Capture the world through new lenses

Are you getting a little bored of your 4:3, 16:9 or even 18:9 camera frames that provide a limited view of the world you are trying to capture? 360-degree cameras can represent a scene in an entirely new way, enabling the viewer to capture a greater range and sensory experience.

Among the many products in this rapidly growing photography category, Mi Sphere Camera is an well rounded, accessible device that elevates the user experience from just seeing the world in the front to the entire scenario of that location.

“A 360-degree camera is an important tool that allows consumers to make their own VR content,” said Huang Yetao, founder of MadV, the manufacturer of Mi Sphere Camera. (MadV is one of Xiaomi’s Mi Ecosystem companies.)

In addition to capturing 360-degree still photos, Mi Sphere Camera also allows users to record amazing panoramic videos at high speeds. Its six-axis electronic image stabilization corrects movement while skiing, skydiving, bungee jumping, or any other high-speed actions. It also has a 1600mAH battery, which is higher in capacity than many other products in its price category. The powerful battery supports up to 75 minutes of 4K video on a single charge during normal temperature conditions.

To accommodate the adventurer who uses the Mi Sphere Camera, the unit is water and dust proof, and can withstand being immersed in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.

The size is also an important attribute as the Mi Sphere Camera was designed for individuals who are often carrying a lot of equipment. In fact, the thinnest part of the Mi Sphere Camera is only 12mm, making it easy to transport and store as well.

With such specifications, users can focus on reaching the next peak, pushing their limits or exploring a new city knowing that their camera will capture each adventure to the fullest.

Comparison  

Life in 360, a YouTube channel focused on 360 photography, created a video comparing the 4K video effects of Mi Sphere Camera, INSTA One and Theta V — three popular consumer-level 360-degree cameras. After changing locations and light conditions with the three units, the reviewer found that Mi Sphere Camera did a great job in stitching and stabilization, and just as well as the others when it comes to the quality of 4K videos.

Below are the key specifications of the three 360-cameras portrayed in the video:

Device name Theta V INSTA 360 One Mi Sphere Camera
Image resolution 5376 x 2688 6912 x 3456 6912 x 3456
Video resolution 3840×1920@30fps 3840×1920@30fps 3456 x 1728@30fps
Size 45.2 x 130.6 x 22.9mm 96 x 36.5 x 25mm 78 x 67.40 x 12.00mm
Battery life Supports up to 40 minutes 4K video 820mAH 1600mAH
Image stabilization Not supportive Electronic image stabilization Six-axis electronic image stabilization
Water-proof Not supportive Not supportive IP67 water/dust-proof
Price $375.99 $299 $299.99

 

Mi Sphere Camera is now available for U.S consumers to purchase on Amazon, creating an opportunity for the beautiful moments in life to be captured in an entirely new way.

A Love Dream Created by Mi 6

With smartphone camera capabilities quickly matching and even surpassing those of DSLR cameras, professional photographers and consumers alike are resorting to their phones for everything from a professional headshot to the perfect Instagram picture. Recently, we held a portrait photography competition, attracting a wide variety of submissions, many shot on Mi 6 with our flagship dual-camera setup. Photographer An Shenlyu won the competition with his photography series called “A Love Dream.” We spoke with him after his win about what inspires him and his experience using Mi 6’s camera.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an independent photographer based in Shenzhen. I’m good at creating artistic portraits and I like building dreams by using photography to show my fantasies and dreams.

How did you become a photographer? How would you describe your style?

Two years ago, I began to take photos to keep a record of my life. Gradually it grew into an indispensable habit. When I get old, these photos can remind me of my past moments and emotions.

Speaking of photography style, I like emotional and touching images that can inspire me like poems and paintings can. I want my photos to mimic the colors and forms of oil paintings.

What do you think are the main reasons that your photography series, “A Love Dream,” won our competition?

Luck, I should say, because many photographers I admire also joined this competition. Another reason would be my style and attention to detail. I’ve been trying to put unrelated things together in the same scene and make them look comfortable and coordinated. To achieve this harmony, I need DIY tools and garments at the scene. For this series, I needed a cloth curtain in the middle of the water.To work out this effect, I used a wooden structure to fix the curtain. Additionally, the lanterns, oil paper umbrellas and other garments all took a lot of effort.

