The pitch for the new Mi A1 by Xiaomi is that the phone is ‘created by Xiaomi, powered by Google’. It’s an interesting amalgamation, but does it bring any value to the consumer?
I spent some time with the Xiaomi Mi A1 in last few days, and here are my initial impressions of the first Xiaomi device that is powered by Android One.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is a part of Google’s Android One initiative. In other words, it runs on stock Android Nougat 7.1.2, and an Android Oreo roll out is promised before the end of this year. The experience of using it is vastly different from the other Xiaomi devices available in India. Having spent a considerable amount of time with it, here s my review of the Xiaomi Mi A1.
Start with the design
There is no denying that Mi A1 is a premium-looking device. The overall design is distinctly Xiaomi, and a lot of elements seems to have been retained from the Redmi devices. But the Mi A1 is clearly a step up. At 7.3mm thickness, the device is quite sleek, and the rounded edges help it sit comfortably in one s palms. Adding a touch of class is the 2.5D curved glass up front, which covers the front of the device.
If I were to nitpick though, the glass up front makes the device quite reflective. The back panel, on the other hand, looks eerily similar to the iPhone 7 Plus. The antenna lines at the top and bottom edges, and the placement of the dual-camera module remind you of Apple s smartphone. What helps differentiate is the circular fingerprint sensor in the center, and the Mi and Android One logos. These are however small grouches, and something that you are bound to oversee during your day-to-day usage.
Also Read: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 Review
Overall, I think it’s the best-designed Xiaomi device in its price segment as yet. It has a refreshing new design language, something similar to what we recently saw with the Mi Max 2, and the Mi A1 looks like a smaller sibling of the Mi Max 2.
Xiaomi Mi A1 specifications and software
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor which we have previously seen under the hood of the Redmi Note 4 and Mi Max 2. At this phone’s launch, Xiaomi indicated that this allows it to keep the price of the Mi A1 in check. The SoC is clocked at 2GHz and is coupled with 4GB of RAM. There’s 64GB of storage, and expansion is possible using a microSD card (up to 128GB). Much like other Xiaomi devices, the Mi A1 has a hybrid dual-SIM design which means you have to choose between using two Nano-SIMs or one Nano-SIM and a microSD card.
The phone features a 5.5-inch LTPS display with a full-HD (1080×1920-pixel) resolution and a pixel density of 403ppi. It measures 155.4×75.8×7.3mm and weighs 165 grams and packs a non-removable 3080mAh battery. There’s an Infrared emitter on the Mi A1 as well.
While the partnership with Google made all the headlines, the highlight of the smartphone is its dual camera setup at the back. There’s a 12 MP wide-angle lens and a 12 MP telephoto lens that work together to help you click photos with depth-of-field effect, popularly known as bokeh. The telephoto lens also supports up to 2X optical zoom.
There’s a 5 MP front camera, that takes serviceable selfies unless you have shaky hands.
With the few shots I took, I realized that the rear camera works just as expected. It manages to capture some impressive photos, but few very ordinary ones as well. The bokeh shots are inconsistent.
Overall, the camera is quite good for its price, and one of the best in the segment. Of course, it’s not the same as OnePlus 5 or the iPhone 7 Plus which we wouldn’t even have considered but for the comparison that the company asserted.
Xiaomi Mi A1 performance
We found the Mi A1’s screen bright enough, and both text and images look sharp. Viewing angles is good as well. However, we found the glass to be too reflective for our liking and we had to push the brightness all the way up under direct sunlight.
Like the Redmi Note 4 and Mi Max 2, the Mi A1 is a capable performer. It’s snappy and efficient for most tasks, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. 4GB of RAM is good enough for multitasking, and allows you to run multiple apps without any trouble. Touch response was good, and we didn’t face any kind of lag throughout the review period. We had a good time playing heavy games such as Last Day on Earth: Survival and Asphalt 8: Airborne. Even light games like Subway Surfers and Candy Crash ran smoothly. We also found the 5.5-inch display great for watching videos. The Mi A1 managed to produce benchmark scores similar to what we have seen with the Mi Max 2 and Redmi Note 4. AnTuTu gave us 66,381 points while GFXBench returned a score of 27fps. The phone also managed 8,926 in 3D Mark Ice Storm Extreme and 28,955 in Quadrant.
Xiaomi says it has used dual pyrolytic graphite sheets to dissipate heat effectively, and we can say that we faced no major problems when gaming for hours. We didn’t have trouble when gaming, but we did find that the phone gets warm when it is being charged.
The Mi A1 supports 4G with VoLTE (voice over LTE), and call clarity was good. The phone was able to latch on to networks even in weak spots, which is great. The IR emitter worked flawlessly with the Mi Remote app; the same as with other Xiaomi devices.
The speaker is loud enough to fill a small room, and sound is fairly clear. Xiaomi says that this phone has a 10V smart power amplifier for enhancing audio through earphones, and it has audio calibration algorithms as well. The experience with earphones was good, and you can safely choose the Mi A1 as your main device for listening music on your daily commutes. Our only issue is that this phone doesn’t ship with earphones.
Xiaomi Mi A1 battery life
The 3080mAh battery in the Mi A1 lasted for roughly 15 hours with heavy usage. We had Outlook, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Telegram, Gmail, and WhatsApp running in the background at all times. In our HD video loop test, the Mi A1 managed to run for 10 hours and 18 minutes, which was decent but not great. One of the problems that the Mi A1 will face is that other Xiaomi devices have better battery performance. The company has stated that the Mi A1 will be shipping with a bulky charger keeping in mind the patchy electricity situation in India, which seems like a gimmick to us. The phone took roughly two hours to charge fully, which isn’t too bad.
At a price of ₹14,999 ($235) in India (and coming to several other countries soon), the Xiaomi Mi A1 is a pretty good smartphone on its own. It looks quite premium, and performs like a good, trusted workhorse.
And then there’s the Android One affiliation, which brings stock Android experience, if it’s important for you, as well as regular updates.
What are your thoughts on the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the resurgence of the Android One program? Tell us in the comments.