According to a recent report originating from China, Xiaomi plans to release a rugged smartphone within the first half of 2018. The report mentions a “three-defense” system which would indicate that the smartphone could be dust, water, and shock-resistant, and as a result, it would become Xiaomi’s first handset to offer a noteworthy IP rating.
As more smartphone manufacturers including Samsung and Apple have started creating devices with some level of dust and water resistance, Xiaomi might be persuaded into doing the same before the end of 2018. The company’s CEO Lei Jun previously discussed the possibility of a waterproof smartphone back in 2016 and explained why his company has yet to offer this type of a product. He argued that a waterproof device can still easily lose this capability in situations where it’s been dropped and damaged, and further added that building a waterproof smartphone would ramp up production costs. The CEO also said that if customers would be willing to pay 20 to 30 percent more than they currently do for a Xiaomi device, the company would consider creating such a phone. In other words, although a waterproof device was not entirely off the table, Xiaomi’s philosophy for creating high-quality phones carrying affordable launch prices would be put at risk by this particular change in design. With that in mind, and assuming that Xiaomi is now working on a waterproof smartphone for 2018, it’s unclear whether the product’s launch price will actually be higher or if the relevant technology became affordable enough to not impact the ultimate cost cited to consumers.
Given the fairly wide scope of the company, there’s also the possibility that this device will take the form of a full-fledged rugged handset wrapped in an industrial design, so it may not be just a regular flagship treated with a notable IP rating. Not to mention that a truly rugged device would technically be capable of surviving drops on hard surfaces and retain its waterproofing. It could also be more of a niche device with shock resistance given the rumored “three-defense” design and not necessarily a response to most of Xiaomi's rivals adopting a decent IP rating for their latest smartphones.