Xiaomi Unveils Bigger Screen to Challenge Apple, Samsung

Xiaomi Corp., the smartphone maker that outsells Apple Inc. in China, will release a new model featuring a 5-inch screen next week as the company targets Samsung Electronics Co. in the market for larger mobile phones.

The Mi4 will start at 1,999 yuan ($322) for a device with 16 gigabytes of memory, Xiaomi founder and Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun said at a press conference in Beijing today. The smartphone will have a stainless-steel frame and high-definition screen, and also be sold through carrier China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. beginning July 29.

The four-year-old company is broadening its lineup of smartphones, tablets, televisions and routers to escalate competition with Samsung and Apple, which is said to be preparing iPhones with larger screens. Xiaomi is pushing outside of China into new markets -- including India, Brazil and Russia -- and the company unveiled its first tablet, the Mi Pad, in May.

“We want to offer first-rate innovation that everyone in the world enjoys and create an international brand that every Chinese is proud of,” Lei said.

Xiaomi, which has been valued at $10 billion, almost quadrupled phone unit sales in the first half of this year, surpassing the total amount of devices the company sold in 2013. The company sold 26 million smartphones in the first half of this year, almost four times the 7.03 million devices sold in the same period a year ago.

China Mobile

Xiaomi in April set a target to boost phone shipments to 100 million units next year. Xiaomi has depended on sales through its own website, though Lei said the new Mi4 also will be sold through China Telecom Corp. starting next month and China Mobile Ltd. starting in September.

Revenue in the first half of this year more than doubled to 33 billion yuan from 13.3 billion yuan a year ago, the company said this month.

In the first quarter, Xiaomi was among the top three smartphone vendors in China, according to estimates from researcher Canalys. The Beijing-based company was the sixth-largest globally, even as 97 percent of its sales come from China, Canalys said.

Xiaomi’s valuation hit $10 billion with a fundraising round last August, the closely held company said at the time.

— With assistance by Edmond Lococo, and Sarah Chen

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