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Posts Tagged ‘xiaomi’

Mediatek Helio X20 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 – 3D Graphics Benchmarks and CSR2 Game

October 17th, 2017 4 comments

I’ve been using Vernee Apollo Lite smartphone with a Mediatek Helio X20 deca-core ARM Cortex A72/A53 processor coupled with an ARM for a little over a year. Recently, I’ve received Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC featuring eight ARM Cortex A53 cores and an Adreno 506 GPU.

In theory, the latter is a downgrade, and the Xiaomi phone is indeed quite slower in Antutu with overall score of 60,161 points against 85,840 points in the Mediatek phone. 3D graphics performance is also lower with 12,849 vs 17,828 points. Both smartphone have the same resolution (1920×1080), so it’s a little confusing to be told you’d “better to play games in low quality mode” for the Mediatek phone, and “game performance is mid-level” for the Snapdragon one.

But anyway Helio 20 should work better in 3D games than Snapdragon 625 if we are to believe the numbers. Most apps run fine on Vernee Apollo Lite, but one game I play is sometimes extremely sluggish, especially in a specific section of the user interface. That game is CSR Racing 2 (aka CSR2), and the section is called “Rare import” where the game will sometimes freeze for a few seconds apparently while rendering some animations. The phone may also overheat while playing, and I’ve used Boots hot & cold pack a few times to keep it cool and make the game playable, but that’s another story 🙂

So I was interesting to find out if CSR2 would also freeze in Xiaomi Mi 2, and see how it performs while actually playing, so I placed both phones side-by-side to check it out.

The video above does not actually show the worst case for the Mediatek processor, as sometimes the animations in “rare imports” would freeze for 3 to 4 seconds and several times during the process. So far, Xiaomi Mi A1 has been working very well in that section. In the video I mentioned that I could not see much difference between the two phones during playback, but after playing further I found the Xiaomi Mi A1 is also smoother to play. After also double-checking the video, it’s also clear there are less texture details and fewer objects shown in the Snapdragon 625 phone, as shown in the photo below with trees shown in Vernee Apollo Lite, but not the Xiaomi phone.

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The app is likely auto-detecting the phone performance, and it works well for one, and not quite as well for the other. It’s also possible the developers focus on the most popular phones from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and other brands which are usually equipped with Exynos or Snapdragon processors, rather than Mediatek ones. I could not find an option to manually adjust the image quality/resolution in the game.

The conclusion is that you can’t simply look at benchmarks to find out if a particular game will work well on your phone. In this case Helio X20 is closed to 40% faster in Antutu 3D GPU benchmark, but the user experience is much better with the Snapdragon 625 phone, albeit at the cost of a little less graphics details. Other games will likely differ depending on the implementation.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Review – Part 1: Unboxing, First Boot, Firmware Update, and Benchmarks

October 16th, 2017 14 comments

Xiaomi Mi A1 hardware specifications are pretty much standard for a mid-range smartphone, except possibly for its dual rear camera, and what makes it stand apart is really Android One program that promises regular firmware update, including to the latest “pure” Android version, during a 2-year period from launch.

In my case, the phone is also interesting because so far I had only used smartphones with Mediatek SoCs, and Mi A1 is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. SD625 should be slower than the Mediatek Helio X20 deca-core processor I’ve been using in Vernee Apollo Lite, but I’m curious to find out if some apps have been better optimized for Qualcomm processors. I’ll soon find out as GearBest sent me a review sample.I’ll start with an unboxing and first boot post, before writing the second part of the review in a couple of weeks once I’ve finished testing the phone.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Unboxing

I took a while to go through customs because local authorities did not know that model/brand, and at one point I understood there was no hope and I had to abandon the smartphone, since I could not provide the required paper work. So I was quite surprised when DHL showed up with the phone this afternoon.

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The exact model I got is called MDG2. It comes with 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage as all other Mi A1 models, but there may be differences in network bands since the device will be officially sold in around 40 countries.

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The phone comes with a short user manual in English, a 5V/2A power supply (no quick charge?), a USB to USB type C cable, and a SIM slot tool.

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One side of the manual has some useful information, including how to use the SIM card tray, but the other side is mostly useless legalese, except maybe for the frequency bands and power info.

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The front of the phone has the 5.5″ full HD display, camera, LED, and 3 Android buttons. The latter are a bit confusing to me, as the back and menu keys are inverted compared to my current phone.

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The back of the phone featuring the dual camera and LED flash, as well as the fingerprint scanner. Build quality looks good, and the phone feels a little lighter than Vernee Apollo Lite.

