Xiaomi Mi Note challenges Apple's iPhone 6 Plus with similar features

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Xiomi CEO Lei Jun play

Xiomi CEO Lei Jun

(Reuters)

During the launch in Beijing on Thursday, January 15, 2015, Chief Executive, Lei Jun, introduced the Xiaomi Mi Note with a breakdown of the large-screen phone's technical features, with comparisons to Apple's equivalent.

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Chinese device maker, Xiaomi Inc has challenged Apple Inc's position as the world's third biggest smartphone manufacturer and most valuable tech start-up, as it unveiled the flagship Mi Note, similar to Apple's iPhone 6 Plus.

During the launch in Beijing on Thursday, January 15, 2015, Chief Executive, Lei Jun, introduced the Xiaomi Mi Note with a breakdown of the large-screen phone's technical features, with comparisons to Apple's equivalent.

At $371 for a model with 16GB memory, the Mi Note will retail for almost two-thirds less than the iPhone 6 Plus.

The dual-SIM and dual-standby Xiaomi Mi Note with Micro-SIM and Nano-SIM card support features a 5.7-inch full-HD (1080x1920 pixels) Sharp JDI display offering a pixel density of 386ppi. It also packs Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The handset sports metal frames. The phablet is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5GHz alongside 3GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU. The Xiaomi Mi Note also supports 4G LTE connectivity and is backed by a 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 technology.

Jun also revealed that the new Xiaomi Note features a 2.5D glass at the front while the back features 3D glass for protection. The phablet is just 7.1mm thin and weighs 161 grams.

Barely 3 years after Xiaomi sold its first smartphone, a $1.1 billion round of fund raising announced in December valued the firm at $45 billion. The privately held company has risen to become the world's No. 3 smartphone maker and is challenging Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as well as domestic rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

Xiaomi takes efforts to play down comparisons with California-based Apple, though it is commonly called the 'Apple of China'.

"The Mi Note is shorter, thinner and lighter than the iPhone," Lei told his audience of thousands gathered in the north of China's capital.

Lei wore a light-blue shirt, ditching his previously favoured black top, jeans and sneakers, reminiscent of Apple founder Steve Jobs' trademark black turtleneck and jeans.

"Xiaomi is an innovative start-up company, with a short history," said Lei. The company has been frequently criticised for allegedly copying other tech companies, most notably Apple. "In 10 years we will have tens of thousands of patents."

Lei also laid out Xiaomi's strategy to connect its smartphones with Xiaomi-branded home appliances, allowing phone users to remotely control washing machines, air purifiers and surveillance cameras.

"In five to 10 years all devices will become smart devices," he said. "If every smart device and every device at home can be seamlessly connected to the cloud, what could our life be like? It would be beautiful and easy."

The company sold more than 61 million handsets in 2014, up 227 percent from a year earlier. In China, the world's biggest smartphone market, overall sales fell 8 percent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

On Monday, Reuters exclusively reported that Lei and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed a potential investment by Facebook in China's top smartphone maker ahead of last month's fundraising, but a deal never materialised.

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