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Xiaomi to go quad core with iPhone challenger

Chinese handset firm reportedly working with Qualcomm's APQ8064 chip

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Much-hyped Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is set to launch the follow-up to its hugely popular iPhone rival the M1 next week, with rumours swirling that it will be the first device to run Qualcomm’s powerful quad-core APQ8064 Snapdragon chip.

Xiaomi rose from virtual obscurity a couple of years ago to make an unprecedented impact on the highly-competitive Chinese smartphone market with the M1 – a high-end device complete with dual core processor which sells for about 1,999 yuan (₤200).

The as-yet-unnamed successor will be launching on 16 August according to some micro-blogging posts from the firm, with Chinese tech blog CNMO claiming (via Engadget) it would come with a larger screen and the 28nm Qualcomm chip, clocked at 1.5Ghz.

If the claims are true, Xiaomi's charismatic founder Lei Jun will be hoping the device isn't hit by any of the production problems Qualcomm recently admitted were affecting supplies of its 28nm Snapdragons.

The rumour holds more credence given that the chip giant was one of several companies to pledge US$90m in VC funding to Xiaomi last year, valuing the firm at US$1 billion.

The smartphone-maker has since gone from strength to strength, selling as many as three million M1 devices and pulling in a further US$216m in funding in June, which values it at around US$4bn.

To put that in perspective, in two short years its valuation has risen to about half that of Nokia’s.

Xiaomi is also well-liked by analysts, who see it as one of many home-grown mobile firms whose highly localised Android-based operating systems are set to drive smartphone adoption in the world’s biggest mobile market and give foreign rivals a run for their money.

IDC’s Ian Song had the following to say about the firm in an email conversation with The Reg a few months back:

We are bullish on Xiaomi's MIUI. MIUI itself is a capable variant of Android with Xiaomi's own suite of apps that enhances the user experience. More importantly, Xiaomi was able to tie together its OS strategy with an attractively designed and priced handset – M1– to create viral demands in China.

IDC believes Xiaomi is on the right track with first creating a great user experience, then putting it on a desirable device, all of which will be instrumental in getting its users to MIUI-based service, thus enlarging its services based revenues, and creating sticky user experiences not unlike what Apple has done.

Game on? ®

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