Xiaomi 12S Ultra: From an iPhone clone to a global powerhouse – student becomes master?

Xiaomi 12S Ultra: From an iPhone clone to a global powerhouse - student becomes master?
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for those who don’t know Xiaomi It is much more than a smartphone company. kind of like SAMSUNGChinese brand makes/produces home appliances, but also Xiaomi Electric scooter (one of the best selling electric scooters worldwide), and more recently, and a prototype EV All that aside, of course I want to focus on Xiaomi’s phones. initiator It’s called MIUI. But more than a decade later, Xiaomi has reached the point where they can look at other brands’ phones and learn from them – as little or as much as they really want.

Interestingly, Xiaomi’s flagship smartphones were smartphones that took (and still do) take some cues from the competition. While this is far from unusual for a newly established brand (a Nothing Phonea resembling iPhone 12), left many with the impression that Xiaomi is one of those “Chinese knockout brands” – like 130401284 that actually exists.

But this is not the case…

Xiaomi’s journey: From a unique identity to a desire to fit in and all the way…

Software: MIUI isn’t afraid to be a bit like iOS and a bit like Android

Before talking about the hardware, I cannot skip highlighting that the modern MIUI version from Xiaomi is very similar to another operating system, namely iOS.

While Xiaomi isn’t the first and only brand to pursue Apple’s drawerless and minimalist home screen, it’s probably the company closest to delivering an Apple-like visual experience on Android.

Still, despite Xiaomi’s obvious and clearly acknowledged iOS influence (Xiaomi’s CEO has been positive about Apple in many cases), there are notable differences in the way iOS and MIUI behave. For example, iPhone doesn’t let you freely rearrange icons and widgets, but MUI (being Android) does.

MIUI is also one of the most (if not the most) customizable Android skins as a whole. A mix of iOS in terms of looks and Android, when it comes to functionality, some might see MIUI as: best of both worlds. This could make Xiaomi phones one of the good options for those ready to switch from iPhone to Android – a possible transition, but certainly a bit more logical than you might think.

Hardware: Xiaomi phones before 2020 looked uninspiringstill a little inspired (based on the likes of iPhone and Galaxy)

Here’s where things get even more interesting…

Xiaomi’s hardware journey has gone through several important transitions. When it comes to flagship phones, Xiaomi Mi3 – Mi6 cycle, it can be said that Xiaomi phones have their own design capabilities.

In terms of design, Xiaomi Mi5 and Xiaomi Mi6 It was one of the most lauded Android phones of its time, with its glass/ceramic builds, slightly curved screens, and sophisticated paint job. However, the old Xiaomi Mi 3 was the most easily recognizable Xiaomi flagship I could think of, and that’s probably because it didn’t look like an iPhone or Galaxy.

But of course, as the story often does, the Chinese brand (like many others) has fallen into a familiar mainstream trap – visual assimilation. I made up that last term a bit, but it does mean that the Xiaomi Mi 8 flagship has taken the company’s phones from those that have their own looks… iPhone clones.

Of course, Xiaomi did not do 1:1 iPhone knockouts, but the similarity between them iPhone X (September 2017) and Xiaomi Mi 8 (May 2018) uncanny. Xiaomi borrowed:

  • With Apple’s notch and Face ID, but its own (slightly less advanced) infrared sensors and Xiaomi’s own Animojis
  • The rear design of the iPhone X, including the camera layout

On paper, it may seem like two simple design elements, but what makes the iPhone X real is the notch and rear camera layout. iPhone X and therefore, what makes the Xiaomi Mi 8 look like Android’s iPhone.

Xiaomi Mi 10 – Xiaomi Mi 11 series: Xiaomi finds its own identity (again)

As Bob Ross said, there are no mistakes – just happy accidents…

Xiaomi quickly realized that it was heavy affected not the way to establish yourself as a brand to influence

At this point, Hugo Barra (former product leader of Google) had already joined Xiaomi as the company’s new Vice President. Mind you, it’s the Vice President of Design… period, not the Vice President of Design. Hugo Barra’s role was not only to steer Xiaomi’s products in the right direction, but also to help establish the brand as a player outside of the Chinese market – that was the real challenge.

Anyway, it looks like it turned out well! Barra left Xiaomi last year (to join Facebook’s Oculus project), but left the company with a newfound brand identity that knows how to be himself and stands out in the record pool.

