This festive season has seen a plethora of phones being launched in India, both in the premium and the budget segments. With the release of the Honor 9i, the smartphone market has two more viable contenders — the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Huawei Honor 9i.
Priced at Rs 14,999 and Rs 17,999, respectively, these two devices are creating quite a buzz in the Indian market.
When it comes to features, both the Mi A1 and Honor 9i pack dual rear cameras, Android Nougat 7.0, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of onboard storage. So, where's the difference?
When you look under the hood (and above as well), there are quite a few notable differences between between the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Huawei Honor 9i. Let’s see what these differences are.
With the Mi A1, Xiaomi has borrowed a few design elements from the likes of the OnePlus 5 and the iPhone 7. It sports a slim profile of 7.3mm with well-rounded corners and stylishly tapered edges.
Similar to the iPhone, it has aluminum-casing on the edges and its antenna lines around the perimeter. In a nutshell, the rear of the Mi A1 looks impressive, however, the front packs the appearance typical of Xiaomi phones such as the Redmi Note 4.
On the other hand, the Honor 9i sports an impressive design. At 7.5-mm, it’s a slim phone, weighing roughly 165 grams. It comes with an all-metal body and a 2.5D curved glass, which lends a premium look to the phone.
Moreover, the Honor 9i is touted as the country’s first bezel-less phone. The streamlined bezels add an extra edge to its look unlike the Mi A1, which still carries a fair amount of thick bezel.
1. Sim Tray
Typical of most of the smartphones in this segment such as the Samsung Galaxy J7 Max and the Redmi Note 4, both the phones come packed with a hybrid SIM tray, which enables you to use either a SIM+memory card or a SIM+SIM combination.
2. Charging Port
If you stack a Mi A1 and a Honor 9i one above the other, the difference in the charging port stands out starkly.
With the majority of the manufacturers adapting to USB Type-C charging ports, Xiaomi has also joined the trend. The Mi A1 now has the ubiquitous USB Type-C port while Honor 9i is still sticking to the age-old micro-USB port.
Both the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Honor 9i produces crisp and vivid images. But the 5.5-inch (1080x1920 pixels) FHD display of the Mi A1 pales in comparison with the immersive 18:9 display of the Honor 9i. The latter is touted to have India’s first FullView display.
The Honor 9i sports a 5.9-inch FHD+ display and claims to have fit the specs of a 5.9-inch phone into the 5.5-inch form factor.
Similar to the Galaxy Note8, this device also boasts of a screen-to-body ratio of 83%. In the display segment, the Honor 9i is a clear winner.
From the software perspective, both the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Honor 9i come with Android Nougat. Thus, the difference boils down to the stock Android experience in the Mi A1 versus the EMUI of the Honor 9i.
1. Stock UI vs Custom UI
Naturally, the Honor 9i includes the in-house EMUI that comes with an array of cool features. Similar to most of the custom-UIs (like MIUI or ZenUI), there are numerous customization options.
From playing with the home screen layout to the more advanced options such as using your knuckles to get a screenshot, lowering the screen resolution or getting a dedicated key for the notification dropdown -- the 9i has them all.
Thanks to Android One in the Mi A1, it comes with pure Android, which means that you’ll get a no-frills experience. There is no native feature to make a radical change to the home/lock screen or to customize the phone experience. However, it does give you a handy option to upload full-resolution pictures to Google Photos.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking to customize your phone without the any third-party dependence, the Honor 9i is the better option from the aspect of software.
2. Adaptable Storage
Again, thanks to the stock Android, the internal storage of the Xiaomi Mi A1 can be increased without rooting the phone. A bigger internal storage means extra space for you that can be used to install games, store media and files, and etc.
On the contrary, the Honor 9i doesn’t let you do the same without rooting.
Processor Power: Snapdragon 625 vs Hisilicon Kirin 659
When it comes to processors, the Mi A1 is powered by the octa-core 2.0 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 and 4GB of RAM. The Honor 9i packs the in-house octa-core 2.36GHz HiSilicon Kirin 659 chipset and 4GB of RAM.
