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Mi MIX 2 India launch proves that Xiaomi is more than just a budget smartphone maker

Mi MIX 2 is the successor to the Mi MIX which was launched in China last year but didn't release in India.

xiaomi mi mix 2 main 2

Xiaomi today launched its ‘most expensive’ smartphone in India called the Mi MIX 2. Priced at Rs 35,999, the smartphone is the successor to the original Mi MIX which was not launched in India. The reasons range from it being a prototype device, and the Indian market not being receptive enough for an expensive phone coming from a brand known for budget phones.

On the sidelines of the Mi MIX 2 launch, Xiaomi India Lead Product Manager Jai Mani touched upon a number of topics around the company’s future plans, upcoming phone trends, and why the company did not choose to introduce the Mi MIX when it was launched last year in China.

“I was upset when we didn’t launch the  Mi MIX last year. So part of the deal was we aren’t doing the MIX but we will bring the MIX 2,” said Mani. But the dilemma did not end just there. The company had the option to choose between the Mi MIX 2, Mi 6, and the Mi Note 3. Xiaomi had announced in the past that the Mi 6 will not be coming to India. However, the real reason behind skipping the market is the kind of features Mi MIX 2 brings to the competition today, which the other two devices do not.

“Between the Mi 6, Mi MIX 2 and Mi Note 3, we went ahead with the MIX 2 for India for its specifications,” said Mani. The Mi MIX 2 features a 5.99-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, 6GB of RAM, and is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. All these features not only make the Mi MIX 2 a more sensible choice but also bring Xiaomi at par with premium players in the country right now, which include OnePlus, Samsung, and Huawei. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Review: When a smartphone becomes an experience

If one looks at the competition in India, we have devices such as the OnePlus 5, Honor 8 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S8 lineup, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and the yet-to-be-launched Apple iPhone X. The Mi MIX 2, in comparison, brings the 18:9 aspect ratio, a truly bezel-less experience without the distracting notches on the top bezel, the current best processor, and a decent onboard storage, all at a price which is highly competitive. Yet, it does not feature a dual-camera module, or bundle an OLED panel, or even runs stock Android.

In the defence, Mani said that the Mi MIX 2 is not a prototype device, like the predecessor was, and has been designed to be practical. To arrive at the RAM+ROM combination suitable for India, the company ran an internal survey to find out how much of storage is good enough for an average user. It was finally decided that a model with 128GB of default storage makes sense. RELATED: Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 to go on sale in India starting October 17: Everything you need to know

In addition to that, the company chose not to include an OLED panel just for the sake of competition. Mi MIX 2 packs a full HD+ (2160×1080 pixels) LCD display with 403ppi pixel density. For OLED panels, the costs involved are higher, which would have eventually made the Mi MIX 2 expensive. Owing to supply and cost-related issues, the company chose to design the Mi MIX 2 in a manner that serves its aim of re-entering the premium segment in India with a device that not only gives users another choice in the segment, but also educates them that the company has the potential of building phones other than the Redmi phones.

“The target with Mi MIX 2 is to impress and educate consumers in India who love our Redmi 4, Redmi 4a, and Redmi Note 4 that Xiaomi can build premium phones as well,” said Mani. The idea is to ascertain the fact that Xiaomi is much more than affordable phones. When the company launched its Mi 5 in India (its most expensive device before the Mi MIX 2 launched today), the response had been lukewarm as it launched only the base model of the phone, which attempted to compete against the OnePlus 3. However, with the Mi MIX 2, the company is confident that it has got the equation of price and specifications correct. To keep it relevant in the coming days, the company will soon roll out the MIUI 9 in a month or two.

Going forward, the company plans to further expand its product portfolio, however, future products may not be phones. Mani explained how the Mi fan community members hope that Xiaomi will bring more products from its ecosystem to India. The company currently has a vast range of consumer durables, appliances, and wearables, from air purifiers, coffee machines, smart shoes, bags, and the list goes on. Mani said that his next focus will be televisions. “One of our other big goals is TV, an expensive relative to a phone. We plan to have it priced well for the market,” he adds. Given the company’s huge popularity in the Indian market, one could expect its Mi TVs to be an equal success. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 vs Samsung Galaxy S8 vs OnePlus 5 vs LG G6: Price, specifications and features compared

As for smartphones, Mani sees the most potential in the display technology with the yet-to-be-commercialized underscreen fingerprint technology. He said having in-screen sensors will make bezel-less displays even greater as another key element of the smartphone will be integrated beneath the display, leaving room for other features. Another feature which could benefit manufacturers and consumers is foldable phones. Mani said that the foldable phone technology should not be treated as a gimmick as it holds potential for even bigger phones, with as much as 7-inch displays, to be still pocketable.