An Shenlyu shooting “A Love Dream”

How did you conceptualize the idea for “A Love Dream”?

My original idea for “A Love Dream” was to transform a dream scene into a reality, where a beautiful woman leans on a tree in the middle of a sea. Many people living in big cities like being close to nature, as it provides a change from their typical view of skyscrapers out the window. The photos were taken in a famous tourist destination in Dali, Yunnan, where trees grow in the vast waters. I had to wait for a sunny day to shoot the photos because sunshine defines the style, and if you take the photos on a gloomy day, it would completely change the feel and style of the photo.

Different from design, for which post-production is crucial, I think the most important part in photography is the content. Developing and executing creative ideas are crucial to me. I often watch movies, listen to music and see good exhibitions where I am inspired. Usually I first come up with a point, which then evolves into an image. Then I prepare tools and garments, contact models, check the weather forecast and pick a day for shooting.

What do you think are the key factors for portraits?

This is a rather complicated question. You need to pour your emotions into your photos, so that people can feel the resonance of emotion, even if they don’t know the person in the photo. A photo without emotion is just an ordinary photo and can’t be considered art.

Another important thing is that I love nature. When I come across a beautiful place, I imagine someone standing in the environment. I observe the natural light and figure out the best time, the best clothes, and the best tools and garments for shooting.

Tell us your feelings about Mi 6. Does it make photo shooting easier for you?

Mi 6 provided a good user experience. I appreciate the slogan “Picture Perfect Dual Camera. Its 4-axis OIS makes shooting easier. The sunlight was very strong on the day I shot “A Love Dream,” but the photos were still well exposed. In general, I like Mi 6’s color quality and its ability to capture an environment truthfully.


Can you share a few photo-taking tips with our Mi Fans?

For non-professionals, I think good photography composition is half the success of a nice photo. Photography composition is like the frame of a house. If the framework is good, the house will not look bad regardless of its decorations. The other half includes light, colors and theme, which can be improved through practice.

I often watch movies to learn from their composition and artistic practices. I also see a lot of good photography work, almost on a daily basis. After seeing enough beautiful things, your aesthetic and tastes will naturally improve.

*All the photos in this post are contributed by An Shenlyu. 

【News】Xiaomi announces Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus starting at RMB 799

Available in China starting 12 December, these feature-packed smartphones bring full screen display innovations to the sub-RMB 1000 category

BEIJING, 7 December 2017 — Global technology leader Xiaomi today brought its full screen display innovations to the sub-RMB 1000 category with the release of two smartphones—Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus.

With beautifully designed 18:9 screens with rounded display corners, these two models are powered by Qualcomm’s 14nm eight-core processors. They sport large pixel (1.25μm) sensors for the main camera, front Selfie-light, as well as long-lasting batteries. Priced from RMB 999, both versions will go on sale starting 12 December.

18:9 display with rounded corners

With 5.7-inch and 5.99-inch 18:9 displays that take up almost the entire front surface, Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus provide a much larger viewing area compared with traditional 16:9 screen displays. This gives a better user experience whether users are reading news, editing spreadsheets, or playing games on a smartphone.

In addition, Redmi 5/Redmi 5 Plus have screens with rounded display corners and are designed with close attention to symmetry, delivering a stunning appearance. They also feature a four-sided curved design that gives users amazing hand-feel.

Large 1.25μm pixels and front LED Selfie-light for natural, well-exposed photos

Redmi 5/Redmi 5 Plus come with rear cameras sporting large 1.25μm-pixel sensors. The larger the pixels, the more light a sensor can capture, giving better image quality even in situations when lighting conditions are not perfect.

The front Selfie-light on Redmi 5/Redmi 5 Plus allows users to capture beautiful selfies even in low-light conditions. With an always-on mode, this also works when shooting videos. Combined with Xiaomi’s Beautify 3.0, Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus deliver flattering and natural selfies.

