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Xiaomi Android One Device Mi A1 Review

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Bytes: Google’s Android One was not as big success as Google would have expected it to be mainly because Google maybe choose the wrong partners for hardware manufacturing. Well this time around Google might have just ticked the box. With Xiaomi coming on board with Google the tables might just turn for Android One program & Google. 

Xiaomi had teased a new “flagship dual camera” on Twitter a few days ago, and just like the rumors predicted, this is the Mi A1, the latest Android One (A1, geddit?) phone. And I have to say, Xiaomi pulled all the stops there. It’s an impressive device for an impressive little price. I’ll make things easier by listing the specs in a friendly table format.

SPECS

CPU and GPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 64-bit 2GHz octa-core, Adreno 506
Display 5.5″ IPS Full HD with Corning Gorilla Glass
RAM and Storage 4GB RAM, 64GB storage with hybrid SIM/MicroSD slot
Rear Camera 12MP wide-angle (1.25μm pixels) + 12MP telephoto lens with 2x Optical zoom and 10x digital zoom, dual-tone LED flash
Front camera 5MP
Power 3000/3080mAh Li-poly battery with USB Type-C charging
Network FDD-LTE / TDD-LTE | WCDMA | GSM | VoLTE, Dual SIM and dual standby
Dimensions 155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3 mm, 165 g
Other IR blaster, Rear fingerprint sensor, 10V smart power amplifier for audio (drives high impedance up to 600 ohms), White front notification LED
Software “Pure” Android Nougat (upgrade to Oreo before the end of 2017)
Colors Black, Gold, Rose Gold
Price ₹14,999 (approx. $234)

The Mi A1 looks nice with its rounded edges and curved 2.5D glass, almost invisible separation lines, and metal unibody design. And at the price point, you can forgive the bezels and reverse hardware navigation keys.

Xiaomi says it used a pyrolytic graphite sheet in the device to improve the thermal dissipation and reduce the temperature by 2°C. Additionally, the black model also has a special coating to resist fingerprints, which should be welcome for anyone who’s seen how unsightly most glass-covered black devices get after being handled for a few minutes.

Design and display

At first glance, the Xiaomi Mi A1 looks a lot like OnePlus 5, especially due to the placement of the dual rear camera and the antennas running along the top and bottom edges of the device. The back houses the circular fingerprint at the centre, MI branding at the bottom and LED flash on top corner.The smartphone comes in a metal unibody design with chamfered edges to provide stronger grip. The Xiaomi Mi A1 comes in three colour options Rose Gold, Black and Gold. Our review unit was the Gold variant and perhaps that’s why it looked pretty similar to Oppo R11 as well as the iPhone 7 Plus. However, we are certain that the other two colour options give it a distinctive look.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 has a speaker grill at the bottom, along with a USB Type-C and 3.5mm jack. The hybrid SIM card slot is on the upper-left while the volume rocker and power button is placed at the right edge.

The front is primarily dominated by the 5.5-inch full HD display of 1920×1080 pixel resolution. The microphone and an infrared sensor are placed at the top of the screen. The front also has the regular capacitive (non-backlit) keys — one home button key, one for multi-tasking and going one page back — along with a 5MP selfie camera.

The display was impressive as it produces vivid colours with fair amount of accuracy. Sunlight legibility is fine and the viewing angles are satisfactory. The 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass layer gives it a premium feel. The smartphone does feel like a pretty solid device and certainly has a high-quality finesse to it. At 7.3mm thickness and 165g weight, the smartphone is appropriate for one-handed operation.

OS, Battery & Performance

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The Xiaomi Mi A1 is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, paired with 4GB of RAM. It also has 64GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards of 128GB.

The handset runs on stock Android and runs Android 7.1.2 out-of-the-box. This is a refreshing change as Xiaomi, till now, had its own UI. The stock Android ensures that there is no bloatware and gives pure Android experience and regular OS updates. The company has even said that the Mi A1 will get the Oreo update by December. Along with this, users will also get unlimited storage on Google Photos.

The phone scored 62912 in Antutu Benchmarks, the single-core and multi-core scores on GeekBench 4 were 852 and 3837 respectively.

The smartphone packs in a 3,080mAh battery, which is not much on paper, but adequate enough to deliver a day’s back-up if you don’t stress it too much.

Camera

The two 12-megapixel cameras are placed side by side. The first one offers wide-angel lens, while the second offers 2x optical zoom. The camera can take some good-looking shots if the lighting is good. Colours look accurate and the amount of detail it can muster, especially with 2x zoom, gives it an edge over the 13-megapixel camera of LG Q6. However, you need steady hands to get blur free shots using the optical zoom lens as there is no OIS on it. Shots in low light look noisy. The front camera is a 5-megapixel affair, but was able to capture clear and noise free selfies even in indoor conditions.

Colours look accurate and the amount of detail it can muster, especially with 2x zoom, gives it an edge over the 13-megapixel camera of LG Q6.

The MI A1’s camera app comes with a number of handy modes such as Bokeh (blurs background to enhance objects under focus), Straighten (image remain straight regardless of the phone’s orientation), and Beautify (removes spots and marks on the face).

Final Verdict

The Xiaomi Mi A1 offers a strong build quality, good display and an adequate battery life. Other than this, it comes with a bloatware-free Android experience and confirmation from the company that the device will get at least two more Android OS updates. The first one (Android Oreo) coming as soon as December.
But at a price of Rs 14,999, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is not really a perfect device. The camera, which is supposed to be the key highlight of the smartphone, leaves a lot to be desired. If you are a loyal Xiaomi user and looking for a pure Android experience, then this phone is for you.

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