xiaomi mi a1
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The Xiaomi Mi A1 is a rare cocktail of pure Android experience, powerful hardware, dual cameras and stylish looks

Google hasn’t forgotten about the Android One platform, and has roped in Chinese company Xiaomi for the newest phone under that banner. It is called the Xiaomi Mi A1 and its nothing like any of the four smartphones launched under the Android One program thus far. It is a lot more powerful than the predecessor Android One phones, and has a very premium design. It is priced at Rs14,999 and will be available through both online (Flipkart, Mi.com) and offline stores (Mi Home, retail stores) from 12 September.

Specs at a glance

Display
Size5.5 Inch
ResolutionFull HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
Performance
CPUOcta core, 2 GHz, Snapdragon 625
RAM4 GB
Storage
Internal memory64 GB
External memoryUp to 128 GB
Battery
Capacity3080 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable
Camera
Primary camera12 MP
Secondary camera5 MP
Connectivity
Network supportDual SIM 4G
Other optionsWi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
Others
Battery Capacity3080
Operating systemAndroid 7.1.2 Nougat

Design and display: the metallic marvel

Dimensions: 155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3 mm               Weight:  165 grams

At first glance, the Xiaomi Mi A1 impresses with its minimalistic yet premium design and full metal chassis. The antenna bands fluidly blend with the top and bottom edges at the back, and while they look quite prominent in gold and rose gold variants, they are hardly noticeable in the black variant. There’s a minor camera bump on the back, but it’s not an eyesore.

xiaomi-mi-a1-designAlso, it’s slimmer than other Xiaomi devices with curved corners which makes it a compact smartphone that fits comfortably in your palm and at 165 grams, it weighs just right too. The buttons on the side and the fingerprint sensor on the back are also comfortably within reach.

Overall, I think it’s the best-designed Xiaomi device in its price segment as yet. It has a refreshing new design language, something similar to what we recently saw with the Mi Max 2, and the Mi A1 looks like a smaller sibling of the Mi Max 2.

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.

Hardware: delivers fine-tuned performance

CPU:  Octa core, 2 GHz, Snapdragon … GPU: Adreno 506
RAM: 4 GB                                         Memory: 64 GB + Up to 128 GB SIM Slots: Dual SIM,GSM+GSM           Battery: 3080 mAH

For the Android One experiment, Xiaomi goes back to its recent favorite, the Snapdragon 625 chipset paired with 4 GB of RAM. The mid-range Snapdragon 625 processor is not the most powerful in the business, but offers a good balance of power optimization (leading to longer battery life) and performance push.

xiaomi-mi-a1-hardwareAnd with those internals, the Mi A1 does quite well chugging along nicely with whatever one throws at it. I’ve not stress-tested it till now, but multitasking with several apps in the background and everyday navigation is quite breezy. There’s no noticeable lag or stuttering, and the smartphone is quite responsive in everyday usage.

Like always, the Mi A1 packs in a hybrid tray so you can either use two SIM cards or one SIM card and one microSD card for storage expansion. However, 64 GB of onboard storage on the Mi A1 should be good enough for most users.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 packs in 3,080 mAh battery under the hood, and thankfully, Xiaomi has now opted for the USB Type-C port for charging keeping up with the times. Like always, there’s an infrared blaster as well.

Software: you, Mi and Android Nougat

Operating System: Android                OS Version: 7.1.2, Nougat

The biggest highlight for the Xiaomi Mi A1 is its software. The smartphone boots Android 7.1.1 Nougat in its unadulterated avatar. What this means is that there are no gimmicky features or any bloatware, except for a few Xiaomi apps

xiaomi-mi-a1-softwareYou can also enjoy new features in Android Nougat such as accessing all apps by a simple swipe up from the homescreen, double-tapping the overview button to access the last app, or swiping up or down on the fingerprint reader to check the notification drawer. I also liked activating Google Assistant with the voice command. You can also open the camera app from the locked state or while using any app, by simply double-pressing the power switch. However, quite often, the viewfinder displays a noticeable delay while activating the camera and shows a white screen. The most useful of all the features for me is the inclusion of Ambient Display, which wakes up the screen whenever there’s a new notification. The brand has already promised the 8.0 Oreo update before the end of the year and even the Android P as and when it’s released.

Camera: double entendre

Primary camera:  12 MP
Flash: Dual-color LED Flash
Secondary camera:  5 MP

The handset has a dual rear camera setup 12MP rear cameras and a 5MP front-facing shooter. One of the rear cameras is a wide-angle lens while the other is a telephoto lens.

The smartphone’s bokeh effect is called the ‘Stereo Mode’ and the images captured in this mode left a lot to be desired. Even though the cameras were able to make out the difference between the foreground and the background, there was a lot of noise in these images. The colours were inappropriate as well. The 5MP front camera was decent but did feel a bit artificial due to beautification.

Read Also: XIAOMI MI MAX 2 FIRST IMPRESSION: BIGGER IS BETTER

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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