Xiaomi, just another Chinese fake?

by Tony Chiu | Photo Credits: Tony Chiu | 15 January 2014

Are you willing to replace your iPhone or Galaxy for something that performs less well, has a worse display, with a slower processor, has fewer functions, poorer camera sensor, and more plasticky from a Mainland Chinese company that is known for copying Apple?

The answer is yes.

Xiaomi, with its Hongmi smartphone has done something that not many manufacturers have managed. Creating something Cheap and Cheerful. Google used to do it with their G1, and the Nokia 5230 was a real treat. But now Google has gone all “up-scale” with Nexus, and god knows where Symbian is now.

It’s Cheap. At HKD $999, it is very good value for money. Of course, the specs aren’t as ground-breakingly impressive, but its got four 1.5GHz cores, 4.7-inch 312 PPIs, a 800MP 28mm sensor with Full HD, and it supports Dual SIM. I have no idea what all those mean. All you need to know is that it really isn’t far off from the big daddies.

But what’s more interesting is why it is Cheerful.

Its founder, Lei Jun, likes to tell us that Xiaomi is more than about gadgets. He wants us to know that Xiaomi is a culture of which everything is done unconventionally.

They get thousands of users to take part in the design of their products. That’s why they don’t just make phones. They sell bits of a router so that enthusiasts could take pleasure in assembling them IKEA-style, they sell Hoodies with MI-bunnies on them, and they even sell MI-stuffed animals!

I mean yes, its rock-concert-like press releases and some of its designs are reminiscent of Apple’s. But aside from that, they may really be on to something.

Buying a Xiaomi isn’t just buying a phone. Buying a Xiaomi is getting a piece of the action.

There is only one thing that is stopping me from Meeing myself now.

Being Chinese, It doesn’t support Facebook.

IMG_0001 They very subtly call this the iOS7 theme. Don’t worry, it’s just one of the countless configurations. They say anyone could send them their designs, and if they like it they will buy it off you for 1 million RMB.
IMG_0012 Since they only sell everything online, you have to go to one of those Xiaomi Homes to see it in the flesh. This is in Shanghai though, HKers will have to wait.
IMG_0013 They will also sell you a 47-inch 3D TV for 2999 RMB, which you can check out at Xiaomi Home’s very own living room. That is if you’re in the Mainland. For now, HKers are only getting the phones.
IMG_0003 The Hongmi doesn’t support Facebook. If you want FB, you’d have to go for the Mi3. But you don’t want that, because it’s 1999 RMB and it’s only sold in the Mainland. What irony.


Tony Chiu

Second Year, History and Journalism


The opinion and views in this article are that of the author and do not reflect the opinion or views of the HKU Journal of Technology, or the TecHKU Editorial Team. You can comment below to let the author know what you think.
To submit an opinion piece of your own, send an email to techkueditors@gmail.com or use the contribute button on the top right of this site.

Author: Tony Chiu

Tony is a second year student in History and Journalism at HKU. He also blogs at HKYOU and many other places.

Share This Post On