Xiaomi, one of the fastest-growing tech companies in China, has announced its latest flagship device. The Mi Note is a 6.95mm-thick smartphone with a 5.7-inch 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera, options for a Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 3000 mAh battery, and curved glass on both the front and back panels; the company refers to the front glass as "2.5D" and the rear glass as "3D."While Xiaomi has occasionally stoked accusations of Apple mimicry with devices like its Mi Pad, the Mi Note isn't really in that vein. It might not win any awards for industrial innovation, but it appears to be an understated product without much in the way of direct design lifts (although Samsung may not be too happy at the "Note" nomenclature). That didn't stop charismatic founder Lei Jun taking potshots at Cupertino, however, as Stratechery's Ben Thompson shows below.
One notable difference between a Xiaomi event and the equivalent from, say, Apple is in how the company talks about the phone's internals. Apple would have the layman believe it engineered every component itself, but Xiaomi speaks of its sourcing with pride — it's heavily emphasizing the 1080p screen from either Sharp or Japan Display, the Sony camera sensor, the Philips two-tone flash, and the Sony or LG battery. Xiaomi is one of the first Chinese brands to successfully engender a sense of homegrown cool, but it's still looking to other established companies from outside its nation's borders to establish cachet and credibility.It's unlikely that the Mi Note will make it outside of Xiaomi's established Asian markets like China and India; the company is yet to dip its toe into the waters of countries with robust patent laws. But it appears to be a robust device that will be more than capable to serve at the center of Xiaomi's ecosystem; far from being a simple phone maker, it has expanded into connected home electronics like TVs, light bulbs, and air purifiers as well.The Mi Note will cost 2,299 yuan (about $370), with a "Pro" model adding 4GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 810 processor, and a 1440p display for 3,299 yuan (about $520). Both these price points are expensive for a Xiaomi phone, but continue the theme of offering well-specced products at lower prices than the likes of Apple or Samsung. The latter in particular may have cause for concern.