Xiaomi 12S Ultra: from iPhone clone to world power – student becomes a master?

For those who don’t know, Xiaomi is more than just a smartphone company. Kind of like Samsung, the Chinese brand that manufactures/produces home appliances, but also has a range of “side hustle”, such as the Xiaomi Electric scooter (one of the best selling electric scooters worldwide), and more recently, The EV prototype is scheduled to be unveiled by the end of August. Aside from all that, of course, I would like to focus on Xiaomi phones, which started with … well, not with a phone, but with a customizable phone launcher called MIUI. But more than a decade later, Xiaomi has reached this very point where other brands can look at their phones and learn something from them – as little or as much as they really want.Interestingly enough, though, Xiaomi’s flagship smartphones are the ones that have taken (and still take) some cues from the competition. While this is far from uncommon for a newly established brand (take a look at There is no phone that looks like a file iPhone 12), left the impression on many that Xiaomi was one of the “Chinese fakes” – like 130401284 that already existed.

But that is not the issue…

Xiaomi’s journey: from a unique identity, through the desire for compatibility and back …

Software: MIUI not afraid to be a little like iOS and Android

Before talking about the hardware, I can’t skip highlighting that the recent version of MIUI from Xiaomi is very similar to another operating system – namely iOS.While Xiaomi isn’t the first and only brand to take after Apple’s minimalistic and app-drawer home screen, it’s probably the company closest to offering a delicious Apple-like visual experience on Android.

However, despite the obvious and publicly acknowledged influence of iOS (the CEO of Xiaomi has made positive statements regarding Apple on many occasions), there are notable differences in the way iOS and MIUI are treated. For example, iPhone won’t let you rearrange icons and widgets freely, but MUI (being Android) does.

MIUI is also one of the most (if not the most) customizable Android skins as a whole. A mixture of iOS in terms of appearance and Android when it comes to functionality, some may see MIUI as The best of both worlds. That might make Xiaomi phones a good choice for those ready to switch from iPhone to Android — an unlikely transition, but it certainly makes more sense than you thought.

Hardware: Xiaomi phones looked before 2020 uninspiringbut to some extent Probably (from the likes of iPhone and Galaxy)

Here is where things get more exciting…

The journey of Xiaomi devices has gone through several remarkable transitions. When it comes to flagship phones, the Xiaomi Mi3 – Mi6 cycle was when one could say that Xiaomi phones have their own design style.

wise design, and Xiaomi Mi 5 and Xiaomi Mi 6 was one of the most praised Android phones of their era, with glass/ceramic builds, slightly curved screens, and high-end coating functions. However, the old Xiaomi Mi 3 was the most easily recognizable Xiaomi version that I could think of, probably because it doesn’t look like an iPhone or Galaxy…

But of course, as the story often goes, the Chinese brand (like many others) fell into a familiar mainstream trap – one visual comprehension. I kind of made up this last term, but it simply means that the flagship Xiaomi Mi 8 took the company’s phones from those with its own look to … cloned iPhones.

Sure, Xiaomi did not imitate the iPhone 1: 1, but the similarity between It was iPhone X (September 2017) and Xiaomi Mi 8 (May 2018) Uncanny. Xiaomi borrowed:

  • Apple’s notch and Face ID, but with its own (slightly less advanced) IR sensors along with Xiaomi’s own Animojis
  • iPhone X back design, including camera design

On paper, it may seem like two simple design elements, but in fact the notch design and the rear camera are what made the iPhone X iPhone X Hence, what made the Xiaomi Mi 8 look like an Android iPhone.

Xiaomi Mi 10 – Xiaomi Mi 11 series: Xiaomi finds its own identity (again)

As Bob Ross says, there are no mistakes – just happy accidents…

Xiaomi soon realized that being heavy affected Not the way to establish itself as a brand it can Effect

At this point, Hugo Barra (former product leader at Google) has already joined Xiaomi as the company’s new Vice President. Note, not the VP of design, or anything else, but the VP.. period. Hugo Barra’s role was not just to steer Xiaomi products in the right direction but to help establish the brand as a player outside the Chinese market – that was the real challenge.

Anyway, it seems to have worked well! Barra left Xiaomi last year (to join the Oculus project on Facebook), but he also left the company with a new identity for a brand that knows how to be itself and stand out in the range of tablets.

