Xiaomi's latest and greatest won't be making their way to global markets.
Xiaomi announced the Mi Note 2 and the bezel-less Mi Mix at an extravagant launch event in China. The Mi Note 2 is the successor to last year's Mi Note and offers high-end internals in the form of a 5.7-inch QHD dual curved display, 2.35GHz Snapdragon 821, up to 6GB of RAM, 128GB storage, 22.56MP rear camera, 8MP front shooter, and a 4070mAh battery.
The Mi Note 2 looks impressive, especially when you consider the fact that the high-end model with 6GB of RAM and 128 gigs of storage retails for the equivalent of $515. The Mi Mix surpasses all of that with its edgeless display, with the phone boasting a 91.3% screen-to-body ratio.
Xiaomi had to innovate in several areas to cram a 6.4-inch screen in a chassis that's not larger than an average 5.7-inch phone. In doing so, it switched out the proximity sensor with an ultrasonic distance sensor, moved the front camera sensor to the bottom of the screen, and used a piezoelectric ceramic driver in lieu of the earpiece. What initially started out as a concept turned into a functioning product, and Xiaomi is set to kick off sales of the Mi Mix in China for what amounts to $590.
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Now for the not-so-fun part. Xiaomi has announced that it will not sell either phone outside of China. While that was to be expected considering Xiaomi's primary focus is on its home market, but there was a belief that the company would launch its latest offerings in India, Singapore, or Malaysia. That won't be the case, as Xiaomi is targeting the enthusiast segment in China.
The Mi Note 2 is catered to the enthusiast segment in China.
Xiaomi stuck to a similar strategy last year with the Mi Note. This time around, there's a lot of interest in the Mi Note 2 given its global LTE support, making the phone compatible with carriers around the globe. The Mi Note — much like Samsung's Galaxy Note series — isn't meant to sell as much as the mainstream Mi 5s. It is instead a halo device that represents the best that Xiaomi has to offer right now. Most of the refinements we've seen in the Mi Note last year were carried over to the Mi 5, and it is likely we'll see the same with next year's flagship in the Mi series.
Since we're on the subject of Samsung, the design of the Mi Note 2 — with the dual curved sides at the front and back — is eerily similar to that of the discontinued Note 7. Xiaomi undoubtedly worked on the phone for several months, but it is uncanny to see the phone resemble the Note 7 to such an extent.
The Mi Mix will understandably sold in very limited quantities. Ceramic has a price.
As for the Mi Mix, the phone will be sold in limited quantities, which makes sense considering its ceramic design and its overall design. The product looks like something Xiaomi designed to showcase its technical prowess, and while it looks fantastic, it probably won't be the most usable device. But there is the chance that we'll see an iteration of the Mi Mix designed for the mainstream audience a few years down the line.
In a Reddit thread, Xiaomi India product head Jai Mani offered up reasons for why the Mix won't go on sale outside of China:
The answer is limited quantity mostly, but it is a bit out there in terms of design. Will people accept having the selfie camera on the bottom? What about the edge detection? ETC. It may sound trivial, but selfies are incredibly important in China.
However, we did want to show that it's not a fake phone.
It's still a concept so I don't think it really makes sense to launch it in other markets. Also we're still a really small team in India. We have to consider each product very very carefully given our limited resources.
Mani also talked about after-sales service and certification in various markets as additional reasons for not launching the phone in other regions:
After sales and certification are the primary reasons. Also shipping time/cost is another smaller one. I think there are potentially some ways around these issues, such as being up front about support and shipping times, but it's not completely clear on how to do it.
The other complication is the manual and labelling. Some countries have pretty specific requirements on both (need to list screen size in centimeters, local price, various lab ratings like SAR value, etc.).
Then there's the pricing issue. Even though the phone has a high price tag when compared to other Xiaomi products, it's likely the company isn't making any money on the handset. Xiaomi rolled out a ceramic version of the Mi 5 earlier this year, and while the phone was sold in limited quantities, the company ended up losing money on each unit sold.
Although the Mi Note 2 and Mi Mix will be limited to China, there's a high likelihood that they'll pop up on third-party sellers like GearBest or HonorBuy. So even if you won't be able to buy the products officially, you can get them imported. The downside in doing so is the lack of support when it comes to software updates. That's the price to pay for cutting-edge tech.
Update: Mani updated his Reddit comment, which now states that the phone won't be debuting in India. However, in a statement to Phone Scoop, Xiaomi global VP Hugo Barra clarified that the Mi Note 2 won't be sold outside of China:
Xiaomi's Hugo Barra says the Mi Note 2 is strictly to be a Chinese phone. It won't even be sold anywhere else in Asia. So why bother giving the phone such awesome US LTE support?
According to Barra, Xiaomi's customers often travel to the US with China-specific phones and are stuck browsing the web on EDGE when they get to the States. In other words, the Mi Note 2 World Edition was made with Chinese citizens who often travel to the US in mind.