Everything You Need to Know about Xiaomi Phones

Xiaomi’s recent IPO back in July of this year heralded a new start for this upstart tech company that, only a few years ago, was struggling with maintaining market share as a consequence of their massive growth. Today, they are a major contender for the global smartphone market, being the 4th in terms of total market share after Huawei, Apple, and Samsung, respectively. They’ve also developed a reputation for quality that is the envy of nearly all other Chinese smartphone manufacturers.

Xiaomi in a nutshell

But if they’re such a big name in smartphones, how come not everyone has heard of them? One thing that really sets Xiaomi apart from both its domestic and international competitors is a marketing philosophy that has much more in common with Costco’s than it does with Apple’s or Samsung’s.

The company has had a longstanding strategy of focusing on direct-to-customer sales and using social media to interact with customers. It also occasionally sells products below cost with the intent of getting a profit from content created for its product ecosystem. This means much fewer resources spent on building and maintaining physical stores, giving a cut to distributors, celebrity endorsements, and third-party ad agencies, expenses that cost much more than most consumers realize. This strategy has allowed Xiaomi to concentrate on using the best possible modules for their phones and to make consistent improvements in MIUI, their modified Android UI.

The end result of which was Xiaomi was able to consistently deliver products with quality and performance comparable or at par with Apple and Samsung’s products at a very small fraction of the price, with some models with comparable features only costing 1/10 of an Apple or Samsung flagship product. Cutting out most of the costs associated with distribution, sales and sales support has allowed Xiaomi to focus on delivering products that were spec’d similarly to more expensive phones made by their more famous counterparts.

The flip side of this strategy is while they were able to gain a loyal fanbase and enviable word-of-mouth despite the comparatively negative image of so-called “Chinese brands”, not everyone has heard of Xiaomi or know enough about them to have an informed opinion. Your grandparents will have almost certainly heard of Apple and Samsung phones while it’s highly unlikely that they’ve heard of Xiaomi’s products. Even those who have heard of Xiaomi are loath to make the switch because they haven’t seen any ads or know enough people who own their products to form an opinion on them beyond the mistaken idea that Chinese brands are somehow inferior.

But it remains to be seen if this state of affairs will last much longer. From their inception in 2010 and up until their July 2018 IPO, Xiaomi had been a privately-owned and controlled company and was thus able to make decisions not based entirely on producing short-term shareholder profits. With the IPO removing a bit of this tech maverick’s independence and the creation of a few select brick-and-mortar stores, it remains to be seen Xiaomi can continue to maintain its position as the tech brand to go to for the most value for your money. Hopefully, investors will understand the value of the brand and position Xiaomi built for itself in the market.

History

Who or what the heck is a “xiaomi”?

Xiaomi as we know it began on April 6, 2010, when Lei Jun, formerly an employee of Kingsoft, and seven partners incorporated the company. The company’s name means “millet” in Mandarin. As millet is a staple grain throughout the whole world, the company likewise aimed to be a worldwide leader in the smartphone market.

While Lei Jun is the public face and the driving force behind Xiaomi, the other founders also had similarly impressive resumes– Lin Bin and Hong Feng were the vice president of the Google China Institute of Engineering and the senior product manager for Google China, respectively, giving them a lot of experience with the Android platform. Dr. Zhou Guangping was senior director of the Motorola Beijing R&D center, further adding valuable mobile platform experience to the founding team. Liu De was department head of industrial design at the University of Science and Technology Beijing and later became critical for Xiaomi in much the same capacity as Jonathan Ive was for Apple. Li Wanqiang, Lei Jun’s coworker, was general manager of Kingsoft Dictionary, while Wong Kong-Kat, worked principal development manager for Microsoft China.

If this team didn’t seem formidable enough, early investors included Temasek Holdings—the Singaporean government’s investment arm, IDG Capital, Qiming Venture Partners and critically, Qualcomm, the same American OEM that creates parts for Samsung, Apple, and most other smartphone manufacturers.

