In a sizable launch event it held in Shenzhen earlier today, Chinese tech giant Xiaomi unveiled a number of devices to the public, including its flagship lineup of smartphones for 2018 - the Mi 8 series - a new fitness band, a smart TV and a VR headset.
The company announced not one, but three different variants of its Mi 8 flagship smartphone, but unlike the mess of branding and ill-conceived technobabble expected with such a move, there's actually a very clear and well-defined distinctions between them, as you'll read below.
All of these are powered by MIUI 10, the latest iteration of Xiaomi's custom flavor of Android 8.1. It is to come with a series of improvements to the camera software, all backed by the latest industry buzzword that is "AI", and will also sport a number of changes to its UI, among which are a new task switcher, and an increased emphasis on a gestures-driven interface.
In terms of common caveats, all three devices will come with a display notch and will be missing a headphone jack in favor of a single USB type-C port, so ye of faint heart, you have been warned.
Firstly, the regular Mi 8 is fairly self-explanatory. It's the company's top-specced offering for 2018 with all the bells and whistles one would come to expect in a top-of-the-line handset in 2018.
|Storage||64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB|
|Camera||Dual-12MP rear shooters, 20MP front-facing camera|
|Display||6.21" AMOLED screen from Samsung, 2248 x 1080 resolution|
|Price||Starting at RMB2699 ($420)|
Aside from these, the Mi 8 will also come with a fingerprint sensor in the back and a shiny new dual-frequency GPS sensor that Xiaomi claims will boost accuracy and signal reception. Xiaomi also boasts that its camera setup has achieved a DxO Mark score of 99, with a score of 105 in the photography department along.
Though it's great to see OEMs gun for better shooters in their flagships every year, it's also prudent to wait for preliminary test results before buying into claims such as these.
The Mi 8 will be available in China from June 5.
Mi 8 Explorer Edition
The Mi 8 Explorer Edition is a step-up from the regular Mi 8 in a number of ways. It comes with the same SoC as its smaller sibling, but ups the RAM and internal storage count to 8 GB and 128 GB respectively.
The actual icing on the cake here would be the inclusion of not only a seemingly sophisticated infrared-based 3D-facial recognition system for unlocking the device (much like the iPhone X), but also the presence of a pressure-sensitive in-display fingerprint sensor (completely unlike the iPhone X). On top of all this, the rear panel of the phone is transparent, allowing one a glimpse of the device's internals.
The Mi 8 Explorer Edition will be priced at RMB3799 ($600), but there's no word yet on its availability.
Mi 8 SE
The Mi 8 SE is the third 'budget' offering in the line up, with the primary advantage to consumers coming in the form of an overall smaller form factor, sporting a 5.88" Samsung-made AMOLED screen. It will also be the first handset to come with a Snapdragon 710 chip on the inside, a chip that should turn out to be quite adequate, given it's the successor to the beefy Snapdragon 660.
It will set you back RMB1799 ($280), and will be sold in China starting on the 8th of June.
All The Other Stuff
Aside from its lineup of flagship smartphones, Xiaomi has also announced a number of updates to its fitness band, its Smart TV selection and has also outed an all-new VR headset. There's no word yet on their availability, and the pricing for the headset is also currently missing.
Mi Band 3
The Mi Band 3 is the company's third iteration of its fitness tracker lineup, with its predecessors having gained a good deal of popularity for their pricing.
Standard-issue features include the ability to receive messages and call notifications and access to Xiaomi's suite of health management apps. It sports a 0.78" OLED screen, a marked jump in size from the Mi Band 2's 0.42" one. The device will also come with water resistance to a depth of up to 50m, and a hefty 20-day battery life, and will cost you a paltry RMB170 ($27).
Mi TV 4
Xiaomi has announced its newest smart TV, the Mi TV 4, with a 75" LED display with 4K resolution and support for HDR content. It's also to come with its own voice assistant built-in.
The Mi TV 4 will cost you a solid RMB8999 ($1400).
Mi VR Standalone
Xiaomi has also debuted its very first VR headset, and as the name suggests, it is designed to work on its own, without a smartphone dropped into it or the need of external sensors and cables. It seems to be little other than a rebranded Oculus Go, though, with a 2K display and a Snapdragon 821 chip underneath, powered by a 2600 mAh battery.
Given the sheer number of products Xiaomi has deemed appropriate to drop on consumers in one go, it can understandably be a lot to take in, but everything above ought to act as a quick summary of the event.
Do bear in mind that while many of the products above do have concrete release dates, that doesn't necessarily translate to global availability, at least not all at the same time.