Xiaomi: US Mobile isn't authorized to sell our stuff

Xiaomi phones aren't coming to the U.S. after all -- at least not yet.

PCMag was the first to report this week that the Chinese vendor's smartphones were being sold by a U.S. service provider for the first time. US Mobile, a Connecticut-based MVNO running on T-Mobile's network, had quietly offered three Xiaomi smartphones through its website.

But Xiaomi quickly nixed the effort, it appears, saying its handsets aren't sold in the U.S. through any authorized distributor. "Recent reports have indicated that Xiaomi products will be available in the US.," the company said via e-mail. "Xiaomi only offers a small selection of accessories for sale in the US through Mi.com. There are no plans to sell smartphones through any authorized distributors in the US."

Xiaomi's phones no longer appear on US Mobile's site. In a blog post in response to Xiaomi's statement, the company said it specifically notes that some of the products it offers online are "sold and fulfilled" by third-party partners. 

"We will continue to work with our enabling carriers to try to certify these phones on their network," the company wrote. "There is a process that we will have to make these phones go through. If we are successful, we promise to enable our distributors to offer these phones on our marketplace again."

The booming Chinese smartphone market propelled Xiaomi's rise as a major smartphone manufacturer in 2013, and the company enjoyed a $45 billion valuation following a funding round the following year. Xiaomi sold 70 million phones last year and became the world's third-largest smartphone maker by market share in the third quarter.

Xiaomi is pursuing foreign markets as smartphone growth in China slows, and it has expressed interest in coming to the U.S. eventually. But the vendor is plagued by a lack of patents, and analysts say any entry to the U.S. could be met with lawsuits from tech heavyweights such as Apple, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung.

US Mobile is reportedly working to import Xiaomi phones and offer them once again from its website, but those devices are unlikely to appeal to many U.S. consumers. The Xiaomi phones US Mobile previously featured had been optimized for the Chinese market and don't support American LTE networks. Tech enthusiasts in the U.S. who want to get their hands on a high-end phone from Xiaomi may have to wait quite a while.

Related articles:
T-Mobile MVNO US Mobile brings Xiaomi and Meizu phones to America
Is Xiaomi acquiring patents as it looks to international markets?
Xiaomi to launch U.S. store in 2015 - but not to sell smartphones
Xiaomi posted $56M profit in 2013 but razor-thin margins, filing shows
Xiaomi, OnePlus and other Chinese manufacturers face hurdles in international smartphone expansion
Why Samsung and Apple should be worried about Xiaomi and Lenovo
Report: China's Xiaomi valued at $40-$50B as it vaults up smartphone ranks
Xiaomi becomes world's No. 3 smartphone vendor by market share

Updated at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, to include US Mobile's response.