Long battery life and MIUI 9 enhancements

Battery life is one of the most important features on the Redmi series, and Redmi 5/Redmi 5 Plus continue this tradition with a built-in 3300/4000 mAh battery. The power-efficient 14nm Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets, coupled with enhancements in MIUI 9, give Redmi 5 Plus a standby time of up to 17 days.

Flagship-level testing standards

Xiaomi’s Redmi series is widely recognized for high quality, a result of various factors including the use of best-in-class suppliers, and extremely stringent reliability tests comparable to those used for flagship devices.

One example of Xiaomi’s dedication to introducing the highest quality features on all its devices is a design tailored to buffer the impact of any fall in the new Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus smartphones. With a reinforced structure, the likelihood of a broken screen is reduced in cases when a user drops the smartphone, landing corner first.  Furthermore, enhancements to the earpiece, including an additional waterproof layer, help protect Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus from sweat and dust, reducing the likelihood of the call volume dropping over time.

Redmi 5 (2GB+16 GB) and Redmi 5 (3GB+32GB) will be available for RMB 799 and RMB 899 respectively. Redmi 5 Plus (3GB+32GB) will retail for RMB 999, and Redmi 5 Plus (4GB+64GB) for RMB 1299. They will be available in China on Mi.com, Mi Home stores, as well as Xiaomi’s flagship online stores on Tmall and JD.com starting 12 December.

【News】Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun makes special appearance at Qualcomm’s second annual Snapdragon Technology Summit Keynote

(more…)

Nine New Features of MIUI 9

In early November, we announced MIUI 9 Global ROM. As has been the case with every iteration of MIUI, MIUI 9 brings add-ons and features that strive to make the experience of using a smartphone even better.

There’s a long list of changes that we’ve made and features that we’ve added to make MIUI 9 an even better experience.  Let’s talk about the top nine features of MIUI 9 that make it stand out among the rest.

1. Lightning fast system 

Our main focus while designing MIUI 9 was to make it fast and minimize the number of unnecessary steps users have to take. A lot of effort went into optimizing the system so the UI is responsive, apps load quickly and these apps are easy to switch between. Additionally, we ensured that the system remains stable and is power efficient.

2. Changes in notification shade

When speaking of smartphone usage experience, notifications are one of the most important aspects. Addressing key learnings from our previous MIUI systems, we made notifications easier to deal with in MIUI 9’s notification shade. Information is now presented in a more concise manner with all notifications grouped on a by-app basis to reduce clutter.

3. Animated icons, UI changes and a fresh look

We think MIUI is probably the most easy-on-the-eye operating system. To make it even better, we’ve made changes to the user interface by adding fresh colors, smoother animations, and multiple animated icons to ensure that phone use is a streamlined and enjoyable experience.

4. App vault

App vault is another feature we’ve designed to improve the user experience after studying the way people interact with their smartphones. App vault allows users to add cards, such as Google Now, Notes, popular app shortcuts and more, on a screen that will stay just one swipe away from one’s home screen for easy accessibility.

5. Revamped Gallery app

MIUI Gallery is already a much-loved app, but we’ve revamped it to make it more powerful and easier to use through sorting and back-up photo features. However, the focus of the MIUI Gallery on MIUI 9 is its powerful editing options that allow you to tweak images on a professional scale.

6. Notification filter

With MIUI 7, we announced the Smart SMS Filter, which received accolades from users across the world. With MIUI 9, we thought of taking this one step further by integrating our smart filtering mechanisms to the notification panel, allowing important notifications to stay at the top of the notification panel and not get lost in the clutter.

7. Mi Drop app

User feedback helped us determine that the Mi Drop app would be useful to those outside of the MIUI system, so anyone using an Android smartphone can exchange large files quickly and conveniently. So, we revamped Mi Drop and packaged it into a separate app that anyone can download from the Play Store.

8. Split screen

With the number of apps escalating, we realized it makes sense to offer users the ability to have app windows from two different programs on the same screen. Thus, we announced Split screen, allowing users to deal with two apps at once. The size of each window can also be customized according to preference.

9. Quick silent switch

As mentioned before, one aspect of a good user experience is how quickly (and in how many steps) a desired action can be performed. Quick silent switch on MIUI 9 will allow users to switch to a silent profile in just two steps — press volume down and then tap on the Quick Silent Switch. Users can also choose to set a timeframe for the mode if desired.

