Xiaomi's smartphones are going on sale in the US for the first time.
It's China's most valuable startup--growing from nothing to the one of the biggest smartphone companies in the world in just six years.
Xiaomi was most recently valued at $45 billion (£31.3 billion), but the company has so far declined to expand into Western markets, focusing its low-cost smartphones on emerging markets like China, India, and South America.
This American launch isn't an "official" launch by Xiaomi. Instead, mobile network US Mobile is importing and selling the devices itself, as first reported by PC Mag.
This has a few drawbacks. For starters, the devices don't run perfectly in the US--4G doesn't work.
Americans also don't get to buy some of Xiaomi's best phones, including the Mi Note, because US Mobile isn't importing that line. Instead, it's offering the lower-end Redmi 2, Mi 3, and Mi 4, which range between $119 (£82) and $219 (£152).
Xiaomi is sometimes referred to as the "Apple of China." It has managed to create an extraordinarily loyal fanbase for its devices, which are sometimes uncannily similar to Apple's smartphones. In 2014, Apple design chief Jony Ive slammed its designs as "theft."
The hype surrounding the company began to dissipate in the latter half of 2015. It fluffed its target of 80 million smartphone sales, and analyst Alberto Moel described its valuation "unfeasible" to Bloomberg. "All those expectations of growth aren’t being realized, which now makes that $45 billion valuation unfeasible ... The argument was that their business is kind of like Apple and they’re growing very fast, but they’re no longer growing so fast and they’re not as good as Apple."
Now Americans get their first taste of the company--low-end devices that don't function properly. It's perhaps not the image that Xiaomi wants to project.
The company's VP of international, Hugo Barra, told the BBC last yearthat it doesn't plan to expand to the US or Europe for "a few years."