China’s Xiaomi lifts the lid on its first 5G smartphone with a sliding camera
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has unveiled its first 5G phone, priced far lower than any of its counterparts.
Xiaomi's director of product management Donovan Sung told attendees at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the Mi Mix 3 5G will start at €599 (£520) when it launches in May.
By way of comparison, Samsung's 5G phone which was revealed earlier this week will start at $1,980 (£1,516).
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"We think this is one of the most competitive prices for a 5G smartphone today and it’s going to be available very, very soon," said Sung.
A variant of Xiaomi's Mi Mix 3 from October last year, the new phone will come with a 5G modem and chipset powered by Qualcomm. Specifically, it'll include the 855 Snapdragon chip, which offers 45 per cent higher performance and is also found in Samsung's new Galaxy S10 range.
In an attempt to avoid the need for a hole-punch display or notch, the front-facing camera will slide up from the rear of the phone.
Sung said this results in a 93.4 per cent screen-to-body ratio, and with the power of a 5G network, the phone will be able to download a 15-minute 1080p video or 26 songs in just one second.
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"5G is here. Not in 2020, not in late 2020 – it’s here right now in 2019. 2019 is the year of 5G," added Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon, who also spoke at the event. He predicted 5G phones will be in widespread use by the second quarter of this year.
The Mi Mix 3 5G will be available in some European and Asian countries later this year on networks such as Three, Telefonica's O2 and Vodafone, but not in the US where the company has yet to make a splash.
Here we go! Full Xiaomi 5G phone, available from May at €599 (a lot cheaper than counterparts). #MWC19 pic.twitter.com/hOGlm7xhXb
— Emily Nicolle (@emilyjnicolle) February 24, 2019
Now the world's fourth largest smartphone maker, Xiaomi's head of international business Wang Xiang said the firm has 224m monthly active users of its phones.
Read more: Huawei takes ground from Apple and Samsung in smartphone war
Xiaomi also used its slot at MWC to show a little more of its latest flagship phone Mi 9, which features a triple camera set and a curved back. It also revealed the Mi LED smart lightbulb, which will be similarly cheaper than other offerings in the sector.
The firm, which entered the UK with a store in London in November, said it crossed $15bn in annual revenue in 2017, just seven years after launching. Comparatively, Google took nine years to reach this milestone, and Apple nearly two decades.
PP Foresight analyst Paolo Pescatore said Xiaomi's focus on Europe "sets it apart from other Chinese rivals". Huawei, which claimed the top spot in smartphone rankings this week, has experienced difficulty in gaining approval from regulators outside of China due to security concerns.