An inside look at Xiaomi India

Lei Jun (on the right), founder and CEO of Xiaomi and Manu Kumar Jain (on the left), Vice President of Xiaomi and Managing Director of Xiaomi India

Editor’s note:
We have become the number one smartphone vendor in India in Q3 2017 as per IDC. With a market share of 23.5% and 9.2 million smartphones shipped in the quarter, Xiaomi has become the fastest growing smartphone brand in India, surging nearly 300% percent year-on-year! The following is a letter from Manu Kumar Jain, who oversees Xiaomi India.

Three years ago, we started our India journey…

We started with a clear goal in mind: to create high quality products and offer them at prices that allowed us to bring our innovation to everyone. We didn’t have a big team or a big budget. What we did have was extremely innovative products, a handful of dedicated people, the backing of our Mi Fans and lastly, a clear goal to disrupt the market.

We were told that our dreams were too ambitious. We were told that we would fail. Like the hundreds of startups that have come and gone, we were told we would just be another brick in the wall. But here we are three years down the line, achieving the impossible.

I’m really happy to announce that today, Xiaomi is the No.1 smartphone brand in India. This is, without doubt, the biggest feat we’ve achieved since entering the Indian market.

To put things into perspective, we started our India journey in 2014. Based on what we know, no other brand has ever managed such a feat in India within such a short period of time.

To make it easier to digest, let’s crunch on some numbers. As per IDC’s report for Q3 2017, Xiaomi India shipped 9.2 million units in this quarter and commands a 23.5% market share.

Some other trivia from the IDC report which I’d like to share with you:

  • We continue to be the fastest growing smartphone brand in India with a year-on-year growth of nearly 300%.
  • We have witnessed a 91% growth from last quarter to now.
  • With a 51% market share, we continue to maintain leadership in the online smartphone market for three consecutive quarters.
  • We started building our offline channel earlier this year, and within just two quarters, we’ve managed to double our offline sales and are the fourth largest brand within the offline segment.
  • The blockbuster Redmi Note 4 continues to be the #1 best-selling smartphone for the third consecutive quarter, a feat absolutely unheard of for a 10-month old product.
  • Three of the top five selling smartphones this quarter are Redmi smartphones – Redmi Note 4, Redmi 4 and Redmi 4A.

I’d like to dedicate this milestone to each and every one of the Xiaomi India staff, Mi Fans, and all those who trusted us with their hard-earned money. Thank you for putting in the effort to take this company forward. Thank you for doing the impossible.

Until next time,

Manu

【News】Xiaomi makes its debut in Spain, its first entry into Western Europe

Spain entry marks significant milestone for global technology leader Xiaomi

Xiaomi’s devices are set to shake up the local smartphone market with high-quality performance at incredible prices

MADRID, Spain, 7 November 2017—Global technology leader Xiaomi took a major step forward in its global expansion journey as it announced its arrival in Spain today, marking its first entry into Western Europe. Well-known for its range of high-quality innovative products at incredible prices, Xiaomi is set to shake up the smartphone market in Spain and create ripples around Western Europe.

Founded in 2010, Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun and other co-founders started the company based on the vision “innovation for everyone”. A unique company like no other, Xiaomi has an innovative business model inspired by Internet thinking that ensures the highest level of efficiency, so it can make its products with cutting-edge technology available at amazing prices.

There are three pillars that make up Xiaomi’s “triathlon” business model: hardware, new retail and Internet services. During an event held at the COAM space in Madrid today, Xiaomi announced that it is bringing to Spain all three parts of its business model, including its very own e-commerce site Mi.com and a number of Authorized Mi Stores. Through this, the company is demonstrating its commitment to the Spanish market and showing its serious ambitions to change the game in the technology industry.

Mr. Wang Xiang, Senior Vice President, Xiaomi, said at the event: “Today is a momentous occasion for Xiaomi as it marks a new chapter in our global expansion journey. We are so excited to be taking this first step into Western Europe, starting with Spain. After years of unwavering support from our Mi Fans in the Spanish market, we are delighted to officially launch our products here to serve our fans. Xiaomi is a company committed to developing products that combine cutting-edge technological innovations and great design while defying price expectations, and we believe that our products will be a very attractive option for consumers and will ultimately change the game in the technology industry.”

