The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the global smartphone market to experience its fastest ever decline of 13% YoY in Q1 2020. While Samsung, Huawei, and Apple have been impacted, Xiaomi has seen a 7% growth, mostly coming from markets outside China. The growth also saw Xiaomi becoming the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in the world. While most of this growth comes from affordable to mid-premium smartphones, the company now has its eyes set on the ultra-premium segment with the Xiaomi Mi 10-series.
Xiaomi Portfolio Segmentation
Xiaomi is more than just a smartphone maker. The company portfolio includes Smart TVs, fitness bands, TWS headphones, IoT products like air purifiers, water purifiers, security cameras, and more. In terms of smartphone portfolio, there are Redmi branded smartphones focusing on affordable to mid-range segments. These include the Y-series, Note-series, and K-series among others.
For the premium portfolio, Xiaomi is going with the Mi branding. This includes the A-series smartphones that offer near-stock Android experience with Google’s Android One branding. The Mi-series also includes the flagship smartphones with top-of-the-line hardware and premium design. The latest Mi 10-series and the concept Mi MIX Alpha are some examples.
In China, Xiaomi also acquired Meitu’s handset business in 2018. The company has been popular for its photo-editing and sharing app. Meitu also made smartphones but they didn’t sell well. After the takeover, Xiaomi did launch Mi CC9 Meitu edition phones, but they were restricted to the Chinese market.
The portfolio also included Poco, which has now spun off as a separate brand. But if you look at the overall strategy, Poco will focus on the gap that is left in the mid-premium segment. The decision to set Poco free makes sense as it will help Xiaomi target the premium segment, whereas Poco can continue as a “flagship killer” in its segment.
The house of brand segmentation is not exactly a new concept. Xiaomi is learning from Realme, which started as Oppo’s sub-brand and has seen immense success after it spun off. Even Vivo has been following the same footsteps, where iQoo has now branched out to focus on the premium segment. Likewise, Transsion Holdings has a multi-brand strategy where it has Tecno, Infinix, and iTel, all focusing on different audience segments.
Poco going on its own, with Xiaomi focusing on two different consumer sections with Redmi and Mi brand could help in differentiating the portfolio.
Xiaomi Ultra-Premium Market Share
As of Q4 2019, Xiaomi had a market share of around 1% in China in the ultra-premium segment (>$660 wholesale price). With the Mi 10 series, Xiaomi is going global to chase share in the premium segment.
Globally, Xiaomi has less than 1% market share in the ultra-premium segment. In markets like Spain, UK, Italy, Germany, and France; Apple, Samsung, and Huawei are strong. These are also the markets where OnePlus and Oppo have some presence, and they will be Xiaomi’s immediate competitors. The interplay between brands in Europe is at a critical stage due to the difficulties Huawei is facing following the US including Huawei on its entity list that prevents it from launching new flagship products with GMS services.
While Apple and Samsung are the market leaders, Xiaomi with a 5G portfolio has a good chance to compete with OnePlus and Huawei. A 108MP quad-camera setup, 5G, and other features like wireless charging, and fast charging make Mi 10 5G a compelling device. Huawei’s P40 series is impressive, but the lack of GMS service means an opportunity for Xiaomi to grab some share.
Given the fact that Xiaomi has gained a good market share with its affordable and mid-range smartphones in countries like Spain, the premium push likely comes at the right time. Xiaomi should also partner with carriers to ensure the smartphone gets the right push.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pricing and Competition
In China, there are two smartphones in the series – Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro. The regular Mi 10 model has three SKUs – with the base model available for around $560, whereas the top model with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will set you back $660. The Mi 10 Pro is also offered in three SKUs – with the base model at around $700, and the top-end model with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage for $860.
In the UK, only the vanilla Mi 10 model is launched where the base model with 128GB storage is available for $850, whereas the 256GB storage model will set you back $980. The pricing in Europe is similar, and the Mi 10 Pro model is also available at a starting price of $1,098.
Talking about competition in the UK, the OnePlus 8 starts at around $699, whereas the OnePlus 8 Pro starts at around $899. Similarly, the Huawei P40 starts at around $899, the P40 Pro starts at around $1,080, whereas the Huawei P40 Pro+ starts at around $1,500. If we compare the Mi 10 pricing with the competition, it is clear that Xiaomi is positioning Mi as a premium brand.
