Why we made only 100 units of the Mercury Silver Mi 6

In a recent blog post we revealed that only 100 units of the Mercury Silver Mi 6 will be available on Mi.com in China. The Mercury Silver Mi 6 is extremely difficult to produce and is an outcome of Xiaomi’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of materials technology.

This video is an interview with Anthony Howe, the design consultant for the Mercury Silver Mi 6. Anthony is good at using metals and shaping them into artistic pieces. For him, the Mercury Silver Mi 6 was “almost an impossible task”. However, Xiaomi made the idea come true.

Let’s take a deeper dive into this one-of-a-kind masterpiece!

Two different techniques

There are two methods to make silver mirror-like surfaces. One is film coating, which is used by other big smartphone makers. This method can be simply understood as pasting a special, light sensitive film to the back of the transparent glass cap that produces a silvering mirror-like effect.

The other method, PVD electroplating, is what the Mercury Silver Mi 6 adopts. It is a special electroplating method in an entirely vacuumed environment. Simply put, this method is time intensive and technically challenging, but the results are worth the wait.

Compared to electroplating, the film coating technique results in higher yield rates and does not require vacuum surroundings, so it can easily apply to mass production. So why do we insist on using a more time intensive and difficult method with limited production capacity? Because through this technique we’re able to produce a one-of-a-kind unit that has a better mirror-like surface, making the device completely smooth and bright.

Three elements of PVD electroplating

As noted, the first key element is an entirely vacuumed environment. Even a single speck of dust will ruin the whole glass batch. Since the body of a smartphone can’t be accomplished at a single plant, we have to make sure that the whole transportation process is dust-free.

The second part of the process is to make sure that the whole mirror surface has unified color and luster. The electroplating process applies hundreds of millions of very tiny silver particles evenly on the interior of glass in a vacuum environment.

One particle is 0.34 nm, and to give you an idea of how small that is, 1 nm is about one 60,000th of the diameter of a single hair strand. And to achieve perfect coating effect, one layer is not enough. That means this time intensive process has to be repeated for several times, and we do it eight times!

Lastly, perfection must be achieved on the inside as well as the outside. We wanted to use a unique material that would deliver the mercury silver effect, yet didn’t shield the phone signal. We tested a wide variety of materials to achieve the effect we wanted and found one that is extremely unique, but we are keeping this material top-secret! Very James Bond-like, right?

The Mercury Silver Mi 6 truly embodies the relentless exploring spirit of Xiaomi. Recently, we gifted the Mercury Silver Mi 6 to four significant people who embody this same spirit. The recipients include Franky Zapata, the inventor of Flyboard, the jet-powered hover board; Alan Stern, the principal investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto; David Reitze, Director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) experiment at the University of Florida; Buzz Aldrin, a former astronaut on Apollo 11 and one of the first two humans to land on the Moon.

We salute these leaders with the Mercury Silver Mi 6 in a shared spirit of love for innovation and exploration!

【News】Xiaomi announces Redmi Note 5A, priced from RMB 699

BEIJING, 21 August 2017 — Leading technology company Xiaomi today released Redmi Note 5A, an attractively-designed 5.5-inch smartphone priced from RMB 699.

A simple, symmetrical design

Redmi Note 5A makes no compromise in any aspect, including design. It features a symmetrical design and exudes a simple and elegant aesthetic. Though equipped with a 5.5-inch screen, Redmi Note 5A weighs a mere 150g, thanks to a complex manufacturing process that gives its non-metal back a metal-like feel — without the added weight. Meanwhile, two decorative separation lines adorn the top and bottom of its back.

An ultra-thin Perforated Case for Redmi Note 5A will also be available. The perforated design allows better airflow and provides a non-slip surface. This case comes in blue, pink, and black.

Essential features to suit your needs

Redmi Note 5A is powered by a quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor and comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage. The 5.5-inch screen on Redmi Note 5A is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass.

Redmi Note 5A comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera which supports PDAF for fast autofocus, and also sports a high-capacity 3080mAh battery that lasts all day. With a two-plus-one SIM tray design, Redmi Note 5A allows two SIM cards and one MicroSD card to be used at at the same time, while memory can be expanded up to 128GB. Finally, a built-in IR blaster means the phone also doubles as a universal remote control.

Redmi Note 5A Prime with front Selfie-light and fingerprint sensor

In addition to the standard edition, Redmi Note 5A Prime was also announced today. This version features Selfie-light and fingerprint recognition. Selfies turn out better with the front-facing 16-megapixel camera and an independent Selfie-light, which simulates the effect of natural light. The result is more beautiful selfies with clearer facial features, brighter skin tone and more expressive eyes.