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Power and volume buttons are located on the right side,

The SIM card + micro SD slot on the left side,

and speaker, USB type C, and 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom side of the phone.

You can check the unboxing and first boot video below.

Xiaomi Mi A1 SIM Card / micro SD card installation

Today, I also learned how to use the SIM card tool… With my previous phone I insert the tool with an angle and pulled the slot. I found it was not very convenient, but it worked. But finally, I realized you had to insert the tool right inside the hole, push, and the SIM card adapter would just pop out… Facepalm…

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Xiaomi Mi A1 has a single slot that supports either two Nano SIM card, or one Nano SIM card with an optional micro SD card. It’s not really obvious you are supposed to do but just looking at the adapter, so for once, it pays to read the manual. I could install a micro SD card and a NanoSIM card as shown below.

Both were properly recognized in the phone.

Xiaomi Mi A1 First Boot, Firmware Update

The very first boot makes go go through a wizard asking for permissions, setup WiFi, Google Account, and so on. I did not take screenshot, but if you are interested you can watch the video above.

Some Xiaomi phones comes with MIUI launcher, but since the phone is part of Android One program it comes with a stock launcher. We have a folder for Google specific apps, and one for three XiaoMi apps.

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I logged into Google Play and install Antutu and CPU-Z, before taking the sscreen shot for the list of pre-installed apps. The phone has a 58.24GB internal storage partition with 9.46 GB used (48.96GB free), so I doubt I’ll use a micro SD card over the long term.The phone runs Android 7.1.2 on top of Linux 3.18.31. Also notice the Android security patch level is dated August 1, 2017. Soon after I could see a notifications about “Android System Update (Sep 2017).

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Clicking on it reveal it’s a security update from Google. Rather a large 1GB download, but no problem over WiFi. Once it is installed, you’ll be ask to reboot, and we can verify the Android security patch level is now dated September 1, 2017, the kernel is still 3.18.31 but has been updated too. That’s a nice change compared to my current Vernee phone. It was sold with Android 6.0, with a promise of Android Nougat update that never came. I still got 3 or 4 OTA updates, but nothing since January, and the Android security patch level is dated July 5, 2016, over one year old. That’s where Android One phones have a clear advantage, as I’m expecting updates until end of 2019 at least, and maybe even later for security updates.

Xiaomi Mi A1 System Info, Antutu Benchmark

CPU-Z reports the phine is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC with eight Cortex A53 cores @ up to 2.02 GHz, and an Adreno 506 GPU. There’s only 3593 MB shown out of the 4GB RAM, probably because of some hardware buffers, and 50.38GB internal storage. The phone – codenamed “tissot” – has a 5.52″ display with 1080×1920 resolution.

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I also included screenshots about battery, thermal sensors, and other sensors (partial).

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Finally I ran Antutu 6.x, and Xiaomi Mi A1 scored 60,161 points. Vernee Apollo Lite got a much higher score with 81,623 points. I’ll have to see of I can notice any differences between the two during use.

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I’d like to thank GearBest who kindly provided the smartphone for review, and if you’re interested you could get one for $233.90 including shipping. Coupon XMA1GJ and MI5A1FS should bring the price down to respectively $229.90 (golden version only) and $218.90 (Rose Gold). Other options includes GeekBuying, Banggood, eBay, and others online shops, as well as your local shops if the phone has launched in your country.

Amlogic A111, A112 & A113 Processors are Designed for Audio Applications, Smart Speakers

September 9th, 2017 6 comments

Amlogic processors are mostly found in TVs and TV boxes, but the company is now apparently entering a new market with A111, A112, and A113 audio processors. I was first made aware of those new processors through Buildroot OpenLinux Release Notes V20170831.pdf document posted on their Open Linux website, where two boards with Amlogic A113D and A113X are shown.

