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Xiaomi starts offering 5G data plans to boost smartphone sales

The 5G phone race is on.

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Chinese smartphone vendor Xiaomi confirmed Wednesday to KrASIA that it has rolled out new 5G data packages in China, priced as low as RMB 49 (USD 7.11) per month, in a move to boost 5G phone sales.

The plans, which will be exclusive for Xiaomi’s phone users at this time, signal the company’s determination to win the upcoming 5G phone race.

While there are dozens of virtual carriers (or subcarriers) in China, they are not a mainstream choice for phone users. However, Xiaomi, with a virtual carrier license based on the China Unicom network, is the only company currently manufacturing phones and offering its own 5G data packages.

The move allows Xiaomi to further attract costumers to buy new phones by leveraging low-cost 5G data deals.

Xiaomi’s new offering includes three different 5G data plans. The basic package priced at RMB 49 (which includes 20 GB of data and 50 minutes), a RMB 69 package (with 30 GB of data and 100 minutes) and a RMB 99 offer (with 40 GB of data and 200 minutes).

However, only those who buy the 5G Redmi K30 5G phone model on Xiaomi’s website, which starts at RMB 1,999 (USD 290), will get a phone card to use these packages. Xiaomi told KrASIA that the company has not opened such services to users of 5G phones produced by other brands, and has not set a timetable to do so. As of now, this new 5G service is an exclusive benefit for Redmi K30 users, allowing them to experience 5G at low costs, Xiaomi stated.

China’s four state-owned carriers, including China Unicom, launched their commercial 5G networks at the end of October. China Unicom’s 5G packages start at RMB 129 (USD 19) per month, with 20 GB of data and 500 minutes.

Vendors have been expecting 5G to resuscitate phone sales in the country as 4G users replace their old devices. According to IDC’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report, smartphone shipments in China stood at 98.9 million units in the third quarter of 2019, down 3.6% year-on-year. Xiaomi shipped 9.7 million, down by 30.5% year-on-year. This ranks Xiaomi as the fourth-largest vendor, with a market share of 9.8% in that quarter.

The smartphone maker is known as a low-priced alternative to other brands. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G costs more than USD 1,000 and Huawei’s Mate 30 5G starts at around USD 880, while Xiaomi’s Mi 9 Pro 5G is priced at about USD 520, and the Mi MIX 3 5G starts from USD 670.