Xiaomi Corp. took the wraps off its strongest contender yet to the iPhone, a 2,599 yuan ($390) plus-sized device with dual cameras and a pressure-sensitive screen that’s less than half the price of Apple Inc.’s top-of-the-line model.
With the 5.7-inch Mi 5S Plus, Xiaomi, once known as a purveyor of inexpensive but innovative phones, is taking aim at fans of premium devices. It’s the Chinese startup’s most powerful device, sporting one of Qualcomm Inc.’s speediest processors as well as 6 gigabytes of memory. With a screen that detects varying degrees of pressure -- much like Apple’s 3D Touch -- and 13-megapixel cameras, it stacks up well against the iPhone in the specifications department.
Xiaomi needs a hit. It’s slipped behind Huawei Technologies Co. and Oppo in a home market it once dominated, while efforts to make headway in Latin America and India have stalled. Samsung Electronics Co.’s global recall of the Note 7 opens a window of opportunity not just for Apple, but also for Xiaomi to try and wrest market share away from the global leader.
“We were aiming to challenge Samsung and Apple in camera capability. With the Mi 5S, I believe we beat both of them," co-founder and chief executive Lei Jun said at a launch event in Beijing at which it also introduced a 65-inch, 4K smart television.