The Mi A1 and the Honor 9i clocked a score around 60525 and 62959 on the AnTuTu benchmark tool, respectively. Both the phones can glide through regular tasks like opening multiple apps, making calls or browsing through social media feed.
But, as they say, gaming brings out the true colors of a smartphone.
2. Gaming Experience
The Mi A1 will give you an impressive gaming experience. It was able to maintain its cool during the Guiding Tech gaming review with the device temperature not exceeding 38°C.
The gameplay was also quite fluid with only a few hiccups in between and that too in high-graphics settings playing Asphalt 8.
On the other end, the Honor 9i wasn’t able to match up to the performance of the Mi A1. While the gameplay on the Honor 9i was fluid during the first 15-20 minutes. After that, almost all the games we played started to lag.
Additionally, there were significant lags while playing Modern Combat 5 after twenty minutes of gameplay.
Watch the Mi A1 Gaming Review
Battery Specs: Fast or Regular?
The Honor 9i is powered by a 3,340-mAh battery while the Mi A1 is backed by a 3,080-mAh battery unit. When it comes to battery life, the Honor 9i promises one and a half day of power with a single charging session while the Mi A1 can last an entire day or more (depending on the usage).
Since the Honor 9i isn’t equipped with either quick charge or fast charge, you can expect the charging time to be between 2.5-3 hours.
In the case of the Mi A1, it will take you far less time to charge it completely since it has adaptive fast charge.
Last, but not the least, let’s talk about the highlight of both the phones – the cameras. The Xiaomi Mi A1 boasts of a flagship dual-camera setting in an affordable price.
The camera cameras not only produces images with excellent Bokeh effect but also boasts of an impressive 2x optical zoom, courtesy a 12-megapixel f/2.2 wide-angle lens and a f/2.6 telephoto lens fused together in the rear camera.
As opposed to the single dual camera setting in the Mi A1, the Honor 9i goes a step ahead and flaunts two dual-camera settings — one at the front and the other at the back.
Both these settings help you to achieve the popular Portrait mode aka Bokeh mode.
1. Rear Camera: Zoom or No Zoom
Another major difference between both the phone’s camera is the zooming level. The Mi A1 features an optical zoom of 2x (telephoto lens, remember?). It has a button in the camera interface where you can easily switch between the 1x and the 2x modes.
The secondary 2-megapixel lens in the Honor 9i is solely dedicated to measure the depth of field. Thus, you can only choose between portrait and normal modes. No magic of optical zoom available with this one.
Here are a few pictures to help you gauge the difference between both the devices’ cameras.
2. Front Camera
Again, the difference ultimately boils down to the Portrait mode. While the Mi A1 will help you to capture normal pictures sans the blur, the Honor 9i can help you blur the background.
In terms of quality, the Mi A1 camera isn’t perfect but it produces better images, when compared to the Honor 9i.
The colors are accurately reproduced in the case of the Mi A1. They are brighter and more vivid with better with faster focus.
Undoubtedly, the price is certainly an important factor when it comes to buying a smartphone.
The Mi A1 retails at Rs 14,999 while the Honor 9i is priced at Rs 17,999.
With a price difference of just three thousand rupees, the Xiaomi Mi A1 would be the ideal choice for you if you prefer a no-frills Android experience and trust third-party apps to bridge the gap of extra features or customization.
Besides, with a flagship rear dual-camera setting, the Mi A1 would help you click admirable shots. You’d also have the double benefit of timely security patches and software updates with Android One.
On the other hand, the Honor 9i flaunts two unique firsts – two dual-camera settings and a FullView display. You get a sleek phone with premium look and feel, coupled with 18:9 aspect ratio, tons of features, an impressive battery life, and a sub-par camera.
At the end of the day, the one thing really holds any significance is what matters the most to you. Is it a good camera or a bezel-less phone with a slew of features?
If you ask me, I’d rather side with Xiaomi’s Mi A1 for the time being.