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Xiaomi has been taking Notes, announces 5.5-inch, octa-core phablet (Updated)

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has announced a new device, and if the name and spec is anything to go by, it wants some of Samsung’s action in the smartphone/tablet hybrid space. The device is the Redmi Note, a big-screen phablet with an octa-core processor, which will go on sale in China by the end of the month. You can see the first teaser image of the device below.

Xiaomi last hit the headlines in mid-February, when its Redmi smartphone was released in Singapore, marking the company’s first major expansion outside of China. It’s also well-known as the firm ex-Googler Hugo Barra joined late last year, where he is tasked with co-ordinating Xiaomi’s international efforts. 

Redmi Note Front RearThe Redmi range represents Xiaomi’s budget offerings, so we shouldn’t expect the Redmi Note to match the Galaxy Note 3’s impressive spec list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. The screen measures 5.5-inches, and is described as having an HD resolution. 

Powering the phone is a MediaTek MT6592 octa-core processor, running at either 1.4GHz or 1.7GHz, but there are rumors of a Qualcomm Snapdragon variant with 4G LTE connectivity too. Not only will this boost its appeal in China, it’s also an important addition should Xiaomi decide to put the Redmi Note on sale internationally in the future.

Already known for its unusual marketing techniques, Xiaomi hasn’t confirmed how much the Redmi Note 3 will cost yet, and is instead asking its fans to guess the price. It has 50 phones to give away to those who correctly guess the figure. It’s not going to be expensive, as the standard 4.7-inch Redmi is the equivalent of around $130, while the upper range Mi2 starts at $230. Somewhere in-between these two prices seems likely. Pre-orders for the Redmi Note begin on March 19, and the phone will go on sale March 26.

Update on 3-20-2014 by Andy: Hugo Barra has posted the complete specs and the price for the Redmi Note on his Facebook page. He confirms the 5.5-inch display has a 720p resolution, and provides more details on the two versions of the phone, differentiated by processor speed and RAM. The first comes with a 1.4GHz MediaTak MT6592 processor and 1GB of RAM, while the second increase to 1.7GHz and has 2GB of RAM. The camera on both models has 13-megapixels, and is joined by a 5-megapixel front camera, plus the battery is a hefty 3200mAh cell.

The slower 1.4GHz version has been priced at a very competitive $130, while the faster model comes in at $160. Barra also confirms the Redmi Note will soon be released in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, then adds other markets will come soon. 

Article originally published on 3-17-2014

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