Seeking growth, Xiaomi launches $520 5G smartphone · TechNode
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi unveiled the country's cheapest 5G-compatible smartphone on Tuesday as the company seeks to revive its image as an affordable handset brand in the 5G era.
Why it matters: The world's fourth-largest smartphone maker is looking to offset slowing hardware sales by taking advantage of momentum promised by the impending launch of ultra-fast 5G internet.
- The Beijing-based company has seen its share prices tumble in the past year as it faces stiff competition from rivals such as Huawei and Oppo in a saturated global smartphone market. Its market share in China declined by 20% year on year in the second quarter while Huawei's share surged 31%, according to market research firm Canalys.
- Worldwide smartphone shipments fell 2.3% year over year in the same period, the seventh consecutive quarter of decline, according to research firm IDC.
- Consumers are still lukewarm about the technology, with 5G smartphones accounting for less than 1% of mobile phones sold in August in China though nine 5G devices are being sold in the country.
Details: The Xiaomi 9 Pro, which debuted on Tuesday at an event in Xiaomi's headquarters in Beijing, will start at RMB 3,699 (around $520), significantly cheaper than any other 5G smartphones launched in the Chinese market.
- The handset boasts Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855+ processor, featuring up to 8GB RAM and 512 GB storage.
- Pre-sales will begin 5 pm Tuesday and shipments to Chinese consumers will begin on Friday, according to company founder and CEO Lei Jun.
Context: Xiaomi launched its first 5G smartphone, the Mi Mix 3 5G, in February at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain. The EUR 599 (around $658) device went on sale in Spain and Italy in May but hasn't arrived at its home market yet.
- Smartphone makers including Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, and Samsung are all selling 5G smartphone models in China. Before the Xiaomi 9 Pro launch, the cheapest 5G smartphone in the Chinese market was the RMB 3,798 iQOO Pro 5G, while Samsung's Note 10+ 5G is the most expensive at RMB 7,999.
- Experts expect (in Chinese) that prices for 5G handsets will fall as low as RMB 1,000 by 2020.
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