Xiaomi has announced that it is launching in the UK, as the Chinese company looks to expand global availability of its devices.
In recent years we've seen a number of Chinese companies looking to challenge the established brands like LG and Samsung. Huawei, for example, Oppo and now Xiaomi, the fourth largest smartphone brand in the world.
But who is Xiaomi, what will it be offering and should you be excited?
How do you say "Xiaomi"?
Xiaomi - 小米 - literally means green millet or little rice, a staple of the Chinese diet. The word Xiaomi is actually the Anglicised version of the Chinese, Xiaomi tells us.
The slightly awkward thing is phonically "X" is usually "ex" or "zee" in English, and it's neither of those sounds, it's a "sh" instead.
The easiest way to approach it is to break the word down into Xiao-mi. The "mi" part it easy, it’s like "me", so we can forget that.
Xiao is like the "show" part in the word "shower" (not like show as in Broadway). It's the central sound that causes the problem - like "ow, I've hit my thumb".
Put the two parts together and you have Xiaomi - Sh-ow-mi.
Who is Xiaomi?
Xiaomi is a Chinese company founded in 2010 that would consider itself to be a software company. Based in Beijing, the company was founded by billionaire and entrepreneur Lei Jun, having previously been CEO of Kingsoft, a software giant, behind applications like WPS Office.
One of Xiaomi's early ventures was MIUI, ROM software for Android phones, at a time when Android wasn't totally consumer friendly. The company built its reputation and gained fans in smartphones with regular updates and a community-based approach, with software very much at the heart of things. MIUI still runs on most Xiaomi phones.
The company now offers a full range of smartphones for which it is best known, but also offers a wider ecosystem of devices. Many of the Xiaomi branded devices are made by third parties, but Xiaomi invests and supports in these third-party companies to bring these products to market.
One of the founding principles of Xiaomi is that good technology shouldn't cost you a lot of money and the company pledges not to make more than 5 per cent profit on hardware sales.
What phones will Xiaomi offer in the UK?
Xiaomi will be offering the following phones in the UK:
- Mi 8 Pro for £499.99
- Mi 8 for £459
- Mi 8 Lite for £249
- Mi A2 for £249
- Mi A2 Lite for £179
- Pocophone F1 for £329
Xiaomi confirmed that the Redmi 6A will be available - these are a Xiaomi's cheaper handsets - and it will be available exclusively through Three. There will also be a Smart Living Bundle that pairs up the Redmi 6A and the Mi Band 3 for just £99 from Three.
What other devices are Xiaomi bringing to the UK?
Xiaomi offers everything from luggage to fitness trackers. As we said, these are all from the wider ecosystem, rather than being manufactured by Xiaomi themselves, but they stick to the same principle of offering good value for money.
There's a full range of Xiaomi devices coming to the UK, including the Mi Electric Scooter, but there are also laptops and accessories, a smart kettle, short throw projector, air purifiers, luggage - a whole range of different products.
Where will Xiaomi devices be available?
Three is running as the first network partner for Xiaomi devices, so if you're looking to get a handset on contract, that's likely to be the first port of call.
You'll also be able to buy Xiaomi devices directly through Xiaomi's e-commerce channels in the UK, meaning that you don't have to buy grey imports or direct from China any more. But there will be a whole range of other retailers selling Xiaomi products, including Carphone Warehouse, Argos, John Lewis and more.
Xiaomi will also be opening a retail store in Westfield in West London, so you can see what you're buying. The store will be opening in 18 November.