Approximately 3 years after its launch and a couple of budget smartphones later, Google’s ambitious project — Android One — has a new mascot. And this time, it’s in the form of the Xiaomi Mi A1.
With its flagship dual camera setup, premium design, pure Android experience, and a powerful processor — all for just Rs 14,999 — the Xiaomi Mi A1 has all the necessary specs to grab the top spot amongst feature-rich affordable phones.
Coupled with the fact that the popular dual camera phones in India like the Vivo V5 Plus or the Oppo F3 retail at a slightly higher price bracket, it would be interesting to see the reaction of the consumers to the Mi A1.
The device landed in our office today and we have given it a quick go. Here are the first impressions of the Xiaomi Mi A1.
It all started with the Xiaomi Redmi 4 which assured consumers that affordable budget phones too can do away with the thick-boxy design. And following close on the heels is the Xiaomi Mi A1. It incorporates a slimmer profile at 7.3-mm, smooth edges, and rounded corners. It feels just about right in your hands with its 5.5-inch display screen.
The Mi A1 feels just about right in the hands
Though the design isn’t revolutionary, still the slimmer profile and the metal unibody adds to the edge and gives it a premium feel. And similar to the OnePlus 5 and iPhone 7 Plus, the Mi A1 too sports the antenna lines at the perimeter.
Apart from it, the button placements are similar to other Xiaomi phones, with the power button and volume rockers on the right and the hybrid SIM slot (two Nano-SIMs) on the left. The smooth rear is broken by the dual camera setup and the fingerprint sensor.
Speaking of the fingerprint sensor, it’s easy to make it out owing to the nice chamfer.
The Mi A1 sports back-lit capacitive navigation buttons on the chin, while the usual suspects like the 3.5-mm headphone jack, speaker grills, and the charging port are at the bottom.
The introduction of USB Type-C makes the Mi A1 the second Xiaomi phone in the sub-Rs 20,000 price bracket to sport the USB Type-C port.
Overall, the Xiaomi Mi A1 packs a premium look for the price. But then, it gets a tad tough to ignore its likeliness to the iPhone 7.
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Up next is the display of the Xiaomi Mi A1. It sports a 5.5-inch full HD LCD screen and the display is sharp and vivid, with great color reproduction.
But you can’t just ignore the thick side bezels. On the one hand, they are launching the bezel-less Mi Mix 2 and on the other hand, we have the Mi A1.
The sunlight legibility section is readable even under direct sunlight, thus making the screen legibility decent for a phone in this price segment.
The flagship dual camera setup is the major attribute of the Xiaomi Mi A1 and as per the initial looks, it slays that aspect beautifully.
Akin to the Mi 6 camera specs, the A1 also sports a combination of f/2.2 wide-angle lens and a f/2.6 telephoto lens. Both these 12-MP lenses combine to produce the DSLR-like Bokeh effects. And as touted by the makers themselves, the Mi A1 camera is touted to rival the best in the industry (Read, OnePlus 5).
The Mi A1 camera is touted to rival the best in the industry
Following are some of the sample pictures taken with the Xiaomi Mi A1. If you notice, the telephoto lens gently blurs the background while making the subject stand out in focus. At the same time, the blur isn’t too unnatural, as seen initially in the OnePlus 5.
Beyond that, it also sports 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom.
But what makes the sub-Rs 15,000 Mi A1 phone unique are the saturation settings, wherein you can control the saturation of the photos captured.
However, the Mi A1 lacks both OIS and EIS techniques, so you might end with wobbly videos. But, again, considering the price, it’s something that can be overlooked.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is based on Google’s Android One and is the first Xiaomi phone not to feature MIUI. Android One not only means a stock Android experience but also faster and quicker software updates and security patches.
A stock Android experience also means that you’ll have to let go off some standard Xiaomi functions like utilizing the fingerprint sensor to click pictures or some of the apps like Second Space or Xiaomi Security. So, you might have to end up installing a couple of apps to get your work done seamlessly.
So, you might have to end up installing a couple of apps to get your work done seamlessly.
On the brighter side, you get to experience all the Android Nougat features like multi-window, notifications or mono audio in all its glory.
With the Mi A1 being the first phone to be based on the Android One program (in the last three years, at least), the Android Oreo update is slated to be before this year end.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor which clocks at 2.0 GHz and coupled with 4GB of RAM. The Snapdragon 625 chipset has been seen in the latest Xiaomi phones, Redmi Note 4 and Mi Max 2, to name a few.
Though it’s too early to say about its processing prowess, we will be able to shed more light on it on our full review.
When it comes to benchmark scores, the Mi A1 clocked a score of 833 on single-core and 3970 on multi-core on GeekBench 4. Again, for a device in the sub-Rs 15,000 range, it’s decent.
The Mi A1 is powered by a 3080mAh battery which should be good to see you through a day at max. However, it’s too early to comment on this particular aspect, given that we got the phone today.
What’s more, the USB Type-C has a custom 380V charger, made to protect against power surges in India.
If you are looking for a smartphone with a great camera, pure Android, and a premium design, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is likely to fit the bill perfectly. Plus, the Gorilla Glass protection is the cherry on the cake.
But when it comes to the processing powers and the battery life, you’d have to wait a bit till we are done with the final review. Watch out this section for the full review.