Xiaomi is partnering with Ingram Micro and AliExpress to distribute, market and support its highly innovative products in Spain. Other than its own e-commerce site http://www.mi.com/es, for the very first time, AliExpress (http://www.aliexpress.com) will launch official stores where official Xiaomi products will be sold. Xiaomi’s range of products will also be available online and offline in Spain via Amazon, Carrefour, MediaMarkt and Phone House.

Xiaomi also announced today two Authorized Mi Stores located in Madrid that will open on 11 November—one is situated in the shopping mall La Vaguada and the other one in Xanadú.

Wang Xiang (middle), Senior Vice President, Xiaomi; Enrico Salvatori (right), Senior Vice President and President, Qualcomm EMEA; Donovan Sung (left), Director of Product Management and Marketing, Xiaomi Global

The event also featured a speech from Qualcomm Technologies’ Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President and President, Qualcomm EMEA, who congratulated Xiaomi on its official debut in Europe: “Qualcomm Technologies and Xiaomi have worked in close collaboration for many years and have forged a successful working relationship to bring leading-edge products to the world. Since Xiaomi launched its first device six years ago, we have worked together to create powerful and popular smartphones based on Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Platforms. Qualcomm Technologies is honoured to work with Xiaomi and be part of their arrival in Europe and proud to be powering their first two mobile devices for Europe.”

Mi MIX 2: Innovation on Full Display

One of the key products that Xiaomi is bringing to Spain is Mi MIX 2, a gorgeous evolution of Mi MIX, the revolutionary concept phone unveiled a year ago. Introduced as a concept device last October, Mi MIX heralded a turning point in the design of smartphones and pioneered the trend of full screen display smartphones.

Mi MIX 2, powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform, builds on the foundation of the original concept. It is 11.9% smaller than Mi MIX, and has a 5.99-inch screen with a 18:9 full screen display, which delivers a stunning appearance with the screen almost entirely filling up the front surface.

Jointly designed with world-renowned designer Philippe Starck, Mi MIX 2 represents Xiaomi’s efforts in pushing ahead with the use of ceramic. It has a beautiful ceramic back, which features a four-sided curved design that transitions smoothly into the aluminum frame.

Mi MIX 2 will be available in Spain for €499 for the 6GB + 64GB version.

Mi A1: Picture Perfect Dual Camera

Xiaomi also announced the launch of Mi A1 in Spain, starting at €229 for the 4GB + 64GB version, the first device to run on Google’s evolved Android One program.

Powered by the Snapdragon 625 Mobile Platform, Mi A1 incorporates a dual camera configuration similar to that in Mi 6, Xiaomi’s latest flagship device, with wide angle and telephoto lenses used to incredible effect.

The two lenses allow Mi A1 to calculate what is in the foreground and what is in the background, creating a depth-of-field effect that typically requires a DSLR lens to achieve, allowing the user to create photos of unparalleled clarity and color. In addition, an improved Beautify mode that makes selfies look more natural, now works with the both the front 5MP camera as well as the 12MP dual rear camera. Mi A1 supports 2x optical zoom, which makes photos of distant subjects remain clear, while 10x digital zoom is also supported.

Mi A1 runs on stock Android to offer a high-quality software experience designed by Google, underscoring Xiaomi’s commitment to providing more choices for users. It will receive the Android Oreo update by the end of 2017 and will be one of the first smartphones to get the next version of Android in 2018.

Mi Ecosystem: A range of award-winning IoT products for Spain

Another key component of Xiaomi’s hardware strategy is “Mi Ecosystem”, Xiaomi’s unique approach of incubating and investing in specialized companies to effectively expand its product line and solidify its position as a top Internet of Things player.

The “Mi Ecosystem” sub-brand covers a range of hundreds of products manufactured by Xiaomi’s portfolio companies, which numbers 89 now. In addition, the Mi Ecosystem IoT platform has crossed 60 million connected devices, becoming the world’s largest smart hardware platform.

