The emerging Xiaomi dominance in the Sri Lankan mobile industry
By Dilshan Senaratne
Xiaomi controls 8.38% of the mobile device market share in Sri Lanka. A market in which Samsung is the market leader with 42.74% share. Xiaomi has marginally taken over Apple which controls 8.07% of the market (Statcounter, 2021).
This lines up with the global context in which Xiaomi overtook Apple with a Q2 market share of 17%, marginally behind Samsung’s 19% and ahead of Apple’s 14% (CNBC, 2021).
I’m an ardent Xiaomi fan and have been using the Poco F1, the first release from their line which was released in August 2018 since its launch, for the last 3 years. I’m also a firm believer that the Chinese domination of the manufacturing and technology industries is best expressed by the directly parallel Xiaomi emergence in the same industries.
There is a twist in the story, however. In early January of 2021, Xiaomi announced that Poco is “spinning off as a standalone brand.” This was a vague statement at the time, considering that Poco had only ever made one successful release in 2018 and followed up with a failed X2.
At the level of consumption, the impact of this separation is insignificant, at least for right now. Contrary to the independent roll-out, Poco continues to leverage Xiaomi’s MIUI Android interface and the mother company’s after-service infrastructure. Considering that consumer experience with the product is assured both at the level of the operating system and after-sales service, the separation is a negligible kink in the armour for Poco from a consumer standpoint.
While opinions on the matter vary, it must be mentioned that Xiaomi previously spun RedMi as an independent brand, the same way it’s now rolling Poco out. To be fair, this isn’t unheard of occurrence in the industry; Oppo followed a similar trajectory with RealMe previously and now operates the brand as an independent offering to the market.
It’s unclear at this point how ownership of the newly independent Poco brand is structured. However, it stands to reason that ownership remains at least in part vested towards Xiaomi Corporation. The simplest reasoning for the move to separate the brand may be to allow the brand to gain fresh direction and compete in the premium value segment of the market, especially in India where the Poco offering has been popularly received by many.
It’s also possible that Xiaomi is looking to position itself in stride to compete with Samsung and Apple in terms of brand equity, an undertaking that can only be pursued with a highly clarified market position. The Xiaomi flagship Mi range will potentially be championed by Xiaomi in this brand battle against the brand leaders - Apple and Samsung.
Right from the outset, the Poco F3 is a clear winner in the value segment with a 256GB/8GB high-end configuration priced at LKR 90,000/- and 128GB/6GB at LKR 83,000/-. The device is available in three colours - Arctic White, Deep Ocean Blue, and Night Black. I’ve picked up the Arctic White purely based on the matt finish as compared with the Night Black variant which has a glossy finish. The Deep Ocean Blue is not a great recommendation considering the less than tasteful Poco branding on it. To begin with, the device wins on paper with a truly impressive spec sheet.
Released in March 2021
Dual SIM, 5G-enabled network connectivity
196g body weight
Gorilla Glass 5 front and back panel build
IP53 dust and splash protection
AMOLED 120hz display with 1,300nits brightness
6.67-inch screen size and 85.9% screen-body ratio
Android 11, MIUI 12.5 for POCO out of the box
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chipset
Octa-core processing (1x3.2GHz, 3x2GHz & 4x1.8GHz)
128GB or 256GB internal memory (not expandable)
6GB or 8GB RAM
48MP primary shooter (back camera)
8MP ultrawide and 5MP macros shooters (with LED flash)
20MP front shooter (selfie camera)
No 3.5mm jack for earphones (USB-C to 3.5mm jack converter included inbox)
USB Type-C charging port
Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
Li-Po 4520 mAh non-removable battery (33W fast charging)
For the full specification sheet, please see: GSM Arena
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the technical specifications of mobile devices, this phone stays true to its tagline “the real beast.” A lot of the performance aspects of this phone are near flagship level and from my experience with its predecessor, the F1, it must be said that these devices are very well-built. Anything with the Xiaomi brand on it performs extremely well in terms of build quality and functionality.
The F3 reminds me of the first One Plus device which earned the title “flagship killer” back in the day when the category was non-existent. Today, the flagship killing business is a highly competitive one and this device is competing with some of the best in class value offerings that have been released in a very long time.
For anyone who appreciates the Android user experience, the MIUI interface offers an almost pure Android experience. The few things that are less than ideal about the device are few and far in between:
Screen Dimming - Poco has a protective feature built into the OS which dims the screen when the device overheats. This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone who isn’t using the phone to game for long hours.
No 3.5mm Jack - For anyone like me who isn’t a true believer in bluetooth audio devices, the absence of the audio jack will be an inconvenience. However, the device does pack a USB-C to 3.5mm converter in the box which should compensate at some level.
Bloatware and Ads - Xiaomi has an irritating habit of loading devices with a bunch of bloat apps which should be uninstalled right at the point of setting up the device. With regards to the advertisements that play when apps are being installed, this is a mild inconvenience which users must learn to live with.
Although it sounds like this phone was a no-brainer, I took a really long time picking this device. Looking back, I’m quite confident that I made the best choice but the other options I considered should be mentioned to do them justice.
The main reasons that this device wasn’t my first pick were simply matters of preference. Firstly, the absence of the 3.5mm jack is a difficult adjustment for me and something I’m still not thrilled about. Secondly, I was quite confident that I could fulfill my demands from a mobile phone at a much lower price point, somewhere in the region of LKR 65,000 to be exact. Finally, the device wasn’t available in the local market till just last week and that was a major concern as well. There were a few devices that I’m certain would still have got the job done for me had I not gone ahead with the F3.
Xiaomi RedMi Note 10 Pro (GSM Arena)
Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite (GSM Arena)
Poco X3 Pro (GSM Arena)
Poco X3 NFC (GSM Arena)
The fact that the four phones from which I had to pick the F3 are all made by Xiaomi should be the clearest indication of their dominance in this domain and this market position. Considering the above options, almost any of them would have been great picks in their own right, even considering the finer details that led me to purchase the Poco F3.
The F3 is bound to be a difficult phone to locate for the next few weeks until stocks arrive in greater quantities. If you are in the market for immediate purchase, I recommend iDealz and Genext as retailers.