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(Pocket-lint) - Hardly anybody knew about a handset maker called Xiaomi in 2013. However, as of last quarter, the relatively unknown Chinese company has become the top smartphone vendor in its home turf.

A report published on 4 August by Canalys, a research firm, has spotlighted Xiaomi and its impressive growth in recent months, which includes beating smartphone titans like Samsung to becoming the top handset maker in China. Xiaomi even became the fifth largest smartphone seller in the world during Q2 2014, when it shipped 15 million smartphones in China, up from 4.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

In other words - Xiaomi growth spiked 240 per cent from the second quarter of last year, causing it to nab 14 per cent of the smartphone market in China. For comparison purposes, Samsung only sold 13.2 million smartphones in China last quarter. That's down from 15.5 million in the year-ago quarter. According to Canalys, aggressive price points, locally relevant software features and services, and targeted marketing helped give Xiaomi a boost.

Xiaomi first made headlines last year after luring a major Google executive: Hugo Barra. He was the vice president of Google’s Android division, and now he is helping Xiaomi build new partnerships and expand. Apart from Barra, Xiaomi is also well-known for shipping handsets that run a customised version of Android called Miui. Anyone can contribute to the design of Miui by submitting feedback online.

READ: High ranking Android exec Hugo Barra departs Google

Xiaomi releases a new version of the Miui mobile operating system every week, complete with updates inspired by the feedback it recieves. The company is able to supply a regular round of updates by making money from apps, games, various internet services, etc. In fact, Xiaomi hardly makes anything from phones, because the company puts a price tag on them for around the same amount it costs to buy and put together materials.

That said, with so many recent success under its belt, Xiaomi plans to expand into 10 new markets this year alone. Those markets include Brazil, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.

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Writing by Elyse Betters. Originally published on 5 August 2014.