In Spain, Xiaomi is introducing the following well-loved Mi Ecosystem products:

Mi Electric Scooter: Priced at €349.99, Mi Electric Scooter has an award-winning design and is incredibly easy to master. It travels 30km on a single charge and weighs just 12.5kg, and comes with an LED headlight and features such as regenerative braking. By connecting to an app, users can also use their phone as a dashboard.

Mi Box: Mi Box is Xiaomi’s 4K Ultra HD streaming media player powered by Google’s Android TV, priced at €74.99. It offers 4K support at 60 frames per second, support for the latest HDR10 standard, Google voice search and Google Cast.

Mi Action Camera 4K: Mi Action Camera 4K, priced at €134.99, captures 4K videos at 30fps with a 145° super wide-angle lens, which is great for landscape still shots. It has a 2.4-inch built-in display for users to control the camera, and a dedicated app can allow users to discover even more shooting options.

Mi Band 2: Mi Band 2 tracks steps, heart rate and alerts users of notifications and calls, and is available at €24.99. It has an amazing battery life of up to 20 days, and is also IP67-rated to protect against water and dust.

Xiaomi’s range of products will be available in Spain starting 8 November at 1p.m. on all online channels including Xiaomi’s own http://www.mi.com/es, AliExpress and Amazon, as well as the online sites of retailers including Carrefour, MediaMarkt and Phone House. They will be available on 11 November at the two Authorized Mi Stores at La Vaguada and Madrid Xanadú. The rest of the offline channels, namely Carrefour, MediaMarkt and Phone House, will start selling Xiaomi’s products on 22 November.

For more information about the products coming to Spain, visit http://www.mi.com/es.

Dual Cameras Come of Age

Smartphone devices with a dual-camera feature aren’t new by any stretch of imagination. However, only recently have dual cameras started to grab consumers’ attention.

Dual-camera phones have become much more powerful and affordable in the past few years. That said, it’s important to note that there are variations in the kind of implementations on the market. With an array of options at camera makers’ disposal, we have spotlighted the different dual-camera features available.

1. Color + Color

The advantage of the color + color camera setup is that it allows the smartphone to capture more light data than a single camera would; it’s basically built on the idea that “two is better than one.” Our first dual-camera smartphone, the Redmi Pro utilized this arrangement.

Another popular case for this arrangement was 3D pictures and video, which again didn’t happen to be a favorite with consumers.

Other smartphones offer a color + color sensor arrangement which leverages narrow- and wide-angle lenses to offer some flexibility to consumers.

2. Color + monochrome

Another popular dual-camera design is a color + monochrome lens. The main advantage of this arrangement is the level of detail captured in every picture; data from both sensors is combined, resulting in pictures with a higher level of detail than standard single camera phones. Most phones with this set-up also allow the user to use the monochrome sensor as a standalone feature.

Until about a year ago, the color + monochrome feature was only found on high-end phones, but is now becoming increasingly popular on phones that are affordable to a greater number of people, for example, Mi 5S Plus.

3.Wide angle + telephoto

While other arrangements couldn’t quite satisfy consumers in producing good enough photos, this wide angle + telephoto implementation helped deliver what consumers really want—pictures that can get thousands of likes on social media.

This arrangement allows smartphones to focus on subjects in the foreground while blurring the background, giving pictures an effect that was previously only possible on a DSLR. The result is achieved by the combination of a wide-angle lens along with a telephoto, which work in conjunction to bring out pictures with a blurred background. Other implementations do achieve this effect mainly through software, but the wide angle + telephoto setup will produce a more natural look.

Because of the hardware involved, this implementation is also the most expensive between the three, and generally produces images that are most pleasing (out of the arrangements mentioned here) to consumers’ eyes. Mi 6 and Mi A1  as well as iPhone 8 Plus are some examples of phones that use the aforesaid arrangement.

Without a doubt, advancements in mobile photography technology will result in even better dual camera solutions in smartphones. The possibilities are endless, and we will continue pushing boundaries in this area.