Redmi Note 5A Prime is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 435 processor and comes in either 3GB+32GB or 4GB+64GB configurations. It also has a built-in fingerprint sensor at the back.Redmi Note 5A is available in Dark Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold and is available at RMB 699. Redmi Note 5A Prime starts at RMB 899 for the 3GB+32GB version and is priced at RMB 1199 for the 4GB+64GB configuration. All versions are upgradeable to Xiaomi’s lightning-fast MIUI 9 at the end of August and go on sale on Mi.com, as well as Xiaomi’s flagship online stores on Tmall and JD.com starting August 22 at 10am.

Behind-the-scenes of our ID team, and more

In our last post with Li Ningning, senior director of ID, Mi Ecosystem, we learned about her thoughts on the Mi Ecosystem design. Now, we dive deeper into Mi Ecosystem’s ID team and its opinion and plans for Xiaomi’s design.

Tell us more about the Mi Ecosystem’s design team. 

Our team keeps growing. What started as a 2-3-person team has grown into a team of almost a dozen members.

The team is extremely diverse and our designers come from various backgrounds. Work experience is extremely important when we hire new talent and we ensure that their previous design work matches the tone of our tastes.

I trust my team, and we have team brainstorms to get initial ideas going. Then, I let the right person take over a project in which he has more interests and is more familiar with the topic. I think if you love a product, you will be more inspired and have the patience to carry through the design.

Do Mi Ecosystem designers receive any perks for impressive designs?

Xiaomi attaches more and more importance to designs and provides designers with rewards; however, what drives our designers relentlessly is the recognition from more authoritative design experts and associations.

After winning the Gold iF World Design Award and the Red Dot Best of the Best 2017 Award, our designers were given an incentive trip to Germany to see world-class industrial design. This was a great reward that will directly benefit our work.

Xiaomi invested in 89 ecosystem companies. How does the ID team solve the disagreements and conflicts among so many moving components?

We have very strict standards for quality control and we push our ecosystem companies to increase yield rates. Our designers are encouraged to go to front-line to get a better understanding of manufacturing and operation. This allows our designers and our ecosystem companies to have better mutual understanding, knowing how strict we are with our products and designs.

Some products seem simple, but require complex techniques. Take our Yeelight Beside Lamp, Mi Beside Lamp and Mi LED Desk Lamp, for example. Each lamp uses a different technique, which was more difficult than initially expected, so massive production with the same standard can’t work. We strive to overcome difficulties, by working closely with our partners and ecosystem companies to create a great product.

What do you think of Western and Eastern design styles? Are they very different or are they becoming more similar? Why?

Western and Eastern aesthetic tastes are becoming more similar. They learn from each other and add shared elements to their designs.

How long is the life span for consumer product designs?

Five years at most, but this is not the fault of designers or designs. Consumer product designs are largely affected by hardware, which updates very, very fast, so design styles have to change accordingly.

What separates Mi Ecosystem’s designs from other brands

“Mi Ecosystem has its own design style, and our designers have their own bottom-line,” according to Li Ningning, Senior Director of Industrial Design of Mi Ecosystem and the 79th employee of Xiaomi. Li shared her unique perspective on Mi Ecosystem’s design style and provided an inside look into her journey on the Xiaomi team from the company’s infancy to now.

Why did you join Xiaomi?

Xiaomi co-founder Liu De was my senior schoolmate, and almost two years after I graduated from Art Center College of Design, he came to me and asked whether I’d like to join the startup.

I learned design strategies at school, so I hoped to apply them in the workplace after graduation. I also thought it would be great to work with a group of talented people.

Frankly speaking, I didn’t consider too much and simply took a leap of faith on the opportunity. I joined Xiaomi in February of 2011, becoming its 79th employee.

How do styles of different brands in various industries look alike today?

First, I think we need to differentiate aesthetic trend from design style. Simplicity is a general aesthetic trend of our time. Most people like it, so most companies and designers follow it.

That’s why when you see today’s home decorations, fashion trends, and things in other areas, their designs are very simple. But style is different. Style can’t be copied.

How would you describe the design style of Mi Ecosystem? How does Mi Ecosystem’s design stand out among others?

I would use three words to describe Mi Ecosystem’s design style: Simple, peaceful and humble.

By simple, we are saying that 80% of our customers can accept our design style. We always use white or other neutral colors so as to suit most of our customers’ tastes.

