It was recently reported that Xiaomi had started randomly locking phones without warning that were being used in prohibited countries and regions: Crimea (region of Ukraine), Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Unsurprisingly, the news caused quite a furor among fans, as Xiaomi and Redmi are popular brands in many of those areas, with strict economic sanctions leaving very limited options for smartphone users. Xiaomi has now stated that the remote locking of phones was a temporary measure as part of an investigation into smuggling and illicit grey market business.
In a statement published by the Global Times, Xiaomi claimed that it was “not targeting any specific market” and that remote locking of Xiaomi, Redmi, and POCO phones had occurred as a response to potentially damaging grey market practices. Xiaomi seemingly wanted to protect user data and consumer rights by not allowing those same "protected" users to operate their smartphones. However, for those who were affected by the remote phone locking, there is good news, with Xiaomi also saying, “The investigation has achieved significant results, and the affected devices can be unlocked now”.
Users with locked Xiaomi phones simply need to activate a Wi-Fi connection to unblock their device. While Xiaomi has tried to put some distance between itself and this contentious issue by claiming the phone locking was only temporary and part of a investigation against those who practice grey market smuggling for a living, it can also be presumed that the Chinese OEM went into damage control mode and wanted to quickly douse a growing fire before it got out of hand. According to Statistica, Xiaomi is currently the second-most popular smartphone brand in Cuba (18% share) and Iran (15.8%) while being the third-most popular brand in Syria (8.3%).
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