Chinese electronics company Xiaomi on Wednesday unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the Mi 6. Per usual for a Xiaomi phone, it appears to pack powerful hardware at a relatively affordable price.
More specifically, the Mi 6 runs on a Snapdragon 835 chip — the latest entry in Qualcomm’s line of mobile processors, which recently debuted with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 phone — along with a healthy 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space by default. (There’s an option with 128 GB of storage, too.)
Like many recent high-end phones, there’s also a 12-megapixel dual-camera setup on the back. A decent-sized 3,350 mAh battery, stereo speakers, and USB-C charging port round out the spec sheet.
It all points to a phone that should be competitive, performance wise, with the highest-end Android phones of the year. The kicker, though, is that it’ll cost half as much: Xiaomi says the entry-level Mi 6 will start at 2,499 yuan (about $365) when it goes on sale on April 28, while the higher-storage model will cost 2,899 yuan (about $420). There’ll also be a model with a flashier ceramic back panel for 2,999 yuan (about $435). By comparison, the Galaxy S8 starts between $720 and $750 in the US.
What the Mi 6 won’t have, though, is the bigger display and shrunken bezels of the Galaxy S8. Instead, there’s a nice-but-standard-looking glass and metal frame, with a familiar 5.15-inch, 1080p display. To give a point of comparison, the Galaxy S8 packs a sharper, 5.8-inch display, despite only being 0.14 inches taller. Xiaomi does have a phone that takes the no-bezel approach — the stunning Mi Mix — but that design has been omitted here.
There’s also no headphone jack, a la the iPhone 7 and other recent Android phones.
And, if the pricing didn’t make it obvious, Xiaomi isn’t saying if the Mi 6 will become available in the West. Chances are it won’t, though — we’ve been through this song and dance many times with past Xiaomi phones, and the company hasn’t given any sign that it’s ready to make its long-anticipated expansion into the US.
A tough road ahead
It doesn’t help that Xiaomi has gone through a rough patch in the past year. After the company exploded to the point of being the world’s most valuable tech startup in 2014, its smartphone sales have sunk, in part due to the drop-off in online sales, Xiaomi’s preferred method, in China.
According to the latest quarterly figures from research firm IDC, Xiaomi has fallen from first to fifth in terms of Chinese market share, with a 40% decline in year-over-year sales. Global giant Huawei and local upstarts Oppo and Vivo have provided further competition, and now hold the top three spots in the country.
The buzz around Xiaomi at its peak led many to believe the company would eventually bring its phones to the West, but those thoughts have died down as the hype has faded. In the process, the company’s international boss, former Google exec Hugo Barra, recently left to join Facebook’s virtual reality efforts after a three-and-a-half-year stint.
Xiaomi head Lei Jun says the company is now looking to India to spur growth, and recently told Bloomberg that he thinks the company’s business is closer to Costco than Apple. The company sells a number of accessories that use its branding beyond smartphones, including headphones, battery packs, and media streamers in the US.
Here are a few more photos of the Mi 6: