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Xiaomi Mi A1 Review
I have been using the Xiaomi Mi A1 for many days now and in this review will share the in-depth details which will help you with your buying decision. The Xiaomi Mi A1 was launched in India in September 2017 and is the first Dual camera mobile by Xiaomi.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 comes in a single variant in the Indian market with 4 GB Ram and 64 GB internal storage.
The phone is available for Rs. 14,999, and I have also purchased it from Flipkart; a golden and white colored Mi A1. Moreover, you can even buy the black color version of the Mi A1 which too looks superb.
Notably, Xiaomi launched the Mi 5X in China ahead of Mi A1 which is the same phone with a different name.
Let’s begin our review of the Xiaomi Mi A1:
What’s Inside the Box
The Xiaomi Mi A1 comes with a charger and USB Type C cable inside the box. The cable is not too long but is acceptable. Also, it looks sturdy and may last longer. You can detach the cable from the charger and use it to transfer media to the phone.
There are no bundled headphones or free-bees with the Xiaomi phone to entice the buyers; but the plain vanilla offering from the cost-conscious company; which focuses more on delivering a better device than getting into flashy gimmicks.
If you have used the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 which comes with an exceptional build quality, you won’t be surprised on taking out the Mi A1 out of the box. It feels premium and good looking at first glance but not as heavy and thick as the Redmi Note 4.
I have the gold variant which doesn’t look shiny or dull; it is more like a copper-gold shade and to my liking.
The back side is entirely flat, the chamfered sides and the 2.5D curved glass over the display gives it the overall panache, needed in this price range.
At the same time, it has the iPhone 7 inspired antenna lines at the top and bottom. The dual camera set-up present at the top left corner truly lives up to the iPhone-esque design.
The only thing differentiating it from the iPhone 7 Plus is the fingerprint scanner at the back.
Design and Build is Top-Notch
The power button and volume rocker are on the right. Fortunately, it uses USB type-C port placed at the bottom; flanked between the speaker and the 3.5mm audio jack.
The top edge carries the most underrated feature of Mi A1 – an IR Blaster. It is still present and does count as an extra feature when compared to its competitors.
There are sizeable bezels at the top and bottom of the display, and there are backlit capacitative touch keys for navigation.
Apparently, rating the design can be subjective, though for it’s price Xiaomi Mi A1 has a good build, and I like it.
The display is one of the most crucial elements of a great user experience. Fortunately, the Mi A1 rocks a beautiful 5.5 inch Full HD (1920*1080 pixels) IPS LCD panel.
The Mi A1 Display doesn’t have the color richness, vibrancy and deep blacks which are more common in expensive AMOLED Displays.
It indeed provides good color reproduction, brightness, and contrast, needed for a good experience while watching videos and checking images.
The display to me looks very slightly washed out, as I am more used to the Quad HD AMOLED panel of a Samsung S7; but the overall quality of the display is above average.
UI & UX
Xiaomi is known for offering the best Hardware for the price, and that is what makes all its phones bang for the buck. Undoubtedly, the company’s market share has soared and is likely to take the leadership throne from Samsung in India.
But with the Mi A1, they have gone a step ahead and given a stock Android experience to buyers who are not interested in the MIUI(Xiaomi’s custom UI).
All of the Xiaomi phones come with the MIUI 8.0 or now with the latest MIUI 9.0 which have its advantages and additional features like the theme store, Dual Apps, etc.
But the lure of having the Stock Android running along with the incredible Xiaomi hardware is similar to having iOS on the Samsung S8.
For the Mi A1, Xiaomi has partnered with Google to offer the Stock Android, and the phone comes with a vanilla Android experience.
The device runs on the latest Android v 7.1.2 out of the box, and there are only 3 Xiaomi apps pre-installed.
MI A1 User Experience
Those 3 Mi Apps are the Mi Community, Mi Support, and Mi Controller App. Apart from these, there’s no other bloatware or duplicate apps; not even a dedicated Gallery App.
The useful MIUI apps like Xiaomi themes are not present, but you can always download a third party launcher or icon pack from the play store to customize the UI.
For minimalists looking for a simple and elegant experience, Mi A1 is a pleasure.
Having stock Android also means that this might be the first and the only Xiaomi device to be upgraded to latest software with security patches at much faster rates.
Also, it will get the Android Oreo Update way ahead of other Xiaomi devices which is another reason that makes it lucrative.
To sum it up, the user experience is smooth and lag free. Xiaomi gets the basics right with the Mi A1.
Performance – Gaming, Heating, and Benchmarks.
The Mi A1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, an Octa-Core processor based on 14 Nm processor and also has 4 GB of Ram and 64 GB of internal storage. You can use about 50 GB of internal storage for storing media and applications.
The Snapdragon 625 is not the fastest processor like the Snapdragon 653 or the more latest Snapdragon 660, but it is a very good and capable SOC. It is super responsive to all day to day tasks, like jumping from one app to another, multi-tasking and browsing.
If the phone can handle Asphalt 8, it can easily play most other games, that’s a simple mantra for testing any latest Android phone.
We played Asphalt 8 on the Mi A1 at the High settings, and it was a smooth experience.
