Xiaomi Mi A1, First Android One Phone with Picture Perfect Google Flagship Dual Camera

Xiaomi Mi A1, First Android One Phone with Picture Perfect Google Flagship Dual Camera

Xiaomi Mi A1 is an Android One smartphone powered by Google and it was launched in September 2017. You will get near-stock Android Nougat out of the box and you are guaranteed with regular OS upgrades. Also, Android One device is one of the first to get the upgrade.

It is a huge deal for the Chinese gadget maker, which is now the largest smartphone brand in India. It subsequently launched the Mi A1, a $232 (Rs. 15,000) dual-SIM device that’s meant to rival a wide range of budget handsets not only with its hardware, but also with timely updates to its bloat-free Android experience.

With such a wide range of devices available at this price point, it’s hard to make a mark and satisfy everyone; but that’s Xiaomi’s forte, and so I swapped my daily driver for an A1 over the past three weeks to see if it’s all that.

Design: The 5.5-inch A1 isn’t a particularly remarkable looking phone, especially now that there are several bezel-less options on store shelves these days. That said, it’s not a bad looker when you consider the alternatives available at around the same price, including the Moto G5s Plus, the Nokia 6 and low-end Samsung Galaxy models.

It’s perhaps most similar to the Mi 6, but misses out on the older flagships’ beautifully curved body that’s easy to grip, and has a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor instead of one on the front. The all-metal body features a fingerprint-resistant rear panel, which is actually pretty good at repelling smudges. As is now the norm, it’s got antenna bands running along the top and bottom of the device on the back. I learned that it’s pretty solidly built, as it didn’t pick up even a scratch after slipping out of my pants pockets a few times onto marble floors.

Features: Xiaomi has tricked out the A1 with a bunch of hardware features I enjoy: a 3,080mAh battery that supports 2A charging via USB-C, a dual rear camera for taking Portrait Mode-style photos, an IR blaster to control your home entertainment equipment, room for two SIM cards or 1 SIM with a microSD card for of additional storage, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

While most of those features are now common across the phone market, the additional niceties are certainly enjoyable: I haven’t had to reach for my TV remote since I began testing this. Plus, Xiaomi’s USB-C-equipped phones support audio output, so they play nice with accessories like this pair of powered active noise-cancelling earphones.

This being an Android One device, you can expect an unskinned flavor of the OS; the only difference is that you’ll notice the camera app has been borrowed from Xiaomi’s stable. That means that you won’t get all the features and apps that Xiaomi adds to its other phones, and that can be a good or bad thing depending on whether you’re a fan of MIUI.

Performance: The A1 is powered by a mid-range Snapdragon 625 2GHz processor that’s paired with 4GB RAM, an Adreno 506 GPU, and 64GB of onboard storage. That combination allows for decent performance across most social apps, productivity tools, and browsing. You won’t notice much lag when switching between apps, and the majority of them work fine in split-screen mode.

Things slow down a bit when you fire up graphics-intensive games: expect longer load times and slightly poorer performance than you’ll see on a flagship phone. With Into the Dead 2, for example, you’ll notice shorter draw distances, as well as longer waits between levels. The A1 makes up for these few negative points with its commendable battery life: I easily got more than a day of use out of it with a single charge.

Camera: Arguably the best thing about the A1 is the dual 12-megapixel camera system, which allows for 2x optical zoom and the Depth Effect, which adds some separation between the foreground and background with a bit of blur.

The default wide lens, with a focal length of 26mm, manages sharp images with your entire frame in focus. However, it’s easily baffled by mixed lighting conditions, even a bit of shade in the scene. As such, you’ll find yourself tweaking the area of focus, or switching to Manual mode to get a decent shot.

In general, the camera system’s white balance errs on the colder end of the color temperature spectrum, and highlights such as clouds in the sky and brightly colored fruit, are often blown out.

The zoom lens does get you closer to your subject in a pinch, but it’s not great by any measure. Instead, it’s handier for Xiaomi’s Depth Effect, which lets you get some nice bokeh and depth of field in your shots. It works best when there aren’t a lot of complex details to blur out in the background; Meizu’s budget M6 does an arguably more convincing job with this effect, as do higher-end devices like Google’s Pixel 2.

The front camera is fine for selfies and video calls, provided you’re in well-lit conditions; things get sloppy when you’ve only got a weak bulb lighting your face. The same can be said for the primary camera’s low-light performance: expect slower response, a good amount of noise and low color accuracy in such situations. Overall, this isn’t exactly a camera setup that’ll inspire you to shoot often, but it’s capable of good shots when you put some effort into taking pictures. And it doesn’t hurt that the A1 is capable of capturing 4K video at 30fps.

If you’re in the market for a sub-$250 phone that you’ll use for a couple of years, the A1 is certainly worth considering. Whether it’s your first Android, or a daily driver for college or your first job, this phone offers a lot for its asking price.

Technical Specifications:

2G bandsGSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2
bandsHSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
4G bandsLTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 20(800), 38(2600), 40(2300)
LAUNCHAnnounced2017, September
StatusAvailable. Released 2017, September
BODYDimensions155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3 mm (6.12 x 2.98 x 0.29 in)
Weight165 g (5.82 oz)
BuildFront glass, aluminum frame, back
SIMHybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
DISPLAYTypeLTPS IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size5.5 inches, 82.6 cm2 (~70.1% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution1080 x 1920 pixels, 16:9 ratio (~403 ppi density)
ProtectionCorning Gorilla Glass 3
PLATFORMOSAndroid 7.1.2 (Nougat), planned upgrade to Android 8.0 (Oreo); Android One
ChipsetQualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625
CPUOcta-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
GPUAdreno 506
MEMORYCard slotmicroSD, up to 128 GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
Internal64 GB, 4 GB RAM
CAMERAPrimaryDual: 12 MP (f/2.2, 26mm, 1.25 µm) + 12 MP (f/2.6, 50mm, 1 µm), phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, dual-LED dual-tone flash, check quality
FeaturesGeo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama
Video2160p@30fps, 720p@120fps, check quality
Secondary5 MP, 1080p
SOUNDAlert typesVibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
3.5mm jackYes
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
COMMSWLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth4.2, A2DP, LE
Infrared portYes
RadioFM radio
USB2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
FEATURESSensorsFingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity
MessagingSMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Mail, IM
– Fast battery charging
– Xvid/MP4/H.265 player
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+/FLAC player
– Photo/video editor
– Document viewer
BATTERYNon-removable Li-Ion 3080 mAh battery
MISCColorsBlack, Gold, Rose Gold
PriceAbout 220 EUR
TESTSPerformanceBasemark OS II: 1392 / Basemark OS II 2.0: 1262
Basemark X: 10472
DisplayContrast ratio: 1570:1 (nominal), 2.689 (sunlight)
CameraPhoto / Video
LoudspeakerVoice 74dB / Noise 73dB / Ring 90dB
Audio qualityNoise -91.0dB / Crosstalk -82.5dB

Credits: https://thenextweb.com/gadgets/2017/12/01/xiaomis-mi-a1-comes-with-almost-everything-you-could-want-in-a-230-phone/

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