It wasn’t all about phones at first

The founders had the idea to produce an improved Android-based UI to capitalize on the surging smartphone market. This later became the MIUI, first launched in August 2010. It was criticized as a knock-off of iOS and TouchWiz but soon was recognized for its own merits as a platform. It would not be another year before Xiaomi finally started producing its own smartphones, starting with the Xiaomi Mi 1, which was announced in August 2011. The same month the following year it announced the Xiaomi Mi 2, which became the product that would allow it to get a foothold in the lucrative and increasingly savvy Chinese domestic market.

By September 2013 Xiaomi had sold over 10 million Mi 2 phones, which while quite a low number compared its competitors, was big enough to make people take notice. On the same month, CEO Lei Jun unveiled the Mi 3 phone and revealed plans to launch a Xiaomi smart TV based on the same tech as the phones. The TV’s were ultimately assembled by Taiwanese firm Wistron, an OEM for Sony. While not exactly a big hit like their phones, the TV’s were likewise able to penetrate an increasingly sophisticated Chinese demand for smart TV’s. It also invested US$1 billion to support content creation for smart TV’s in an effort to increase market share.

By the end of 2013, Xiaomi was a household name, at least in China, being the fifth most-used smartphone brand. It also opened its first service center around this time due to the huge demand for after-sales service for their products. The lack of adequate after-sales service, however, would continue to be a problem for Xiaomi in the coming years.

In 2014, four years after its inception, Xiaomi finally expanded outside China, setting up an international headquarters in Singapore. To underline just how in demand their products were in the region, The Xiaomi Mi 3 shipments slated for Singapore were sold out within 2 minutes of the opening day sale. From Singapore, it started penetrating the Malaysian, Philippine, and Indian markets—the last two, in particular, being especially key markets for smartphones. After meeting initial success, it further expanded into Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico.

The same year, the Redmi Note phablet, the line that would gain it a reputation in the US and Europe, was announced and launched. By the end of the year thanks to a new round of investments, it became one of the most valuable privately-owned tech companies in the world, with a market valuation of over US$45 billion. It had also sold 61 million phones worldwide – triple the number of the previous year.

For the rest of 2015, Xiaomi continued to consolidate its shares in the developing world, avoiding the US and Western Europe, which meant it continued to go under the radar of many international tech publications. It was particularly aggressive in India, an emerging market with an enormous appetite for technology. It also started preparations to assemble Redmi 2 smartphones in Brazil in a bid to reduce costs and capture the South American market. Notably, this was the first time it assembled phones outside of China.

Reports of Xiaomi’s fall have been greatly exaggerated

Xiaomi suffered a few setbacks in 2016 due to its meteoric rise. As it released more phones and entered more markets – including the European Union – it underwent some issues in its supply chain and was consequently unable to fulfill many of its orders. However, by the end of the year, it was well on track to continue its expansion after ironing out kinks in its supply.

Throughout 2017 it continued to grow, launching its flagship model Mi 6, Mi Max 2, Mi Mix 2 and Mi 5x. The latest version of their Android-based system, the MIUI v9 was also released. In this year, they also started working directly with Google, a collaboration that resulted in the Mi A1 Android One, which is basically the same as the Mi 5x, but with stock Android. It notably opened its first EU store in Greece, which at the time was suffering through a severe economic recession. In this year it also finally overtook Samsung in India, which was their key market outside of China.

Xiaomi today

2018 so far, has been a banner year for Xiaomi. On February 2018, Xiaomi finally opened their first official store in the Philippines. A month later, it announced that it was fully intending to enter the American smartphone market by the year’s end. In Q2 2018, Xiaomi launched the Mix 2S and the Mi 6X, demonstrating their exceedingly fast production cycles.

May 2018 however, might be the most pivotal month for Xiaomi yet. It announced its intent to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which was expected to be the biggest one since Ali Baba’s IPO in 2014. While it ultimately wasn’t quite as successful as Ali Baba’s IPO, it still ended the first day of trading in July with a valuation of US$47.8 billion. It was also the month it entered the UK, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden. By the end of the same month, it had started selling smart TVs and other smart home products in the US, through Amazon. It also entered into a partnership with CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., for distribution. It remains to be seen, however, if this will upend Xiaomi’s winning business model of selling directly to the consumer.

