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Electronics

Xiaomi launches first smartwatch as handset demand shrinks

Tech group touts features rivaling Apple Watch at less than half the price

Xiaomi's Chairman and CEO Lei Jun introduces the company's new smartwatch Tuesday in Beijing. (Photo by Shunsuke Tabeta)

BEIJING -- Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone heavyweight, will release its first smartwatch next week, the company said Tuesday, as it diversifies beyond the shrinking domestic mobile market.

The smartwatch, which hits shelves Monday, is capable of syncing up with smartphones, and it will be equipped with its own phone number to make voice calls independently. Mobile payment and ride-hailing apps can be installed in the device.

The smartwatch will start at 1,299 yuan ($184), or less than half the price of an Apple Watch. Yet Xiaomi's offering is more functional compared with the Apple Watch, according to Xiaomi Chairman and CEO Lei Jun.

"We've devoted long hours developing" the watch, Lei said.

Xiaomi is also coming out with new televisions that are thinner than conventional smartphones. Prices start at 2,999 yuan.

The world's fourth-largest smartphone maker expects to be China's leading producer of TVs for the full year. Xiaomi said it delivered 6.89 million TVs domestically during the first nine months of the year, which already puts it in first place. Skyworth Group, based in Hong Kong, is the runner up at 6.14 million units.

For the second quarter ended June, smartphones accounted for roughly 60% of the revenue. Xiaomi's wide-ranging lineup includes bracelet devices, artificial intelligence speakers, personal computers and cleaning devices.

 Xiaomi will also release Monday the world's first smartphone with a 100-megapixel image sensor, featuring five cameras in the rear. The price tag will be kept at 2,799 yuan, which is cheaper than rivals.

"The camera functions are No. 1 in the world," Lei said.

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