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In the West, Xiaomi’s MIX Fold 3 smells strongly of vaporware

Opinion
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Last updated: August 16th, 2023 at 14:43 UTC+02:00

Xiaomi unveiled its latest foldable phone at the beginning of the week. It's called the MIX Fold 3, and judging by the company's social media feed (at least on X), you might get the impression that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold series is finally getting some real competition. The reality is different.

Earlier this week, Xiaomi filled its X feed with MIX Fold 3-related renders and posts written in English for everyone worldwide to see. On paper, the MIX Fold 3 has some impressive characteristics, but unfortunately, for the majority of foldable phone fans outside of China, none of that truly matters.

That is because the MIX Fold 3 is reportedly exclusive to China (via @Daniel_in_HD) and will never be released globally through official channels. So, as far as the Western market is concerned, Xiaomi's Twitter/X activity reflects more of a social media stunt than a well-thought-out plan to challenge Samsung's leadership position. But whether this is a missed opportunity for Xiaomi or an intelligent marketing ploy remains open to interpretation.

Story continues after the video

Xiaomi is loud, but noise is all most of us will get

The Xiaomi MIX Fold 3 exists. It's not fake or a prototype device, and it went on sale in China for 8,999 yuan, or roughly $1,233, which is impressive if you look at the situation in its own bubble. Realistically, Chinese phones usually have a much higher price tag when released globally. And if Xiaomi were to bring the MIX Fold 3 to the global market, the phone would probably cost closer to $2,000 due to shipping fees, taxes, launch costs, and possibly additional patent-related expenses, even.

But let's say these business-related issues don't concern you. Let's say Xiaomi's social media activity sold you on the MIX Fold 3, and let's imagine you want to buy one. Is there anything you can do to acquire it?

Well, you could join the few brave souls and mobile enthusiasts who have ordered the phone from mainland China and suffered the shipping costs. But if you do, keep in mind that you'll get little-to-no support outside of China if anything goes wrong with your MIX Fold 3 and it needs servicing.

It's hard to get hyped over something you'll never get to use

All that being said, because of Xiaomi's obvious eagerness to share MIX Fold 3 renders and on-paper specs with the rest of the world and earn some social media traction without spending a dime on marketing, I can't shake the feeling that what I'm looking at is essentially vaporware. At least, in my eyes, as someone living in Europe.

Personally, I have no plans to import any foldable phones from China, pay high shipping fees, and get poor support in case I need it. And although I can't speak for every foldable phone enthusiast out there, I don't think many will feel any different or help Xiaomi tip the scales in its favor globally. There may be some social media hype circulating, but that's all there is to it.

But make no mistake. The MIX Fold 3 is not bereft of any purpose. For Xiaomi, the MIX Fold 3 might win some market share back from Samsung in China. The Korean tech giant strengthened its grip on the market from 6% in Q1 2022 to 26% in Q1 2023.

Samsung Foldable Smartphone Market Share China Q1 2023 Counterpoint Research

Perhaps the MIX Fold 3 is the answer to the incredible growth Samsung's enjoying in Xiaomi's own backyard. However, outside of China, Xiaomi's MIX Fold 3 won't really matter. If you were hoping for some healthy Z Fold competition, sadly, the MIX Fold 3 won't deliver. There's always the option to order one from China, but how many people are willing to do that?

In my eyes, excluding China, this launch boils down to Xiaomi running a promotional stunt on social media for the tech world to see. There's nothing wrong with that per se, and it's understandable why Xiaomi took this angle. But as a foldable enthusiast and Samsung fan, I see little reason to be excited about the MIX Fold 3 beyond looking at spec sheets, which can be fun — even though I remain a strong believer in optimization, experiences, and longevity.

Judging by its X activity, Xiaomi is attempting to get in the limelight and earn social media fans worldwide at minimal cost without actually delivering a product. It's good marketing, for sure, but it's nothing I can get truly hyped over or get roped into. I will most likely change my stance if Xiaomi brings the phone to the global market, but that might never happen.

OpinionPhone ChinaGalaxy Z Fold 5Xiaomi
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