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Xiaomi and Realme: A tale of a pot and kettle


Realme 3 Pro vs Redmi Note 7 Pro showing logo

Opinion post by
Hadlee Simons

Xiaomi and Realme executives have been embroiled in a spat for what seems like months now, as the two brands attack each other for various reasons.

Representatives for the two companies have taken to Twitter to attack the opposing brand, with Poco India general manager Chandolu Manmohan calling Realme a “real copycat brand.”

This comment was in response to Realme CEO Madhav Sheth chiding Xiaomi’s behavior, saying a “real innovative brand” doesn’t behave the way Xiaomi does.

This is only the latest case of the two companies attacking each other online, as Xiaomi has previous slammed Realme for being a copycat. Meanwhile, Realme has criticized Xiaomi for being “desperate” and “insecure” as it faces a new rival. But the truth is that, for all their tantalizingly affordable devices, neither brand has a leg to stand on when it comes to innovation or the lack thereof.

Both brands have a history of copying

xiaomi mi pad 1st generation ipad mini 1

Xiaomi is arguably the original copycat (if that’s a thing) when it comes to smartphones and smart devices. Its MIUI skin drew plenty of comparisons to iOS when it first launched. Shifting to hardware, its Mi Pad tablet is one letter away from being an iPad — take away the Xiaomi logo and vibrant colors and you’ve got an iPad Mini clone. From the selfie camera position to the bezels and screen size (7.9-inches), it’s clear where Xiaomi got its inspiration from. We even touched on the similarities back in 2014.

The Apple Watch versus the Mi Watch.

Xiaomi’s Mi Watch (R) is basically an Apple Watch without the curved edges. Note how the crown, microphone and side button all appear in the same order.

Then there’s the original Mi Box and Mi Watch, clearly being more than a little inspired by the Apple TV and Apple Watch respectively. Take a look at the Mi Watch and Apple Watch comparison above.

We also have the Xiaomi Mi 8, which garnered negative press at its launch solely due to its iPhone X trappings. Between the fat notch, distinctive camera housing, and polished glass back, it’s easy to see the similarities.

Sure, Xiaomi has definitely delivered some innovative goods in recent years, such as the original Mi Mix, the Mi Mix Alpha, and the Mi Max family. But it’s unquestionably leaned on the likes of Apple when it comes to design.

Realme is one to talk as well, as it’s seemingly copied its entire product, marketing, and pricing strategy from Xiaomi and its various brands. Perhaps the most prominent example of this is Realme mocking Xiaomi for bringing ads to MIUI in early 2019 before implementing ads in its own Android skin a few weeks ago.

Realme looks to Xiaomi

The Realme C2's Desh Ka Real Choice tagline was heavily inspired by Redmi's Desh Ka Smartphone tagline.

The Realme C2’s Desh Ka Real Choice tagline was heavily inspired by Redmi’s Desh Ka Smartphone tagline. Realme

We’ve also seen the Oppo offshoot tout Realme Buds Air Pro, following Xiaomi’s own true wireless earbuds. And yes, Xiaomi in turn copied Apple’s Air Pods and Bragi’s Dash buds. Realme is also set to launch a cheap fitness band, following the path set by Xiaomi’s Mi Band family. Hell, Realme is tipped to launch a Realme TV soon, following Xiaomi’s long-running Mi TV series. To be fair, we’ve also recently seen Motorola, Nokia and OnePlus follow Xiaomi into this space.

Coming back to smartphones, devices like the Realme C2, Realme 5, and Realme 5 Pro all target the same price bracket as Xiaomi’s Redmi series (Redmi A, Redmi, and Redmi Note Pro families respectively). It goes even deeper than that, as Xiaomi marketed its Redmi A phones as a “Desh Ka Smartphone” (India’s Smartphone), only for Realme to turn around and bestow the “Desh Ka Real Choice” tagline on its Realme C2.

You could even accuse Realme of trying to mimic the name of Xiaomi’s popular Redmi sub-brand.

Realme X50 5G colors redmi k30 5g colorways

Even the Realme X50 5G seems like the Redmi K30 5G with a few visual changes and a spec tweak. 120Hz LCD screen? Yep. Dual selfie camera punch-hole cutout? Check. Side-mounted fingerprint scanner? Indeed. 64MP quad camera setup? Sure. Snapdragon 765G processor? It’s Qualcomm’s only mid-tier 5G processor right now, so yes. Sure, Realme made a few spec changes, offering a smaller battery and a telephoto camera, but it definitely looks like the company cribbed notes from Xiaomi.

In other words, it’s clear the upstart brand is eyeing Xiaomi’s Mi devices and the expanded ecosystem when it crafts its own strategy and devices. But it’s rather hypocritical of Xiaomi executives to repeatedly call Realme out and mock them when Xiaomi has been doing the same for years.

So Xiaomi and Realme can keep slinging mud at one another, but neither brand is in a position to call out the other for copying. The name-calling and accusations do nobody any favors, and it’s not as if the smartphone business is a zero-sum game. Both brands are enjoying plenty of sales in India and elsewhere, and they’re driving each other to actually offer better products.

Whose side are you on when it comes to Xiaomi versus Realme? Give us your thoughts below.

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