Sonos denies rumors of partnership after Xiaomi unveils new smart speaker
Some netizens say Xiaomi’s new speaker looks like the Sonos One but others say the resemblance is limited
Smart speakers come in various shapes and sizes, and some look more similar than the others. But now there’s a debate over whether Xiaomi’s latest offering rips off the design of another brand.
The gadget maker introduced a new smart speaker in China on Thursday that immediately drew comparisons to the Sonos One. At first sight, both devices have a silver-colored metal panel that wraps around the speaker with a white top and base.
But there are also some notable differences: The Xiaomi speaker is cylindrical while the Sonos One is more squarish (like a squircle). The placement of top buttons are also different. And of course, the Sonos One works with Amazon Alexa (and also Google Assistant for users outside China) while Xiaomi’s device only supports the company’s own Xiao Ai voice assistant.
But perhaps the biggest difference is the price: The Sonos One sells for 1,980 yuan (US$278) -- over five times more than the 349 yuan (US$49) Xiaomi Xiao Ai Art Speaker that’s currently discounted to 299 yuan (US$42).
As the debate bubbled up online, some netizens claimed that the new Xiaomi speaker is a collaborative effort between the smartphone maker and Sonos. But the US audio manufacturer denies that.
In a late-night Weibo post, Sonos China wrote, “Regarding the Xiaomi Xiao Ai Art Speaker that was unveiled today, Sonos has never initiated any brand or product collaboration with Xiaomi.”
Xiaomi did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Xiaomi has long been accused of copying other brands, something it has denied. Take Xiaomi’s first branded smartwatch, the Mi Watch, which carries many physical similarities to the Apple Watch. Or Xiaomi’s Mimoji avatars, which closely resemble Apple’s Animoji.