Depending on the language you read, Xiaomi is either saying that its new Mi Mix 3 will be “the world’s first 5G commercial mobile phone” or “one of the world’s first 5G smartphones.” In either case, the company announced today that the phone will officially debut on October 25 in Beijing.
Xiaomi announced the Mi Mix 3’s impending release with three promotional posters. A grayscale 5G-focused poster initially debuted in Chinese, showing a jet engine above the phrase “tomorrow always comes too fast” and the “world’s first” claim; a subsequent English version broadened the language. On Weibo, a purple and black poster posited the Mix 3 at the intersection of art and technology, accompanied by an October 25 release date.
The somewhat confusing messaging follows Xiaomi’s early September tease of the device, which included images of an upgraded version of the Mi Mix 2, a smartphone with a full-faced screen and a slide-up rear camera. In tweets, Xiaomi’s marketing chief showed the new phone in the midst of 5G radio tests and suggested that it would arrive with the next-generation wireless functionality — notably including support for both 28GHz “millimeter wave” and 3.5GHz 5G broadcasting, as well as 2.5GHz 4G.
— Donovan Sung (@donovansung) October 16, 2018
Mi Mix 3 is expected to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem, paired somehow with a 2.8GHz Snapdragon 845 processor. It’s believed to feature in-screen fingerprint scanning and come in at least four RAM and storage configurations, starting with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. A “5G/10G” social media image shared by the company suggests it will include up to 10GB of RAM, a substantial amount for any smartphone.
It’s unclear at this point whether the basic Mi Mix 3 phone will actually include the X50 modem or will require it to be attached to the phone as a backpack accessory, like Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod. Motorola debuted the 4G/LTE Moto Z3 alongside the 5G Moto Mod in August but has not yet set an official release date for the 5G accessory yet, despite beginning sales of the Moto Z3.
As was the case with Motorola, Xiaomi’s biggest hurdle in releasing a 5G phone is the nascent state of actual mobile 5G networks that can be used with the device. Verizon launched a commercial but non-mobile 5G network in four U.S. cities this month, and there are small test-scale networks in several other countries. While Chinese carriers and device makers have been testing 5G within the country’s borders for some time, no full-fledged 5G network is known to be operational there.
Local media expect the Mi Mix 3 to start at around $500 for the entry-level model, climbing upwards as RAM and storage increase. It’s unclear whether 5G will be included with the base model, but based on leaks of plans from rival Samsung, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the feature kept exclusive to a premium model while less capable versions are sold at more affordable prices.