Technically, it’s not a formal entry. Heck, it’s not even “legit”, but Xiaomi fans in the US will probably take what they can. The Chinese superstar OEM has, for a long time, signified its desire to enter the US smartphone market but hasn’t made any concrete steps to do so. Sensing a business opportunity, carrier US Mobile, which uses T-Mobile’s network, has just added a couple of Xiaomi’s, as well as Meizu‘s, smartphones to its shelves. But in a blink of an eye, they were gone, probably because of their shady nature.
Why is Xiaomi such a big name in the smartphone market? To put it simply, it’s because of their “bang for buck” proposition. While Xiaomi’s flagships might not be able to challenge the likes of Samsung or Apple head on, their devices are usually dirt cheap in comparison and you get a lot more than you’re money’s worth. Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi, Meizu, and Huawei have also been stepping up their game, putting more established brands on notice.
That said, those smartphones, desirable and inexpensive they may be, are more often than not out of reach of US consumers. While it is certainly possible to get a hold of them via other means, like international resellers, those don’t always carry the convenience and peace of mind that a local retailer, not to mention carrier, offers. That was probably the spiel that US Mobil was trying to make. But it might have bitten more than it could chew.
Aside from being a less known carrier, US Mobile’s Xiaomi and Meizu devices aren’t completely tuned for the US. In particular, US LTE bands are not supported, so no fast data connection available. There is some speculation that US Mobile is practically just playing the middle man, importing the devices into the country without Xiaomi’s blessing.
US Mobile offered the Xiaomi Mi 4 for $219, the Xiaomi Mi 3 for $135, and the Xiaomi Redmi 2 for $119. The Meizu Note 2, on the other hand, went for $149. By no means are these underdog models, even though the Mi 4 is a 2014 device. That smartphone pretty much stands up to mid-range devices these days, in both specs and price, with a 5.0-inch Full HD screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 16 or 64 GB of storage.
Those are all gone now, for better or for worse. Given the dubious light that was cast on US Mobile, it might have been for the better. Perhaps the upcoming Xiaomi Mi 5, which will be announced on 24th February, has a better chance of making it to these shores. Maybe.