Xiaomi's Mi Note sells out in under three minutes

The device, which comes with a 5.7-inch HD display, will be available again on February 3, though it's unclear how many units the company sold today.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

The Xiaomi Mi Note is already a hit in China, the company says. Aloysius Low/CNET

Xiaomi apparently has another hit on its hands.

The Mi Note and Mi Note Pro sold out in under three minutes of availability on Tuesday, the China-based company announced on its Weibo social-networking page. Xiaomi, which is known for its Apple-like product design, said the

hybrids will be available again on February 3.

While the news that the Mi Notes sold out in three minutes on launch day appear to be a good thing for Xiaomi, the company didn't say how many units were actually made available. It's possible, therefore, that supplies were constrained. Either way, given Xiaomi's short but significant history, it's likely that the Mi Note is heavily sought-after in China.

Xiaomi was founded in 2010, offering Chinese consumers high-end smartphones at lower-than-normal prices. While the company has been criticized for building handsets that resemble Apple's products, its smartphones have proven wildly popular in China and typically sell out in record time, like the Mi Note did Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun announced that his company's pre-tax sales reached $12.1 billion in 2014, an increase of 135 percent from 2013. Lei also revealed that Xiaomi shipped over 61 million smartphones worldwide in 2014.

In China, Xiaomi was able to nab 13.5 percent of the market in 2014, landing in third place behind Lenovo and Huawei, according to research firm TrendForce. Xiaomi market share more than doubled in China compared with the previous year and is expected to rise even further in 2015. The company said last year that it hoped to ship 100 million smartphones in 2015. It's currently the world's third-largest smartphone provider behind Samsung and Apple, according to IDC.

The Android-based Mi Note and Mi Note Pro, unveiled in Beijing earlier this month, are designed to take on devices like Samsung's Galaxy Note and Apple's iPhone 6 Plus phablet. The devices both come with 5.7-inch screens, though the Pro has a 2K display, rather than the 1080p screen in the standard model.

Xiaomi has centered its business on providing smartphones at or near cost to generate more revenue on software and services riding atop those devices. The Mi Note, for instance, sells unlocked for just 2,299RMB, which is approximately $370. The Mi Note Pro retails for around $530. The iPhone 6 Plus, meanwhile, costs $749 unlocked in China with similar specs.

The similarities between Xiaomi products and Apple devices have not gone unnoticed.

Jony Ive, Apple's hardware and software design chief, has criticized Xiaomi for alleged copycatting.

"I don't see it as flattery," he said last year in an interview with Vanity Fair. "When you're doing something for the first time, you don't know it's going to work. You spend seven or eight years working on something, and then it's copied. I have to be honest, the first thing I can think, all those weekends that I could have at home with my family but didn't. I think it's theft, and it's lazy."

Xiaomi quickly responded to the accusation, saying that the claims of copycatting were overblown and the company's engineers were simply "inspired by great products and great design out there."

Whatever the nature of Xiaomi's product designs, the company's smartphones tend to earn high marks. CNET senior writer Aloysius Low reviewed the Mi Note last week, giving the device four stars out of five. Low said that the device offers "top-class potential to the world" but lamented that it'll be available to "so few outside Asia."

Xiaomi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.