(Yicai Global) Sept. 25 -- Chinese mobile phone and consumer electronics maker Xiaomi unveiled its new premium handset that adopts fifth-generation wireless mobile network technology in Beijing yesterday.
The retail price of the top-shelf MIX Alpha with a surround display around the entire phone goes as high as CNY19,999 (USD2,811). This move represents the Beijing-based firm's maximum effort thus far to storm the high-end market.
The last time domestic handset makers achieved such a great breakthrough was when Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies introduced its folding phones, which were to have hit the market in July, with the first batch consisting of 100,000 units, but which have not yet come online to date.
This new concept phone adopts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor, with a 512-gigabyte storage and 12-gigabyte random access memory. It supports both the 5G network and every network type from 2G to 4G operated by the top three Chinese telecoms China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. It also accommodates two SIM cards and the device's surround display incorporates screen sound-casting technology. It has three cameras at the rear, with the main one having a 100-million-pixel resolution. The handset's small-scale mass production will begin by December, Lei Jun, Xiaomi's founder and chairman, said at the launch ceremony.
Xiaomi's share price [HKG:1810] fell by over 2 percent at today's market opening and was down 4.29 percent in mid-afternoon at HKD8.93 (USD1.14).
Xiaomi's prospects for future growth will suffer if it hews to the strategy of offering a high price-performance ratio, so the brand must undergo a transformation, home appliance sector analyst Liu Buchen told Yicai Global, adding this high cost-performance ratio strategy will be devolved to its Redmi sub-brand.
The MIX Alpha's three innovative features -- the 100-million-pixel camera, titanium alloy materials and surround display -- will definitely challenge the yield rate and costs of research and development, said James Yan, research director at Hong Kong-based technology market intelligence firm Counterpoint, who added the product has positively influenced the shift of Xiaomi's brand image toward the high-end. Domestic handset buyers, especially Xiaomi users, dote on products replete with technology and they will therefore recognize such brands, he noted.
The general tendency will be for Xiaomi to gradually adopt a strategy of transitioning toward high-end handsets, Li Yaqin, general manager of Beijing-based market research firm Sigmaintell Consulting, told Yicai Global.
Xiaomi has been tarred with the 'price-performance ratio' brush and eradicating this stigma cannot be achieved within the short term. Though it offers an opportunity to profit, the firm will scarcely win recognition from the capital market without shedding this downmarket label, Liu added.
Editors: Chen Juan, Ben Armour