Most of us want a premium smartphone with the highest specs available, and if we can avoid a multi-year contract with a carrier, all the better. But the elation quickly wears off when we see the full price of unlocked, off-contract phones, which can easily start above $700 and creep above $800 if one wants more storage.
There are a few exceptions, of course, such as One Plus’ elusive One phone, and Motorola’s more reasonably priced X. But even the Nexus series appears to have left the race to the bottom, with the new Nexus 6 offering higher-end specs at a higher-end price. (It’s still a great value – $649 for a 32GB unlocked phone is nothing to scoff at, but gone are the freewheelin’ days of $350 Nexus phones.)
Xiaomi is mostly an unknown quantity here in the United States, but it’s the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world’s largest mobile phone market, China, and it prices its products aggressively to capture that market share. Its current flagship, the well-received Mi4, boasts top-tier specs and build quality, but sells from only 1,999 yuan, or about $320 (closer to $480 if bought stateside from an importer).
Although the Mi4 was only announced this past July, The Chinese-language Economist Daily News (EDN) reports that Xiaomi is already set to unveil the Mi5 at CES in January 2015. Leaked (and alleged) updates include a 2K screen (up from the 1080p on on the Mi4), fingerprint identification, and an updated quad-core Qualcomm processor.
Xiaomi is set to continue to defend its turf against its fellow Asian stalwarts, most of which will also likely have new flagships to show off at CES.
Let the games begin.