Xiaomi and Meizu Phones Coming To America By Way Of US Mobile
As far as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) go, US Mobile is not even that popular. Sure, it uses T-Mobile’s network in delivering its mobile phone services, but other than that, many would think of the wireless carrier something that is not a household name. Well, this little MVNO just became the first ever wireless carrier in the United States to sell smartphones produced by Chinese phone makers Xiaomi and Meizu. As of this writing, US Mobile now carries three Xiaomi smartphones (the Redmi 2 for $119, the Mi 3 for $135, and the Mi 4 for $219) and the Meizu Note 2 device, which goes for $149.
The name Meizu may not ring any bells, but surely some mobile users may have already heard of Xiaomi. This Chinese phone maker rose to popularity more than a couple of years ago, and has since become one of the powerhouse players in the global smartphone industry. Last year alone, Xiaomi managed to sell 70 million units of smartphones around the world, and in the process, became the third biggest smartphone maker during the third quarter of 2015 in terms of market share (quite an achievement after grabbing the top smartphone seller title in China in the second quarter of 2015). As for Meizu, it has a lot going for it. Starting out as a maker of music players, it started producing smartphones in 2008, and then in 2015, managed to sell 9 million units in the first six months of that year.
Xiaomi has long wanted to penetrate the US market, but as Sony and Huawei can attest, it is not a walk in the park. American mobile users are more familiar with brands such as Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola, and HTC. In order to survive in the unforgiving US market, Xiaomi will have to compete with those big names.
Realistically speaking, debuting its smartphones in American shores will not threaten any of the top five phone maker brands in the US market. But it should be a significant step for the Chinese mobile giant -- by having placed one foot in the door, it should be able to work on expanding its smartphone offerings, well beyond the initial three it is offering now via US Mobile.
Of course, there are some notable obstacles along the way. First of all, smartphones built by Xiaomi and Meizu do not support LTE networks in America, and they are not optimized for American mobile users. Still, US Mobile has given its word that it will service and support the Xiaomi and Meizu handsets.
By MVNO standards, US Mobile’s pricing is pretty budget friendly, partly because customers can just mix up inclusions according to their preferences. For instance, mobile users can get 500 minutes of voice calls for $9, and then get a thousand text messages for another $5, and then enjoy 1 gigabyte of data for $14 (including a $2 service fee).