Xiaomi has attempted premium push previously with Mi Mix and Note series, but failed to make any impact. However, the Mi 10 series sports a leading-edge immersive display, 108MP quad cameras setup and Snapdragon 865 SoC with 5G, which could drive uptick in this important “halo” segment.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Specifications and Features
Immersive Dual Curved Display
The Xiaomi Mi 10 flaunts a 6.67-inch curved AMOLED display (with HDR 10+) that runs at FHD+ resolution (1080x2340pixels), and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The screen brightness peaks at 1,120 nits, which should make reading under direct sunlight easier. The panel features a 90Hz refresh rate to make viewing motion content smoother. To make gaming smoother, the smartphone also comes with a 180Hz sampling rate for better sensitivity.
A display with a faster refresh rate is becoming a de-facto standard feature for premium smartphones. But the Xiaomi Mi 10 falls behind in comparison to the competition. The OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 series both come with a faster 120Hz display. They also come with a better QHD+ display resolution compared to FHD+ on the Mi 10. Having a better display could have made the Xiaomi phone future proof.
Processing and Connectivity
The Xiaomi flagship smartphone comes with a 7nm Snapdragon 865 SoC under the hood. The chipset is 25% faster than last year’s Snapdragon 855 and consumes 25% less power at the same time. To keep the thermal levels low, Xiaomi is also using vapor chamber cooling with the help of graphite layers and graphene. The smartphone comes with up to 12GB RAM LPDDR5 RAM which is again faster and more energy-efficient compared to the previous generation. Along with up to 256GB UFS 3.0 storage, you get better read and write speeds, along with faster app opening times.
On the connectivity front, the Mi 10 features a Snapdragon X55 5G modem to bring the next-gen connectivity solution. With SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) modes, the Mi 10 supports the Sub-6Ghz network (n1, n3, n41, n78, and n79 bands). The smartphone also includes Wi-Fi 6 connectivity which brings a 270% speed improvement over the previous generation, with maximum speeds of up to 9.6GB/s. It is also more power efficient.
Quad-Cameras with 108MP Main Sensor
In the photography department, the smartphone offers a quad-rear camera setup. The highlight is the primary 108MP camera sensor with f/1.69 aperture and OIS. It is a Samsung sensor with a sensor size of 1/1.33-inch and 1.6μm pixels. Unlike Samsung which is using 9-in-1 Nona-Binning to capture 12MP photos by default, Xiaomi is using 4-in-1 super pixel binning to capture 27MP photos by default.
The primary camera is backed by a 13MP ultra-wide-angle lens with a field of view of 123°. There is also a 2MP macro lens to capture close-up shots and a 2MP depth sensor for portrait shots. For selfies and video calling, you get a 20MP front camera in a hole-punch setup.
The camera setup with a 108MP primary sensor will surely help Xiaomi in positioning. But the one area where it lacks is the telephoto lens with optical and hybrid zoom functionalities. Competitors like the Oppo Find X2 Pro, Huawei P40 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S20-series have zoom functionalities. Xiaomi could have gone with a telephoto lens, instead of giving a macro lens. Sure, the telephoto exists in the Mi 10 Pro, but it is not sold in every global region.
The interesting part of the Mi 10 camera is the app that opens multiple possibilities. It features 8K video recording at 30fps, slow-motion videos at 120fps, a dedicated VLOG mode for YouTubers, and a video portrait mode. There is a pro mode too, which unlocks histogram for videos, focus peaking, metering options, and more. Xiaomi has also included a Movie Mode with 8 classic filters, color focus, real-time background blur, and more.
Ad-Free Android Software
Unlike the Redmi-series that comes with MIUI-based Android skin with ads, the Mi 10 comes with Tier 1 Android experience. Running on Android 10 OS with MIUI 11 skin, the differentiator is where it uses Google applications for core apps such as dialler, messaging, and more. The Xiaomi software also includes goodies like document scanner in the camera app, always-on display, and Mi Remote app that can use the infrared sensor to control your audio/video devices such as TV, AC, DVD player and more.
Fast Charging Battery and Extras
To keep things ticking, the Mi 10 is armed with a 4,780mAh battery with support for 30W fast wired charging, and 30W fast wireless charging. There is also support for reverse wireless charging where you can wirelessly charge other Qi-enabled devices at 10W speed.
Talking about extras, the Xiaomi Mi 10 comes with stereo speakers, where the earpiece doubles as a secondary speaker when playing games, listening to music, or watching videos. What is exciting here is unlike other brands, Xiaomi is using symmetrical “Dual 1216 super-linear speakers,” to offer better stereo experience. The smartphone also supports Hi-Res audio, and LHDC support as well.
Overall, with the Mi 10, Xiaomi has a good device to contest for its share in the ultra-premium segment.