Peaceful means that we are reasonable and efficient in balancing between designers’ professionalism and products’ functionality.

Humble means our products won’t clash aesthetically in an environment. They can easily fit in almost all kinds of home decoration styles.

Mi Ecosystem has its own style, and our designers have their own bottom-line. The first principle is to never copy. The second is that you should take pride in your own designs. If you copy others or you don’t devote yourself fully to your designs, you won’t take pride in them.

We take ourselves seriously as engineers and keep crafting our designs hundreds of times, until eventually we are satisfied.

Xiaomi’s design style and ability have been recognized by more and more authorized third-party design associations – Mi LED Desk Lamp was awarded the prestigious Gold iF World Design Award and Mi Electric Scooter won the Red Dot Best of the Best 2017 Award. What stood out to you about these two products?

Smart LED Desk Lamp’s design greatly balanced functionality and appearance. It has a maximum opening angle of 135 degrees, which is enough for all types of daily usage. The revealed red wire gives the lamp some characters. In addition, it is priced competitively at RMB 169!

Scooters used to be very bulky, but Mi Electric Scooter is not. Its body uses super light aluminum that is primarily used in the aviation industry, so it only weighs at 12.5 kg and is easy to fold.

The criteria for industrial design is subjective, but good industrial design needs to be two things: balanced and simple. Good industrial design can influence or create some changes in the industry.

What Mi Ecosystem products do you use at home?

A lot. Mi LED Desk Lamp, Mi Motion Sensor, Mi Smart Power Strip and others. They have very simple and well-knit designs.

One of my favorite products is our power strip. In the past, power strips were ugly. People didn’t realize that this device could be well designed. However, we believed that everyday products should be aesthetically pleasing and we made great efforts to innovate power strips’ designs. You can see that the three-in-one holes on Mi Power Strip are neatly aligned. We changed people’s perception about power strips and we have led the industry. Now, you can see other brands’ power strips also look better.

What’s your favorite design style?

I like very simple styles. My home decoration takes a simple design, and most of the furniture has a light color. I also prefer simply designed clothes and other fashion items.

【GALLERY】Two facets: technology and art

The development of technology is fast-paced, and what’s cutting-edge today will soon become outdated tomorrow. (more…)

We offer smartphones, and toothbrushes

When Xiaomi released the Mi Electric Toothbrush under our “Mi Ecosystem” sub-brand, we were met with questions as to why we are creating products outside of our traditional smartphone offerings. People couldn’t understand why we were branching out to become a “supermarket”. And we’ve received this type of response in the past with our other products like the Mi Air Purifier, towels and suitcases.

And the answer is simple: Xiaomi is much more than a smartphone company. We are a company that provides innovation to everyone at every level — from smartphones and technology to IoT connected smart products to the basic everyday tools like power banks, backpacks and pens.

We live in a connected world and we strive to provide the latest technology and products to our consumers. You can understand our current product line-up in three groups: smartphones, smart products and non-smart products.

However, we don’t lose focus even with this array of products. No one company can be the best at everything, so while we focus on our core products, we invest in companies that are able to take us into new and exciting categories. We have so far invested in 89 companies that design and manufacture products beyond our three core product categories: smartphones, smart TVs and smart routers. Among these, many have been incubated by Xiaomi from their founding. In fact, we are the world’s most successful hardware incubator.

You can understand our current product line-up in three groups: smartphones, smart products and non-smart products.

Smartphones are at the center of everything we do, which has attracted a large group of users who are young and Internet savvy. From our latest Mi 6 to Mi MIX to our Redmi phones, we are able to offer the latest technology at very accessible prices.

The second product division is our smart devices that can be connected to our IoT platform, like Mi Water Purifier, Mi Induction Heating Rice cooker and others. Our hope is that these smart products help enhance our Mi Fans’ lives, where traditional non-connected products cannot. For example, with our smart Mi Air Purifier, we’re able to turn the unit on with a Mi Home app during our evening commute home.

The third is our “non-smart” products, like towels, and suitcases. While they are not smart products, they are products we inevitably need in our everyday lives. One of our favorite examples is the 90 Point Luggage, which is reliable, attractive and priced disruptively for more people to enjoy the high quality of this product.

We are a company that constantly seeks innovation at every level and the opportunities surrounding smart products are unending. We understand the rise in demand for smart products, as after all, we too reap the benefits of having a smart Mi Air Purifier. However, to fulfill our mission of “Innovation for Everyone”, we also strive to bring high-quality “non-smart” consumer products to our users.