What makes them special?

Xiaomi has captured both hearts and minds in the Philippine market the same way it has in other emerging markets. It managed to provide incredible quality and attention to detail at an unbelievably attractive price.

Before 2014, and even today to a large extent, the idea of a “China phone” had been overwhelmingly negative, even as sought-after brands such as Samsung and Apple all made their products in China as well.  Most experiences with Chinese brands prior to Xiaomi’s entry tended to be mixed or negative, with most positive reviews coming about due to very low expectations. Xiaomi smartphones and phablets have done much to change this perception, featuring the kind of attention to detail that was previously lacking from other Chinese brands.

The MIUI operating system, for instance, is touted as a massive improvement over Samsung’s TouchWiz, featuring a speedy, simple-to-understand user interface. It also boasts frequent updates and support for older devices, something that many people find off-putting about Apple and Samsung products.

The actual hardware that comes with the phones is also touted to be quite durable, with a significant number of early adopters from 2012 and 2013 still retaining the same phones they bought as of writing. This is an incredibly important point in an emerging market such as the Philippines where a smartphone can represent a significant investment. The lack of widespread after-sales service however, makes it a bit more difficult to have your phone fixed should anything actually happen to it.

The overall quality of Xiaomi devices, particularly in their flagship range, often has them dubbed as “iPhone killers”, which is no small compliment considering Xiaomi flagship models such as the Mi 6 are only 1/4th the price of phones such as the iPhone X. You won’t run out of stories of tech-heads claiming they ditched their allegedly terrible iPhones or Samsungs for a Xiaomi.

Xiaomi has also excelled at cutting costs in areas that don’t affect product quality. For instance, it’s known for consistently taking advantage of price reductions in certain components by waiting longer before rolling out their new products. This means they avoid the high upfront costs incurred by other smartphone makers when it comes to getting OEM parts. This results in Xiaomi being able to deliver products with similar specs to other brands without sacrificing performance or quality.

A collaborative design philosophy

Xiaomi is extraordinary when it comes to integrating user suggestions into its updates and new models. CEO and co-founder Lei Jun is one of the most popular figures on Chinese Social media for good reason – he’s ensured that Xiaomi is seen as a company that listens to his customers and gives them exactly what they want. An extremely successful and vibrant online community called the MIUI forum provides a way for Xiaomi fans to directly communicate with Lei Jun and other people from Xiaomi.

This community has almost 12 million users and at least 100,000 posts a day, making it the most active online product development community in the world for several years running. They also maintain a presence on Sina Weibo and Qzone, the Chinese answer to the banned Facebook and Twitter. Outside of China, its social media presence has likewise been growing rapidly, in step with its rising popularity outside of mainland China.

Unlike many online communities that seem to be primarily a form of marketing and damage control, the MIUI forum is, in fact, a primary source of market info for Xiaomi. Features that users want to see in the next iterations of MIUI and Xiaomi products are thoroughly discussed and voted on. Fixes and requirements that are in particularly high demand can move incredibly fast through the development cycle, sometimes becoming available for release within a week. This is thanks largely to the relatively flat organizational structure at Xiaomi and the high degree of cooperation between different departments.

The whole process is incredibly structured as well. As of writing, 200-300 people are actively managing their online presence in multiple communities. These aren’t just helpless customer relations folks who are intended to soak up customer complaints either. Many key personnel from the development team, including Lei Jun himself, are part of the process, checking to see which fixes are doable and what time frame they could be made available to the market.

The Cult of Xiaomi

To encourage the community to actively participate in product development, active forumites are given reward points, special statuses, and perks. Ideas for subsequent releases are then voted on. The developers at Xiaomi then decide which get to be shortlisted as part of the week’s release cycle. If the fixes and improvements are seen as particularly pressing, they’re prioritized so those in the Xiaomi community are able to see them in a matter of days.

