When it comes to mid-segment smartphones with loads of impressive features, Xiaomi’s name pops up first — and why not? The China-based manufacturer rules the low- and mid-segment smartphone market in the country….writes Sourabh Kulesh
While every other brand is trying to dislodge Xiaomi from the top slot, the Chinese conglomerate has launched the Mi A1 that offers a rear dual-camera system that runs Android Nougat 7.1.2 OS to deliver a near-stock Android experience at only Rs 14,999.
This segment is ruled by Motorola’s “G” series which has been a favourite owing to its stock Android experience and performance. Nokia 6 is also fighting for a space by offering a secured stock Android OS.
Can Xiaomi again prove to be the leader? Let’s find out.
Mi A1 comes with a design that is similar to other Xiaomi devices — slim, beautiful and easy to hold.
The ergonomically placed volume rocker, power buttons and fingerprint scanner (at the back) keeps the design simple yet attractive — somewhat similar to the iPhone 7.
For Xiaomi’s followers, the Mi device running on Android Nougat 7.1.2 and an “Android Oreo” update before the end of this year is a treat. The device comes with Google Assistant, arguably the best voice assistant currently available.
No bloatware with clean and smooth performance by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 processor, coupled with 4GB RAM, does wonders for the phone. For us, time with Mi A1 was the best ever.
Motorola’s biggest reason in leading this segment was the operating system and camera quality. With Nokia 6 already making it difficult for the Lenovo-owned brand to keep up the high numbers, Xiaomi launched this device to make a further dent in the sales of Motorola.
Moto kicked Nokia out of the competition with the launch of G5s to directly compete with Xiaomi’s dual-camera system.
Mi A1 has a pair of 12MP sensors where one is a wide-angle lens and the other a telephoto lens.
Both combine to shoot photos with DSLR-like “bokeh” effects. Just like other premium devices, there is a “Portrait Mode” meant for shooting photos with blurred background.
As a package, the phone clicks beautiful photos in the right lighting conditions. Nothing remarkable in the camera but the output does justice to the dual-camera system.
When we clicked pictures with the “Portrait Mode”, it immediately detected the subject and blurred the background with Phase Detection Auto-Focus (PDAF) and face-detection features.
Android in its purest form consumes very less battery. Our tests showed exactly why the company chose to keep the battery at just over 3,000mAh.
In our daily usage that included light gaming, connected to multiple social media accounts with some music playback and moderate calling time, the device gave us a day-long back-up.
In the under Rs 15,000-segment, Mi A1 supports USB Type-C charging port that took a little less than two hours to charge the device.
What doesn’t work?
The 5MP front camera is average for clicking photos. An 8MP camera could have been better.
Mi A1 kept the battery at 3,080mAh battery which is less when compared to Redmi Note 4 (4,100mAh) — given that both devices share similar hardware under the hood.
Conclusion: In our opinion, this is one of the best Xiaomi devices in this price segment. Mi A1 will be a recommended device if the options were the Moto G-series or Nokia 6.