This could already be seen Xiaomi Mi9 The series that got rid of the design shadow of the iPhone, but Xiaomi Mi 10 series (especially Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra) and Xiaomi Mi 11 series (again, especially Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra) that turned heads and made some jaws drop. At least mine.

Unnatural choice: “Huawei ban” marks the start of Xiaomi’s Ultra era

until 2020, Huawei It has undoubtedly been the most aggressive player in the smartphone market, thanks to the company’s advances in hardware, mostly revolving around the camera. Sure, the US trade ban has disabled Huawei, but it also rolled the red carpet for the other major Chinese phone maker. and boy, was Xiaomi ready to walk the gorgeous carpet!

Little Rice (that’s what Xiaomi means) went for it! The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra was unlike anything else on the market (it was still a weak phone, of course). Most notably, though, was Xiaomi’s entry into the newly formed ultra-premium flagship segment. It surprised everyone and provided an astonishing camera and incredible charging speeds. Then came the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, which took things to a whole new level. Not just for Xiaomi, but for Android as a whole. The 11 Ultra had the largest camera sensors in a phone (all three), a unique ceramic Panda color set, and a real display that allowed users to take the best selfies we’ve (probably) seen coming out of a phone. the phone’s “selfie” camera.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra: taking over the smartphone world – what is Xiaomi missing?

But forget about Apple and Huawei…

That’s how we got to today and Xiaomi’s latest flagship phone. The new Xiaomi 12S Ultra is not just a phone with a unique identity, it’s a phone that plays by its own rules and frankly in a league of its own. This has a double meaning, which you will discover below.

The design of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is a paradigm shift and a departure from the four-year-old iPhone copy that is the Mi 8, as well as Xiaomi’s previous Ultra flagships. Xiaomi is gamer and isn’t afraid to reinvent itself at this point, but the good news is that things only get better below the surface.

Xiaomi Issue 1: Global availability

And this is the moment for me to get a little more personal…

I have a problem with Chinese phone manufacturers. It has to do with the fact that they are holding their best phones for the Chinese market, and I’m streaming the likes of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, Huawei Mate XS 2 and a ton of great mid-range phones here. this usually doesn’t get out of Asia or does it too late.

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra offers the best camera hardware I’ve ever seen on the back of a phone. Obviously, it’s something that needs to be protected at all costs, which is probably why Leica-powered cameras come with a case with a protective camera cover. If that doesn’t make the Xiaomi 12S Ultra feel like a “real camera” then I don’t know what does…

So why is Xiaomi “protecting” the 12S Ultra from western markets as well?

Yes, global availability is the main limiting factor keeping Xiaomi’s top flagships from challenging the world’s Apples and Samsungs. It looks so simple doesn’t it? Xiaomi 12S Ultra is ready to rock! All it takes is to start selling globally and keep the competition extremely tight and the customers extremely happy. Anyway, I will discuss why Xiaomi might keep the 12S Ultra native only in a future story.

Xiaomi Problem 2: Too many mid-range phones

One thing worth mentioning is the mid-range Xiaomi devices that have helped put the company on the map, even though Xiaomi’s ultra-flagships are the most impressive phones the company sells (or doesn’t, depending on where you are).

Xiaomi’s budget and mid-range phones are bestsellers in many European countries and, along with Samsung, dominate the Asian market.

The problem lately was that there were too many of them! Xiaomi has created several sub-brands such as Redmi and Poco and launches budget phones almost every two months – left and right. Most share specs and looks and only confuse customers and… tech writers.

Remember the iconic Xiaomi Mi A2 (with clean Android)? How about the Xiaomi Poco F1 that breaks all the rules and outperforms OnePlus’ “flagship killers” as overpriced and underperforming? What about the Xiaomi Redmi K20 and K20 Pro, which brings the pop-up camera-flagship chip combination to the mid-range segment?

Honestly, I struggle to think of more valuable phones from any company at any moment in smartphone history. The phones mentioned above were that good, and the reason I remember their names is because they weren’t accompanied by five other Xiaomi phones that looked like them (and also because I’m a phone freak).

Anyway, Xiaomi is now trading blows with Apple for second place in global smartphone shipments, and I truly believe it’s not far from being permanently behind Samsung or even making it to the top.

Xiaomi, if you’re reading this, I have two things:

  • Give me my Xiaomi 12S Ultra (to replace my Pixel 6 Pro) before I come to China and get it
  • Bring back the tradition of the standard-setting mid-range phone edition – but only one per year, okay?

Now I will go and take a life…

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