Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer which shot to prominence in 2014, has just announced its flagship model for 2015 with the Note, a direct competitor to the large-screen iPhone 6 Plus.

Obviously the Xiaomi Note will draw comparisons with Samsung's Galaxy Note range, but it is Apple's big screen smartphone to which CEO Lei Jun directly compared the new product at the launch event in Beijing on Thursday (15 January).

Mi Note tech specs

  • 5.7in screen (1080 x 1920).
  • Snapdragon 801 chip.
  • 3GB RAM.
  • Dual Sim.
  • 13MP camera with OIS.
  • 4G LTE.
  • Price: 2,299RMB (£245).

The Xiaomi Note is 6.95mm thin, compared to the iPhone 6 Plus 7.1mm profile, and it is also 11g lighter. It will feature a larger 5.7in screen which has a Full HD resolution, which is the same as the Apple phone.

The phone will retail at 2,299RMB (£245) and will become the company's flagship model sitting above the Mi4 which was launched last year.

The phone eschews plastic constructions in favour of metal and glass, with a metallic band running around the entire edge of the phone, while curved glass covers the front and rear.

Xiaomi said on its Facebook page: "We encountered many challenges when designing this new phone model, starting from battery capacity. Even though our new phone model is thinner and lighter, we'll not compromise on the battery capacity."

Xiaomi Mi Note launched
The Xiaomi Mi Note is launched by CEO Lei Jun at an event in Beijing where he compared it directly with the iPhone 6 Plus Twitter/@monkbent

We are innovative

The Mi Note will run MIUI 6, the forked Android software which Xiaomi has developed in-house and which will have some new features specifically designed to work with the bigger screen.

Just as Apple has its Reachability feature to bring the top of the screen down closer to the bottom for easier access, Xiaomi has a similar feature accessed by swiping across the screen.

Jun also compared the cameras on the new Note and the iPhone 6 Plus, almost mocking the protruding camera lens on Apple's big smartphone - something the Note does not have.

The CEO also referenced one of the regular criticisms flung at the company, saying that it did not simply rip off other people's ideas but that it had filed many patents and that the company was very innovative.

Apple launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in China last year and while official numbers will only be released next week, it is expected the two models have driven record sales in the country with prospective buyers still facing delays in buying one of the phones months after release.

Connected world

Xiaomi is the largest smartphone manufacturer in China, and became the world's third biggest smartphone player in the third quarter of 2014, even though it only sells its products in its home territory and a handful of other Asian countries like India and Singapore.

Lei Jun also revealed at the event that Xiaomi's strategy is to place the smartphone at the centre of a hugely connected world: "We are going to connect all of the smart devices with the phone as the center."

This is something analyst Ben Thompson suggested just last week:

"You could argue that Xiaomi is actually the first "Internet of Things" company... Xiaomi is integrating everything itself and selling everything one needs on Mi.com to a fan base primed to outfit their homes for the very first time."

Xiaomi has a huge and loyal fan base in China and it will look to leverage that to create a wide range of connected products at the heart of which the smartphone sits.