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As this author was fiddling with his Xiaomi Phone 2S (or MI2S) in bed ahead of Xiaomi's big event tomorrow, he spotted something odd: a thumbnail of an unfamiliar device -- next to the entry-level Red Rice aka Hongmi -- in the company's online store app. Since it's a high-resolution image, we're able to zoom into our screenshot (full version after the break) to see this Lumia-like design but with a flatter back. The long flash strip also suggests that this could be a beefed-up dual-LED flash module. Other than that, there's not much else that we can pick up here.

Given the clock on this mysterious phone matches the 2pm start time of tomorrow's event, we're pretty certain that this is Xiaomi's third-gen flagship device, the MI3; and it'll likely be announced alongside the Xiaomi TV. We also recall seeing the same back cover leaked way back in February, and the side-by-side shot with the MI2 (embedded after the break) is pointing to a 5-inch screen for this new phone. Judging by the pattern so far, we bet it'll use Qualcomm's beastly Snapdragon 800 SoC to follow the 600 on the MI2S. Ultimately, it'll be all about the price, which is likely to be no more than CN¥1,999 or about US$330 off contract.

While the above product thumbnail appears to be stuck in the cache on our MI2S, the same spot is occupied by the proper MI2S image in the same app on our MI2A. Talk about perfect timing, eh? Now, if you'll excuse us, we have some sleep to catch up on -- we don't want to scare Hugo Barra with our panda eyes.

Xiaomi Phone 3 makes early appearance on online store ahead of launch

Xiaomi Phone 3 spotted on