Apple and Samsung may be considered the hottest smartphone makers in America, but over in Asia the two tech giants have a strong competitor: Xiaomi. The company came out of nowhere about five years ago and quickly became known for selling beautiful looking Android phones, which, admittedly, borrowed many design elements from the iPhone, for relatively cheap prices. In the most recent years, the tech industry and smartphone fans alike have eagerly anticipated the flagship Xiaomi every year. But while Xiaomi may be hot stuff in Asia those of us in the United States have been left out in the cold. That’s because, for the most part, Xiaomi does not sell most of their handsets in the US. So, if you do live in the US and want a Xiaomi regardless, just how do you get one? We’ve put together this guide to tell you.
But keep in mind that just because you can get a Xiaomi in the US through these methods you won’t get the full Xiaomi experience that Asian users are used to. Why? Because Xiaomi phones aren’t built to work on LTE networks found in the US and they also come stocked with apps suited to the Chinese market. So be warned: if you love LTE and can’t read Chinese, a Xiaomi might not be for you. If you still want one, here are the best ways to grab one without making a trip to China:
This isn’t an official website run by Xiaomi. Rather it’s an importer of Xiaomi products. They do have most of the smartphones Xiaomi offers, but again, keep in mind the caveats listed above. If you want to see what they have available, head over to their website to check them out. Xiaomi does have an official site that sells products in the US, but they only sell Xiaomi made accessories. As Xiaomi said in a statement: “Recent reports have indicated that Xiaomi products will be available in the US. Xiaomi only offers a small selection of accessories for sale in the US through Mi.com. There are no plans to sell smartphones through any authorized distributors in the US. US Mobile is not authorized to sell Xiaomi products in the US.”
eBay is a relatively safe site to buy from because the company has some of the best buyer protection services online. On eBay you’re also likely to find much more availability of Xiaomi phones. A quick eBay search for “Xiaomi Mi 5” brings back over 450 results.
However, while there is more inventory buying a Xiaomi on eBay you can also expect to pay a little more for a Xiaomi phone than, say, on Craigslist (see below). 128 GB Xiaomi Mi 5’s are going from anywhere between $230-500.
Let’s start with Craigslist. A simple search for “Xiaomi” on Craigslist will currently bring up two results. Yes, it’s only two, but it’s something. The prices don’t appear to be that much more than you’d pay for a new Xiaomi in China either. An unlocked 128 GB Xiaomi Mi Mix can be had for $320 while a Mi 4 can be had for $150.
That being said, Craigslist is one of the most unregulated classified sites on the Internet. If you are going to buy a Xiaomi import from someone on the site I HIGHLY recommend you meet them in person (in a well-lit, crowded area) and test the phone out for yourself before handing over any cash.
The stores mentioned, plus eBay and Craigslist, are by no means the only places you can find Xiaomi phones online if you live in the US. The best thing to do is just search Google for other online outlets and have a serious look around before you buy. Be leery of any deal that’s too good to be true and also keep cost in mind that if you’re looking for a Xiaomi because you want a phone that looks like an iPhone, it doesn’t make much sense to buy a Xiaomi import that is almost going to cost you as much as a real iPhone does it? Then again, if you want a phone with the iPhone hardware look, but that runs Android, a Xiaomi could be just the phone for you.