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September 16, 2021
🚀 Good morning! Xiaomi launch, Google's CPU oddness, and the billionaire in space with three other people coming up...
Xiaomi's weird launch
Xiaomi 11T Pro angled front on rock
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Yesterday, Xiaomi launched its Xiaomi 11T series, though still focusing on Europe and Asia over sales in the US. 

What you need to know:

  • The Xiaomi 11T Pro (the Mi branding is dead now, remember) leads the series, with a Snapdragon 888, 6.67-inch AMOLED display that looks great, solid battery life with super-fast 120W charging, and a triple camera, focusing on a 108MP main shooter. 
  • To keep costs down, Xiaomi skimped on the IP rating, went for a cheaper plastic build, left out wireless charging, and started the base model with 8GB/128GB at €649 (~$650, before tax).
  • Depending on your region, it does battle with the likes of the vanilla OnePlus 9 ($649), Motorola Edge ($699), iPhone 13 ($699) and the Galaxy S21 FE, whenever Samsung finally launches that in the next few weeks or so.
  • Reviews are out already and they’re only ok. 
  • The 11T Pro looks like a powerful set of components that don’t quite stack together thanks to a middling camera and cheap build feel.
  • Verdict: “Xiaomi aimed high with the 11T Pro, but didn’t quite reach its target. The phone has plenty going for it, such as a gorgeous display, top performance, and blazing fast charging, but the cameras are middling and there are several missing features that hurt its overall appeal.” 

The non-phone weirdness:

The proximity of the launch to Apple’s event by a day made Xiaomi’s already clumsy marketing feel wildly off-piste.

  • Xiaomi is odd in that it is really really good at solid, value-packed smartphones, and flagships that tick plenty of boxes.
  • But marketing is not at all its strength. Its best marketing efforts are its prices, not its launches. 

In a flashy two-hour launch, Xiaomi was distracted by fashion and movie making rather than the details of its devices. 

  • It was slick and big-budget and scenic and expensive, but Xiaomi’s time was spent on wildly strange elements.
  • Xiaomi confusingly showed more than half a dozen short films. 
  • It said the word “Cinemagic” (Cinema Magic) more than a dozen times as its tagline for the 11T series.
  • Xiaomi showed off a collaboration with French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld.
  • Supermodel Coco Rocha posed with the Mi 11 Lite NE in a one-minute long video.
  • None of it really felt like it belonged or worked cohesively.

I spent a lot of time wondering why this was Xiaomi’s approach. Obviously, Xiaomi is going for the marketing effect of brand aspiration; it’s not focusing exclusively on Hollywood moviemakers and fashionistas and so on to buy its phone.

  • A basic marketing tenet is to associate with glamor, to make people start to believe your phone is better and more valuable. 
  • It’s social psychology, celebrity effect, and so on.
  • So, Xiaomi thought to associate its brand with Hollywood and fashion; not so much the nerds and geeks wondering if a phone has an IP rating.
  • Apple manages this without feeling like it’s trying. 
  • Xiaomi felt like it was much wider off the mark.

Also: Xiaomi’s new Pad 5 tablet has gone global, will launch in Europe for €349.


💵 Apple’s premium smartphone success in the $800+ and $400+ market is leaving Samsung behind (Android Authority).

🍟 Specs of Tensor chip in Google Pixel 6 sound like they’re here, but if so they’re confusing due to a mix of new and old CPU cores. Speaking of chips, Google sold potato chips in Japan for a moment (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple’s iPhone 13 event that barely mentioned 5G: 90 seconds in 80 minutes, despite last year’s major highlight of 5G. It proves how rocky it’s been (CNET).

📉 Hints that Oppo is struggling: Oppo has merged operations with OnePlus as we know, but it has downsized by 20% and cut key divisions (Bloomberg).

🛵 Electric scooter startup Gogoro, which has that swappable battery infrastructure, is going public via SPAC (The Verge).

🎸 Marshall unveils its first true wireless earbuds with ANC: $129 Minor III (Engadget).

💸 App Annie fined $10M in a case that shows how data was promised to be secret but ended up being “non-aggregated and non-anonymized data,” which in turn, allegedly allowed App Annie to make much better estimates by simply … knowing the answers despite saying it definitely wouldn’t do that (Gizmodo).

🤑 Also in insider trading scandals: A guy working at the biggest NFT marketplace bought NFTs he knew would feature prominently (The Block).

🥅 Google is getting caught in the global antitrust net (Wired).

🎮 Ex-Ubisoft devs open new studio, immediately diss Ubisoft (Kotaku).

🚀 SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has flown four more people — all private citizens — into space (Ars Technica).

👃 Wikipedia states: “The human nose is extremely sensitive to geosimin [the compound that we associate with the smell of rain], and is able to detect it at concentrations as low as 400 parts per trillion.” How does that compare to other scents? (r/askscience)

Throwback Thursday
How to change Instagram password

Remember when passwords were the way to go? A hellish world of forgotten details, not using one password too long, breaches, a mix of numbers and letters, and so on. 

  • I mean, we’re still in that era, sorry.
  • But things are getting better! 
  • News that Microsoft accounts can now go fully passwordless means we might finally be seeing a catalyst driver towards moving on.
  • Microsoft has been working toward a passwordless login and we’re finally here.
  • “Today is a major milestone for Microsoft’s passwordless ambitions, after the company enabled security keys in 2018 and made Windows 10 passwordless in 2019,” writes The Verge
  • “We have been rolling this out at Microsoft and nearly 100 percent of Microsoft is now passwordless,” says Vasu Jakkal, corporate vice president of Microsoft security, compliance & identity. More than 200 million people are already using passwordless options.”


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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