A Mi Fan’s seven-year journey with Xiaomi

Hong Jun, a Shanghai native and manager in the automotive industry, is one of Xiaomi’s first Mi Fans, better known among other fans by his MIUI forum name, SmartStar.

SmartStar, holding the phone in the center, with a group of Mi Fans.

SmartStar told us that it was the MIUI platform that nurtured the first Mi Fans and the first Xiaomi phone, Mi 1, turned hundreds of impressed customers into devoted Mi Fans.

Xiaomi gave 100 engineering models of Mi 1 to its earliest Mi Fans. SmartStar had device number 011.

The number of Mi Fans has increased exponentially over the years and now not only encompasses engineers but also tech fanatics, designers and general consumers who are interested in cutting-edge products.

According to Lewis Ling, Community Management Lead at Xiaomi Global, there are four large forums for Mi Fans throughout the year. There are two nationwide activities, a mid-year event called “Mi Pop” and another gathering at the end of the year. China also has a MIUI Club and Campus Club for its fan base.

There are also city-level Mi Fan gatherings, which take place once a month. They are either product review events after major launches before the first sale of new products, or short tours to interesting places nearby, bringing Mi Fans closer together.

“Every true Mi Fan has made his or her own contribution to every single Xiaomi product. Xiaomi only spent one year evolving from the Mi MIX to the Mi MIX 2 and I believe Mi Fans’ feedback and suggestions played a very important role,” said SmartStar.

Mi Fans can also directly communicate with our high-ranking executives. For example, Alee, who co-founded Xiaomi in 2010 and previously led MIUI and now leads the marketing team, used to spend one or two hours every day on the MIUI Forum to chat with Mi Fans about their problems and suggestions.

SmartStar’s Story

SmartStar recalled that he met Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s founder and CEO at the company’s first launch event of Mi 1 in August 2011. “I was helping organize a rehearsal with other Mi Fans, and it happened that Lei Jun was taking a break nearby. I sat beside him and we chatted for a long time,” he said.

“He didn’t look like a business man, but more like an engineer. This was my first impression of him. Especially, Mi 1’s price was just half of its counterparts, making me believe that he just purely wanted to make a good phone. He is always as passionate as an enthusiast. I truly admire him,” SmartStar said .

During the product launch, Xiaomi gave SmartStar a tailor-made case portraying his family, including his one-year-old daughter.

Now seven years have passed. “Her childhood was accompanied by the Mi Bunny toys and witnessed by Mi Fans and the first Xiaomi people.”

SmartStar is an expert in a technology company in the automotive industry. He said he learnt a lot from Xiaomi’s business model. For example, motivating users by catering to their real needs, as well as encouraging users to come up with their innovative ideas.

“I think it’s almost impossible for an Internet automotive company to manufacture cars, but it’s plausible for an Internet automotive company to develop in-car apps,” said SmartStar.

His company organizes fan activities from time to time, such as reviews of in-car products and apps, or test-drives of electric cars.

“I hope one day MIUI can be the bridge between Xiaomi and smart car products or apps. MIUI is the reason that attracted the earliest Mi Fans, now it can be the hub for a smarter and better life.”

“You don’t have to pay much for a good life. Technology makes your life easier and happier,” SmartStar said.

Q&A

1.Which Xiaomi smartphones have you used?

The first engineering model of Mi 1, Mi 1 (final retail), Mi 2’s engineering model and Mi 2 (final retail), Mi 3 and Mi 4 for my family, Mi Note and Mi 5.

2.What Xiaomi products do you use at home?

I have a Mi Smart Home Kit which includes smart sensors for windows and doors. They can automatically turn on the light, and start household appliances remotely.

I also have other Mi Ecosystem products including Mi Robot Vacuum which automatically cleans my home every two days. Once connected to a Xiaomi smartphone, I can monitor my Mi Water Purifier remotely and receive a notification when any of its four purifier filters is expired. I can also remotely turn on or off my Mi Kettle and set water temperature, so that my daughter can always drink warm water.

I even use Xiaomi’s consumer products like toothbrush, towel and sports shoes.

Now I’ve developed a habit that whenever I want to buy any smart device or consumer product, I will check on Mi.com first to see if Xiaomi has this particular product on sale.