S400 Version 03 Board

First, S400 board with the following key features/specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic A113D CPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 512MB SLC NAND flash
  • Display I/F – MIPI interface
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet SDIO WiFi/BT (AP6356S)
  • Audio
    • SPDIF_IN/SPDIF_OUT
    • LINE_IN/LINE_OUT
    • 2x Audio headers (MIC_Connector & SPK_Connector)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 OTG
  • Expansion – 2x PCIe ports
  • Misc – 6x ADC Keys, IR_IN/IR_OUT, UART Interface (RS232)

The second S420 board is based on A113X SoC, and comes with less features (no display, no Ethernet, no PCIe…), less memory:

  • SoC – Amlogic A113X CPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3
  • Storage – 512MB SLC NAND flash
  • Connectivity – SDIO WiFi/BT (AP6356S)
  • Audio
    • SPDIF_IN
    • LINE_IN/LINE_OUT
    • 2x Audio headers (MIC_Connector & SPK_Connector)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 OTG
  • Misc – 6x ADC Keys, IR_IN/IR_OUT, UART Interface (RS232)

The document also explains how to build Linux built with buildroot (you’ll need an Amlogic account), and use audio via applications or frameworks such as aplay, gstreamer, alsaplayer, shairport (Airplay), VLC, DLNA, etc…

Information about Amlogic A113X/A113D processor is lacking on the web, but I eventually found that Amlogic had a YouTube account with now a whopping two subscribers (including yours truly), and one of the two videos was an Alexa voice services demo on Amlogic A113 with what looks like a microphone array inserted on the top of the board.

Further research led me to a page in Chinese discussing Amlogic A111, A112, A113 audio processors, and revealing that Xiaomi AI smart speaker is based on Amlogic A112 quad core Cortex A53 processor, that also shows up in GeekBench running Android 6.0. They also report that A113 features the same four Cortex 53 cores, but has better audio capabilities with 8x PDM interfaces, and 16x I2S interfaces. I also found a page about a microphone array designed for Amlogic S905/S912/A112, and based on Knowles SPH0645LM4H-B miniature microphones .

Finally, I decided to go directly to Amlogic website, and they do have pages for A111 and A112 SoCs, strangely not indexed by search engines so far.

Amlogic A111 key features:

  • CPU – Quad-core ARM Cortex-A5
  • Audio Interface
    • 2-channel I2S input and output
    • TDM/PCM input and output, up to 8 channels
    • S/PDIF output
  • Video Interface – LVDS and MIPI-DSI panel output
  • Security – Supports secure boot and secure OS
  • Ethernet – 10/100/1000M MAC
  • IP License (Optional) – Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Digital Surround, DTS HD, DTS Express
  • Process – 28nm HKMG

Amlogic A112 key features:

  • CPU – Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53
  • Audio Interface
    • 8-channel I2S and S/PDIF input and output
    • TDM/PCM input and output, up to 8 channels
    • 2-channel PDM input
  • Video Interface – RGB888 output
  • Security – Supports secure boot and secure OS
  • Ethernet – 10/100M MAC+PHY
  • IP License(Optional) – Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Digital Surround, DTS HD, DTS Express
  • Process – 28nm HKMG

If you are interested in evaluating / playing with those processors, and cannot get hold of Amlogic boards (since they only deal with companies), one solution is to get Xiaomi AI smart speaker available for pre-order/arrival notice on sites likes GearBest or GeekBuying, and expected to ship on October 1st.

Thanks to vertycall for the tip.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Android One Smartphone Launched in India, Coming to 40 Markets Soon

September 5th, 2017 20 comments

Android One initiative aims to deliver low cost smartphones with at least 2-year worth of firmware updates. The program first launched in India in 2014, has since then expanded into more countries, and Xiaomi has just introduced their own Android One phone with Mi A1.

Xiaomi Mi A1 specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor up to 2.0 GHz with Adreno 506 GPU @ up to 650MHz; 14nm FinFET process
  • System Memory – 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 64GB internal storage, micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Display – 5.5″ LTPS FHD display with 450nit brightness
  • Camera
    • 12 MP + 12 MP dual rear camera with dual tone flash, autofocus, 2x optical zoom
    • 5 MP front-facing camera
    • 4K/1080p/720p video @ 30 fps; 720p slow-mo video @ 120 fps
  • Connectivity
    • Dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi with WiFi direct and WiFi display support
    • Bluetooth 4.2
    • Cellular
      • 4G modem; supports Volte/4G/3G/2G on compatible networks
      • Bands:
        • GSM – B2, B3, B5, B8
        • UMTS – B1, B2, B5, B8
        • FDD-LTE – B1, B3, B5
        • TDD-LTE – B40, B41(2555-2655MHz)
    • 3-choose-2 NanoSIM/MicroSD
    • GPS with AGPS, GLONASS,BEIDOU
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, built-in microphone, built-in speaker
  • Sensors – Ambient light sensor, gyroscope, hall sensor, accelerometer, fingerprint sensor, proximity sensor
  • Misc – Power/lock button, volume buttons, infrared blaster
  • Battery – 3080mAh(typ) / 3000mAh(min)
  • Power Supply – 5V / 2A via USB Type-C port
  • Dimensions – 155.4 mm x 75.8 mm x 7.3 mm
  • Weight: 165 g

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Mi A1 phone will ship with a power adapter, a USB cable, a SIM insertion tool, a user guide, and a warranty card. The phone will run the latest Android version with stock Android launcher, not MIUI, a requirement of Android One program. The phone will first ship with Android Nougat, but it will get an update to Android Oreo by the end of the year, and based on the 2-year update, should at least get the update to Android P a few months after the release.

