As mobile phones have become more powerful, prices for many flagship models have managed to linger were they always were -- at the top end. The Xiaomi has always been one exception, though. Last year, this Beijing startup launched its very first namesake phone at just CN¥1,999 ($320), which was rather impressive given that this was the first Chinese device to feature the 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon MSM8260 chip (not to be mistaken with the Krait-based MSM8260A). This stimulated two fronts of the smartphone war: the price-per-performance ratio kind, and the cheap-as-hell kind. With regards to performance, we're looking at competitors like Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo and good old Meizu; while the price battle involves taking on MediaTek-powered devices under various new brands -- many of which have done so well that they've now set up stores in Shenzhen's Huaqiangbei area.
Needless to say, Xiaomi is now facing a greater challenge -- one that barely existed a year ago. But on the brighter side of things, the company now has three Android devices spanning two price tiers: two editions of the Xiaomi Phone 1S for ¥1,299 ($210) or ¥1,499 ($240), and the quad-core Xiaomi Phone 2 -- the star of this review -- for ¥1,999, which is well below its ¥2,350 ($380) raw cost, according to CEO Lei Jun. There's no doubt that Xiaomi could recoup some of the costs from its vast range of accessories, and with the imminent launch of the Xiaomi TV set-top box next month, it's clear that the company's hoping to profit from content. Still, as mama said, it's the first impression that counts (especially for consumers outside China, anyway), so read on to see how we coped with Xiaomi's second-gen flagship phone.
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