Xiaomi is taking on Apple with its Mi 4 smartphone

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Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone brand which has an Apple-like reputation in its home country, has announced the Mi 4, it’s latest and most impressive smartphone to date. Teased late last week, we were expecting a premium device with a metal chassis. It turns out we were half right. The Mi 4 has a stainless steel frame, which holds a curved plastic rear cover, and a 5-inch IPS display panel together. Not quite the metal beast we hoped for, but certainly a step in the right direction. Xiaomi has chosen a Snapdragon 801 processor running at 2.5GHz to power the phone, making it identical to most flagship Android phones released this year, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the LG G3. It has paired the chip with 3GB of RAM and a choice of either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage memory.

Xiaomi launched its flagship Mi 4 smartphone at a glitzy event in Beijing, where the Chinese budget handset maker’s chief executive sought to challenge larger U.S. rival Apple Inc. The Mi 4 comes as budget handset makers in China are competing more aggressively on price and generous features, with even high-end manufacturers feeling the pressure. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Ltd said this month that its disappointing smartphone shipments were due to poor sales in China, which had 1.27 billion mobile subscribers in June. Dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun took aim repeatedly at iPhone maker Apple during the presentation on Tuesday, comparing the design and manufacturing process of his new 4G handset to the U.S. firm’s more expensive offerings. “Our product really is better than the iPhone,” said Lei. “Our white version is also better than their white version,” he joked. “Even our white color is whiter!” Apple, which was due to announce second-quarter earnings later on Tuesday, was not immediately available to comment. The forthright Jun spent nearly an hour on stage describing the Mi 4 phone’s construction – particularly its beveled metal rim whose similarity with Apple’s phones drew murmurs of “iPhone” from the journalists at the event. The Mi 4, which goes on sale July 29 for 1999 yuan ($320), has a 5 inch, 1080p screen and a Qualcomm Inc Snapdragon 801 2.5 Ghz processor. An equivalent iPhone 5s costs $650.

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