Xiaomi has become one of the top 5 smartphone companies in China, and the company’s phones have also become popular in other markets including India and Singapore. But while Xiaomi sells a handful of gadgets in the US including a media streaming box for TVs, battery packs, and headphones, the company has yet to officially bring its phones to the US.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, that could change this year. Or maybe next year.

According to the paper, Xiaomi chairman said the company plans “to start entering the market by end 2018, or by early 2019.”

The US market presents challenges for a company like Xiaomi, which has made a name for itself by offering high-quality hardware at low prices and placing an emphasis on software and services.

Most smartphone customers in the US are used to buying phones from a wireless carrier and either getting a discounted price or paying for their phone in monthly installments so that a $900 phone doesn’t feel like a $900 phone (since you’re “only” paying $20 or $30 a month for it… on top of your data plan).

But over the past few years we’ve seen a growing number of options in the US for buying your own phone and bringing it to the carrier of your choice. Companies like BLU seem to be having success in the budget unlocked smartphone space, while OnePlus and Google have been selling unlocked premium phones.

Meanwhile Chinese phone makers ZTE and Huawei (with its Honor sub-brand) have been going after the mid-range space, which is where I suspect Xiaomi will try to compete if and when it does enter the US market.

Another key difference between the US and Chinese smartphone landscape? The Google Play Store doesn’t operate in China, which gives companies like Xiaomi more leeway to introduce their own app stores for Android devices (as well as custom apps and user interface skins).

It’s unclear to me whether the company’s MIUI user interface and app ecosystem would be as popular in the US as it has been in China.

But I’d love to find out. Xiaomi has been one of the more exciting Chinese consumer electronics companies to watch in recent years… but for the most part I’ve been watching from the sidelines since most of the company’s phones have limited support for US wireless networks.

Then again, maybe we’re jumping the gun here. This isn’t the first time we’d heard that Xiaomi was going to enter the US phone market “soon.”

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9 replies on “This might be the year Xiaomi enters the US smartphone market… or maybe next year”

  1. Well, I do know that Apple, Nokia, and other companies are really interested in suing Xiaomi for royalties (past and future)…. so it’s a delicate tightrope situation.

    With AndroidOne device and protection from Qualcomm and Google’s Patent Portfolio, they should be fine. But what they really want is to bring their Xiaomi phones with MediaTek SoC and MIUI custom OS.

    1. MediaTek and MIUI are the main reasons I would not be interested in Xiaomi phones. As for the spying, is it better to have China spy on you or the USA? I am not sure.

      1. Depends how bad your English is.
        If its bad, the FBI Agent living in your webcam won’t understand but the Chinese MSS will.

  2. All these phone companies appear to be all shifting away from the needs of the consumer. There’s very little that distinguishes them. Non-removable batteries, 18:9 aspect ratios, no front-firing speakers, (increasingly) no headphone jacks, (increasingly) more data-mining… Don’t know much about Xiaomi but I expect that they’re cut from the same cloth.

    1. Yes, they are. But the difference is that they cost a third less.

      I am a semi happy xiaomi user for 2 years now. I had 2 phones. Redmi note 4 and redmi note 2. Both phones are feature-rich and under 200 USD. But there are a couple of caveats.
      1) build quality isn’t great. Screen comes lose and I cracked both screens. But I didn’t use a case. I think it is a must
      2) MIUI is a crap OS. And it collects a lot of data. This wasn’t a problem for me with the redmi note 4 as I bought the snapdragon version which is flashable with Lineage OS. But it isn’t an easy procedure.

      If you buy the right model and use a case, it’s pretty good.

  3. A couple of years ago I might have cared. Now I’m more interested in the possibility of Android One for updates. That or perhaps Nokia.
    Think where Nokia would be now if that little Microsoft mole-rat hadn’t sold them down the river.

  4. They need to sell accessories in the US before they introduce phones. Become a recognized name. They should buy Anker or some well know wall adapter company and build on that image. Lenovo has had great success (relatively) at buying troubled US brands and selling new products.
    Or they could just try to sell a qualcomm chipset phone at a discount like LeECO and lose a ton of money trying to gain market share.

      1. Samsung and LG have great brand recognition. I have a Samsung TV, Samsung dish washer, and LG Tone headset and LG phone. Do Xiaomi mi band customers want a phone to go with their inexpensive activity band? Maybe if they had 2 or 3 other good products they would be willing to take the risk to buy a phone.

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