We can already see it in Xiaomi Mi 9 series, which escaped the shadow of iPhone design, but it was Xiaomi Mi 10 series (especially Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra), and Xiaomi Mi 11 series (again, especially Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra) that caught the eye and dropped some jaws. At least me, anyway.

Abnormal choice: “Huawei ban” marks the beginning of the Xiaomi super era

until 2020, Huawei has been undoubtedly the most aggressive player in the smartphone market, thanks to the company’s developments in hardware, which mostly revolve around the camera. Of course, the US trade ban knocked Huawei out of the picture, but it also rolled the red carpet for another big Chinese phone maker, And boy, was Xiaomi ready to walk the royal carpet!

Little Rice (which is what Xiaomi stands for) has gone for it! Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra looked like nothing else on the market (of course, it was still a tile phone). However, and most importantly, it was Xiaomi’s entry into the newly created ultra-high-end flagship segment. It surprised everyone and introduced a great camera and incredible charging speeds, then came the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, which took things to a whole new level. Not only for Xiaomi but for Android as a whole. The 11 Ultra has the largest camera sensors on a phone (all three), an unmistakable ceramic colorway, and literally a display on the back to allow users to take (probably) the best selfies we’ve ever seen. A “selfie” camera for the phone.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra: taking over the smartphone world – what is Xiaomi missing?

But forget Apple and Huawei…

And this is how we get to the current da and the latest Xiaomi flagship phone. The new Xiaomi 12S Ultra isn’t just a phone with a unique identity, it’s a phone that plays by its own rules and, frankly, in its own league. This has a double meaning, which you will discover below.

The design of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is a significant departure from the four-year-old iPhone version that was the Mi 8, but also from Xiaomi’s previous flagship Ultra versions. Xiaomi is playful and not afraid to reinvent itself at this point, but the good news is that things are only getting better under the surface.

Xiaomi Problem 1: Global Availability

And this is the moment for me to be even more special…

I have a passion with Chinese phone makers. It comes down to the fact that they are keeping their best phones for the Chinese market, and here I am drooling over the likes of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, Huawei Mate XS 2 and the many great mid-range phones that often don’t come out of Asia or do so too late.

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra brings the best camera hardware you’ve ever seen on the back of a phone. It’s honestly one that should be protected at all costs, which is probably why Leica cameras come with a case with a camera cover to fit in. If that doesn’t make the Xiaomi 12S Ultra look like a “real camera”, I don’t know what…

But why is Xiaomi also “protecting” the 12S Ultra from … Western markets?

Yes, global availability is the main limiting factor that prevents the most prominent Xiaomi companies from challenging the Apples and Samsungs of the world. Sounds pretty simple, right? The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is ready to rock ‘n’ roll! All we need is to start selling it globally and make the competition very nervous and the customers very happy. Anyway, I will discuss why Xiaomi will keep the 12S Ultra only domestically in a future story.

Xiaomi problem 2: Too many mid-range phones

One thing worth noting is that while Xiaomi’s flagships are the most impressive phones the company sells (or doesn’t, depending on where you are), it’s Xiaomi’s mid-range devices that helped put the company on the map.

Xiaomi budget and mid-range phones are best sellers in many European countries and dominate the Asian market, along with Samsung.

The problem lately has been that there are a lot of them! Xiaomi has created several sub-brands like Redmi and Poco and releases low-cost phones almost every two months – left and right. Most of them share specs and looks and only serve to confuse customers and… technical writers.

Do you remember the popular Xiaomi Mi A2 (with clean Android)? How about the Xiaomi Poco F1, which broke all the rules and made OnePlus’ “master killers” look overrated and underperformed? And what about Xiaomi Redmi K20 and K20 Pro that brought the flagship pop-up camera chipset to the mid-range segment?

I honestly find it hard to think of better value phones than any company at any point in smartphone history. The above phones were pretty good, and the reason I remember their names was because they weren’t accompanied by five other Xiaomi phones that look like them (also because I’m a phone nerd).

In any case, Xiaomi is now trading with Apple in second place in global smartphone shipments, and I really believe that it is not far from occupying a permanent position behind Samsung and even reaching the top.

So, Xiaomi, if you’re reading this, I have two things:

  • Give me a Xiaomi 12S Ultra (to replace my Pixel 6 Pro) before I come to China and get it
  • Relive the tradition of releasing the mid-range phone that sets the standards — but only one a year, okay?

I’ll go get a life now…

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