How low can smartphones go? Xiaomi said to be looking to bring $50 smartphone to the market

by: Adam KoueiderJanuary 13, 2014


With the high-end smartphone market becoming increasingly saturated, it seems as if manufacturers are beginning to turn their attention towards a market which arguably deserves the most attention. The low-end market has often been treated to an unfair show, with poor products and even worse user experiences. Luckily, 2014 is set to change all of this, with Asus creating a whole line of Android smartphones which can be bought for as little as $99, without compromising too much on the user experience.

So after cracking the $100 barrier, we now turn to the obvious next step. Can a decent smartphone be bought for $50? Well according to a report from Nikkei Asian Review, Chinese company Xiaomi is planning to do just that. Alongside Chinese compatriot CoolPad and Indian smartphone maker MicroMax, Xiaomi is reportedly partnering with Japanese retail and e-commerce giants to bring cost-effective smartphones to Japan and perhaps expanding to other markets as well.

As Xiaomi plans to expand into other markets, a retailer in Japan helping them gain a foothold in a massive market outside their homelands is a great help. While we probably won’t see these smartphones hit Western markets any time soon, it will be interesting to see what sort of product Xiaomi — who is already well renowned for its ability to create high-end smartphones with an affordable price-tag — and Co. will be able to bring to the market.

As usual this is just a rumor for now, so take it with the usual pinch of salt, but keep this in the maybe column as far as the likelihood for the rumor to come true goes.

Do you think that OEMs will be able to pull off a decent smartphone for $50?


  • Jack Parker

    You can get a smart phone in the UK for less then £50 which is the Vodafone smart mini 2 I believe

    • wat

      $50 is technically £30 though

      • Jack Parker

        Fair point

  • eebrah

    I can purchase an android smartphone for USD 70 here in Kenya, with 30% of that being taxes, so yeah, I think $50 smartphones can be had and that they can be decent. A quick search of chinese online shops has $40 android phones so I figure if Xiaomi get in on the act, they can make them better for that $10 markup.

  • Alex

    If its to happen the same thing like the Hongmi (Red rice). They sell it for $100 (74€), but the lower we can find in stores is 195€ ($266).

  • Groud Frank

    Good for me means a good UX and not the latest internals. Software optimisation and useful features can be done for that price. Just don’t expect a large profit margin.

  • RusticKey

    Why not? I mean, they can if they wanted to.
    And since 4.4 supports devices with 512mb RAM, it’s probable already.

    • fahadayaz

      I installed KitKat on my Nexus One this morning, with Apps2SD. It runs surprisingly smoothly.

      • KingofPing

        A little slow on my Fascinate (Galaxy S1) running 4.4.2 and GEL, but it’s do-able. Especially since today’s “low-end” chips are probably a good bit faster than what the Fascinate was shipped with (Samsung was, at the time, notorious for using ultra-slow memory chips, and such).

        I use it as my alarm/white-noise generator on the nightstand and it works just fine. No reboots needed yet. :)

        • RusticKey

          Considering a four year old phone running Android KitKat shows just capable Android is right now.

  • Simos Katsiaris

    all miui users know how easy it is to buy xiaomi phones from the official retailers

  • Froggy

    I have mention the Haier W910 here a few times and still wait for
    Android Authority to review it. I have 2 of those. They are priced at
    $130 out of China or HK. The specs fits right between the Galaxy S2 and

  • apianist16

    Define decent.

    • Adam Koueider

      Dual-core, 512-1GB RAM, 5MP camera and 200+ PPI screen.

      • apianist16

        Sure, I think it will happen because of the technology curve, but you get what you pay for. Will it be supported for more than 6 months? Will it be loaded with proprietary apps that generate extra revenue? If they can do it and do it well, I’ll take off my hat to them.

  • Krotow

    Before Xiaomi will try to expand in international markets, they must translate texts of services and applications which they provide with their devices at least in english. Unfortunately the rest of world outside China hasn’t know mandarin and default MIUI has parts where text is only in chinese :(

  • roiji

    $~70 ‘smartphones’ are already available here in the Philippines for quite some time now..