Xiaomi Mi A1 can be purchased in India for 14,999 Rupees (~$234 US) with free delivery and payment by cash on delivery. At first glance it looks like the phone will be hard to get outside the country of launch, but considering Xiaomi products are sold worldwide thanks to Chinese e-retailers, there may be hope that anybody can eventually purchase online, wherever you live. More details may be found in the product page.

Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 Phablet: Up to 8GB RAM, Up to 256 GB Storage, Bezel-free 6.4″ Display, $1,095

April 20th, 2017 8 comments

Yesterday, Xiaomi introduced Mi 6 smartphone, in what looked like to be their premium model, but it turns out they have a more powerful (and expensive) model with Mi MIX 2 Phablet/Smartphone boasting the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, but equipped with up to 8GB RAM, 256 GB flash, and a 6.4″ display with 2560×1440 resolution and virtually without any bezels.

Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snpadragon 835 octa-core Kryo 280 processor with 4x cores @ 2.45 GHz, 4x cores @ 1.9 GHz, Adreno 540 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 full, Vulkan, DX12, Hexagon 682 DSP
  • System Memory – 4, 6 or 8 GB LPDDR4X dual channel memory
  • Storage – 128 or 256 GB UFS 2.0 flash; NO micro SD card
  • Display – 6.4″ capacitive touch AMOLED display with 2560×1440 resolution
  • Audio – Speakers; microphone; 3.5mm audio jack
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 2G – 580/900/1800/1900 MHz; CDMA EVDO: BC0
    • 3G – WCDMA B1/2/5/8; TD-SCDMA: B34/39
    • 4G – FDD-LTE: 850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600MHz;  TDD-LTE: B38/B39/B40/B41
    • Dual Nano SIM card dual standby
  • Other Wireless Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Camera –  19 MP dual rear camera with flash and auto focus;  13.0MP front-facing camera
  • USB – Micro USB port
  • Sensors – Ambient Light Sensor, Gravity Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Fingerprint scanner
  • Battery – 4,500 mAh Lithium battery
  • Dimensions – 15.80 x 8.19 x 0.79 cm
  • Weight – 209 grams

The phone will run MIUI 9 based on Android 7.1 Nougat, and ship with a power adapter, a USB cable, and a “SIM needle”. A few items in the specifications above are inconsistent with the features of Mi 6 smaprthone, so I guess they may be incorrect: 3.5mm audio jack is not part of Mi 6, the wireless module is probably 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5, micro USB port ? seriously? It must be a USB type C port. I also have a gut feeling the sensor list is incomplete. Nevertheless, that device looks just as powerful as some entry level to mid range computers or laptops.

The reason why we don’t have clear specifications is because Xiaomi has not formally launched the device, but GearBest has listed the phone/phablet on their website, with three models:

  • 4GB RAM / 128 GB flash – $848.91 shipped
  • 8GB RAM / 128 GB flash – $951.37 shipped
  • 8GB RAM / 256 GB flash  – $1094.81 shipped

It’s also possible, GearBest is playing it safe, and gave higher prices before the product is formally announced, and while they are gathering emails to send “Arrival Notices” later on. We’ll know the real price of the phone once Xiaomi introduces it in China.

Via AndroidPC.es

Xiaomi Mi 6 Smartphone is Powered by Snapdragon 835 Processor, Comes with 6GB RAM, Up to 128GB Storage

April 19th, 2017 8 comments

Xiaomi has unveiled its latest phone with Mi 6 smartphone equipped with a 5.15″ display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor, 6GB RAM, 64 or 128GB storage, and more.