The making of Mi MIX: How the Philippe Starck collaboration was born

This September, Philippe Starck took the stage in Beijing for the launch of Mi MIX 2, the stunning full screen display smartphone. Starck joined forces with Xiaomi last year to revolutionize the smartphone industry with the original Mi MIX, the world’s first full screen display phone. But, the road to the renowned designer’s connection to us dates back to the end of 2014, when several Xiaomi products won a series of design awards. Starck was impressed that a brand from China – a country criticized at the time for lacking strong industrial designs – created such simple, neat, and impressive works.

In the spring of 2015, Starck was introduced by his friend to Xiaomi and experienced several products. He felt there was a common understanding with us on the design philosophy in terms of democratization for elegant and high technological designs.

How Mi MIX 1 started

With our founder and CEO Lei Jun‘s commission, Liu De, our vice president who leads Mi Ecosystem went to Spain in August 2015 to meet with Starck and showed him the Ceramic Edition Mi 5 Pro. Starck believed the device was a world-class product, and a manifestation of a shared vision: the simpler the design is, the more important the material.

Given the mindshare, Liu De let Starck in on the company’s plan to launch an all-new concept phone product line, which would become our most important project, to date, emphasizing the desire to create a product for which mass production was not a priority, and could simply focus on the possible forms of future phones.

By the end of the meeting, Starck accepted our invitation to lead the design of the project – taking a leap of faith to design a phone for the first time.

It took Starck only three days to develop the first design, followed by a year of fleshing out the ambitious concept.

Led by Starck, our engineers created a series of mockups and models, and frequently flew to France and Portugal for working sessions with Starck. Lei Jun also immersed himself in the manufacturing process and worked directly with engineers to solve structural and engineering challenges.

Mi MIX 1 had its pilot production in February 2016, which incorporated leading-edge features such as doing away with the earpiece speaker and the proximity sensor with piezoelectric ceramic technology and ultrasonic technology.

By August 2016, we finalized the design of Mi MIX 1. On October 26, we officially unveiled Mi MIX 1.

How Mi MIX 2 started

In November that year, the Mi MIX 2 project was officially started. Starck and Our ID, product and engineering teams had frequent and fast communication, from which they cleared the aspects to improve on Mi MIX 2, including:

  • Change the aspect ratio from 17:9 to 18:9, so that the on-screen content can take centerstage and is more pure, as well as more immersive.
  • Re-enable the diaphragm handset for a better call experience.
  • While keeping the high aspect ratio, slightly narrow the phone body so it can be thinner and have better handfeel.
  • Adhere to the ceramic material and apply a more integrated ceramic unibody design.

“We created the Unibody ceramic Mix 2 because the concept of full monolith fits with idea of fullness, completeness, and simpleness of the ancient China philosophy and the values of the next world. We tried to reach through the unibody a type of serenity. The purity of design of a ceramic unibody gives us the feeling of smooth perfection of jade, a quiet pure jade.” Ph.S

In less than two months, Starck proposed and updated more than a dozen ideas. Our engineering team began building a structure based on the design process and selection. All of our teams met in France and Portugal several times to discuss with Starck about the forward-looking technical solutions.

Then Starck came to Beijing on February 15 to meet Lei Jun and our teams to discuss the design and structure, technology and other issues.

The engineering model of the P0 version of Mi MIX 2 finally succeeded after months of experiments amidst the huge technological challenge of creating a ceramic unibody.

In early May 2017, Starck received the P1 prototype of the first Mi MIX 2.

“Looks like an evolution but it is a revolution. Revolution is the addition of powerful evolution.” Ph.S

“When Lei Jun introduced me the powerful performance of Mi MIX 2, I had the strong feeling that Lei Jun had just gave me the key, the possibility to create the ultimate best for all of us, for all the world.” Ph.S

In August 2017, Mi MIX won the IDEA Gold Award.

On September 11, Starck came to Beijing to attend the launch event of Mi MIX 2, which once again stunned the world.

“Because it’s fantastic, we cannot make better today. It’s done, we cannot go more forward now. It’s ultimate but so challenging to create the next revolution.” Ph.S