Xiaomi’s range of smartphones are certainly very compelling, offering competitive prices for its products. However, one major – and increasingly important – issue with its devices is the lack of LTE support. In our very first meeting with Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra, we were told that the company is in the midst of developing its own LTE devices, though they are not yet ready for the market.
It appears that LTE-enabled Xiaomi devices are coming very soon, as early as next month – and it’ll start with the Redmi series.
Three Xiaomi-registered devices have been registered in China’s CCC database (the Chinese equivalent to the Malaysian SIRIM and USA’s FCC), and all bear LTE certification – and all are said to be for the Redmi series. This is both surprising and not: the flagship Mi 3 is a 3G-only device and while it is rumoured that the company has been testing a refreshed flagship for some time, it looks like the Redmi series will receive the LTE treatment first.
On the other hand, it isn’t surprising that Xiaomi decides to push LTE connectivity to its Redmi devices first. They are, after all, the best-selling smartphones in Xiaomi’s stable. To date, there are three devices in the Redmi series: the Redmi, Redmi 1S and the Redmi Note. With the exception of the Redmi 1S which sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (with integrated LTE radios), the other two Redmi devices are powered by MediaTek chipsets which do not have LTE radios.
What’s possible is that Xiaomi will add a MediaTek LTE radio chip (called the MT6290) – that’s recently been made backwards compatible with the MT6582 and MT6592 chipsets – into its existing Redmi devices, at little to no increment in retail price. A second theory is for Xiaomi to replace the older chipsets with MediaTek’s new, octa-core MT6595 chipset with integrated MT6290 radio – which supports up to LTE Cat-4 speeds – though this move could be only for the larger Redmi Note.
Finally, given that these devices are now in the in China’s certification body, it is strongly rumoured that these LTE-enabled Redmi will be officially announced as early as next month. Of course, that’s just for the Chinese market for now; in all likelihood they will be available for the international market, just not anytime soon.