Regular events are also held, not just by Xiaomi itself, but also by its loyal fans. This is a level of loyalty not often seen in the smartphone market and is a testament to just how much Xiaomi was able to truly build the brand on something more than just low prices.

This all means that Xiaomi tends to create and continuously develop products that closely fit existing demand. It also means the community is engaged with product development highly aware of any product launches or upcoming releases – something Xiaomi’s competitors definitely envy. This means Xiaomi can more on word of mouth and less on paid advertising, helping to bring costs down. It also means it does not waste any resources giving customers any unwanted features, such as the excessive bloatware that is omnipresent in the products of other smartphone makers.

The results are quite evident – In Asia, only Apple seems to have brand advocates as hardcore as Xiaomi, being free from the unneeded baggage that ruins the experience for other smartphones and empowering users to have a hand in the development process. In China and India especially, Xiaomi now has a cult-like status, with signs of a similar “Cult of Xiaomi” growing in the Philippines as well.

Xiaomi is now on track to replace Samsung as the number two smartphone maker in the world—no mean feat considering their extremely limited presence outside of China and the developing world. With its recent entry into the European market and the buzz it’s made about their future entry into the American smartphone market, Xiaomi will likely continue that growth for some time.

MIUI – Not your ordinary OS

Many tech analysts do not see Xiaomi as a smartphone maker so much as a software developer that happens to assemble smartphones. This is similar to how one might perceive Alphabet’s Google as a search engine company first, even if it does also make smartphones. This point of view is supported also by the inordinate amount of resources Xiaomi spends to develop and maintain MIUI.

MIUI was Xiaomi’s first product and was the main driver of their business even before they made and sold their own smartphones. This is still somewhat true today, as users of other Android phones are generally free to use MIUI in their own phones so they can experience Xiaomi products before they can actually buy them. If you have a Samsung Galaxy S9, for instance, you can opt to install the latest version of MIUI on your non-Xiaomi phone, enjoying the typically faster performance and all the regular updates and fixes that come with it.

On the flipside, Xiaomi users are not restricted to MIUI either, and can often opt to get phones pre-installed with the latest version of stock Android, or have stock Android installed on their phones if they don’t like the MIUI experience.

This is all a deliberate choice on the part of Xiaomi to allow customers to enjoy and perhaps advocate for their products even before they even own a Xiaomi phone. For this strategy to work, it entails that MIUI has to offer an appreciably superior experience to stock Android, which can be quite a daunting task, as the average user does not have that many issues with Android, to begin with.

MIUI is also a key component of the Xiaomi product and content ecosystem. As Xiaomi sells smartphones at incredibly thin margins, and often at a loss, it compensates for this through revenue generated by content for its product ecosystem.

Specs of key current models

While Xiaomi is often seen as a “budget brand”, it might be unfair to judge it merely as that. The specs of Xiaomi phones are quite competitive with those from other major brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. The lack of any major paid advertising has often raised skepticism about Xiaomi phones among those unfamiliar with the company, given their low prices. However, among tech enthusiasts, the brand has developed quite a formidable for building devices that can go toe-to-toe with their higher priced competitors.

Here are a few key models of Xiaomi phones that are currently available in the Philippines:

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S was just released March 2018 and became the latest flagship model at that point. It’s an update of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, and thus features the same clean look and design, but with new hardware, namely Qualcomm’s latest 10nm Snapdragon 845 chipset 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage, and of course access to all the LTE bands you need when traveling internationally. A downgraded version of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is available without full LTE capability and just 6GB of RAM, and your choice of 64GB or 128GB storage.

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S is touted as the company’s latest iPhone killer, being the most affordable phone in the market to offer four-axis optical stabilization with its dual cameras. The primary 12MP camera is a Sony IMX363 – which is the same line used in Apple’s own latest iPhones. The secondary camera sensor is made by Samsung and has that much-talked-about optical zoom capability.

