Look out Kindle: Xiaomi could be launching its cheaper ebook reader globally

(Image credit: AliExpress)

The ereader market is one that's long been dominated by just two players in many parts of the world – Amazon's Kindle and Rakuten's Kobo – but just like we've seen with smartphones over the last several years, that cozy situation could soon get shaken up by a new Chinese competitor.

As spotted by Notebook Check, a product called the Xiaomi Mi Ebook Reader has recently been certified by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, and will boast the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard. That means the device could arrive with audiobook support, much like the current range of Kindle ereaders.

Xiaomi isn't new to the world of ebook readers. Last year, the company launched two devices exclusively in China – the iReader T6 in May and the MiReader in November. Both only support the Chinese script, but if this listing is anything to go by, Xiaomi may be gearing up to release an ereader globally.

Deep in Mi book

No specifications of the upcoming Xiaomi device have been revealed, and it's as yet unclear whether the ereader is actually a brand-new product or a reincarnation of one of the existing Xiaomi models.

Going by the name of the product listing on the Bluetooth SIG database – Mi Ebook Reader – it does seem likely Xiaomi could be rebranding its existing MiReader. If that's the case, the new device will likely feature a 6-inch E Ink capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1024 x 768 (or 212ppi). That's the same display specifications of the newly announced Kobo Nia and a step up from the 167ppi screen on the entry-level Amazon Kindle model.

The display on the current MiReader is front-lit and, like the Kobo Clara HD, Libra H2O, Forma and Kindle Oasis, the hue can be changed to filter out sleep-disrupting blue light.

Under the hood is a 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM and a whopping 16GB of internal storage – that's double the capacity found in any Kobo and four times what's included with the cheapest Kindle. The MiReader also comes with Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi, uses Android 8.1 as its operating system and has a very respectable 1,800mAh battery. That's more than any other popular ereader can offer right now.

Another feature the MiReader has that's currently not on any other ereader on the market is USB-C charging.

And much like the Kobos, the MiReader can support a wide variety of file formats, including EPUB, MOBI, PDF, TXT, DOC and XLS. It's also very portable, measuring in at 159.2 x 116 x 8.3 mm and weighs a touch more than the Kindle and Kobo Nia (178g versus 172g and 174g respectively).

The MiReader is also quite affordable, with an RRP of ¥599 in China (about $86 / £67 / AU$120). If the new Xiaomi ereader can enter global markets at a similar price point, then both the basic Amazon Kindle and the Kobo Nia might face some stiff competition.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.