Marketing 3 min read

Xiaomi's Mi9 Smartphone Release Stumbles After PR Blunder

Remember clear corded phones from the 90s? Xiaomi is launching yet another version of their transparent smartphone to spark that nostalgia. However, the Mi8 was mired in fake components controversy. And so far, the Mi9 is not faring much better having used a 2-year old photo from another brand's ambassador.

Xiaomi logo via Wikimedia Commons

Xiaomi logo via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, we wrote about Xiaomi’s audacious showing at CES 2019 when they revealed plans for their foldable device in direct competition with Samsung.

Returning to an older concept, Xiaomi hopes to recapture the transparent smartphone market by being more transparent themselves about the capabilities and components.

So, what are 90’s kids who want that see-through phone nostalgia to expect?

Between these and neon transparent V-Tech phones, 90s kids loved clear stuff. | Chatline Guide

Let’s Take a Brief Nostalgia Break

Do you remember these ridiculous clear, plastic phones? You had to position the phone carefully in the room to make sure the cord reached wherever you wanted to go (like a bed or a chair to sit).

The reception was often fuzzy and crackly and the earpiece wasn’t very comfortable. But oh man, when you punched in those numbers and saw all those neon colors, you felt like some kind of cyberpunk scientist in the 80s, ringing the 22nd century or something.

They also had models with lights in them — lights! The 90s/early 2000s were truly simpler times.

Especially considering that companies didn’t commit intellectual property theft in order to market their own products and devices. Though I’m sure we only know about these instances more now because of the Internet.

You see the original photo on the left and Xiaomi’s on the right. | Abacus News

Xiaomi Stumble Before They Start

The specs on the Xiaomi Mi9 are impressive:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor
  • 12GB of RAM (three times as much as an average laptop)
  • Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 90.7% screen-to-body ratio
  • Embedded screen fingerprint reader
  • Triple-camera setup with a 48-megapixel Sony IMX 586 sensor
  • 3200 mAh battery with 22W fast charging using a USB-C

But Xiaomi made an egregious error when marketing the Mi9 — they used someone else’s photo.

Co-founder and president Lin Bin published some promotional photos on Weibo recently. The photo on the right is one of those promotional photos. However, the photo on the left is the original photo of notable actress Dilraba Dilmurat (a.k.a. Dilireba).

What’s worse, this actress is a spokesperson for Oppo — one of Xiaomi’s competitors.

The PR head Xu Jieyun has since described the move as a “mistake”, calling it a “draft that was to be replaced.” Jieyun added that the company is “not that stupid.”

Luckily for Xiaomi, they aren’t alone in huge marketing blunders. Last year, Huawei got in trouble again for using disingenuous photos to market their own smartphones.

Only time will tell if Xiaomi’s misstep affects their Mi9 smartphone sales.

Read More: Xiaomi’s New Foldable Tablet Could Blow Samsung Away

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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