Xiaomi CEO teases advanced tech, but will the Mi 5 be a game changer in 2016 ?

lei jun weibo
Lei Jun’s tease on Weibo

After a turbulent 2015, Lei Jun teased Weibo users with a glimpse of the “advanced” features of the soon-to-be-released Mi 5, a Xiaomi smartphone which is expected to be capable of changing the company’s smartphone fortunes.

The release of the Xiaomi Mi 5 on Feburary 24 is going to be a big deal for the company’s smartphone future. It’s a refresh of Xiaomi’s standard-sized ‘Mi’ flagship series and an update to the previously released, Mi 4, which was launched in August 2014, 16 months ago.

On Thursday, Lei Jun teased a photo of the Mi 5’s screen on his Weibo, asking users to guess what the product’s highlights are. Weibo users guessed that the new phone would be compatible with the signals of all three of China’s main mobile networks, would come with good battery life and would support NFC mobile payments and dual-SIM internet.

This highly-anticipated phone is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, and is rumored to be more expensive than the iPhone 6s. According to Lei Jun, the device contains a lot of advanced technology developed by Xiaomi. This could signal a shift in Xiaomi’s pricing policy and strategy, as it typically prices its flagship devices around RMB 2000.

2015 was not a good year for Xiaomi. Besides failing to meet its sales expectation of 80 million smartphone shipments, it also lost its top smartphone seller spot to Huawei after selling only 70 million phones.

Although Xiaomi is still the leading domestic smartphone seller in China, at the USD 45 billion company’s annual meeting on Jan. 15, Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun said, “I’m not okay with this result.”

Xiaomi’s failure in smartphone sales may have partially been due to declining demand in the Chinese market, but smartphone sales numbers notwithstanding, Xiaomi has been busy with other things this past year.

Xiaomi released a string of hardware devices in 2015, selling them through its e-commerce site Mi.com. It does this by investing in Chinese hardware startups and lending its brand to products that include batteries, headphones, smart cameras, and battery packs, as well as its popular Mi Band. In keeping with its philosophy of giving people quality hardware for low prices, it also released a line of low-priced TVs.

The company is also shifting towards more cutting-edge technology. In March, Lei Jun talked about his desire to turn the company’s focus from smartphones to smart home devices, of which its air purifier is an example. Xiaomi also announced the Xiaomi Exploration Lab on January 15, which is focused on developing VR and robotics.

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