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Xiaomi said to be hawking $50 smartphones in the near future

The Chinese smartphone maker not only aims to churn out 40 million phones this year, it also appears to be creating a mobile device that doesn't cost much more than a tank of gas.

Xiaomi co-founder Lei Jun

Leave it to Xiaomi to come up with a $50 smartphone. The Chinese smartphone maker is said to be looking to bring uber-cheap phones to Japan in the near future, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Xiaomi is considered China's high-end smartphone maker that sells sleek devices at low prices. In 2012, the company sold more than 7 million handsets and generated more than $2 billion in revenue. In 2013, it sold about 19 million smartphones. For this year, the company's co-founder Lei Jun said he plans to supply 40 million phones.

High on the list of Xiaomi's targets for market expansion is Southeast Asia, according to Hugo Barra, the former Android honcho at Google who's now heading up Xiaomi's expansion efforts. "I'm trying to find markets and get to them as quickly as possible," Barra said in December.

Apple has touted its iPhone 5C as a low-cost smartphone, but for $549 for the 16 GB with no contract it seems exorbitant compared with Xiaomi's reportedly planned phone. Other smartphone makers manufacture cell phones for lower prices, like Nokia, Motorola, and HTC, but they're still more than $50.

Besides Xiaomi, China's Coolpad and India's MicroMax are also said to be looking to bring $50 smartphones to retailers in Japan, according to Nikkei Asian Review. It seems the push toward cheaper phones is coming from retailers hoping to bring more customers to their stores, both online and brick-and-mortar.

Bringing more low-cost smartphones to the market will likely make lasting waves on the business. Not only will it affect competitors but the whole supply chain -- from chip makers to screen suppliers to carriers -- could feel a difference.

CNET has contacted Xiaomi for comment and will update this report when we learn more.