Xiaomi started off 2014 as a Chinese upstart unbeknownst to most Westerners. However, after unseating Samsung from the top position in the Chinese market in Q2 and becoming the 3rd most popular smartphone manufacturer in the world by Q3, you had to be living under a rock not to have heard of the four-year old Chinese OEM. It has since become the most valuable tech startup in the world with expectations befitting a company with such a title. Xiaomi's meteoric rise in growth has prompted investors and technology enthusiasts to clamor for a wider release of its relatively cheap but flagship quality handsets outside of China. While Westerners lament their inability to purchase Xiaomi phones the Chinese company has heard our cries and are giving UK citizens a chance to taste the company's offerings.
As of May 19th Xiaomi is launching a beta test of its online accessory store with a limited quantity sale in the UK, giving Xiaomi hopefuls the ability to purchase Mi branded accessories in the absence of a full-fledged release of its smartphones. Xiaomi will be offering the reasonably priced 5,000 mAh and 10,400 mAh Mi power banks, the Mi Band fitness tracker, and Mi Headphones. The ridiculously cheap ($14.99) Mi Band keeps both its design and functionality simple. The IP67 water and dust resistant band confines itself to tracking sleep and activity patterns for an estimated 30-days on a single charge; a no muss no fuss solution for the health and fitness conscious.
The Mi Headphones are probably the most interesting product of the bunch. The slightly more expensive ($79.99) Mi Headphones are incredibly striking; crafted out of aluminum with a rose gold finish, black accents, and braided cables these headphones will certainly turn some heads. The semi-open design with 50mm diaphragms, ultra-low 32 ohm impedance, and low distortion make it seem like the company has also put some effort into ensuring these headphones produce quality sound. They also come bundled with three replaceable on-ear and over-ear cushions, a very nice addition.
Unfortunately any products purchased during the sale will be coming directly from China, therefore, import duties and taxes may be applied. Fortunately Xiaomi displays these costs at checkout and will handle the payment of taxes and duties. Duties and taxes are unavoidable when importing from foreign markets, at least Xiaomi is being proactive and upfront about it. Head over to Mi.com to check out what Xiaomi has to offer.
Although we patiently await the coming of Xiaomi handsets, the accessory sale indicates the firm clearly has international markets in their sights. The sale of accessories before smartphones actually makes sense from a product certification standpoint; it does takes much longer to get a smartphone certified for a new market than a pair of headphones or otherwise. The pertinent question is no longer if, but when, Xiaomi smartphones will eventually spread to European and NA markets. Given the quality of the accessories Xiaomi has on offer, many consumers will be waiting in anticipation for this to happen.