Overnight, the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi announced that it’s jumping into the laptop market with the launch of the definitely-not-MacBook-inspired Mi Notebook Air. For now, the Windows 10 devices only have a release date in China.
The 13.3-inch version is about $750 (RMB 4999) and has a 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U (Turbo up to 2.7GHz), 8GB of DDR4 RAM, an Nvidia Geforce 940MX, a 256GB PCIe SSD with a factory expandable SATA SSD slot, and 802.11AC Wi-Fi. The 13-inch version measures 309.6mm x 210.9mm x 14.8mm (12.18″ × 8.3″ × 0.58″) and weighs 2.82 pounds (1.28kg). Xiaomi is claiming a “9.5 hour” battery life.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller, there’s the $525 (RMB 3499) 12.5-inch model. That version has an Intel Core M3 with integrated graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and 802.11AC Wi-Fi. The device weighs (1.07kg), measures 292 x 202 x 12.9mm (11.5″ × 7.95″ × 0.51″), and has a claimed “11.5 hours” battery life.
Both devices have one USB Type-C port for charging, 2 USB 3.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack. The aluminum body comes in gold and silver, and there’s a backlit keyboard. Manufacturing duties for the Mi Notebook Air are handled by Inventec and Wistron. The outside is absolutely devoid of logos, while the inside follows the MacBook layout pretty closely other than the body-colored keyboard.
The move into the struggling laptop market is an interesting one for Xiaomi. Xiaomi’s usual strategy is to make money with apps and services on its MIUI Android ROM. There isn’t much in the way of Xiaomi services for Windows 10, though. The devices do have “Mi Sync” software, which presumably will pull down some phone data. The laptop can also be paired to a Mi Band fitness band, so it will automatically unlock when the wearer is near, Apple Watch style.
Xiaomi isn’t the first smartphone maker to make the jump to notebooks. Xiaomi’s Chinese rival Huawei introduced the MateBook earlier this year. The 2-in-1 Surface clone marked the Huawei’s first foray into larger mobile devices, but it featured little that made it stand out from the crowd. We’ll have to see if Xiaomi can do better.
The Mi Notebook Air ships in China on August 2. There’s no word on an international release, but the laptop market seems a little less litigious than the smartphone market, so maybe we’ll see a wider release someday.