Xiaomi preparing a comeback with Mi 6

BloombergThursday, April 20, 2017

BEIJING • Xiaomi Corp is trying to get back in the game. The Chinese electronics maker unveiled a new flagship smartphone days after Samsung Electronic Co’s Galaxy S8 hit stores, hoping to regain lost ground even as Apple prepares to introduce its most anticipated device in years.

Xiaomi took the wraps off the Mi 6 at a college gymnasium on the outskirts of Beijing yesterday.

The phone sports flourishes now familiar to users of premium devices including the S8: Curved glass, virtu- ally non-existent bezels, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of memory. It also features dual cameras on the back. In a nod to Apple Inc’s latest iPhone, Xiaomi also dropped the headphone jack. The Mi 6 goes on sale on April 28 starting at 2,499 yuan (RM1,597).

Co-founder Lei Jun is going after his rivals not just with increasingly tricked-out phones, but also by adopting the nationwide store networks that super-charged the Oppo and Vivo brands. The company remains on track to open 1,000 stores within three years across China, and expects to chalk up 70 billion yuan of sales through that physical network in five years.

“Xiaomi has faced some growth pressure over the past years because of our online-only model,” Lei told his launch audience. “I’m excited to say we’ve made a breakthrough.”

Lei said the brand is now No 2 in India, behind Samsung. It’s also begun to deepen research into areas as diverse as artificial intelligence and online finance. It applied for 7,071 patents last year, and total patents will “soon exceed 10,000”, he said.

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