Xiaomi could win the smartphone battle and here’s why

As Xiaomi announces its number two spot for global phone sales, it might not be long before they take the number one place

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

This week Xiaomi celebrated moving ahead of Apple in global smartphone shipments with a 17% share of the market. According to the analysts Canalys, that’s an 83% growth on last year for the Beijing-based technology company. So, how long before it takes the number one slot?

Samsung, who remain the number one (for now) has seen its share reduce from 22% in Q1 to 19% in Q2.  With just two points in it, they must be worried, and the difference could be the US market.

Xiaomi was removed from the US blacklist for investors in May of this year and while you can buy Xiaomi smartphones from the likes of Walmart in the States, you won’t find the phones in any of the main networks or even Best Buy. As with Huawei, Western audiences are still apprehensive of Xiaomi in terms of security. But this is changing, and partly thanks to its excellent products.

When I moved to Beijing in 2012 I’d barely heard of the Xiaomi brand but I soon discovered it to be one of the better local phone options available. Of course, Xiaomi is about more than just phones. Its line-up of TVs offered impressive specs for a fraction of the price of Sony or LG models.

In fact, there’s very few electronic products that Xiaomi doesn’t cover. While most of these are only for the local Chinese market, a look on its website reveals everything from laptops, wireless routers and smart speakers to robo vacs, refrigerators, washing machines and pressure cookers.

The Mi home store in Shenzhen is Xiaomi’s flagship and looks much like an Apple store, with large glass windows and clean interiors. The difference is that inside you’ll also find TVs, electric scooters and more. It’s as much a universal brand as Samsung or Sony in China.

Xiaomi Mi Home Store, Shenzhen

Xiaomi Mi Home Store, Shenzhen

(Image credit: Gizmondo China)

What we’ve seen over recent years though is the growth of Xiaomi overseas. While we have seen electric scooters, smart watches and TVs starting to appear, it’s the smartphone market that has been leading the charge. The main reason being that the Xiaomi smartphones are really good.

The Mi 11 is a big screen device to rival any other flagship, while the Mi 11 Ultra offers some incredible features for a smartphone – especially its camera. It also offers some solid performers at the lower end of the market with models such as the Poco and Redmi Note models.

It’s also leading the way with charging speeds, showcasing its HyperCharge technology that can take a phone battery from empty to fully charged in just eight minutes. While this was just a demo, I expect this to appear on Xiaomi’s next flagship models towards the end of the year.

I can’t wait to see more Xiaomi products available globally, especially here in the US. And if that means they get to number one for smartphone shipments, then they will have deserved it.

Mat Gallagher
Mat Gallagher

As T3's Managing Editor in the US, Mat is a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, cars, music or travel. Originally from the UK, he has written about technology since 2003 and is now based in Chicago.