The Mi A1 powered by the Adreno 506 GPU is capable of handling all Android Games with ease and there is no abnormal heating.
Antutu Benchmark Score – 62704
GeekBench Score – Single-Core Score – 862 and the Multi-Core Score is 4146
The benchmark scores are as expected and similar to the 10.OR G or the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 as they also use the same processor and GPU. While a lot of people don’t believe these days on the benchmark scores but these are a perfect indicator of the relative performance and more importantly how relevant will be your phone compared to other devices in future.
Camera Quality and Sample Images
What differentiates a good phone from a great one? The camera quality. Many reviewers/buyers have lauded the Mi A1 for its superb camera.
The Xiaomi MiA1 comes with 12 Megapixel Dual rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, and a Dual Tone Led Flash. The front camera comes with a 5 Megapixel camera and also has the beautify mode.
Even I was surprised by how good the camera is for clicking portrait shots. The background blur works well; the images get enhanced in terms of colors, brightness, contrast, and Hue by the software.
Camera App on MI A1.
There is a simple interface for the camera App which allows you to switch to the stereo or the portrait mode. You can also enable the Dual camera watermark – Shot on Mi A1 from the App interface.
The Watermark is a nice touch by Xiaomi and reminds of Shot on an iPhone campaign by Apple.
The portrait mode I think is incredible on this camera, and if I have to tell you the number 1 reason why to buy this phone – it is the portrait mode images.
Let’s Check Out Some of the Camera Samples from Xiaomi Mi A1.
Below Image is shot by turning the HDR MODE OFF.
Below Image is SHOT Using the HDR MODE ON – You can easily spot the difference between both the images. The HDR allows more light and a better image for landscape shots. I would recommend using the HDR mode while taking images outdoors.
The low Light Camera performance is average, or at times it is poor. Also, if we try to shoot in portrait mode in the low light, it doesn’t work. There is a lot of grain and noise in images shot indoors in dim light conditions.
The Below image is not too bad, and the camera can control the light flares and even capture some details.
It is not a camera to click images at the dim light restaurant dinner. It is a phone to click best pictures outdoors in daylight.
Love the below 2 portrait shots in good daylight conditions – subject separation is superb, and the camera enhances the color, skin tone, brightness and contrast to make the image look too good.
The below image is also shot in the Stereo (portrait mode), though you can easily see the high amount of noise and grain in the shot as the image environment is low lit interior settings.
The Mi A1 rear camera is fantastic and is praiseworthy.
The Mi A1 comes with a 5 Megapixel selfie camera which is passable, to say the least, nothing like more advanced cameras on many selfie-focused phones. The daylight selfies are acceptable but lack details.
Battery Life and Charging
Powering the device is a sizeable 3080mAh battery paired with the power efficient Snapdragon 625 processor. The combination allows for a full day of phone usage with 5 to 6 hours of screen-on-time. Stock Android also helps to optimize the installed Apps and save battery.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature fast charging through it’s USB type-C port. However, the phone has an above average battery life.
The only time you’d want to charge the phone is at night; when you have finished your work.
It takes around 2 hours and 10 minutes to charge the phone completely. Like all phones it becomes slightly warm when charging but nothing unusual there.
It indeed doesn’t meet the Redmi Note 4 battery life benchmark, but it charges faster and is also sleek.
Sound and Connectivity
Sound – Off lately, the medium of sound output is starting to become a concern in the smartphone industry. Many of the smartphone companies are removing the headphone jacks from their phone to prepare for a real wireless/portless future.
Fortunately, Xiaomi has still retained the audio jack and has also enhanced the output by pairing a 10V smart power amplifier with Dirac HD sound algorithms. In short, it amps up the sound output with less distortion and plenty of bass, deep mids, and lows.
This algorithm plays a prominent role in enhancing the audio output for the calls as well. Hence, the call quality is above average and audible in trains/traffic.
The network connection is strong for most of the times; except for some occasions where the network strength declines.
One has to switch on/off the airplane mode to get the network back with full coverage. Though it does not happen regularly and is not a concern, Also, it is complicated to pinpoint network issues to the smartphone alone.
You can use 4G sim cards on both the sim slots which is an added advantage. The phone lacks FM radio and also doesn’t support NFC. Aforementioned, it comes with an IR Blaster which can be used to control your TV.
The Mi A1 ticks a lot of right boxes and meet our expectations on many parameters. There are really few things to complain about the Mi A1 for its price but is it a perfect phone for you? It depends on your needs.
Moreover, If you want a better battery life, the Redmi Note 4 is a better phone or if you need a bigger better display – Mi Max 2 is a good device. Also, If You want a better selfie camera, the Oppo F5 or even the Xiaomi Redmi Y1 are top choices.
The Mi A1 has fantastic performance, neat UI, incredible portrait mode and above average build and battery life. It lacks a dedicated micro-sd card, NFC or the FM radio.
But for the price of 15k it is a wonderful phone that you enjoy using, and especially the cool portrait shots are going to make your social media profile get more likes and compliments.
So thanks for checking out this review, if you have any queries/ thoughts can share in the comments section below.