Xiaomi's 2016 flagship phone, the Xiaomi Mi 5 was the first smartphone in the world to ship with Snapdragon 820 SoC, and noticeably, it was the first smartphone in India to power the flagship chip. Xiaomi released three variants of the Mi 5 smartphone in China, but we in India received only one variant of the phone, and that too lower specced one.
Priced at Rs. 24,999, the Xiaomi Mi 5 was also the cheapest smartphone in India to come with Snapdragon 820 SoC, but that stat quickly changed after the LeEco's Le Max 2 launch, which was relatively priced lower at Rs. 22,999 in India.
Xiaomi is now working on its 2017's first flagship phone, the Xiaomi Mi 6. We are saying as 2017's first flagship phone because Xiaomi launched various flagship phones in China, the Xiaomi Mi 5s, Xiaomi Mi Note 2, but they never reached Indian shores. The major question is, Why?
Well, at the launch of the Mi Note 2 and concept phone Mi Mix back in October 2016, Hugo Barra, the company's Global Senior VP, said as follows: "As a company, we have been around for two years in India. We still have a very small portfolio (there). We have one flagship (phone) per year and this year it is the Xiaomi Mi 5. Next year we will have another flagship phone. The flagship phone market in India is still very small.... we want to keep flagship portfolio very tight in India so the new phones are only for the China market."
Those words were harsh, but he saw the insides of Xiaomi Mi 5 sales in India, which later on confirmed to be very low. With that said, Xiaomi decided to not launch the other flagship phones in India, which was not expected by any of us.
Having said that, Xiaomi's Chinese counterpart, OnePlus launched the OnePlus 3 in India with a price tag of Rs. 27,999 in India and it got launched after nearly three months after Xiaomi Mi 5. But surprisingly, the OnePlus 3 did very well than the company expected and that also paved the way for another mid-cycle upgrade phone, OnePlus 3T last month.
What went wrong for Xiaomi here? The pricing was spot on, the phone was very good, we agree, but it is not better than the OnePlus 3 nor Samsung Galaxy S7, but it was the best phone in its price range. However, the sales were not as expected.
What went wrong? The simple answer is: 'Xiaomi budget reputation in India.' Over the course of two years, Xiaomi has marked their name as the best budget phone brand in India. The company's Redmi Note 3 was the best online selling smartphone in India with over 2.5 million units sold in under eight months. At the time of its release, it was the best battery smartphone as well.
Before that, Xiaomi tasted incredible success with their 'affordable' Xiaomi Mi 3 and Redmi 1S. That said, at a point of time, Xiaomi's Manu Kumar Jain stated that they discontinued the much popular Mi 3 to focus on Xiaomi Redmi 1S. That was the interest of Xiaomi in the budget segment.
All the company's mid-range and entry-level phones did exceptionally well, but not the Xiaomi Mi 5. With this huge deciding factor on their sleeves, Xiaomi will be launching their Xiaomi Mi 6 in the near future with incredible specs, as per the rumors.
But this time around, there are several changes within the company itself. Hugo Barra, the chief architect of the company's global growth, is no more associated with them. In fact, he will still continue as an advisor to the enterprise, but there will be a huge difference.
Rumors say that the Xiaomi Mi 6 will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, 6GB of RAM, dual cameras, dual edge display, so on. But, will the Xiaomi Mi 6 make any sense to Indian customers?
Of course, the pricing of the phone will be bumped this time. We are expecting the phone to be priced at Rs. 29,999 for the base variant itself. Huh! When the Xiaomi Mi 5 released, my brother asked me a question: Will people invest Rs. 25,000 on a Chinese phone? I answered him with a loud voice saying: Of course, Yes. But, I was proven wrong.
We are saying it again. The phone was great, indeed the best one in the price tag. But, being a Xiaomi phone and bearing a price tag of above Rs. 20,000 was the major setback. We are expecting the same case with the Xiaomi Mi 6 as well. But, Xiaomi can't keep the prices at Rs. 10,000 for all the devices.
All said and done, Xiaomi should give a try again with the Xiaomi Mi 6 for the Indian consumers, but if it fails again, they should not look after to fill the flagship shoes in upcoming years.