Good News, Bad News and Good News for Chinese Smartphone Fans


Today I’m rounding up some news about Xiaomi and OnePlus. I could have dumped a bunch of links into yesterday’s news round-up proper, but these stories are all about Chinese smartphone-makers—and as the guy who predicted that 2014 would be the year of the Chinese Android smartphone, I’ve a bit of a vested interest in such things. 😉

Let’s get to it!

Good News: Three of the Top 5 OEMs are Chinese

Numbers released yesterday by IT research firm Gartner, Inc. list Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo as the number 3, 4 and 5 smartphone vendors worldwide. Together they own 15.5% of the global smartphone market, surpassing Apple’s  12.7% market share. The derision from some Apple fan sites is palpable; iPhone in Canada was quick to point out that Xiaomi makes only $3 of profit per device. Razor-thin margins don’t appear to be hurting Xiaomi, though; the company experience an incredible 436% jump in units sold compared to this time last year.

Bad News: Xiaomi Not Interested in North American Market

On the heels of the Gartner numbers came a feature on Xiaomi in no less than The New York Times, entitled The Rise of a New Smartphone Giant. While reading through it I stumbled across some unexpected quotes:

Shunning markets like the United States and Europe, Mr. Lei and Mr. Lin are looking at huge developing countries like Brazil and India.

So I guess that rumour about the Mi5 with North American LTE bands isn’t true?

The company will target markets with large populations, a developed e-commerce infrastructure and weak telecom carriers. The last point is important because if large service providers give consumers significant handset subsidies, the edge Xiaomi gains by selling cheap phones evaporates.

“I would put China No. 1, India two, Indonesia three, then hopefully follow with Brazil and Russia,” [Lin] said. “The developed countries with tightly controlled carrier networks are not in the top five.”

It makes sense to not compete with $199 iPhones, I guess, but it’s disappointing news nonetheless.

Good News: OnePlus One Mini

As the proud owner of a Redmi 1S there’s no question in my mind about the quality of Xiaomi hardware. As for software, however, I think that for North American users the glory days of MIUI have come and gone. MIUI’s best-in-class Privacy Guard has been sucessfully replicated in current versions of CyanogenMod. And we all know what phone ships with CyanogenMod, right?

This morning GizChina brings news of a rumoured new device from OnePlus. It’s not the successor to the OnePlus One—that’s not due until next summer—but a mini version of their current flagship, with a 5 inch screen and Qualcomm 615 processor. I don’t know much about the chip, but I will say that the phablet form factor of the current OnePlus One is really the only thing keeping me from using it as my daily driver. A smaller OPO might well replace my Nexus 5. Maybe my girlfriend’s, too!