China’s Xiaomi launches in UK, announces £499 Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

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Other Chinese brands such as HTC may be struggling, but Xiaomi has announced bold plans for its international expansion with a UK debut. 

Just a year since launching in Spain, Xiaomi’s European foray continues with its arrival in the UK, spearheaded by the £499 Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro Android flagship phone and the opening of an authorized Mi Store in London’s Westfield shopping centre.

Nor will this simply be a pop up shop for the Mi 8 Pro. The Mi 8 Lite that accompanied the 8 Pro when it launched in China in September will also be coming to the UK and Xiaomi plans to offer a wide selection of other products including the Mi Band 3, a Mi computer mouse, earphones, headphones, a laptop, a pen, various backpacks and luggage, an electric scooter, and a projector. That’s a lot. 

The Mi 8 Pro includes a fingerprint sensor built into the 6.2in AMOLED screen, and dual 12-megapixel rear cameras. It uses the Snapdragon 845 processor and runs on a customised version of Google’s Android operating system.

All are features found on rival high-end phones that can cost more than £700, but Xiaomi is to sell the Mi 8 Pro starting at £499, as part of a strategy it calls “honest pricing”.

Says Wang Xiang, the firm’s senior vice president:

“Today we witness a new chapter in Xiaomi’s global expansion journey, underpinned by our global ambitions. We are thrilled to make great strides by announcing our arrival in the UK.

“By bringing a range of our amazing products at honest pricing we want to offer more choices and let everyone in the UK enjoy a connected simple life through our innovative technology.”

Xiaomi is currently the fourth largest smartphone maker in the world by market share, behind only Samsung, Huawei and Apple. However, the company faces stiff competition to establish itself in a crowded market, with three new iPhones, two Google Pixel 3 handsets and devices from Samsung, Sony and fellow Chinese firms Huawei and OnePlus being released in recent months.

Says Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com: 

“The arrival of Xiaomi to the UK will be met with open arms by consumers who want to get their hands on premium-feel mobiles but balk at the price tags of Apple and Samsung’s most recent handsets.

“Having established its name in Asia and recently entered the European market, the UK seems a natural fit for a manufacturer looking to make waves in the sharp-elbowed mid-tier smartphone market.

“Xiaomi has come out swinging with the global launch of the Mi 8 Pro; from the transparent titanium back design to the nifty in-screen fingerprint sensor, the handset aims to marry serious design flair with strong functionality.

“With the Mi 8 Pro, Xiaomi is looking to position its flagship as a reasonably priced alternative to the big name incumbents. And costing just shy of £500, it has made sure this handset will stand out for all the right reasons.

“This savvy combination of tech and a low price point is likely to cause a stir among their competitors. However, it is yet to be seen if this giant-killer of a brand can similarly up-end the market in the UK.”

 
Chris Price