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Xiaomi leaps over Samsung, is now China’s biggest smartphone brand

Xiaomi leaps over Samsung, is now China’s biggest smartphone brand

New figures from research firm Canalys show that Xiaomi’s rise seems unstoppable. In new numbers for Q2 2014, Xiaomi has leap-frogged Samsung (005930:KS) to become China biggest smartphone brand in terms of shipments – that’s up from Xiaomi’s third place in Q1 when it trailed Samsung (1st) and Lenovo (2nd).

Xiaomi has 14 percent market share of smartphone shipments in Q2, says Canalys, while Samsung, Lenovo (HKG:0992), and Coolpad (HKG:2369) are tied for second place with 12 percent apiece. Huawei trails with 11 percent (hat-tip to WSJ for spotting this).

Here’s the chart for market share:

Xiaomi leaps over Samsung, is now China's biggest smartphone brand, Q2 2014

Looking at Canalys’ corresponding shipment numbers for Q2 2013 compared with Q2 2014, we see Samsung’s shipments slip in the past year (from 15.5 million to 13.2 million) while Xiaomi has rocketed from 4.4 million to 15 million in the same period.

Xiaomi leaps over Samsung, is now China's biggest smartphone brand, Q2 2014

How is Xiaomi doing it? Mostly it’s done on price. Xiaomi’s flagship Mi3 phone – soon to be replaced by the Mi4 – has specs comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S5 at less than half the price. The hardware quality is comparable, and some would even say that Xiaomi’s flavor of Android is better than Samsung’s. The average price of a new Android phone in China is a mere US$233. Xiaomi’s Mi3 starts at RMB 1,499 (US$243), which puts it right in the sweet spot in terms of how much the populace wants to pay for a new device.

Xiaomi sold 26.1 million smartphones in first half of 2014 and is aiming at a total of 60 million this year. It’s only once we get actual sales figures direct from Xiaomi and Samsung that we’ll see who’s ahead in this fierce battle for the China market.

See: China now has 270 million active Android users, growing faster than ever in countryside: report

Editing by J.T. Quigley

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