Apple’s iPhone has dominated smartphone sales for years, becoming the default choice for millions around the world. But this year, its perch has been shaken by a lesser-known manufacturer which sells fully-featured 5G phones for as little as £129.
Chinese brand Xiaomi is known for its top-end Mi phones and more budget Redmi range. It has steadily become more popular in the UK since they went on sale here in 2018 and has been eating up market share worldwide.
However, the company’s reputation was rocked just last year when a cybersecurity expert revealed Xiaomi was collecting detailed information on its users. The data, including all the websites and Google searches users made, was being sent to servers in Singapore, Russia and China.
Despite the controversy, a report by analytics firm Canalys has revealed exponential growth between March and June this year that sent it surging past Apple to corner nearly a fifth of the global smartphone market. It’s now second only to Samsung in total sales, after they shot up by 83% since last year. This is the first-ever time the manufacturer has been in the coveted second spot.
The news comes even though people are still buying fewer smartphones overall than before the pandemic.
It’s easy to see why Xiaomi has taken off. It is one of many budget Chinese phone brands, like Huawei and OnePlus, that have managed to sell top-line features at knock-down prices. Its average phone is up to 75% cheaper than equivalents from Samsung and Apple, even though most are kitted out with the same premium features. Its 5G-enabled flagship Mi 11 (£749) comes with three cameras with a total of 108MP, HDR10+ video recording and wireless charging. Even its cheapest phones, like the £179 Redmi Note 10, boast impressive battery life and 5G connectivity.
Technology expert Ben Stanton said Xiaomi’s clever business tactics played a role too. “The company’s shipments increased more than 300% in Latin America, 150% in Africa, and 50% in Western Europe. And as it grows, it evolves. It is now transforming its business model from challenger to incumbent.’
Meanwhile, iPhone sales slowed down over the period ahead of Apple’s usual September launch date for new models so things could change quickly once the rumoured iPhone 13 is revealed later in the year.
As the “new kid on the block” when it comes to smartphones in the UK, you won’t find its phones for sale in the usual spots like Carphone Warehouse or Currys. But they are available directly from the company’s website as well as on Amazon.