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Xiaomi unveils to Taiwan new Mi3, teams with Chunghwa

TAIPEI--Xiaomi Corp., a fast-growing Chinese maker of cheap smartphones, launched Thursday its high-end Mi3 in Taiwan and added a new telecom distribution partner, in a move to accelerate its overseas expansion.

Xiaomi teamed up with Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. (遠傳電信) last April to sell Mi2S and budget Redmi phones exclusively in Taiwan.

The Mi3 will go on sale March 5 through Far EasTone and Chunghwa Telecom Co. (中華電信), Taiwan's largest mobile provider, costing NT$9,999 (US$330) for a contract-free 16GB model, roughly the same as the phone's price in China.

Xiaomi's Taiwan website will start selling the Mi3 on Feb. 26.

Unveiled in September last year, the Mi3 features top-shelf hardware specifications such as a 5-inch 1080p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon S800 2.3GHz quad-core processor and a 13-megapixel main camera.

The flagship phone is expected to begin sales in Singapore March 7 as its next overseas launch, according to Xiaomi.

“We really appreciate the support from Taiwanese suppliers and fans,” Xiaomi co-founder and President Bin Lin told a press conference announcing the Mi3.

The first-wave Mi3 shipments to Taiwan will consist of at least 10,000 units, Lin said, adding that Xiaomi is “satisfied” with its sales in the country last year, although he declined to specify actual numbers.

Xiaomi to Set First Overseas Shop in Taiwan in H2

According to Far EasTone, Xiaomi sold over 200,000 smartphones in the local market in 2013, including 100,000 units of the Mi2S and 100,000 units of the Redmi.

Lin said Xiaomi does not set targets for its sales or market share in Taiwan, but has plans to set up its first overseas Xiaomi store in Taipei during the second half of this year to strengthen its after-sales service.

The executive said that Xiaomi sold 18.7 million smartphones in 2013 and aims to sell 40 million units in 2014 through overseas expansion and the implementation of the 4G LTE network in China.

To hit that aggressive shipment target, Xiaomi reached a monthly production capacity of 3.22 million units last December and will maintain that level throughout this year, thanks to deepening partnerships with its suppliers, Lin said.

After setting up operations in Singapore earlier this year, the company will tap into more Southeast Asian markets in 2014 such as Malaysia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, he added.

The revenue contribution from overseas markets, however, will remain low for Xiaomi this year because the company plans to build a good brand image in other countries rather than boost its shipments in the near term, Lin said.

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Lin Bi, center, co-founder and president of China's upstart budget smartphone maker Xiaomi Technology, along with representatives from two local telecom partners Far EasTone (遠傳電信) and Chunghwa Telecom Co. (中華電信), holds up the company's high-end Mi3 phone during a product launch in Taipei, yesterday. (CNA)

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