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Xiaomi's Hugo Barra says the company wants to be known as a design leader

Xiaomi's Hugo Barra says the company wants to be known as a design leader

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Xiaomi just announced its latest flagship, the Mi 5, and we got a chance to sit down with vice president Hugo Barra following the phone's introduction. Barra is the company's public face, having previously served as one of the leaders on Google's mobile team, and he exudes both the vast ambition of his current employer and the quiet confidence of his former company. The big thing he wanted to get across today was that Xiaomi's attendance at Mobile World Congress is mostly an ambassadorial mission. The company isn't announcing new markets for its products — it's still focused primarily on China and building out its operations in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia — but it does want to establish a global reputation and expand its name recognition.

Read more: Our first look at Xiaomi's Mi 5 flagship

In order to be taken seriously around the world, Xiaomi will first have to shake its reputation for being one of the Chinese copycats that Apple has in the past criticized for ripping off its iPhone and other products. The Mi 5 achieves that with aplomb, showing off design hallmarks that Xiaomi introduced with its Mi Note, and looking nothing like Apple's aluminum-clad flagship. Some might argue that Xiaomi has shifted to copying Samsung, owing to the similar lines of the Mi 5 to Samsung's Galaxy Note and Edge devices, but Barra is definite on that point: Xiaomi's Mi Note was first out of the gate with the 3D-curved back now featured on the Mi 5. It's evident that the company has invested heavily in its design, and Barra anticipates a time when people will recognize phones that look similar and say "hey, that looks like a Xiaomi phone!" It's a fittingly bold ambition from one of the mobile industry's fastest growing companies. Watch our full interview with Hugo Barra for more on Xiaomi's plans for the future.