Xiaomi Mi 6 specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snpadragon 835 octa-core Kryo 280 processor with 4x cores @ 2.45 GHz, 4x cores @ 1.9 GHz, Adreno 540 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 full, Vulkan, DX12, Hexagon 682 DSP
  • System Memory – 6GB LPDDR4X dual channel memory
  • Storage – 64 or 128 GB UFS 2.0 flash; NO micro SD card
  • Display – 5.15″ capacitive touch display with 1920×1080 resolution, 428ppi
  • Audio – Speakers; microphone; NO 3.5mm audio jack
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 2G: GSM 2/3/5/8; CDMA: BC0
    • 3G: WCDMA B1/2/5/8; TD-SCDMA: B34/39
    • 4G: FDD-LTE: B1/3/5/7/8, TDD-LTE:38/39/40/41
    • Dual Nano SIM card dual standby
  • Other Wireless Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU
  • Camera –  12.0MP+12.0MP dual back camera;  8.0MP front-facing camera
  • USB – USB type C port
  • Sensors – Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Distance sensor, Ambient light sensor, Hall sensor, electronic compass, barometer
  • Battery – 3,350mAh Lithium battery
  • Dimensions – 145.17 x 70.49 x 7.45mm
  • Weight – 168 grams

The phone runs MIUI 8 based on Android 7.1, and the company claims its Antutu score is over 180,000 points. With those specifications Xiaomi Mi 6 would be a great candidate for convergence applications, but AFAIK the company has not provided any “desktop experience” software, nor docking station.

The phone ships with a USB tType-C cable, an eject pin for the SIM card slots, a user manual, and a power adapter. The 4GB/64GB sells in China for 2,499 CNY ($362), and 6GB/128GB version for 2,899 CNY ($USD421). GeekBuying has already started to take pre-orders for respectively $481.99 and $565.99 shipped, with actual shipping scheduled for in about one month.

Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 Tablet Launched with Mediatek MT8176 Hexa-Core Processor, 7.9″ Display

April 6th, 2017 8 comments

Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 was powered by an Intel Cherry Trail, but the Chinese company has decided to go back to ARM for the third iteration of their MiPad tablet as they used Mediatek MT8719 hexa-core Cortex A72/A52 processor with 4GB RAM, 64GB flash, and the same 7.9″ display with 2048 x 1536 resolution.

Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT8176 hexa-core processor with 2x ARM Cortex A72 cores @ 2.1 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex A53 cores @ 1.7 GHz, and Imagination PowerVR GX6250 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 64GB eMMC flash, no micro SD slot
  • Display – 7.9″ capacitive touch screen IPS LCD display with 2048 x 1536 resolution
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone jack,
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 LE
  • Camera – 5MP front-facing camera, 13 MP rear camera with auto-focus, dual LED flash
  • USB – 1x USB type C port
  • Battery – Non-removable 6,600 mAh LiPo battery good for 12 hours of typical use
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 200.0 x 132.6 x 6.95 mm
  • Weight – 328 grams

The new MiPad will run MIUI 8 based on Android (not sure Marshmallow or Nougat). Beside the new processor, Mi Pad 3 is quite similar to Mi Pad 2, but other changes include a bump from Bluetooth 4.1 to Bluetooth 4.2, and a larger battery (6,600 vs 6,190 mAh). Weight is about the same at 328 grams against 322 grams.

Price in China starts at ¥1499 (~$218), but GeekBuying has already started taking pre-orders for $299.99, and expects to ship in about a month. More details may be available on the product page (in Chinese only).

$100 Xiaomi “90 Minutes Ultra Smart Running Shoes” are Equipped with Intel Curie Module

March 29th, 2017 2 comments

If you’ve ever used a fitness tracker on a wristband, you must know that although it gives an indication of your level of activity, it’s usually not really accurate to count steps. Xiaomi’s “90 Minutes ultra smart running shoes” fixes the issue as the fitness tracker powered by Intel Curie module is placed right inside the shoes.

Most of the information is in Chinese, and I could only find limited specifications for the shoes:

  • Size – 39 to 45
  • Intel Curie Module based on Quark SE SoC with 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity
  • Battery – Good for 60 days on a charge
  • Material
    • Shoe sole – Rubber
    • Shoe vamp – Fabric + Synthetic leather
    • Shoe insole – Antibacterial removable air cushions

The small device based on Intel Curie module resides inside the sole, stores fitness data such steps, distance covered, speed, (estimated) calories burnt, etc… It’s unclear whether it will be charged wirelessly, or some charging port is available on the shoes.

You’ll allegedly get all that fitness data using Mihome app by connecting over Bluetooth 4.0 LE, and the app will be able to differentiate between walking, running, and riding a bicycle.

Xiaomi’s smart shoes have been selling for 299 RMB ($44) via a Crowdfunding campaign in China, but GeekBuying is already taking pre-orders for the shoes for $99.99 including shipping with delivery scheduled for mid April.