One of the things that has made many fall in love with Chinese smartphone brands is affordability. Quite a number of China-based smartphone brands have mastered the art of delivering quality at very affordable prices. Globally, the poster child of this trend for the last few years has been Xiaomi.
The Beijing-based company and several others like those in the BBK Electronics fold like OnePlus and Vivo (which is launching in Kenya soon, by the way) have revolutionized smartphone pricing with barely any blip in the quality. This has been helped mainly by their unique way of operating which has seen them cut overheads like the costs associated with using traditional retail channels and marketing techniques.
However, as they have adapted to accommodate the needs of more markets, they have been forced to establish brick and mortar stores here and there further eating into the tiny profit margins they were already looking at. That has meant a heavy reliance on online services (like themes, wallpapers, ringtones etc) that most of them sell to customers.
Since that is not enough, they have resorted to other means of monetization in order to be able to deliver the same features that we have come to love their devices for, while managing to keep their businesses afloat. The end result has been ads, ads and more ads. If you are a frequent reader of reviews on this site then you know that a constant complaint, whenever there is an Infinix (and now, Tecno) up for review, is, well, ads.
The same has been the case with Xiaomi for a while now.
Their smartphones, which run on the company’s Android fork, MIUI, have been showing ads to users and, as one can naturally expect, that has rubbed a lot of them the wrong way because of course it was bound to. The company has been called out for it numerous times by its users. Even locally.
I regret advising my dad to buy a @xiaomi_ke phone with Mi UI. Should have gone with Android one. I hope those ads wont bother him much.
— • (@Gachanja_) September 28, 2018
Why sell the phone and then show ads on the basic apps like play store???? how do we turn this off? https://t.co/CiTJvm7Rk7
— Kuta Limited Edition (@kutasimiyu) May 21, 2019
Hey @Xiaomi_Kenya …I haven't been answered after 2days. What's the deal with all these ads on my phone. How can I get rid of them?
— Marie Curie (@Marriecurie) February 5, 2019
— wyclife_keta (@wkibiwot) January 16, 2019
“The ads are in-your-face and almost everywhere, from the dashboard when you swipe right on the home screen (App Vault) to first-party apps like Mi Music and Mi Video to built-in tools like the File Manager,” Abhishek Baxi wrote on Android Authority back in September.
The company has been listening. Or so it appears. Xiaomi product director Wang Teng Thomas is reported to have confirmed CEO Lei Jun’s commitment 2 months ago that the company will go slow on the ads.
However, as one can note in the wording used, they are doing just that: going slow/toning down. This means a reduction in the number of ad placements. They are not entirely abandoning the practice. Instead, they will remove any ads that are either vulgar or getting in the way of the user experience.
In addition to that, the company is also promising the following (via XDA Developers):
- The MIUI browser app will show fewer advertisements within 2-3 months.
- All advertisements will be clearly disclosed to the user, and users will have the express ability to suspend or close ads.
- Xiaomi will make it easier to find advertisement controls in MIUI system apps and settings
Other features expected to make it to Xiaomi devices through the next MIUI update, thanks to being voted in by users and, thus, prioritized by the company, include:
- a local recycle bin for SMS, documents, photos and other files that gets emptied after 3 days (Samsung has such a feature but deletion only happens after 30 days),
- a magnifying glass to help users zoom into pictures or text,
- a notification log (functionality which users have had to add via third-party apps over the years)
- call recording in WeChat and QQ (Chinese users would know) and
- an ultra power saving mode that lets users only access the SMS and dialer apps to stay in touch while disabling all other functions.