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Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 unveiled with fingerprint sensor

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Xiaomi Redmi 3

Major Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has launched its latest phablet device, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.

As with the Redmi Note 2 (which only hit the West quite recently) before it, the Redmi Note 3 promises to be a well specced large-screen phone available at a bargain price. This time, however, there are a couple of classy additions.

The Redmi Note 3 features a 5.5-inch 1080p display (similar to the iPhone 6S Plus) and a 64-bit MediaTek Helio X10 processor. You also get a choice of 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage or 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and a 4000mAh battery as standard. There's a 13-megapixel camera around back with phase detection autofocus.

What's more exciting here is that the device presents a number of firsts for the company. It's the first Xiaomi smartphone to be built out of metal, with a curved aluminium unibody design.

This is also the first to feature fingerprint authentication. Xiaomi has positioned the Redmi Note 3's fingerprint sensor on the back of the device, much like the Nexus 6P. It's said to unlock the phone in just 0.3 of a second.

This will tie in with Xiomi's Mi Wallet feature, launched back in July, which enables a wide range of banking and financial services to be accessed through a Xiaomi phone. Now, with the Redmi Note 3, Apple Pay-like mobile payments can be added to the roster.

Related: Best Android phones 2015

Speaking of which, the launch of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 coincides with a suspiciously timed leak that Apple will be launching Apple Pay in China by this February. Is Apple worried about the hold the popular Xiaomi brand could take on China's thriving mobile payment ecosystem?

Xiaomi is often called the 'Apple of the East' for the cool, finely polished image it projects - not to mention some familiar design work. The company seems to be continuing that theme with the Redmi Note 3's premium design and fingerprint authentication feature.

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