Xiaomi has somehow put one of the best processors on the market into a smartphone that costs just $204. The Mi 4c is a Xiaomi’s China-only version of the company’s Mi 4i, but it’s updated some of the internals to keep things fresh. The two big changes over the Mi 4i are a new powerhouse in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 — the same six-core chip powering LG’s G4 and the new Moto X — and an improved 13-megapixel camera sensor with phase-detection autofocus.
There are a few smaller differences between the handsets, such as a USB Type-C port in place of the Mi 4i’s micro-USB, MIUI-flavored Android 5.0, a slight increase in weight, and a minor decrease in battery size (it’s still a very healthy 3,040mAh, though). Other than that, it’s got the same 5-inch 1080p IPS panel, the same dual-SIM capabilities, and the same storage options. The 16GB version with 2GB of RAM will set you back 1299 yuan ($204), while the 32GB version with 3GB of RAM costs 1499 yuan ($235). That’s basically the same price as the Mi 4i, but with a much-improved spec sheet.
So this is essentially a flagship phone for $204. But if you’re reading this from somewhere other than China, you’ll have difficulty tracking one down when it launches tomorrow. We’d love to offer you an alternative that’s available in the US, but it’s genuinely impossible. The closest you’ll find is probably the Asus Zenfone 2, which has a decent spec set for $200, or perhaps the latest Moto G, which at $180-$220 keeps pace with the pricing, but at the expense of specs. Then there’s the OnePlus 2, which has the specs but also comes with a $320 asking price. You get the picture: nothing can really compete with the Mi 4i at this price. And if Xiaomi ever decides to sell its phones in the US a number of companies could be in a lot of trouble.
That wasn’t all the company announced today, though. It also became an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) with “Mi Mobile,” which offers simple service plans running on the back of one of China’s smaller mobile networks, Unicom. It’ll launch with a pay-as-you-go plan that charges 0.1 Yuan (about $0.016) per minute, SMS, or 1MB, and then expand to offer a 3GB data plan for 59 Yuan (about $9) per month this October.