Xiaomi’s recently launched Mi A1 smartphone is a stock Android version of the Mi 5X, which is available in China. When an Indian plans to buy a smartphone under 15000 rupees, someone will definitely suggest them to purchase a Xiaomi smartphone. That’s because the company always offer excellent build quality and impressive hardware at a really affordable price. The Xiaomi Xiaomi Mi A1 also had these two factors, but it is not your typical Xiaomi smartphone at least in terms of the operating system. This Xiaomi smartphone comes with a stock Android instead of the highly customized MIUI operating system. Many Xiaomi users like the brand because of the MIUI forum, which offers lots of updates and tweaks and also the freedom to customize the device and.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is available to purchase from Flipkart for a price of 14,999 rupees. Xiaomi already has a lot of smartphones in the market with their customer MIUI. This makes the updates a slow process, usually Xiaomi devices takes months or even a whole year before getting a major Android update. Stock Android is the solution. This is not just a stock Android smartphone, this is the first Android One smartphone from Xiaomi.
Build quality and design
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is completely made out of a unibody aluminium shell which is really nice to look at. Actually, it resembles the Apple iPhone 7 plus a lot. It will be available in two colours, the black and the gold, which we have here for review. The phone has excellent build quality with Gorilla Glass 3 over at the front. There are chunky bezels at the front, but it is extremely comfortable to hold in hand, for me it feels better than the Moto G5S Plus.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 sports an aluminum unibody chassis, with the antenna bands tucked away at the top and bottom of the device. The back panel also has the Android One logo and the Mi logo. It has a thickness of 7.3 milli meters and weighs around 165 grams, the smartphone is appropriate for one-handed usage.
Above the display is the white notification LED, 5-megapixel front camera, earpiece and other sensors. Below the display is the capacitive navigation buttons with backlite.
The power and volume rockers are located on the right edge, and there is a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom along with the primary microphone, a USB Type-C charging port and a single speaker. On the left edge is the hybrid SIM tray in which we can use 2 SIM cards or 1 SIM card and 1 MicroSD card at the same time. There is also an IR blaster and secondary noise cancellation microphone located up top.
The Xiaomi mi A1 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa Core chipset with the Adreno 506 GPU. There is 4GB of Ram and 64GB of internal storage, with support for MicroSD cards up to 128GB in capacity. It has a 5.5 inch Full HD LTPS display and a 3080 milli ampere battery. The fingerprint scanner is located on the rear panel below the dual camera setup. The rear dual camera setup uses two 12-megapixel sensors, 1 wide angle and 1 telephoto with 2X optical zoom. The Mi A1 has a USB Type C port and it comes with a regular 5v 2 ampere charger.
I have been using MIUI for the last three years, it feels strange to see the stock Android in a Xioami phone. The Google now is on the left and Google Assistant is also included. We can call it the Mini Pixel of 2017, it will get Android updates almost as fast as the Pixel phones.
The phone comes with Android 7.1.2 Nougat out of the box, The company has promised Android Oreo update by the end of the year 2017.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is a part of the Android One initiative, But Xiaomi will be handling the updates. Xiaomi has their own three apps in the Mi A1. These are the camera, Mi Remote and feedback applications. The Google Camera app doesn’t shave support for dual rear came setup. The Mi Feedback app is there to let users report issues with the phone, the Mi Remote app allows users to use the Mi A1’s IR-blaster. The Mi Remote app can be uninstalled, the Mi Feedback app can’t, If you don’t like the Mi camera app, you can always install the Google Camera app, but the depth effect wont work.
The phone is highly responsive, thanks to the stock Android with no bloatwares. It can work very well for multitasking, watching videos or even gaming. You’re not going to notice any lags or slowdowns, thanks to the stock Android.
The 2GHz octa-core snapdragon 625 chipset can hit higher clock speeds without overheating and draining the battery quickly. The combination of snapdragon 625 and stock Android makes the Mi A1 feels faster in almost every task in comparison to the Redmi Note 4 that has the same chipset and runs MIUI.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 handles basic games and some heavy games quite well. Graphics-intensive games are prone to some lag especially during extended usage. Gaming will suffer minimal lag from time to time. While gaming for longer period of time, the temperature reached 40 degrees, it is normal, nothing uncomfortable. But if you are not a heavy game, this phone should cause you no issues.
The default video play was able to play high bit rate full HD videos and even 4K videos without any issue.
The Mi A1 comes with a 5.5-inch Full-HD LTPS display with the 2.5 D curved glass Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It has a pixel density of 403 pixels per inch, and 450nit brightness. The screen can get really bright, even more than the Redmi Note 4 and MI Max 2, and it is not as reflective as the above-mentioned smartphones. The high brightness level allows the smartphone to give good overall visibility. The display is great to look at with good viewing angles. But, Xiaomi could have done a better job with the screen’s colour reproduction, sometimes it feels like the display has low contrast. There is no colour mode switching option just like the Moto smartphones.
