Chinese Xiaomi unveils $680 5G smartphone, sees growth in Africa

BARCELONA (Reuters) – China’s Xiaomi has launched its contribution to a new wave of smartphones that will be able to take advantage of faster 5G mobile networks with a lower price than analysts expected from rivals such as Samsung.

A person checks the new Xiaomi Mi 9 mobile phone ahead of the Mobile World Congress (MWC 19) in Barcelona, Spain, February 24, 2019. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

The world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker unveiled the handset on Sunday, trumpeting prices from 599 euros ($680) when it comes on the market in May, which cries in the hall of the mobile industry’s biggest global event in Barcelona.

Market leader Samsung announced an innovative folding 5G phone last week with a $1,980 price tag, Huawei coincides with its own foldable 5G device is priced at a stunning $2,600.

Samsung did not give a price for a non-collapsible 5G device is added to the Galaxy series.

“We announced a very, very competitive price,” Xiaomi’s Senior Vice President for Its Wang told Reuters. “We want to drive 5G for the normal consumer, so that more and more people can afford to buy it.”

The next generation of wireless technology promises to ratchet up the speed of the internet and the support of an “Internet of Things” in which embedded chips enable the creation of smart networking of vehicles, household appliances and much more.

While some scepticism remains about how far and how fast 5G can take place, is the latest high-end add-on is that the manufacturers attending the Mobile World Congress with stoke excitement about the new gadgets in the midst of the slowing down of the turnover.

“5G is here, not in 2020, not too late 2020; it is here now, in 2019,” Cristiano Amon, president of chipmaker Qualcomm, which delivers Xiaomi, said during a launch event.

Amun expects that the transition to 5G to be faster than that of the so-called third-generation networks of the fourth, which are all made alive download times and enabled developments such as video streaming to mobile phones.

Xiaomi initially target Asian markets, especially in India, where it toppled Samsung as the Number 1 smartphone seller last year.

Since 2017, it has been launched in Spain, France and Italy, with devices enabled for 4G. Now it is turning its attention to the potential growth in Africa, Wang said.

“We see the African countries building, accelerating their migration from 3G to 4G,” he said.

“We have only 4G products, so I think it is the right time for us to learn that the market to serve the customers first and learn more so we can have more products for Africa.”

(This story is refiled to add 5G to the head, no change to text)

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Douglas Busvine and David Goodman

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