- Stock Android User Interface
- Dual Camera with good portrait mode
- Good Performance
- Front Camera is not very impressive
- Average Brightness
- No Fast Charging Support
When Google introduced Android in partnership with a bunch of smartphone manufacturers a few years ago, it didn’t fetch the expected results for the company. But after a long break, the search engine giant has brought the Android One program once again back to the limelight via Moto X4, HTC U11 Life and Mi A1.
Among all of them, the Mi A1 is the smartphone which is available at a mid-range price. The device goes with the tagline, “Created by Xiaomi and Powered by Google” in the market. That’s why, when the smartphone was announced, there were a lot of expectations in the market. But did it really meet the expectations of the people? Let us find it out in this review by beginning with the specifications.
Mi A1 sports a 5.5-inch LTPS IPS LCD Full HD display at a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels with 403 ppi pixel density. It is powered by a combination of 4 GB RAM and Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor besides running on Android 7.1.2 Nougat (upgradable to Android 8.0 Oreo and Android P) out of the box. The mobile has a storage memory of up to 64 GB.
It has Dual 12 MP (26mm, f/2.2; 50mm, f/2.6) with Phase detection autofocus (PDAF), 2x optical zoom, Dual-tone LED flash and a 5 MP selfie camera. The mobile supports 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz / 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS + GLONASS, USB Type-C and Hybrid Dual SIM (micro + nano/microSD) connectivity features. It relies on a 3080 mAh battery and weighs 165 grams with 155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3 mm dimensions.
Hardware and Design
With a thickness at 7.3 mm, the Mi A1 sports a unibody metal design with traditional premium look of Xiaomi. There is nothing special or new in terms of the design and it is ergonomically satisfying as it fits perfectly in the hands. The smartphone is a little heavy at 165 grams. The Dual Camera setup on the backside is a little protruding, but it’s not really a big deal though. The fingerprint sensor is located right below the camera.
The power button and the volume rockers are located on the right side while the Hybrid Dual SIM setup is situated on the left side. On top, you will find the Secondary Microphone and Infrared Sensors while the bottom has 3.5 mm audio jack, speaker grill, microphone and USB Type-C port.
The ambient light sensor and the proximity sensor are located right next to the 5 MP front camera. You will find the MI A1 Branding at the bottom on the back side of the smartphone.
As mentioned earlier in the specifications, the Mi A1 sports a 5.5-inch LTPS IPS LCD Full HD display at a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels with 403 ppi pixel density. The display is good enough with adequate brightness and decent viewing angles. You will be able to read under the direct sunlight, but it will not the best experience when compared to the other smartphones in the market.
The Reader mode is available on the Xiaomi devices, but it is not available on Mi A1 due to the absence of MIUI. The color reproduction is not very precise, but the vibrance and clarity will flatter your eyeballs.
User Interface / Software
Mi A1 runs on Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) out of the box. Since it is powered by the Android One program, the Google will deliver updates regularly for a period of 2 years. It means that the Mi A1 will receive not only Android 8.0 (Oreo), but also the Android P version. The Google Photos is the basic photo app in Mi A1 and it supports unlimited photos with a small twist as the photos uploaded will not be in real quality. You will be able to upload unlimited photos in original quality only on the Pixel devices.
There is no any bloatware and you will find only the Mi Store, Mi Remote and the Feedback apps from the family of Xiaomi. In terms of the Stock Android, no any smartphone manufacturer can offer what Mi A1 is offering at this price.
The UI is simple with a Pixel launcher which can be accessed with a swipe-up gesture. Almost everything else including the Dialer and keyboard apps are also the Stock Android apps.
The mobile is powered by a combination of 4 GB RAM and Snapdragon 625 processor. The multitasking is very smooth and balancing. We could switch between the apps very easily. In general ways of using, you will not face any heating issues. But in cases when you perform activities such as playing games, using the camera app for a long time and navigating to places via Google maps, the Mi A1 will get warmed.
Since the Stock Android is very light, you will not face any hanging issues as long as you don’t open all high-end applications at once. The fingerprint sensor which is located on the back side is also very fast and it will help you unlock the smartphone in a span of few milliseconds.
Audio and Video
If you are an audio lover, do not even think twice. Just go ahead and buy the Mi A1 smartphone. Because it is the best one can get in the market at this price. The audio output via headphones is mindblowing. In our tests, we used the third party earphones to listen to the soundtracks using the Google PlayMusic app and our experience was awesome.
The video watching experience is also good, but it is not the best in the market. So, you might want to consider that before purchasing the smartphone.
In Mi A1, you will find the same 12 MP dual cameras which were deployed earlier in company’s Mi 5X and Mi 6 smartphones. The only difference is that the Mi A1 is equipped with slower sensors and doesn’t contain OIS. The specifications of the additional telephoto lens is very close to that of iPhone 7 series smartphones.
Xiaomi added its own Camera app in the Mi A1 smartphone. It has a clean user interface with around 17 filters that has live previews besides the modes such as Night (HHT), Tilt Shift, GroupShot, Beautify, Manual, Straighten, Timer, Panaroma and much more.
We were able to capture good portrait photos with considerably low noise. The telephoto lens will help you to zoom without adding noise. Still, don’t expect the Mi A1 to do wonders for you in the low-light conditions.
Though the Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4 which is available below Rs 10000 in India is packed with a 4000 mAh battery, the company decided to integrate only 3080 mAh battery in Mi A1 smartphone. You will not face much issues with the battery as its management is done pretty smartly. The Standby timings were impressive and there were no sudden droppings in the charge levels even after playing high-end games.
Mi A1 simply doesn’t support the Fast charging technology and it is the biggest con of the smartphone. It would take around 53 minutes to charge the smartphone from 0 to 50 % and it would take around 2 hours to charge Mi A1 completely.
Xiaomi is relying heavily on the Android One tag to promote the Mi A1. And another area where the company is bragging about the device is its Dual Camera setup. Well, both the Android One and the Dual Camera setup are a blessing to the smartphone.
And moreover, as I am writing down this post, the Mi A1 has the latest security patch from the November installed in mobile. So, one wouldn’t regret buying the Mi A1 device and if you have planned to buy the gadget, we will not stop you from it.
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