Xiaomi, the Chinese electronics manufacturer that was once considered to be China’s Apple, has had a bit of a rough year. Its global market share shrunk considerably, and its VP of Global Efforts Hugo Barra left the company in January.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Xiaomi has been exceptionally good at producing great smartphones at cheap prices, and its new flagship device, the Xiaomi Mi 6, once again delivers on that promise.
The phone, launched Wednesday at an event in Beijing, is a 5.15-inch device with all the latest bells and whistles you can stuff inside a smartphone: the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage memory, a 12-megapixel dual camera, dual stereo speakers, a 3,350mAh battery and water resistance.
The camera is particularly interesting, as Xiaomi claims it combines a wide-angle lens with a telephoto lens that offers 2x optical zoom — similar to the iPhone 7 Plus’ camera.
These specifications are pretty much the best on the market right now, easily besting even Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone. Of course, the specs on paper don’t always translate into real-world usage (especially in the camera department), so we’ll reserve our final judgement until we have some hands-on time with the phone, but it’s safe to assume this thing will perform roughly as well as Samsung’s flagship.
One thing the Mi 6 definitely doesn’t have is the S8’s sleek looks — despite the curved glass on the back, there are large bezels above and below the phone’s screen on the front, which (compared to the new, huge screened flagships from Samsung and LG) now look obsolete and unsightly.
This doesn’t mean the Mi 6 is an ugly device; on the contrary, it’s quite elegant, with dual camera lenses sitting flush with the phone’s back, and symmetrically placed speaker grilles and sensors on top and bottom.
The phone features a number of other cool features, including 2×2 dual Wi-Fi, a technology that improves connectivity and speed of wireless networking. And the phone’s screen should be exceptionally good for late-night reading, especially in “ultra-dark” mode.
This leaves us with the question of price, which is usually Xiaomi’s biggest forte, and the company did not disappoint. The phone costs 2,499 RMB or $363, basically half of what you’re asked to pay for most flagships these days. If you want to upgrade the storage to 128GB, that’ll be 2,899 RMB or $421.
For comparison, the similarly sized and specced Huawei P10 costs 649 euros ($696), while Samsung’s Galaxy S8 starts at about $730.
Xiaomi is also offering a Ceramic edition of the phone, which has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and costs 2,999 RMB ($436).
Xiaomi’s phones are usually available directly from various retail outlets in China; there’s no word on proper U.S. availability.