Xiaomi may make a phone to give Android One some much needed tech cool

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Why it matters to you

Android One phones have always been cheap, and not very exciting. Xiaomi makes cheap, exciting phones, and the two coming together may make Android One a lot more desirable.

Xiaomi may be adapting a version of the Mi 5X for use with Android One, according to an anonymous source speaking to Indonesian publication krispitech.com. Android One is Google’s software for low-cost smartphones sold in fast growing markets around the world. Smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi, if it does make such a device, could provide the interesting platform with the cool hardware and broad appeal it has always lacked.

It’s not clear where the supposed Xiaomi Android One phone would be sold; but Indonesia is one of the countries where Android One phones have already been sold, and one of Xiaomi’s international markets. The Xiaomi Mi 5X is a recent announcement, and is a considerably more technically impressive device than most Android One phones, with a 5.5-inch screen, a Snapdragon 625 chip with 4GB of RAM, and a dual-lens rear camera.

Until now, Google has partnered with local smartphone brands for Android One, including Micromax in India, Sharp in Japan, and General Mobile in Turkey. Android One phones are not sold in China, where Xiaomi is most successful. Xiaomi doesn’t sell its smartphones in the United States either, however there have been rumors Android One would come to the U.S. this year, with a device priced at between two or three times more than the usual $100 Android One phones. The Mi 5X’s price is around this point.

Could Android One be Xiaomi’s way into the United States? There’s no evidence to support this yet, and Xiaomi is dedicated to its own MIUI user interface it places over Google Android, from which it makes a considerable amount of money as a portal to its many online services. Dropping it in favor of bloatware-free Android One, just to get its hardware on sale in the United States, may not be a realistic strategy for the company.

The reason why a Xiaomi Android One phone may not come to the U.S., is the same one repeated for whether Xiaomi will make an Android One phone at all. It has likely had the chance  to do so from the very beginning of Android One’s life in 2014, as it successfully sells devices in smartphone-hungry India, where Android One was also pushed hard early on. If Xiaomi was interested in dropping MIUI for Android One, the chance may have already come and gone. Changing its mind now, especially with the more interesting Android Go on the horizon, would be a surprise.

We’ll keep you updated on how this rumor develops here.




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