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Xiaomi’s partnership with Argentine football attempts to build a club of success

It was a year ago when technology company Xiaomi India, announced a partnership with the Argentine Football Association to sponsor the Argentina National Team. Good timing that, with Argentina wearing the crown of world champions. The squad, headlined by none other than Lionel Messi, included an array of global stars (often, their transfer or market valuations are indicative) including strikers Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria, midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Enzo Fernandez, as well as goalkeeper Emi Martinez. For Xiaomi in India, it makes sense to be partners with the most successful national football team at this time.

The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G World Champions Edition. (Vishal Mathur / HT Photo)

That partnership, 12 months later, has given us the first special edition smartphone too. The Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G World Champions Edition builds on a very successful Redmi Note 13 series, which earlier this month, crossed the 15 million sales milestone. We had reviewed the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ at the turn of the year, and at that time, I had called it a “pivot for Xiaomi’s premium phone expedition”. At 37,999 and a notch higher than the regular version, this is another part of the premium phone jigsaw for Xiaomi. The specs are at par with the standard phone, but there are other differentiation points which will appeal to football fans.

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Also read:For Xiaomi’s premium phone expedition, the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ is a pivot

For Xiaomi, their push for a premium product line-up has to be accompanied with an at-par experience they must deliver too. Muralikrishnan B, President of Xiaomi India, understands that. “As a sport, Football brings forth a lot of emotions and passions. As a brand, we have always been striving to deliver the best of technology to give our consumers a superior experience, similar to the Argentina National Football Team who have always been determined to surpass the expectation of their fans on the field,” he pointed out.

A co-branding attempt makes sense. Tech has found success before too. Action camera makers GoPro and energy drink RedBull, Nike and Apple, even Spotify and Starbucks. Recently, smartphone maker iQOO released the 7 series phones, with a co-design option for BMW Motorsport.

Anuj Sharma, chief marketing officer at Xiaomi India, talked about an element not often focused on – the community connect. “We are always looking for opportunities to connect with our consumers and fans, and what better way to do so than through the passion of football. Our partnership with the Argentine Football Association and sponsorship of the world champions offers an exciting occasion for us to further strengthen our connection with our community,” he said.

Also read:Push towards premium is a journey, and we’ll persist: Xiaomi’s Muralikrishnan B

There is a clear sense that Xiaomi wanted the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G World Champions Edition to be more than just a different paint job. To that extent, there has been success. The design is beautifully done, a mix of sky blue and white, replicating the Argentina football jersey. Mind you, this isn’t a vegan leather finish with the colour-blocked pattern that is a choice on the standard phone. Even the 120-watt HyperCharge charger that’s bundled with the phone (this is still a thing, mind you) also has the blue colour and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) logo. The USB-C cable is blue too, and the SIM ejector pin too is special edition.

There are special lock screen and home screen wallpapers with the Argentina team, and user interface customisations extend to icon packs too. Beyond that, the MIUI (the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G World Champions Edition has not received the HyperOS update yet) beyond that remains as it has over time, with no changes.

Performance leaves little scope for complaint, that is, once you come to terms with MIUI (though that should be ironed out too soon, with HyperOS). The curved display is rich and bright. The MediaTek 7200-Ultra chip does a good job with multi-tasking – neither does it slow down, nor are there any struggles with heating when the phone’s stressed with app load, camera usage or navigation. That’s been a gremlin with most phones, this summer. Strong battery life too, is a bonus.

Also read:From 1914 to now, Leica’s definitive history is Xiaomi’s photography trump card

The triple camera setup is led by the 200-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL HP3 sensor, flanked by an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. There’s no need to beat around the bush – stick to the main (wide) sensor as much as possible for the best photos. With it, you’ll also be able to choose a 50-megapixel photo or a 200-megapixel photo mode. Camera performance has improved on some metrics since we first reviewed the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G.

But it does feel as though they’ve left a few cards on the table – the case bundled with the phone isn’t a special edition one (it’s a plain, and if you do decide to put that on the phone, it’ll effectively hide the biggest visual element of the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G World Champions Edition – the Argentina jersey inspiration, the number 10 and the AFA as well as Redmi logos on the back of the phone. Mind you, the AFA will retire the number 10 jersey once Messi decides to hang up his boots, which gives this number on your Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G World Champions Edition a bit more meaning.

You’re paying a slight premium on the Redmi Note 13 Pro+ 5G World Champions Edition compared to the 12GB RAM and 512GB storage Redmi Note 13 Pro+ which is priced at 34,999. For football fans (perhaps not if you support an arch rival; but the Messi element appeals to all football fans), that’d hardly be classified as anything but ‘worth it’. We’re again at a point where the hope rests on software, which is HyperOS, to define the experience of this special edition phone.

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