Xiaomi's Mi division, which sells some accessories in the US but still no phones, is getting into smart speakers. It just unveiled the Mi AI Speaker, its equivalent to Amazon's Alexa, Google Home and other personal assistant-type models. However, it play music and take voice commands for a lot less, costing just 299 RMB or around $45 when it hits shelves in China starting next month.
It features "high-quality" sound and a six microphone array to detect voice commands from any direction and distance like its rivals. More importantly, it has artificial intelligence built-in, so you can order it to play streaming music and act as a personal assistant, giving you weather, calendar reminders, news and so on. (Xiaomi also unveiled a "Smart assistant" built into its MIUI Android variant, but that's merely a quick launcher.)
The Mi AI Speaker will accept third-party apps, much like Alexa's Skills via its "Platform Waterdrop." It'll also be able to control other Mi products like the Mi TV, Mi Box and Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, or even dumb appliances using Mi's Smart Plug or Smart Strip.
Along with the AI Speaker, Mi also unveiled the Mi 5X phone, a 5.5-inch mid-range model with pretty nice specs. That includes 4GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, dual 12-megapixel cameras with wide and telephoto lenses and an HD screen -- not bad for 1,499 RMB ($222). That will be powered by Xiaomi's new MIUI 9 Android OS, featuring the aforementioned Smart Assistant and a few other new upgrades.
If you're in China and lucky enough to be one of the first 1,000 in the Mi AI Speaker beta, you'll be able to get it for a mere one yuan, provided you're willing to help train it. After that, it will go for 299 RMB, or $45. There's no word on US or UK availability yet for either the Mi 5X or AI Speaker, but as with other Xiaomi products, don't count on it.