Xiaomi has announced its latest smartphone, the Mi 4c, an impressive $200 budget version of its flagship Mi 4 device. That’s not all: the Chinese company also ventured into mobile operator services after revealing two prepaid packages for customers in China.
Like the Mi 4i, a smartphone that Xiaomi launched specifically for India back in April, so the Mi 4c is aimed at its China-based customers. And it’s mighty impressive… on paper, at least.
The Mi 4i sports a five-inch display and is powered by a 64-bit processor, Xiaomi claims it is the first device equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808. There’s also a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a five-megapixel “selfie” camera, as the front-facing camera is increasingly referred to. Also notable, the Mi 4i includes the new USB Type-C and ‘Quick Charge 2.0’ to help manage battery life.
The basic Mi 4c comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB in storage and will cost 1299 RMB ($203), an enhanced version — 3GB RAM and 32GB storage — will be available for RMB 1499 ($235). Both models will ship with Xiaomi’s older MI UI 6 software, but the company said an upgrade to its new MI UI version 7 will be available soon.
Releasing impressively specc’ed devices at seriously aggressive prices is what Xiaomi is renowned for — the Mi 4c is yet another very competitive offering that should worry Samsung and others — but mobile operators services is something new altogether. The firm is one of a bunch of non-telecom companies that snagged MVNO (mobile virtual network) licenses in China. That allows them to resell mobile packages from telecom companies using their brand/name, and now Xiaomi is putting that to use in China.
‘Mi Mobile’, Xiaomi’s mobile offering, has two initial services. There’s a pay-as-you-go tariff charged at RMB 0.10 (sub $0.02) per voice call minute, SMS, or 1MB of data, and a RMB 59 ($10) monthly bundle that gives users 3GB of data. The first option is available from September 23, while the second comes online in October — both will be available from Mi.com, Xiaomi’s online store, in China.
The mobile services ventures is an intriguing new business from Xiaomi. The company is the country’s top smartphone seller, and China accounted for the majority of the 34.7 million smartphones that Xiaomi sold in the first half of this year, but Xiaomi said it will fall short of its sales target for 2015. So, alongside its push to sell wearables and smart home devices, a move into mobile services is a way to strengthen its brand among customers and pick additional revenue.