Xiaomi introduces Mi Mix 2 ahead of ultracompetitive holiday season

Xiaomi's new Mi Mix 2. Image: Xiaomi

Xiaomi unveiled the latest version of its flagship Mi Mix line as the company aims to continue the impressive momentum it’s built over the last year.

But the phone isn’t likely to increase the company’s market share in the United States by much.

The Mi Mix 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor and sports a 12-megapixel camera. It has a ceramic back with a four-sided curved design and aluminum frame and a 6-inch, edge-to-edge display.

“Mi Mix gave everyone a glimpse of what the phone of the future would look like,” Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun said in a press release. “We made a concept phone that defied everyone’s expectations about smartphone design, and it has pioneered the trend of full-screen display smartphones…. It has evolved from a design and technology test bed into a user-friendly phone catered to a wider consumer group than ever before, while still evoking the wow factor.”

The phone’s price tag will start around $500, topping out just above $700.

It will also support a total of 43 network bands including those in the United States, which the company said makes it “a truly global smartphone that can be used anywhere in the world.” But no U.S. carriers have agreed to sell the phone, and unless that changes it will be virtually nonexistent here.

Some analysts believe that Xiaomi is hindered by a lack of patents and that any entry to the U.S. would swiftly be met with lawsuits from Apple, Samsung and other heavyweights. The company appears to be working to address that problem and last year acquired 15 issued patents and four patent applications from Broadcom.

Like some of its fellow China-based manufacturers, Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments have grown significantly thanks in large part due to booming sales both in its home market and in emerging markets such as India. It shipped 23.2 million smartphones in the second quarter 2017, up from 14.7 million during the same period in the prior year, according to Strategy Analytics, and its global market share increased from 4.3% to 6.4%.

But the Mi Mix 2 will also hit shelves as competition in the worldwide smartphone market heats up significantly during the holiday season. Apple and Google are expected to launch new phones in coming weeks, Samsung recently introduced its Galaxy Note 8, and Andy Rubin’s Essential Products took the wraps off its debut handset.

So Xiaomi will need to attract more customers in its existing markets to continue to thrive.

“Xiaomi’s range of Android models, such as the Redmi 4A, is proving wildly popular in India, snatching volumes from competitors such as Lenovo and Micromax,” Strategy Analytics Director Linda Sui said last month in a press release. “Xiaomi has bounced back since ex-Google exec Hugo Barra quit the company earlier this year and Xiaomi will be hoping the current momentum can be sustained into the second half of 2017.”