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Xiaomi Hongmi: the all-new budget smartphone

Photo credit: The Droid Guy
Photo credit: The Droid Guy
Photo credit: The Droid Guy

At the end of the year 2013, there was a big hype about budget smartphones that have all the basic functions without putting a strain in your wallet. Although Apple tried to introduce a budget smartphone by launching the iPhone 5C, the appearance and price were not enough to be labelled as “the” budget smartphone, since the appearance was plain compared to its counterparts and the price was still relatively expensive for the general population. However, the Chinese mobile phone brand Xiaomi has successfully launched a budget smartphone Hongmi in December last year, which stays true to its label.

Costing only RMB 799 ($130 USD), the Hongmi model first launched by only producing 10,000 copies, of which users had to register on the official website and try their luck depending on the speed of their internet connection - only the first 10,000 users with the fastest clicks were able to purchase this budget smartphone, which was sold out within 21 seconds. Despite the cheap price, the smartphone includes a series of admirable functions, such as a quad-core processor, an 8MP camera and it runs on Android 4.2.1.

However, certain sacrifices had to be made due to the low price. For example, the quad-core chip is Mediatek MT6589 1.5GHz and not the Snapdragon or Tegra 4 that Xiaomi uses in its other models. The appearance is also relatively bland and boring with a plastic back and metallic-looking buttons. The Hongmi smartphone also only includes 1GB of memory, therefore users usually need to purchase an extra micro SD card.

As we step into the year of 2014, experts predict that Asian mobile phone companies will take over the smartphone market. While the Chinese market is expanding exponentially, experts also state that India is growing at a fast pace in the smartphone market. As smartphones become cheaper and more accessible to the general population, this will have micro and macro effects on society.