At first look, the Mi A1’s finish and overall look instantly tell us that it belongs to the more premium Mi range and not the budget Redmi series from Xiaomi. The metal unibody and 2.5D curved-edge glass at the front make it look good. The rounded corners are comfortable in the palm.
In a nutshell, the Mi A1’s design can be called a lovechild between the OnePlus 5 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. The facade of the phone will remind you of the Redmi Note 4 which shouldn’t surprise anyone as they are the same family of device, however, its corners are more rounded which is kind of amazing as it looks nicer than the Redmi. On the back, it looks a lot like the OnePlus 5. It has a similar style of a camera visor/hump, and the antenna lines are also similarly designed.
The front is bare of any branding, which we think looks good. You’ll see the Mi logo and the Android One tag towards the bottom of the rear. The Xiaomi Mi A1 will eventually be manufactured locally and will sport a “Made in India” tag, but initial units will be shipped in from different countries. The antenna lines are discreet and the design is different from what we have seen on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Review). In our opinion, the Xiaomi Mi A1 feels the best in hand out of the entire current Xiaomi product line.
The Mi A1 features a 5.5-inch full-HD display with 2.5D glass. It is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. It also has 64GB of storage and supports expansion using a microSD card. The Mi A1 has a hybrid dual-SIM design, and support two Nano-SIMs if you aren’t using a microSD card. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the back. The smartphone also has a USB Type-C port and packs a 3080mAh non-removable battery.
One of the most marketed features of the Mi A1 is its cameras. It sports two 12-megapixel sensors at the back, one with a wide-angle lens and f/2.2 aperture, and the other with a telephoto lens and f/2.6 aperture. This is similar to the setup of the flagship Xiaomi Mi 6.
The Mi A1 supports 4G with VoLTE (Voice over LTE) as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
In terms of software, Xiaomi’s Mi A1 runs pure Android 7.1.2 Nougat which is the most recent Nougat version available for non-Google-branded Android smartphones.Google’s Android One program was created to do two things — one to reduce software fragmentation of Android wherein there are many devices running outdated versions of the operating system which could also be potential security hazards and secondly for reaching a baseline benchmark for what an Android smartphone should be like.
Apart from the Google suite of apps, the Mi A1 also has some software from Xiaomi such as the Mi Remote and Mi Store apps. At least Xiaomi’s fans won’t completely miss out on features seen on other Xiaomi products. The Settings app also has a Mi Services section that can be enabled to send the company diagnostic data about how you use your phone.
Stock Android is not the only USP for this device. It’s also the only Android One phone to sport a dual-camera. There are two 12MP sensors on the back of this device.Essentially, Xiaomi has taken the dual 12-megapixel camera stack from the Mi 6 and outfitted it on the Mi A1. This, however, is inferior as it has a shallower aperture of f/2.2. That said, it does a 2x optical zoom via the 12-megapixel telephoto lens like the iPhone 7 Plus and the OnePlus 5. The main wide-angle camera is also great and when used in tandem there’s a creamy and effective portrait mode which is better than the one on the OnePlus 5.
The portrait mode implementation is also a very good one. It has great edge detection and you get this natural creamy bokeh effect on the background. Sure, it isn’t on the same level as the iPhone 7 Plus, but it is better than the OnePlus 5 which praiseworthy as this is a phone that costs half as much.