🚀 Good morning! Xiaomi launch, Google’s CPU oddness, and the billionaire in space with three other people coming up…

Xiaomi’s weird launch

Xiaomi 11T Pro angled front on rock

Yesterday, Xiaomi launched its Xiaomi 11T series, though still focusing on Europe and Asia over sales in the US. 

What you need to know:

  • The Xiaomi 11T Pro (the Mi branding is dead now, remember) leads the series, with a Snapdragon 888, 6.67-inch AMOLED display that looks great, solid battery life with super-fast 120W charging, and a triple camera, focusing on a 108MP main shooter. 
  • To keep costs down, Xiaomi skimped on the IP rating, went for a cheaper plastic build, left out wireless charging, and started the base model with 8GB/128GB at €649 (~$650, before tax).
  • Depending on your region, it does battle with the likes of the vanilla OnePlus 9 ($649), Motorola Edge ($699), iPhone 13 ($699) and the Galaxy S21 FE, whenever Samsung finally launches that in the next few weeks or so.
  • Reviews are out already and they’re only ok. 
  • The 11T Pro looks like a powerful set of components that don’t quite stack together thanks to a middling camera and cheap build feel.
  • Verdict: “Xiaomi aimed high with the 11T Pro, but didn’t quite reach its target. The phone has plenty going for it, such as a gorgeous display, top performance, and blazing fast charging, but the cameras are middling and there are several missing features that hurt its overall appeal.” 

The non-phone weirdness:

The proximity of the launch to Apple’s event by a day made Xiaomi’s already clumsy marketing feel wildly off-piste.

  • Xiaomi is odd in that it is really really good at solid, value-packed smartphones, and flagships that tick plenty of boxes.
  • But marketing is not at all its strength. Its best marketing efforts are its prices, not its launches. 


In a flashy two-hour launch, Xiaomi was distracted by fashion and movie making rather than the details of its devices. 

  • It was slick and big-budget and scenic and expensive, but Xiaomi’s time was spent on wildly strange elements.
  • Xiaomi confusingly showed more than half a dozen short films. 
  • It said the word “Cinemagic” (Cinema Magic) more than a dozen times as its tagline for the 11T series.
  • Xiaomi showed off a collaboration with French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld.
  • Supermodel Coco Rocha posed with the Mi 11 Lite NE in a one-minute long video.
  • None of it really felt like it belonged or worked cohesively.

I spent a lot of time wondering why this was Xiaomi’s approach. Obviously, Xiaomi is going for the marketing effect of brand aspiration; it’s not focusing exclusively on Hollywood moviemakers and fashionistas and so on to buy its phone.

  • A basic marketing tenet is to associate with glamor, to make people start to believe your phone is better and more valuable. 
  • It’s social psychology, celebrity effect, and so on.
  • So, Xiaomi thought to associate its brand with Hollywood and fashion; not so much the nerds and geeks wondering if a phone has an IP rating.
  • Apple manages this without feeling like it’s trying. 
  • Xiaomi felt like it was much wider off the mark.

Also: Xiaomi’s new Pad 5 tablet has gone global, will launch in Europe for €349.


💵Apple’s premium smartphone success in the $800+ and $400+ market is leaving Samsung behind (Android Authority).

🍟Specs of Tensor chip in Google Pixel 6 sound like they’re here, but if so they’re confusing due to a mix of new and old CPU cores. Speaking of chips, Google sold potato chips in Japan for a moment (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple’s iPhone 13 event that barely mentioned 5G: 90 seconds in 80 minutes, despite last year’s major highlight of 5G. It proves how rocky it’s been (CNET).

📉Hints that Oppo is struggling: Oppo has merged operations with OnePlus as we know, but it has downsized by 20% and cut key divisions (Bloomberg).

🛵Electric scooter startup Gogoro, which has that swappable battery infrastructure, is going public via SPAC (The Verge).

🎸 Marshall unveils its first true wireless earbuds with ANC: $129 Minor III (Engadget).

💸App Annie fined $10M in a case that shows how data was promised to be secret but ended up being “non-aggregated and non-anonymized data,” which in turn, allegedly allowed App Annie to make much better estimates by simply … knowing the answers despite saying it definitely wouldn’t do that (Gizmodo).

🤑 Also in insider trading scandals: A guy working at the biggest NFT marketplace bought NFTs he knew would feature prominently (The Block).

🥅 Google is getting caught in the global antitrust net (Wired).

🎮Ex-Ubisoft devs open new studio, immediately diss Ubisoft (Kotaku).

🚀SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has flown four more people — all private citizens — into space (Ars Technica).

👃 Wikipedia states: “The human nose is extremely sensitive to geosimin [the compound that we associate with the smell of rain], and is able to detect it at concentrations as low as 400 parts per trillion.” How does that compare to other scents? (r/askscience)

Throwback Thursday

How to change Instagram password

Remember when passwords were the way to go? A hellish world of forgotten details, not using one password too long, breaches, a mix of numbers and letters, and so on. 

  • I mean, we’re still in that era, sorry.
  • But things are getting better! 
  • News that Microsoft accounts can now go fully passwordless means we might finally be seeing a catalyst driver towards moving on.
  • Microsoft has been working toward a passwordless login and we’re finally here.
  • “Today is a major milestone for Microsoft’s passwordless ambitions, after the company enabled security keys in 2018 and made Windows 10 passwordless in 2019,” writes The Verge
  • “We have been rolling this out at Microsoft and nearly 100 percent of Microsoft is now passwordless,” says Vasu Jakkal, corporate vice president of Microsoft security, compliance & identity. More than 200 million people are already using passwordless options.”


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.