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China tech

Cheap Chinese smartphones take on Apple as 5G moves forward

Competitors' devices much more affordable than Apple's iPhone 12 series

Inexpensive 5G smartphones, including XIaomi's Redmi Note 9T, left, and Realme's V3 5G are taking on Apple's pricey iPhone 12 series. (Courtesy of Xiaomi and Realme)

TOKYO -- Low-cost Chinese smartphones that can take advantage of high-speed 5G communications have entered the Japanese market. Through SoftBank, Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced a model costing just under 20,000 yen ($183), excluding tax. Until now the iPhone has been the popular choice in Japan, thanks to its high quality, but the challenge from Chinese models could trigger a race to cut prices.

Xiaomi's Redmi Note 9T, sold exclusively through SoftBank in Japan, made its debut on Feb. 26 with claims that it had far and away the best cost performance when it comes to 5G. The device has a sticker price of 19,637 yen, or 21,600 yen with tax. If certain conditions are met, such as signing a new contract with SoftBank and applying for a student discount, the phone retails for just 1 yen.

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