Xiaomi does a Samsung, aims for premium market

Xiaomi is making a transition from producing cheap mid-range phones to launching new premium phones with steeper price tags.

Xiaomi's VP of International Hugo Barra says the company is going through the transition to reach out to customers who are demanding better smartphones from the company.

"When you look at...the prices of our products, they have been going up. Our customers are demanding premium products from us, so we are delivering higher quality with more premium components," he said at Xiaomi's Mi Home centre in Hong Kong.

After Huawei's Kirin, Xiaomi's Rifle to rival Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips

The company's change in outlook must have also occurred thanks to fellow Chinese phone maker Oppo toppling it to the fourth place in global smartphone sales rankings compiled by IC Insights. Other rivals like Vivo and LG are close behind and new sellers like Meizu, TCL and Micromax are also closing in as we speak. The worrying part is that while Huawei and Oppo are expected to increase their smartphone sales by 29 per cent and 54 per cent respectively in 2016 compared to last year, Xiaomi is expected to increase its sales by a meagre 6 per cent.

To fulfil its ambition to bring in more premium products, Xiaomi launched a Mi 5 Pro variant recently which cost in excess of £300 and came with impressive specifications like a 5.15-inch Full HD display, the latest Snapdragon 820 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage and a 3,000 mAh battery. According to Patently Apple, the company is also working on a new Mi Max phablet with a 6.4-inch display and which will cost a third of the price of iPhone 6sPlus.

Xiaomi launches Mi 5, another mid-ranger with premium specs

Apart from bringing in premium phones, Xiaomi is also working on new experience centres in China which are based on the Apple Store  retail model. The company has already opened one such store in Hong Kong and hopes to open up several new stores in China. The company is also investing in a home-frown smartphone processor named Rifle to reduce its dependence on foreign suppliers, notably Qualcomm, and in turn cut costs and reduce prices further.

By developing the 'Rifle' and more capable chips in the future, Xiaomi will eventually reduce its dependence on Qualcomm's processors and licences and in turn, offer a large number of premium smartphones to buyers at lower prices. As of now, Rifle is being developed with designs licensed from ARM Holdings which have also been used in Qualcomm's, Samsung's and MediaTek's processors. The launch could take place at the same event where Xiaomi is rumoured to launch the 6.4-inch Mi Max phablet.

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