When I heard that Google and Xiaomi were going to do a phone together as a part of the Android One project, I literally had to check to confirm it. Sometimes when something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t and that’s precisely why I had to see it to believe it. And my doubts and shadows were cleared quickly with the launch of the Xiaomi MiA1.
Before I get into the device, let me do a quick recap of what the android one project is for. Well to mention of briefly, the Android one project was an initiative by Google to bring stock Android with direct software support from Google itself to the masses. It saw wise sometime in 2014. What the project aimed was to let device manufacturers make budget devices and then pair it with stock Android. The best part about this was that the updates of the software and security patches would be handled directly by Google themselves so it was kind of like a move to bring the, then popular Nexus device experience to the masses. This was a brilliant move because the devices sold were basically unlocked and they were a 3rd party developer dream to work upon. Also, for someone who didn’t much care about custom ROM’s, they already had the latest updates directly from Google on the same day that the nexus devices got it.
So you can probably see where this is going by now, we always wished and hoped that Google would bring their Android One project to Asia’s most popular device manufacturer Xiaomi and our prayers are finally answered. So let’s jump into the device.
Design and Display:
For those of you familiar with the Xiaomi’s Mi 5X, will instantly recognise the device because in essence, they are the same devices running different software. The MiA1 supports a similar design having a nice aluminium build and rounded edges. The MiA1 also feels quite comfortable to hold in hand thanks to its shape and having very small bezels all round, despite having a very sizeable 5.5Inch display area. It measures in at 155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3 mm (Height x Width x Thickness), which makes it quite compact. The front also houses a standard 3 button layout for Home, Task manager and back button with a fingerprint sensor at the rear.
Display wise, it comes with the exact same 1080p IPS panel as seen on the Mi 5X. The display is crisp and has accurate colours and nice black levels with a maximum brightness of 450nits which is good but under direct sunlight it might prove to be a bit challenging to stand out. The display has a resolution of 1080×1920 and has a 403 Pixel per inch count which is awesome.
The MiA1 comes with a slightly dated Snapdragon 625 and I have to question why Xiaomi didn’t include the updated Snapdragon 630/650 with the phone. The performance difference between them isn’t much big but they are slightly more efficient in the battery department. But the real world difference isn’t too big with AnTuTu scores coming in north of 60000 which is simply great. The snapdragon 625 is am Octa core CPU and it comes with an Adreno 506 for handling graphics intensive tasks. The Snapdragon 625 is a very power efficient chip in its own regard and handles its own when it comes to multi-tasking and games while providing with a decent battery life. The phone also comes bundled with 4GB of RAM which is plenty, especially considering the price factor. Everything considered, the MiA1 has got everything in the bag when it comes to the number crunching.
Now, for the fun part. There are devices which come with stock android and there are devices that come with stock android whose development is supported by Google. Consider the MiA1 as a cut price Google Pixel because while the Pixel is Google’s own device, the software on this is handled by Google. Meaning that, software updates and bug patches will be delivered on the day that they are aired for the pixel devices. It also contains Android assistant for voice commands and the usual suite of Google apps. Although this phone has Google’s default camera app, Mi did provide it with their camera app to take advantage of the dual camera setup. There’s also an app for controlling the IR blaster but that’s about it. Usually, stock Xiaomi devices get a lot of bloatware which isn’t the case here. The UI is snappy and there are no lags to whatsoever.
Camera and Storage:
Like most phones today in a similar price bracket, the MiA1 comes with a dual rear camera setup for those bokeh shots. The two cameras are rated at 12MP each but one of them has a 2x Optical Zoom while the other doesn’t. Now I agree that a dual camera setup might have potential for good quality images but what I found disappointing was the lack of image stabilisation which in my opinion is more important than dual camera sensors. The MiA1 has a bunch of shooting modes including the ability to shoot 720p videos at 120fps. The front camera is a standard 5MP unit with a wide angle f2.0 aperture. IT gets the job done for the most part and images have an acceptable level of detail.
Storage wise it gets 64GB of on-board memory right off the bat and it can be further expanded up to 128GB with an SD card.
Battery and Connectivity:
The MiA1 gets a 3080mAh battery just like the Mi5X. It doesn’t have support for quick charge but should get you through the day with moderate usage.
Connectivity wise it gets all the major 4G (VOLTE), 3G and 2G bands supported by Indian ISP’s. It also has Wi-Fi 802.11, a/ac/b/g/n/n 5GHz, USB Type-C, Bluetooth v4.2 and GPS with A-GPS support.
The MiA1 is a winner in my eyes, and if you are looking for a device in that segment, get this eyes closed. Xiaomi Mi A1 price in India is around 16,999 which is great value for what it offers.