MIUI, one of Android's most popular custom ROM flavors, has been limited to purely software for existing devices... until today. Made by a Chinese company Xiaomi which has been in charge of MIUI's software development, the MIUI phone was just announced in China (where Xiaomi is based), and I must say - it's no hush puppy and leaves us highly impressed.

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First and foremost, the MI-ONE, or Millet, sports a whopping 1.5GHz dual-core MSM8260 Scorpion CPU (from the 3rd generation Snapdragon family).

Dissecting the beefy specs further, we find the Adreno220 GPU, 4GB of ROM and 1GB of RAM, a 4" Sharp screen (854x480 - not qHD), 8MP rear camera, and a juicy 1930mAh battery. Did I mention an unlocked bootloader and (duh) MIUI OS, which is currently based on Android 2.3.5?

The phone weighs 149 grams, which is quite a bit heavier than one of its most notable competitors - Samsung's Galaxy S2 at 116 grams. The cost - 1999 Chinese yuan, which is equal to roughly $313. Wait, what? A bit over $300 for a top-of-the-line dual-core device? Where do I sign up? Oh, right, this price is only valid in China.

And that, folks, is how you make an affordable phone more powerful than what most of us had in our desktops only a few years ago, and some even now.

Update: According to Engadget, who seems to be present on location, the M1 will be available for pre-order August 29th and will ship in October. They have more photos from the launch available here.

Having seen what an independent software manufacturer can achieve in the Android world, is there hope we'll ever see a CyanogenMod-based phone in the U.S. or Europe, especially now that Steve "Cyanogen" Kondik is working for Samsung? Probably not in the near future, but I sure hope so, especially if it means CM is stabilized enough for bug-free use.

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Source: MIUI Android, Sohu (Chinese)