One of the main highlight of the Xiaomi Mi A1 is the dual rear camera setup using two 12-megapixel sensors. The camera configuration is the same as that of the Mi 6, but this time with different sensors. The first sensor is a 26mm wide-angle lens and the second one is a 50mm telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and f/2.6 aperture. This dual camera system offers 2X optical zoom and 10X digital zoom (just like the iPhone 7 Plus). You get a total 1.25-micron pixel size. As the Xiaomi Mi A1 is 0.2mm thinner than the Mi 6, there’s a camera hump at the back. There is phase detection auto-focus and a dual-LED (dual-tone) flash but there is no optical image stabilisation. Electronic image stabilization is also missing, but Xiaomi add it in a future update.
The camera app is from Xiaomi, as the stock Android camera app doesn’t have support for dual cameras. There is pro-mode, which gives you compete control over the image and there is also some filters, which you can apply before taking your image.
The phone does an exceptionally good job in capturing photos in daylight conditions. There is good amount of contrast, saturation, and enabling the HDR will boost these more. Images sometime lack sharpness and detail but it not noticeable every time. Overall the camera output is quite impressive and you will love it as you begin using it. While shooting images indoor, you will see some noise here and there, but not enough to hamper the image quality or lead to loss of detail. There are two modes of capturing images – portrait mode and depth mode. The background blur or bokeh effect works very well in this smartphone, actually a lot better than the Moto G5S Plus. The secondary lens lets you zoom into subjects without losing out on quality.
The rear camera can record 4K videos at 30 frames per second, but all videos recorded seems to have 23 frames per second only. Rear camera is also able to record full HD videos in 60 frames per second and 720p videos in 120 frames per second. Front camera is 5-megapixel with a beatification mode. You can also capture 1080p videos with the front camera.
The 3080 milli ampere battery can give a full day backup easily. We were able to get 5-6 hours of screen on time with extreme usage.
30 minutes of charging gives around 26% of battery life from 0%. It takes just 55 minutes to charge up to 50 percentage and one hour and 15 minutes to reach 75 percentage. But after that it 45 more minutes to reach the finish line. 0 to 100 percentage in 2 hours.
Comparing the battery life shows the Xiaomi Mi A1 is better than Moto G5S Plus in this category as well. 30 minutes of gaming takes less than 8% battery life. We played a full HD video with 70 percent volume and full brightness in loop for 90 minutes and the charge dropped by 15 percentage.
The Snapdragon 625 has support for Quick Charge 3.0, but when we tested the Mi A1 with a Quick Charge 3.0 supported charger, the charging time was same as the original charger.
Keeping the phone in idle with 4G data on, WiFi off and GPS on, causes the battery to drain 5%, which is very good. You can last more than a day easily in this smartphone with moderate usage. Under extreme mixed usage scenarios, we got close to 11 hours of battery life.
The placement of the fingerprint sensor is perfect — it is located at the exact spot where your index finger will rest at the back of the device. The sensor itself is quick to authenticate and didn’t have any issues recognizing my fingerprints.
There is no support for NFC, so wireless payments like Google Play are not possible. USB OTG support is there.
The Speaker is extremely loud, it might not have the best quality and sits right next to the USB Type C port. The sound is distorted at higher frequencies but it is not much. Earpiece is pretty loud, and it doesn’t get distorted even in higher volume.
There are two gestures supported. You can slide you finger on the fingerprint sensor to slide the notification share. You can also double click the power button to launch the camera app.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is a dual-SIM phone with hybrid slot. It supports 4G networks including voice over LTE. Signal strength and call quality is great both indoors and outdoors, we didn’t encounter any call drop issues. It has Wi-Fi ac and Bluetooth 4.2.
Indoor GPS reception accuracy was 15 to 18 meters within 10 seconds, outdoor the Mi A1 was able to receive GPS signals with an accuracy of 5 meters within seconds.
Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone is a great phone, that most people can afford. For the price of rupees 14,999 the Mi A1 is one of the best in the budget smartphone you can get in this price segment. Mi A1 offers a huge value for money, it is the kind of high profile device Android One needs in order to thrive, and it could become the new device of choice for most Android fans. Its time to see if Xiaomi can meet the demand for the smartphone. If it can do so successfully, it is well on its way to solidifying its place as the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in India.
The real star of the show here is the software, if you like stock Android, think no more. Grab a Mi A1 smartphone as fast as possible in the next flash sale before it gets out of stock again. There is a growing demand for stock Android software, Xiaomi will force other manufacturers to launch Android one or stock Android smartphones in the same budget segment. Recently launched Lenovo K8 Plus and K8 Note smartphones came with stock Android.