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Xiaomi says it plans to enter US smartphone market this year or early 2019

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Xiaomi’s Mi5 flagship
Xiaomi’s Mi5 flagship

Xiaomi, one of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers, is planning to enter the US market by next year. The Chinese gadget maker recently expanded into western Europe, and the US smartphone market is next on its radar. The Wall Street Journal reports that Xiaomi could bring its smartphones to the US as early as the end of this year. “We’ve always been considering entering the US market,” says Xiaomi Chairman Lei Jun. “We plan to start entering the market by end 2018, or by early 2019.”

Xiaomi already sells a number of products in the US, including its Android TV set-top box, Mi TV, at Walmart locations around the country. Xiaomi also started selling two headphone models, a battery pack, a 360-degree camera, and a robot coding kit on Amazon back in November, after previously launching items in its Mi online store for the US.

Xiaomi’s success in the US will ultimately depend on carriers. ZTE, another Chinese smartphone maker, has partnered with US carriers and has a healthy share of the market as a result. Xiaomi will also need to navigate potential concerns from US intelligence officials. The heads of the FBI, CIA, and NSA all recently warned that American citizens shouldn’t use products and services made by Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE. Huawei has been banned from bidding for US government contracts back in 2014, and it’s struggled to make an impact in the US smartphone market.

Huawei had planned to launch its new Mate 10 Pro flagship in the US through AT&T, but the carrier canceled the deal just before its scheduled announcement. Reports suggest political pressure helped scarper the deal, and Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu went off-script during his CES appearance to criticize US carriers. Xiaomi will be keen to avoid a similar scenario, which could be why the Chinese tech company has taken a slow approach to the US market.