retail chains.

Trade analysts speculate that maybe Xiaomi might be going the Moto way to team up with Flipkart in importing the devices however according to the Xiaomi deal, the company will be importing the devices themselves and will retail them via Flipkart.

The company’s first sale of the said phones was done and dusted in 40 minutes, the second lot took 5 seconds to be sold out, the third sale of 15,000 units of the Mi 3 smartphone on Flipkart was all over in a matter of 3 seconds, as reported by Xiaomi.

Weighing only 145 grams, the Mi 3 has a 5 inch IPS LCD capacitive Full HD display screen and runs on the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean which is upgradable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, quad-core processor of 2.3 GHz Krait 400 drives the phone and it has a 13 megapixel rear camera with dual LED flash and a 2 megapixel front camera. It does not have a card slot and comes with an internal memory of 16 or 64 GB with a 2 GB RAM and a non-removable 3,050 mAh battery powers the phone.

The device is priced at an extremely reasonable price of INR 13,999.

Flipkart in a report, announced that they had a huge response and received more than 1,00,000 registrations for the first stock of the phone. But less than 15% of those registered users were actually able to get their hands on the phone.

Users it seems were already logged in for the sale well before an hour.

It seems that the company is trying to create more demand for the phone with less supply for the flash sales and there have been a lot of reviews online by Flipkart users stating their displeasure. The users have pointed out that the time on their PC and that of Flipkart did not match because of which the sale was finished even before they could refresh their page!

Analysts state, Flipkart as an e-commerce company, could have avoided this poor experience by just registering users for the number of units they had received.

New reports state that the next flash sale for the Mi 3 on Flipkart will take place on August 26, 2014 at 2 PM IST. This time they will have 20,000 units for sale.

Let’s see how fast this round of the sale will take.

Xiaomi Gears Up To Conquer The Indian Smartphone Market

Xiaomi Gears Up To Conquer The Indian Smartphone Market

Xiaomi, who released its first smartphone as recently as 2011, is now aiming for dominance in the Indian markets. And it has a simple strategy – overshadow the frontrunner, Samsung.

It’s latest offering, the Xiaomi Mi 3, has taken the market by storm – the smartphone so far available only for online ordering via Flipkart, sold out within half an hour of its launch!

So, what makes this newcomer so special? That what matters the most to Indian customers: Its unbelievable price!

Priced at just INR 13,999, the Mi 3 is far cheaper than any of Samsung’s Galaxy devices that offer similar specifications. In fact, the Mi 3 is the only Android based smartphone to offer the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset at a price below INR 15K!

Its quad-core processor clocked at 2.3 GHz, packed with 2 GB RAM along with a heavily tweaked version of the Android 4.4 KitKat, called the MIUI Version 5 combine to result in incredible performance.

The Mi 3 also boasts of a 5-inch LED HD display, a 13 megapixel rear camera, a 2 megapixel front camera; all backed by a 3,050 MAh battery.

What’s not to love?!

Xiaomi, which is known as China’s Apple, has already made its intentions known, when it stated that India has the potential to become its largest market outside its home country, within just a few years.

Realizing the importance of customer care in a country like India, the company is also investing in service centres across the country. As of now, there are two exclusive centres in Delhi and Bangalore, and 34 more in partnership with multi-brand outlets in over 20 Indian cities.

This is only the beginning. Xiaomi has also announced the launch of the Redmi 1S, a budget smartphone and the Redmi Note, a tablet – both of which will be available at extremely affordable prices later this year.

The company’s Vice President Hugo Barra also announced that Xiaomi planned to invest in devices that were India-centric as well as set up a local team to help penetrate the market.

Indeed, Xiaomi does have a lot going for it and it would hardly be considered “overly optimistic” to say that Xiaomi is slated to be a huge success in India.

Xiaomi Prepares For Global Expansion

Xiaomi

Just in!

Xiaomi has set its launch date for it’s premier device, Redmi, outside of China and it’s immediate neighbourhood.

Well, Xiaomi’s heading to Singapore – the city with the largest mobile penetration rate in the world, and will launch the Redmi (a rechristening of the China-specific Hongmi model), on the 21st of February.

The Redmi is Xiaomi’s high-spec, low-price Android phone with features like a 8 megapixel camera, 4.7 inch IPS screen, quad-core processor with 1 GB RAM that runs on Android 4.2. The phone has been priced at SD169 (~ USD 133).

This move is very significant as it marks the company’s first expansion beyond China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. What’s even more interesting is that these changes have come into being, after Hugo Barra, a former Googler, was appointed the head of Xiaomi Global.

Xiaomi as a company has grown very quickly since its launch 3 years ago and has been known to aggressively use unconventional tactics to sell their phones – a perfect example being the use of WeChat to sell about 1,50,000 phones in 10 minutes.

It will be very interesting to see how it finds its footing in already established markets like East Asia, Europe and the US that are already resplendent with other Chinese brands like Lenovo and Huawei.

There are chances that with affordable prices, robust specs and elegant smartphones, Xiaomi could upstage the markets, somewhat. But the price-conscious buyers will still expect quality and durability.

Xiaomi Rises Above Apple In Sales Numbers

Xiaomi rises above apple in numbers copy 2

Xiaomi is a privately owned Chinese electronics company headquartered in Beijing, China whose business entails designing, developing and selling smartphones, mobile apps, add-ons and consumer electronics.

Xiaomi launched in 2010, sold its first smartphone in 2011 and by 2013 sold 100,000 phones in less than 90 seconds.

Since it launched its first smartphone in Mainland China in August 2011, Xiaomi has gained considerable traction in the market and since then, diversified into producing other consumer electronics.

Reports state that they are now the third most successful smartphone maker in China overtaking Apple!

CEO of Xiaomi, Lei Jun has been compared to the likes of Steve Jobs, and is said to have a soft corner for Apple. He was quoted saying, “iPhone is still the best smartphone on the planet. For Xiaomi there’s a lot of space for learning and talent”.

Xiaomi’s business plan to sell their phones is very different from that of Apple.

Xiaomi sells their devices just above their own cost price, making up the difference with online sale volumes. They priced their first flagship smartphone (with similar specifications as the iPhone 4) at USD 324 (the iPhone 4 started at USD 800!).
Xiaomi introduced another low-end phone priced at USD 113, selling around 11 million units in the first quarter, making them the third largest sellers overtaking Apple in sheer Unit Sales numbers.

They have now set their eyes on emerging markets like India and Africa. The IDC states that the company is definitely out to disrupt everyone, with consumers expecting high-end phones at low prices. Huga Barra, VP, Xiaomi Global also said that the company plans to use the same pricing model for all foreign markets.

Companies like Samsung, ZTE and Huawei are already working to neutralize this threat with products of their own, across all their markets of interest, especially India.

The duo of Jun and Barra are likely to be unbeaten in up-and-coming markets ensuring that Xiaomi will achieve economies of scale that will launch an assault on all other market leaders.