MVNO US Mobile hit the headlines with claims to be the first player in the country to offer devices from Xiaomi and Meizu, although there was significant doubt over the accuracy of its claims.
Xiaomi swiftly said that US Mobile was not an authorised partner, and that its efforts in the US are focused on accessories available via its own site. Meizu has not commented.
9to5Google suggested that US Mobile had actually done a deal with a distributor in Hong Kong, which was fulfilling orders, rather than dealing directly with the vendors.
And it was also reported that T-Mobile USA, the operator which provides US Mobile’s capacity, was looking to certify devices for use on the network – a procedure they would not have been through as non-US smartphones.
Even before Xiaomi had nixed the partnership claims, it was noted that the devices to be offered did not include its latest and greatest, and – in a move unlikely for a full market launch – that the devices offered did not include US 4G support.
The entry of Xiaomi into the US market in particular has been the subject of speculation, as companies such as Honor and ZTE ramp up their efforts in the market using the same, direct-to-consumer unlocked devices model.
But while Honor (through Huawei) and ZTE come with heavyweight backing, it has been suggested that Xiaomi may be on the receiving end of attention from patent lawyers should it move into markets with more robust (and costly) intellectual property protection.