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July 31, 2013

Xiaomi Red Rice gets official, packs 4.7″ HD screen and quad-core CPU for just $130

Xiaomi has officially announced its cheapest Android smartphone yet today. The Xiaomi Red Rice is even more affordable than the MI2A introduced back in April. As such, it’s the lowest-end handset the company has ever produced too, but don’t let that disappoint you – for this has some extremely decent specs.

And just like that, Xiaomi in 2013 has gone from one model per year (and one model sold at any one time), to a full-blown line-up of three: the high-end MI2S (soon to be replaced by the MI3, if the rumors are to be believed), the now-midrange MI2A, and the low-end Red Rice.

So what’s inside this Red Rice, you wonder? Well, it has a 4.7-inch 720p HD touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 2, a quad-core 1.5 GHz MediaTek MT6589T processor, an 8 MP rear camera, a 1.3 MP front camera, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of internal storage space, support for microSD expansion, dual-network dual-standby, all the usual connectivity options, and a removable 2,000 mAh battery. It runs MIUI v5, a custom ROM based on Android 4.2.2. The handset’s dimensions are 137x69x9.9 mm, so it’s not the most compact 4.7-incher around, but let’s not forget that Motorola is about to launch a flagship smartphone, the X, that has the exact same screen size and resolution as the Red Rice. That in itself makes Xiaomi’s latest effort rather amazing, frankly.

What’s even more amazing here is the price. The Red Rice costs 799 yuan, which amounts to around $130 at today’s exchange rates (or €99). This for a fully unlocked device, mind you – with no long-term carrier contracts to worry about. Suddenly those specs don’t seem run of the mill anymore, do they?

We’re still hoping that one day the ‘developed world’ will get to see such insane price-per-features ratios in smartphones, but don’t hold your breath unless some more Chinese device makers such as Xiaomi finally decide to go global. That’s not an easy task, though, since Xiaomi has enough trouble as is manufacturing enough of its devices for the Chinese market alone. Still, one can dream… of some real price-based competition in the mobile world. Sure, competing on specs and software features (don’t call them gimmicks) is nice and all, but just imagine how cool it would be for a SIM-free and unlocked £85 or €99 smartphone to be this capable – today.