The ‘Apple of China’ Just Launched a Gorgeous and Affordable MacBook Air Competitor

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Xiaomi, or the “Apple of China”, on Wednesday launched its first Windows 10 laptop, the Mi Notebook Air.

Previously dubbed the “Apple of China” — though that hype has faded a bit — Xiaomi has raised its profile in recent years on the back of affordable smartphones, branching out into everything from fitness trackers and media streamers to electric bicycles and rice cookers in recent months. Now, it’s venturing into a consumer PC market that’s still largely in decline across the globe, its native China included. That said, on the surface, the Mi Notebook Air does look like a slim, stylish, and solidly powerful Ultrabook at a relatively affordable price. Let’s take a closer look.

The Mi Notebook Air has two variants: a 12.5-inch model, and a 13.3-inch model. Both are decidedly slim and light.

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More specifically, the 13.3-inch model measures 0.58 inches thick and weighs 2.82 pounds, while the 12.5-inch model is a little slimmer and lighter at 0.51 inches thick and 2.36 pounds.

Those aren’t the absolute thinnest laptops around, but to compare, the 13-inch MacBook Air is technically thicker and heavier, measuring in at 0.68 inches thick and 2.96 pounds.

Both machines have an aluminum finish that comes in either gold or silver, and appears to be free of any exterior logos and markings.

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As CNET notes, however, the hardware itself comes from a partner called Tian Mi, but Xiaomi is selling it under its own name. This is something the company’s done with other devices before.

The specs on each model look solid for the price, though the larger notebook is the more impressive of the two.

The larger 13.3-inch model features a 1080p display, a dual-core Core i5-6200U processor (so, it’s up to date), 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a battery rated at 9.5 hours of use. There’s a USB-C port, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and a backlit keyboard.

Most notably, there’s also a dedicated GeForce 940MX graphics chip from Nvidia. That should allow for at least some level of gaming.

The smaller 12.5-inch model, meanwhile, uses a weaker Core M3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. (No GPU there.) Xiaomi claims it’ll last up to 11.5 hours on a charge. So it’s more portable, but also intended for lighter tasks.

Per usual with Xiaomi, both notebooks will cost less than the hardware would imply. The 13.3-inch model will go for 4,999 yuan (roughly $750), while the 12.5-inch one will cost 3,499 yuan (roughly $525).

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Also per usual with Xiaomi, they’re only set to release in China for now. They’ll be in Xiaomi’s stores there starting August 2.

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There are still plenty of things here that are difficult to evaluate without actually trying the device — the feel of the keyboard, the quality of the display, how hot it runs, bloatware, etc. — but if Xiaomi were to launch the Mi Notebook Air in the US, it’d likely have some appeal at that $750 price point.

As it stands now, something like Asus’ Zenbook UX305UA is as close you can get to this sort of package at that price, though that doesn’t come with a discrete GPU.

Xiaomi wasn’t immediately available to comment on a potential global launch. For now, though, the company appears to be in no rush to broach the US market completely.

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