Xiaomi today announced the company's latest flagship smartphone- Mi A1 at a global launch event in New Delhi. The mid-range Android smartphone has been developed in collaboration with Google and is company's first device to run on the Android One platform.
Android One is Google's ambitious program that failed to make an impact in its previous innings (2014) in India with budget smartphones from Micromax, Spice and karbonn.
Fast forward to 2017 and Xiaomi has signed up with Search Engine giant to launch the newest Android One device- the Mi A1. Xiaomi Mi A1 ditches the company's MIUI and offers pure Android experience designed by Google.
It comes with Google's default services such as free unlimited high quality storage from Google Photos and comes with a promise to stay fresh over time with OS upgrades.
Besides, the unibody metal smartphone also incorporates a dual-lens camera, similar to that in Xiaomi Mi 6 and sports a 5.5-inch full HD screen. It is priced at Rs. 14,999 and will be available nationwide starting September 12 via Mi.com and Flipkart at 12:00 noon. Xiaomi will also sell the mid-range smartphone at all Mi Home stores, Mi Preferred Partner stores and Large Format Retail partner stores.
What's more to the latest Android One smartphone? Let's find out with the first impressions of Xiaomi Mi A1.
Pure Android Experience designed by Google
Google's first Android One devices were launched in the year 2014 in partnership with Spice, Micromax and Karbonn. While the handsets did offer the pure Android experience, their low-end hardware failed to please consumers and Google's ambitious project was considered as a big failure.
After three years, Google is back with the same promise of timely updates and stock Android experience, but with a popular Chinese brand known for its feature loaded Android devices.
Xiaomi Mi A1 will be the newest device to propel Google's dream project by ditching the company's very own MIUI custom interface. As it goes with Android One devices, Google will directly provide the updates for the smartphone and Xiaomi Mi A1 is also said to get the Oreo update by the end of the year 2017.
Xiaomi's decision to board Google's Android One Platform is a right move as otherwise Xiaomi devices are not quite aggressive in meeting the demands of new software updates from Google.
As far as initial response is concerned, I was delighted to see a Xiaomi handset running the stock Android and not the company's gimmicky custom UI. The software performed really well during my short stint with the handset, but it's too early to give a verdict on the performance of pure Android on Xiaomi's hardware. You will have to wait for our full review to find out how well the optimization works on this new Android One device.
12MP+12MP Dual-lens Camera Setup
Besides the stock Android UI, Mi A1 is also the company's first dual-lens camera smartphone for the Indian market. Xiaomi Mi A1 sports two 12MP sensors at the back. One of the two is a telephoto lens with f/2.6 aperture and the second one is a wide-angle lens working on f/2.2 aperture. The aperture values are not the best in this price-point but thanks to the telephoto lens, you get up to 2x optical zoom in sub Rs. 15k price-point which is indeed appreciable.
The dual-lens camera setup mimics the shooters on OnePlus 5 and iPhone 7 Plus and offers a Depth mode to create bokeh effects. The results are good and the portrait mode works quite well. For selfies, you have a 5MP front camera with real-time beautification in the app.
Overall, the camera seems promising and can come out as the best dual-lens implementation at this price-point. Wait for our detailed review on the true camera performance of Xiaomi Mi A1.
Unibody Metal Design that resembles OnePlus 5 to a great extent
The very first image of the Mi A1 that popped up on the presentation slide during the launch event instantly reminded me of the OnePlus 5. The smartphone shares a close resemblance to the flagship OnePlus handset and if you simply ignore or hide the rear mounted fingerprint scanner and LED flashlight placement, you will understand what I am trying to convey. The above picture speaks for itself.
Nevertheless, the Mi A1 brings a pleasing metal unibody design that also fits easily in one hand. The rounded edges and light weight will ease up the handling process in everyday usage.
5.5-inch Full HD screen
Matching up the competition, Xiaomi Mi A1 offers a 5.5-inch full HD screen which felt responsive and vivid in our initial testing. The screen has 2.5D curved glass protecting it and you get three capacitive navigation buttons at the bottom.
Snapdragon 625 CPU and 4GB of RAM
Xiaomi is banking upon the tried and tested Snapdragon 625 chipset. The processor has proved to be a reliable everyday performer in mid-range price-point and Xiaomi has clubbed it with a generous 4GB RAM to handle multitasking. There is 64GB internal storage that can be expanded by up to 128GB if you are willing to compromise on connectivity as the handset only ships with a Hybrid SIM tray.
There were no lags reported in my initial testing and the processor-RAM combination handled camera, video-recording and multiple apps without any performance issues. We will test the gaming performance in our detailed review.
Not the biggest battery in town but good on Connectivity
Unlike the company's popular Redmi series of handsets, Xiaomi Mi A1 does not ship with a big battery. It rather works on a modest 3,080 mAh battery unit that has to support a dual-lens camera and 5.5-inch full HD screen. Will it be enough for a day or not will be evaluated soon in our detailed review.
As far as connectivity is concerned, Xiaomi Mi A1 supports 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Type C port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The smartphone also offer an IR blaster that can turn the handset in a universal remote to control household electronic devices.
Xiaomi Mi A1 seems like a capable mid-range Android smartphone. It comes with Google's pure Android experience and promise of timely updates, a competent dual-lens camera setup and the reliable Snapdragon 625 processor with ample 4GB of RAM under the hood. The design is pretty much similar to OnePlus 5 which is acceptable, but the lack of dedicated microSD card slot can be a deal-breaker for some users. Lenovo K8 Note offers a dedicated storage slot in the same price-point.
Overall, the handset does seem to a good mid-range Android smartphone for Indian consumers. Stay tuned on GIZBOT for our detailed review of Xiaomi Mi A1. You can also check the first impression video of Xiaomi Mi A1 here.