Mi 11 coming soon to India, Mi 10i to make brand more approachable

Xiaomi will soon bring its Mi 11 series to the Indian market, though the company is yet to finalise the exact model to be made available in the country.

 “With Mi 11, we are still contemplating the SKUs (stock keeping unit) we want to bring to the country. Perhaps by the end of January, we will finalise the entire lineup,” Sumit Sonal, Marketing Lead, Mi Brand at Xiaomi told indianexpress.com in a call. 

The Mi 11 has already launched in China, though there is speculation that a Mi 11 Pro variant could be introduced later on. Xiaomi typically has more than one model in its flagship Mi series each year. 

The company Tuesday introduced its Mi 10i, an India-specific variant of the Mi 10 Lite that was launched globally. The Mi 10i has the same chassis as the Mi 10 Lite, but unlike the global variant, which had a 64MP rear camera, the Indian version sports a 108MP clicker. 

Xiaomi is also using the new HM2 sensor from Samsung, the first phone in India to sport this. It also comes with NAVIC support, which is India’s own navigation system. Sonal explained that for the camera all of the optimisations are done mostly in India, and the company now has a dedicated lab and full team working on this. 

The company is clearly targeting the OnePlus Nord with its new Mi 10i smartphone which is clearly much more affordable at Rs 20,999. In comparison, the OnePlus Nord starts at Rs 27,999. This is also the first time that there is a Mi phone in the Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 segment.  

“The idea is to make the brand approachable. And that’s what the entire positioning for the Mi 10i specifically is. In this particular price bracket, which is mostly going to be the Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000, we will be competing against the OnePlus Nord and the Samsung M51,” Sonal said. 

Asked if the brand planned to introduce more phones in this particular price segment, he said they will have to evaluate the “success ratio” before it commits to more products.  

The Mi 10i, which is a mid-premium or the mid-flagship phone, Sonal said, could give them larger volumes, which will help establish the brand further in the premium segment. “This is the product which we are aiming at, which will get us that visibility and that credibility which the Mi brand has been looking for,” he added.  

In his view, the Mi 10i makes a lot of features accessible at an affordable price, compared to say a Mi 10 which starts at a higher price of Rs 44,999. 

“We are pegging big on this one because this also becomes our entry into people’s lifestyle, which we have been trying for a while. A OnePlus user would consider a Mi 10i as a very good alternative in that particular segment, that is the vision we have,” Sonal said. 

Mi 10 and lockdown impact 

Sonal admitted that the lockdown hit the Mi 10’s prospects. “In the premium segment, once the global launch happens, it’s very difficult to sustain that excitement for a very long time,” he said. “In the most ideal scenario, we should have actually launched it much prior, which did not happen.” The Mi 10, originally launched in China in February, made it to India only in May. 

Xiaomi initially planned to introduce the Mi 10 in India by April 2020, but given the lockdown, the plans got delayed and the phone only made it to the Indian markets by May. “If you look at any other phone; the iPhones or OnePlus for that matter, three to four months is the maximum lifetime when you, when you talk about a flagship SKU,” Sonal said. 

However, the struggle for Mi has been to shrug off the ‘affordable’ brand perception. Sonal admitted that this perception is a problem, but said they can’t run away from it and the idea is to pitch Mi brand as a much more premium brand. “You will not spend Rs 35-40,000 on a product which you do not love as a brand. But with good products and marketing, we plan to change that,” he said. 

“Perception changing is a long game. It will take time, a lot of investment and the right people to actually focus on that,” he added.  

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