The 2011 Android landscape was far from ideal for the budget buyer. Some of the most popular phones included the HTC Wildfire, Samsung Galaxy Mini, and the ZTE Blade. The modern-day dream of great specs at an affordable price was exactly that — a dream. It took the advent of Xiaomi to upend smartphone value as we know it, and 11 years later, the company’s impact on the smartphone industry remains undisputed.
Understanding the scope of Xiaomi’s contribution to the smartphone space requires a little historical context. When the company introduced its first phone in 2011, Nokia was still a dominant player with Symbian as its operating system of choice. Samsung had already become the largest Android player, and HTC was still relevant. And yet, none of these brands had truly compelling, affordable smartphones.