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Xiaomi Phone with MIUI OS: a $310 Android with 1.5GHz dual-core SoC and other surprises

Xiaomi Phone with MIUI OS: a $310 Android with 1.5GHz dual-core SoC and other surprises
Richard Lai
Richard Lai|@richardlai|August 16, 2011 4:33 AM
If you've already seen the Xiaomi M1 announcement about a month ago, well, forget it, because Xiaomi has already made some significant changes since then. What we've just learned from today's Beijing launch event is that the M1 -- now officially "Xiaomi Phone" -- no longer packs a 1.2GHz dual-core chip; instead, it's been given a bump to a Qualcomm MSM8260 SoC, thus becoming the first Chinese phone to sport a 1.5GHz dual-core chip. As part of the Snapdragon package, the phone is also powered by a powerful Adreno 220 graphics processor, which will no doubt make good use of the phone's 1GB RAM and a staggering 4GB ROM. Oh, and that ¥2,600 (about US$410) price tag? It's now ¥1,999 ($310), and will be available for pre-order on August 29th for October delivery. Read on for more surprises!

Update: We've just been informed that there will also be a 1.2GHz version available for an even cheaper price!

Update 2: Our hands-on post is up!
Unlike most phones with a 1400mAh or 1500mAh battery these days, the Xiaomi Phone gets a ginormous 1930mAh cell instead, and we're promised to get two days worth of real-life usage out of it -- CEO Lei Jun emphasised the "real-life" part, so we shall see. Another surprise -- albeit an odd one -- is that this phone supports both GPS (with A-GPS) and Russia's GLONASS, meaning President Medvedev can navigate around his country just fine while updating his Weibo Twitter.

As for the rest, you get a 4-inch 480 x 854 LCD courtesy of Sharp (LCD for better outdoor performance, and 4 inches for Asian ergonomics), three touch buttons below the screen, a customisable "Mi key" (camera shutter or Weibo; long press for home screen), an eight megapixel camera with an F2.4 lens, and a dual antenna design that plays well with any kind of grip (obviously a little wink at Apple). Dimension-wise we're looking at 125mm x 63mm x 11.9mm, weighing 149g or 5.3 ounces -- just a tad heavier than the iPhone 4. As for accessories, we're told that there will cases in at least seven bright colors, along with spare batteries of the same set of colors (that's how awesome Xiaomi is).

Of course, let's not forget the real star here: the MIUI (pronounced "mee-you-eye") OS, which is a low-level custom UI based on Android 2.3.5. There's no question about MIUI's rapidly increasing popularity in recent years (Xiaomi quoted a user base of about 500,000; and just look at the number of fans at the event!), but if you insist on trying other Android flavors on Xiaomi's hardware, then you'll be pleased to know that this phone lets you flash whatever firmware you like.

If you're starting to doubt the Xiaomi Phone's reliability, you shouldn't -- we've been told that this phone's been thoroughly torture-tested in the lab, simulating two years worth of usage. "This is why we take much longer than shanzhai factories to make a phone," said the CEO. We'll see about that in two months time, really looking forward to it.