MADRID, Spain – The Chinese smartphone industry’s push into Western markets got another boost on Tuesday, July 24, as Spanish capital, Madrid, hosted the global launch of Xiaomi’s newest phones: the Mi A2 and the Mi A2 Lite. These two phones are the successor to last year’s successful Mi A1, one of the best-selling phones globally last year.
Xiaomi’s Mi A family of phones are Android One phones. They carry Google’s stock, skin-free version of its mobile operating system. Most Android phones are skinned with a phone maker’s own take on Android. Xiaomi has MIUI. Samsung has Samsung Experience. Huawei has EMUI. Sometimes, these skins can become unwieldy, and add some extra workload for the phone – which is why some users prefer a stock version.
The Mi A1’s sales performance last year offers some proof that there are enough users out there looking for a stock experience. A February 2018 Counterpoint Research report found that the A1 was the 9th best-selling phone in the world.
Donovan Sung, Xiaomi Global’s director of product management and marketing, says the original phone was the result of them looking to give consumers a choice between their own MIUI-skinned phones and a stock Android phone. Fortunately, he said, the A1 bet – a bet that seemed to have been far from a sure win – paid off handsomely, so now we’re seeing the successors.
Apart from Google’s own Pixel phones, other phone makers with Android One models are HTC, Motorola, and Nokia, to name the more popular ones.
The Mi A2 and A2 Lite launch follows a string of high-profile European launches for Chinese brands in 2018. In March, Huawei introduced its P20 phones in Paris, France. Three months later, it would be Oppo storming the French capital in June with the launch of its futuristic flagship, the Find X, at no other than the Louvre museum. A month before that, OnePlus unveiled its own flagship, the OnePlus 6, in London.
The original A1 itself was launched in Madrid in November 2017, Xiaomi’s first official foray into Western Europe, which has since been followed up by official store openings in Italy and France in May 2018. Xiaomi also expects to officially launch in the USA soon – a territory that contemporaries Huawei has had trouble penetrating because of national security concerns brought up by some US authorities, and one which Oppo just recently entered with the Find X.
While Samsung and Apple still held the top two spots in terms of global smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2018, the Chinese brands – with improving quality, design, and aggressive pricing – are nipping at their heels, with Huawei at the third spot, Xiaomi in the fourth, and Oppo, fifth.
Wang Xiang, Xiaomi Global’s president of international business, at the launch, presented a few other growth achievements for the brand over the past year: they’re the fastest tech company to have reached $15 billion in revenue since being created, taking 7 years. Google took 9 years; Facebook, 12 years; Alibaba, 17 years; Tencent, 17 years; and Apple, 20 years.
Xiang also said Xiaomi experienced the biggest revenue growth (67.5%) in 2017 among tech stocks with revenues of 100 billion Chinese yuan or higher, topping the likes of Alibaba, Tencent, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. To be fair, Xiaomi – which is only 8 years old, having been incorporated in 2010 – is naturally expected to have bigger revenue jumps compared to older, more established brands.
The Mi A2 features an aluminum unibody, a Snapdragon 660 processor, up to 6GB RAM, up to 128 GB of storage, dual rear cameras (20MP+12MP), 20MP front camera, USB-C, 5.99-inch full-HD+ 18:9 screen, and 3,010 mAh battery. Xiaomi touts the camera’s larger-than-usual pixel size that make for brighter photos, and better lowlight performance.
The cameras, both front and rear, are also touted to have the ability to better separate a human subject from the background, through AI-assisted segmentation, said to be desirable in portrait photography.
The Mi A2 is priced at P14,990 (4GB RAM, 64GB storage) and P17,490 (6GB, 128GB storage). No Philippine release date has been specified.
The A2 Lite features a 5.84-inch 19:9 full HD screen, a Snapdragon 625 processor (the original A1’s processor), 12MP+5MP dual rear cameras, a 5MP front camera, a 4,000 mAh battery, and micro-USB. Its storage tops out at 64GB and RAM at 4GB. A key difference some people might want to know: the Mi A2 has a headphone jack while the Lite doesn’t. Both phones come in black, blue, and gold.
The Mi A2 Lite is priced at P9,990 (3GB RAM, 32GB storage) and P11,990 (4GB RAM, 64GB storage). No Philippine release date has been specified as well.
The Mi A2 phones are expected to arrive in 40 countries. – Rappler.com
(Disclosure: Xiaomi sponsored the trip to Spain, site of the event.)
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