The Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi is known for "hunger marketing" their devices; in other words, releasing relatively small quantities into the market ostensibly because they're a small manufacturer and are unable to afford the mass production that larger competitors use. As I've already written this is a clever marketing strategy and one that is helping Xiaomi expand out of China: as a business, if you know that you can make a limited number of handsets and have every single one sold, that makes a lot of sense. Xiaomi have modified their marketing for the introduction of their handsets to the more developed markets but I'll write about this a little later.
The news here is that yesterday at noon local time, Xiaomi released a batch of 'phones into an unsuspecting Chinese market. That's right, there was no notice. In total, 100,000 of the beautiful high end Mi4 3G handset, 100,000 of the low end Redmi 1S 4G and 20,000 Redmi Note 4G were released. We know that the Mi4 was sold out. Sure; China is a massive Android market but Xiaomi is pushing the upgraded 4G Mi4 model through certification with the Chinese authorities. It's due next month. Way to go Xiaomi at capturing peoples' mindshare and keeping them locked on your website! It's unclear if Xiaomi have more 3G Mi4s locked in a warehouse somewhere but there's still demand for the handset even with the 4G model on the horizon.
I should quantify my statement above when I described the Mi4 as a beautiful high-end handset. To refresh, the Mi4 comes with a 1080p 5.0-inch screen, a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, 3 GB of RAM, a Sony-supplied 13 MP rear camera and an 8 MP front camera for your selfies. It's powered by a 3,080 mAh battery; on paper, the Mi4 is at least the equivalent of most of the more well known 2014 flagship handsets such as the Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8). Xiaomi have given the Mi4 a stainless steel frame with a glass front screen and a choice of replaceable backs, including wood. Software wise, the Xiaomi flagship runs Android Kit Kat with the MIUI 5 interface, due to be updated to MIUI 6 soon. The updated version adds 4G LTE and increases the RAM from 16 GB to 64 GB. About the only thing not to like is limited stock!
We've still no word if or when the 3G Mi4 will be released in the US or UK markets, never mind the 4G version. Xiaomi have introduced the 3G handset to the Italian market but have not used their batch marketing approach: instead, it's available on the Italian Xiaomi website for just under â‚¬400. There's no word on when the 4G version will be released. Given Xiaomi's very successful hunger marketing and reluctance to mass manufacture the devices, I'm not holding my breath.