Phones made by Xiaomi – China's biggest smartphone maker – were briefly on sale in the U.S. this week, but with a couple of big catches.
Carrier U.S. Mobile – which uses T-Mobile's network – imported a number of Xiaomi handsets but they sold out in a flash.
According to PCMag which first reported the news, the phones on sale included the Xiaomi Redmi 2 for $119, the Xiaomi Mi 3 for $135, and the Xiaomi Mi 4 for $219. A phone by another Chinese manufacturer called the Meizu Note 2 was also on sale for $149. The key thing to note is that these products are not officially being sold by Xiaomi; they have just been imported.
Customers buying these phones will also have to deal with two major issues. Firstly, the phones will not be able to connect to 4G mobile internet because the phones were designed for China where the standards for 4G are different. Secondly, the software and apps that are pre-loaded onto the phone in China – one big reason for Xiaomi's appeal and success – will not work in the U.S.
CNBC has reached out to US mobile for an official comment around further availability of the Xiaomi devices. A customer care assistant said that new stock will be "available soon".