Xiaomi is a Chinese smartphone brand that makes some very tempting handsets. They're cheap, but compete with the best of the best from larger brands like Samsung and LG. It's a gamble buying one off eBay, but Australian 'mifans' are now well catered for by an Australian startup storefront.
Xiaomi made headlines last year when it poached one of the stars of Android — Hugo Barra, previously a pioneer at Google's smartphone wing. It's a fascinating company; I've always wanted to try one of its phones out, but not having any Australian warranty made me too sceptical to make a purchase.
An Australian startup has finally taken on that responsibility, dedicated solely to Xiaomi tech. Xiaomistore.com.au offers an Australian warranty, as well as a few handy personalised touches — for example, they'll pre-load your Xiaomi Android phone (or the new MiPad tablet too, presumably) with the Google Play Store app, where eBay handsets require a tedious workaround to get the standard Google software up and running.
I had a loaner Xiaomi Mi3 from The Xiaomi Store for a week; at $455 it seems to be a good value handset, and one of the most individual Android phones that you can buy courtesy of its bespoke MIUI skin and Xiaomi-designed apps. Even more attractive is Xiaomi's excellent range of accessories, like the capacious Mi Charger USB battery, which the Australian store sells for a reasonable $49.
If you've been wanting to try a Xiaomi phone but buying from eBay has put you off, tarry no longer. [The Xiaomi Store Australia]