The Mi Mix 2S also features impressive AI assistance that adjusts to ambient light to give even relative photography noobs a fighting chance at taking stunning photos. This means that even low-light photos are—a snap. A number of fun features like animations and a very usable portrait mode sweeten the deal.

The Mi Mix 2S comes with your choice of the latest version of Android (Oreo 8.1, as of writing) or MIUI (now at MIUI 10).  The latest MIUI starting from 9.5 let you restore your apps and settings from your old Android phone using your Google account, something that was not previously possible. This is likely a strategic move to make Xiaomi’s entry into the European Union and the United States a lot smoother. Good news for us Filipino Android users, regardless.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro was released in Q1 of 2018 and is fast becoming a favorite and bestseller in the Philippines for its incredible price-to-performance ratio. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage, you’re not left wanting when playing games or opening multiple apps. A less-zippy, more affordable variant with just 4GB of RAM is available as well. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 is notable for being essentially the same processor as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, as seen on newer Samsung Galaxy phones, albeit intentionally underclocked.

The camera setup is perhaps the biggest draw for the Redmi Note 5 Pro. On the front, it features a dual camera setup that combines a 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 1.25-micron) primary camera and a 5-megapixel (f/2.0, 1.12-micron) secondary camera on the rear. The front is doesn’t have optics that are as fancy as the rear, but it sports a 20-megapixel for incredibly detailed selfies. This layout also demonstrates a very smart design decision on Xiaomi’s part, as the front camera will rarely be used to shoot subjects at a distance, even though most users will demand a high resolution just the same.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

The immediate predecessor to the flagship Mi Mix 2S isn’t all that old itself, having been on the market for 10 months as of writing. It’s actually smaller than the 2016 Mi Mix, but with a host of hardware and software improvements that make it more appealing as a daily driver. It’s also the first flagship Xiaomi that could be said to be truly global in its distribution. In this context, with the Mi Mix 2, it finally made sense for Xiaomi to include global LTE connectivity, which at the time of release, worked with 42 bands – the most of any smartphone in the world. It also now has an almost bezel-less look, in keeping with the current trend for more screen size in a smaller phone.

The phone itself has a ceramic back pioneered by the original Mi Mix, which makes it incredibly durable and scratch-resistant. The frame is also made from aluminum. Together, this means an extraordinarily sturdy phone with the same features as many of its competitors from other brands. An all-ceramic variant is also available, although not in the Philippines.

It’s as fast as nearly any other premium offer on the market. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, your choice of 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB/128GB/256GB of internal storage. It’s more than capable enough to handle most apps and games you can throw at it.

A 12-megapixel primary camera and a 5-megapixel front camera allow the Xiaomi to take very decent photos, certainly enough to satisfy casual picture takers. With a good 3,400 mAh battery, you’re going to be taking a lot of pictures with it, too.

Xiaomi Mi 6

When the Xiaomi Mi 6 was released on April 2017, it became the most affordable phone to date to feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which gave it much better performance in terms of raw power than any competitor in its price bracket. It was also the first Xiaomi to follow the industry trend of removing the 3.5mm audio input jack, which is a controversial decision any way you look at it. It also competed directly with the iPhone 8, as it also features a 12-megapixel dual-camera setup with a 2x lossless zoom, which allows anyone to take stunning photos. The front camera is no slouch either, featuring an 8-megapixel sensor.

Rounding out the specs is its 5.15” Full HD display, 6GB of RAM and your choice of 64GB/128GB internal memory. The large 3,350 mAh battery is also a welcome feature, though they did have to remove the 3.5 mm audio jack to squeeze it in. The design is also splash-resistant (as you would want in any phone) and comes in a variety of colors and finishes.

Unfortunately, the only LTE bands available for the Mi 6 are 1/3/5/7/838/39/40/41, which puts the kibosh on them being a suitable choice for world travelers, but still an excellent phone for Philippine users.

