Usually, global hype and excitement surround big multinational companies like Samsung, Apple, Google, LG and maybe even Taiwanese HTC. Smaller companies or companies that are not seen everywhere on the international market have a hard time penetrating new markets due to the overwhelming pull multinationals have. Xiaomi is aiming to change that, alongside Huawei and ZTE who have demonstrated their potential at CES 2016, with the upcoming Xiaomi Mi5. Chinese sources have confirmed that the Xiaomi Mi5 release date is set for January 21st, although it is still not clear whether the Chinese company will be approaching an international marketing strategy or keep their releases exclusive to Asian territories. The Android community from around the world has proven that there is a market for the Xiaomi Mi5 and the hype and excitement that is revealed on websites, news sites, social media and comment sections shows that Android fans around the world would be quite interested in the new handset.
All throughout 2015 people were talking about Xiaomi making an entrance on the US mobile industry in 2016, thinking that the upcoming Xiaomi Mi5 would be the perfect fit for a flashy debut. In previous years, the company’s fanbase, as well as new customers, were left impressed with the Xiaomi Mi3 and Mi4 families of devices, which brought the company some degree of international recognition in the smartphone segment. Xiaomi has their hands in quite a few mobile industries, including wearables, action cameras, accessories and much more, but attention towards its smartphones has only recently sky rocketed. With the imminent arrival of their newest model, the Xiaomi Mi5 and quite possibly, a few variations on the flagship, there’s hope in the Android community that Xiaomi will embrace the U.S and European markets and sell their smartphones in retail and carrier stores. The company has not yet commented on this aspect of their business and international presence, but industry insiders are confident that the time has come.
There are a lot of rumors surrounding the Xiaomi Mi5 smartphone, and while none of them can be held as official information, they do point out the increasing interest in the handset. People are talking about it on Weibo, Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram, and there are quite a few threads on various social channels that discuss the smartphone’s specs and features. Although we’re all for the company releasing a beast of a phone, we’re more intrigued by the high hopes of people that they will be able to get their hands on it, regardless of their country of residence. US Android fans, especially tech-savvy ones on XDA forums and such, are excited about the smartphone, which means that while marketing strategy of the company towards American consumers is practically inexistent at this time, they might have already created a pretty firm hold on tech-savvy people.
Android fans can usually be characterized as tinkerers and makers who like to fiddle with their gadgets and the software they have access to. Android is an open platform, unlike iOS, and brings with heaps of opportunities for developers and aspiring developers alike. Xiaomi’s devices cater to these types of audiences by not only offering Android, but MIUI and a lot of support, encouraging fiddling more than any other multinational company around. With this approach, the Xiaomi Mi5 could easily become the flagship of the year, going down a road similar to the OnePlus One’s initial direction – online marketing and word of mouth. This has worked for OnePlus, and for Xiaomi, too, albeit unconsciously. Scouring on forums, oftentimes we saw people inquiring about how they could get their hands on a Xiaomi Mi4, Xiaomi Mi4i or Xiaomi Mi4C, with quite a few solutions available to them. Most of these solutions involved importing from China or India, which brought along additional costs and/or a long wait-time, and that can definitely impact the decision of many people wanting to buy something. Nonetheless, people bought it and used it, especially since the Mi4 family had international versions made available with compatible LTE bands for the US and Europe.
With only minimal effort, allowing resellers to sell their devices, Xiaomi managed to gain a considerable fanbase outside of China and Asia generally and market their devices through word of mouth. That trend will surely go on with the Xiaomi Mi5, especially if it’s going to be as impressive as rumors paint it out to be. We are going to buy it regardless of the company’s launch strategy, and we suspect many others will, too. Flagship fatigue and the expensive smartphones that are sold in the US also have an impact on this tendency, but that’s an entirely different matter that should be discussed separately, I believe. What I would like to point out is that Android fans and tech-savvy individuals are more than interested in the Xiaomi Mi5, at least, that’s the impression they give off on the internet. They want this phone, and Xiaomi would definitely have a lot to capitalize on if they launched the handset in the US, at least with an exclusive carrier or plain unlocked on Amazon. (Also, Windows 10 might be available for the Xiaomi Mi5, so that should be interesting.)
So the question remains: why are people suddenly so interested in the Xiaomi Mi5, aside from their expectations of a low price as usual with the company? I think that it’s because the rumors surrounding the handset are pretty darn cool and portray a device that could easily rival with the best selling handsets in the US from Samsung and Apple, naturally. The addition of a fingerprint sensor embedded in the new home button of the Xiaomi Mi5, as seen in various leaked renders and photos of the device, is one of the features the company added to be “hip” as well as offer extra security. Fingerprint tech is sought after by many Android fans and speculation about the Xiaomi Mi5 fingerprint sensor being better than all available alternatives is an enticing thought to Android fans around the world.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 CPU, the most hyped yet, has also been confirmed by the co-founder of the company as part of the Xiaomi Mi5, alongside 4 GB RAM and up to 64 GB internal storage. The 820 has great scores on benchmark tests like Antutu, GFXBench, GeekBench and others and expectations regarding performance are sky-high. The chipset is also going to be featured in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S7, which only adds to the hype around it, transferring some of it to the Xiaomi Mi5 as well. Performance improvements are going to be accompanied by design upgrades as well, according to most rumors out there. Most sources are confident that there will be two different versions of the Xiaomi Mi5, which you will see, further backs the theory that the handset could also be made for American consumers.
According to a multitude of leaked images, videos, and reports, the Xiaomi Mi5 will have a full-metal variant with a 5.2-inch 2.5D curved QHD panel and the above-mentioned specs and another with a metal frame and FHD resolution, sporting the same hardware. There are also reports that the FHD model will sport less impressive specs, such as a Snapdragon 810 CPU, 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage, but camera specifications are pretty much consistent for both models. The Xiaomi Mi5 rear camera is expected to feature 16 MP and optical image stabilization, while the front shooter should sport a 13 MP sensor, possibly with a flash up top. Xiaomi has not exactly excelled at camera technology, but it has definitely been one of the better options on the market, after Samsung, Apple, Oppo, and LG. The large front camera, the all-metal chassis and the QHD resolution point towards an American and European audience, although Asian regions are also fond of the high-end specs. Nonetheless, most regions Xiaomi sells in have a higher interest in mid-range and budget smartphones, which leads us to believe there is a chance for the higher specced model of the Xiaomi Mi5 to be targeted at the U.S. smartphone market.
There are many rumors surrounding the smartphone, and we can’t vouch for any of them, save for the release date, January 21. Also, the handset is expected to go on sale on February 8, in case you’re wondering. The Xiaomi Mi5 price is thus far the only thing few have mentioned, maybe because going into the launch with expectations too high might be a problem for everyone. Nonetheless, I think that estimating the Xiaomi Mi5 price between $350 and $500 is pretty accurate – based on pricing history of the company and competition like OnePlus. Cheap phones can be powerhouses, too and OnePlus’ portfolio so far is a testament to that. If Xiaomi goes down a similar road, we might see a new big player on the US market and Samsung might do good and take precautionary measures. Maybe not price their flagship handsets higher than minimum wage.
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