NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Xiaomi has announced another new smartphone that might remind some people of Apple (AAPL) - Get Report phones. But inside the the new Mi Note phablet there is very little anyone could point to and complain that Xiaomi merely copied the iPhone.
Xiaomi is China's fastest growing smartphone company for a good reason. It offers good looking, good performing, locally made products that sell for very reasonable prices. It also didn't hurt matters that Xiaomi's phones have looks that remind some of Apple iPhone products -- especially when iPhones were hard to come by at the time and very expensive for most Chinese buyers.
The newly announced Mi Note is a super-thin phablet. It measures 6.1 by 3.0 by 0.27 inches and weighs 5.7 ounces. Stylewise it bears some resemblance to Apple's larger iPhone 6 Plus, but it's pure Xiaomi inside.
The Note sports a 5.7-inch, high-definition (1920 by 1080) LCD display made by Sharp, a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Report Snapdragon 801 processor mated to 3 GB of RAM, 16 GB or 64 GB of storage, a 13 megapixel camera from Sony (SNE) - Get Report , a 4 MP camera pointing forward, a 3,000 mAh rechargeable battery and a high-end audio processor capable of handling high-resolution files (24/192 and DSD) made by California-based ESS Technology. These quality components don't come cheap. That audio chip sells for $35 all by itself on AliExpress
Because the phone is designed to appeal to the local market, the Mi Note is strictly a 3G GSM-based phone. Xiaomi has developed its own version of Google's (GOOG) - Get Report Android operating system it calls MiUi. For this phone, the new version (6.0) of the system software handles many tasks through Xiaomi's Mi Cloud feature.
The four-year-old company is now the world's third-largest smartphone maker in the world, after Samsung (SSNLF) and Apple, according to recent figures from IDC. Last month, the company became the world's most valuable technology startup after receiving $1.1 billion in investor funding. That raised Xiaomi's valuation to more than $46 billion.
The Mi Note is Xiaomi's latetst top-of-the-line smartphone model. As such it sports a top-of-the-line, premium price tag. It's set to sell for 2299 Chinese yuan, about $372. Xiaomi is promising a deluxe version with an upgraded Snapdragon 810 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 4G/LTE connectivity that will be coming in a few months. That model will sell for 3299 CNY or $533. There's no word on whether either version will be brought to market outside of Asia.
Xiaomi also announced a new $30 video streaming stick it calls the Mi Box Mini. Unlike similar devices -- which are shaped like USB memory sticks -- made by Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report , Roku and others, the Xiaomi Mi Box Mini is small, square and shaped like a cell phone charging unit. Inside engineers have crammed a 1.3 GHz MediaTek processor, 1 GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth inside along with 1080p video output capabilities.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.