Xiaomi Mi A1

As we mentioned earlier, the Mi A1 is notable for being the first Xiaomi to be able to run stock Android out of the box. This device is a collaborative effort with Google as an effort to bring Android One (Google’s attempt to create an unmodified Android standard) to a wider market. As a result, you get Xiaomi’s winning top-class hardware combines with Google’s near-unmatched software expertise. With differing model variants ranging from about PhP 7,000 to under PhP 10,000, the whole package is pretty appealing for value-oriented Google die-hards. Of course, you can always get MIUI for this phone, if you prefer.

It looks and functions great too. The frame and body are made from aluminum, something that really gives this smartphone a classic look. It also has the same front camera as the previously mentioned Mi 6 – a 12-megapixel dual-camera setup with a 2x lossless zoom. The primary camera has a wide angle lens which allows you to take in more of the scene. A more modest, though still high-quality 5-megapixel front camera is also mounted — because we all need to take selfies, at least some of the time. And perhaps best of all – it still features the 3.5mm audio jack, though at the expense of the larger battery sported by its stable-mate, the Mi 6.

The Mi A1 and its variants are also some of Xiaomi’s most popular phones in the Philippines, thanks to its no-compromises (well, almost none) approach to hardware and Google’s full backing and input.

Xiaomi Redmi 5A

The direct successor to the bestselling Xiaomi Redmi 4A does not mess with the value for money formula in the least. We have to say “value for money” because in no way is the Redmi 5A “cheap” as most people understand the word. Rather it offers the type of hardware that would typically be found on competitor’s mid-priced phones at the prices most of us would pay for basic models.

The specs also show that Xiaomi pays attention to what most consumers at this price bracket want – a cheap, capable smartphone that takes good pictures. The display is sized 5” with an HD 1280×720 resolution, 296PPI, which you’d be hard pressed to find on other devices at this price range.  Space is a modest 2GB RAM/16GB ROM, but with up to 128GB microSD support, it’s all a moot point. The relatively decent 3,000mAh battery gives it a decent amount of life when coupled with its reasonable display.

But where it really punches above its weight for the price (approximately PhP 4,300 to PhP 6,000, depending on the variant) is the camera. It features a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel selfie camera that takes really decent pics, especially at this price bracket. It’s all rounded out with features such as low light enhancement, a panorama mode, HDR, Burst mode, face recognition, and real-time filters, which attests to the hardware’s above average capabilities.

If you don’t really care for the camera, it still has an accelerometer, proximity sensor, light sensor and e-compass to help it work with all the neat apps you’re used to. Also important for a lot of people at this price bracket is the dual nano sim – microSD slot, which gives it an added amount of flexibility. At the price, there really is not much to complain about.

Xiaomi Mi Max 2

As the name implies, the Mi Max 2 is in the category of not-quite-pocket-size devices known as phablets. With its 6.44” screen and massive 5,300maH battery (reported to be good for two days on a single charge), there are few options from competitors that could touch the Mi Max 2 as a mobile multimedia solution. Compared to its predecessor the Mi Max, it has a much more appealing, less blocky design that is far more ergonomic, though you will still want to use both hands to navigate with the device.

It features a zippy Snapdragon 625 processor, which is designed to extend your battery power even further. While perhaps not the best for the type of mobile photography we’re used to these days due to its sheer size, the Mi Max 2 does not disappoint in the photo department thanks to its 12-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. You’ll have plenty of space to make the most of the photos you take, for sure.

The Mi Max 2 definitely isn’t for everyone. If you prefer slim jeans and always put your phone in your pocket, you probably shouldn’t bother. If you’re the type to keep your phone in your bag, or if you want a fun, high-performance, but reasonably-priced device for your home, then the Mi Max 2 definitely has a lot to offer.

Redmi 6 Pro

If Xiaomi’s latest phone looks a little bit familiar, it may be because it resembles the iPhone X, right down to the notch, and camera placement. At 1/6th the price of the Apple product though, it’s amazing that Xiaomi was able to pack in a Snapdragon 625 Octa Core processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM, and massive (for the size) 4000mAh battery that could almost take you through two days with one charge. There’s also a dual SIM slot and a micro SD slot and a 3.5mm audio jack should you need it.

The phones 5.84” screen means that it’s quite big, but not excessively so for someone with average hands. Speaking of hands, the fingerprint scanner is stellar, allowing you to unlock your phone in as soon as 0.1 of a second. The build quality excellent and is the same as you would find on Xiaomi’s other premium smartphones.

With an assortment of great features and an excellent camera, the Redmi 6 Pro does offer quite a bit more than its little brother, the Redmi 6.

Redmi 6

While the Redmi 6 Pro might be the most hyped Xiaomi phone in the past month, our money is on the Redmi 6 as the next bestseller. With prices starting at around PhP 7,000- PhP 9,000, in usual Xiaomi fashion it punches well above what its weight (figuratively speaking) might suggest. It comes with the latest MIUI and has a 5-megapixel + 12-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera that are all shockingly good for the price. With 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM, you probably won’t need a micro SD to expand the memory, but you can if you want to anyway, since it does have a micro SD slot in addition to its dual SIM trays.

With a 5.45” HD screen (at 1440 x 720 pixels) it’s not crazy big and just the right size to be a daily driver, though it doesn’t really have the pixel density of many other phones. The case is also mostly plastic, not ceramic or aluminum like the higher-priced offers. However, this doesn’t really matter for a lot of users who just need a quality phone to get through their day. And for the money, the Redmi 6 sure delivers a heck of a lot of phone.

Pocophone F1

Xiaomi’s latest flagship hasn’t yet been released in the Philippines as of writing, but when it does get released, it’s sure to satisfy with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB/128GB expandable storage. As with other recent Xiaomi offerings it sports dual cameras and a large 4000mAh battery. It’s slated to be priced between PhP 17,900 to PhP 19,900, depending on the variant.

The main selling point for this model will definitely be its speed, as suggested by the “F1” in its name. It has the most powerful processor used by Xiaomi to date, the 845, same as in the Mi Mix 2S. More importantly, this is the model Xiaomi plans to penetrate the North American market with. The price point and quality will definitely blow minds over there.

 

Conclusion

Advantages

Price to performance ratio

There simply isn’t another smartphone maker out there that delivers this quite like Xiaomi. If you believe the totality of the experience counts and you’re committed to an iOS device or another Android device from the other smartphone makers, then perhaps this value proposition isn’t as strong. But if we’re talking about raw hardware specs and build quality at the price ranges Xiaomi’s devices occupy, there simply isn’t another contender at the moment.

Regular MIUI updates

Even Xiaomi critics contend that there is no other brand that delivers the smoothness of experience when it comes to updates, at least within the Android sphere. According to popular consensus, only iOS offers a superior experience in this area. Xiaomi’s development cycle also allows them to roll out relevant fixes and updates faster than anyone else, so this is also worth considering.

High degree of customization

Not only is MIUI based on Android, to begin with and inherently customizable, MIUI makes it even easier to trick out your phone to your own needs. You can even change the boot screen, which is pretty cool in our book.

Dedicated community

Xiaomi has a large and growing English-speaking community of dedicated brand advocates and modders. This means you won’t have to learn Chinese in order to enjoy the benefits of being part of the Xiaomi community. And unique to any smartphone maker, Xiaomi does not void your warranty if you root their phones – you can even bring bricked Xiaomi smartphones to service centers for repairs.

Drawbacks

Lack of physical stores

Speaking of service centers – not a lot of those around at the moment. There also aren’t a lot of physical stores either, except in a few key locations. While this is slowly being addressed by Xiaomi, most Philippine-based customers will have to order their smartphones online. In the meantime, you might have to either download the latest compatible version of MIUI for your phone or read reviews for an idea of how their phones run.

Lack of feature innovation

Due to the fact Xiaomi typically waits for component and module prices to go down so that it can pass savings onto customers, it’s rarely going to be the first to market with any super-innovative feature. And even though it does have the means to innovate on its own terms, it has faced criticism for blatantly copying other makers, particularly Apple. This is apparent with the Redmi 6 Pro, which even features the much-maligned notch that debuted on the iPhone X and a very similar camer