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Xiaomi Mi A3 Review- Good Bargain But Not Groundbreaking
Xiaomi recently added another handset to its ambitious and experimental Mi A product lineup. The new Mi A3 is the successor of the Mi A2 smartphone which was launched in India in August 2018, garnered a lot of interest from the consumers. However, it was also criticized at length by a large set of audience as the handset cut too many corners.
Xiaomi Mi A2 asked to compromise on basics such as expandable storage, long-lasting battery life, and even some essentials like the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is an absolute necessity for the mid-range consumers.
- Premium Aesthetics
- Gorilla Glass On Front, Back, And On The Camera Setup
- Most Ergonomic Smartphone- perfect For One Hand Use
- Smooth And Lag Free Stock Android User-Experience
- Faster Updates Than MIUI Handsets
- Super AMOLED Display
- Long-Lasting Battery Life
- Low-Resolution Display Is A Dealbreaker
- Better Gaming Smartphones Available In The Market
- Camera’s Autofocus Is Inconsistent
- Wide-Angle Lens Could Use Some Improvements
- Low-Light Camera Performance Is Not Best-in-class
With the launch of the Mi A3, Xiaomi has addressed such issues. The handset offers a bigger battery cell, brings back the 3.5mm headphone jack and a slot to expand the internal storage of the device. The Mi A3 comes under the Android One Program and runs the stock Android Pie for a cleaner and more intuitive software user-experience.
The 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM variant is priced at Rs. 12,999, whereas the 6GB RAM + 128GB ROM variant costs Rs. 15,999 in India. The pricing is quite aggressive this time; however, the Mi A3 faces tough competition from the Realme 5 series devices, especially the Realme 5 Pro which retails at Rs. 13,999 for the entry-level variant.
Design: New Glass-Metal Design With Better Ergonomics
Xiaomi Mi A3 is the company's best-designed mid-range smartphone till date. Unlike the last year's Mi A2 that offered a metal body, the new Mi A3 features a glass-metal design where the aluminium frame firmly holds the Gorilla Glass 5 equipped front and back panel. It's a typical glass-sandwich design but the company has taken utmost care of the ergonomics by making some significant changes.
The width of the handset has been kept to minimum- 72mm, making it much more comfortable to hold in one hand. The 3D curved glass at the back panel bends around the edges to seamlessly meet the aluminium frame. The ideal positioning of the buttons and the rounded corners make the Xiaomi Mi A3 a perfect smartphone for consumers who prefer handy devices.
Xiaomi also heard the complaints and brought back the 3.5mm headphone jack. It is placed at the top of the device and is accompanied by the signature IR blaster. The left side of the handset offers a hybrid SIM card tray which can be used to place two nano-SIM cards or one nano-SIM card with a microSD card.
Notable Camera Bump, In-screen Fingerprint Scanner, Type-C Port
The back panel of the Mi A3 has a very minimal design. There's no conventional fingerprint scanner but an in-screen biometric scanner as the handset flaunts an AMOLED panel. The triple-lens camera setup has a significant camera bump but it does not spoil the look and feel of the device. What caught our attention here is the glass placed on the camera setup. It is not any ordinary glass but the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to offer much better protection to the camera setup.
Additionally, the P2i coating is also offered to make the handset splash-resistant. We got the Grey color variant of the Xiaomi Mi A3, which looks very subtle but slightly muted. If you prefer vibrant gradient shades, you can go for the Blue variant which is named ‘Not just Blue.' We are drooling over the white color variant of the Mi A3. It is called ‘More than White' and is by far one of the most premium sub 20K handset we have seen in a while.
Vibrant Super AMOLED Panel But Low- Resolution Is A Setback
Xiaomi has always raised the stakes by offering the best-in-class specifications at the most affordable price-point. However, the Mi A3 is an exception, precisely in the display department. The Mi A3 is the first handset in the Mi A lineup to flaunt an AMOLED panel. This sounds amazing as long as you don't realize the fact that the OLED panel only offers a 720p resolution.
With OLED panel, you experience deeper blacks and vivid colors; however, these two benefits start to fade away as soon as you stream videos and play graphics-intensive games. The display on the Mi A3 only offers 286ppi. The effect of low-resolution can be seen on the Mi A3's screen in the form of pixelation. Texts are jagged that also hampers the reading and browsing experience.
Moreover, this is one of the worst screens ever on a Xiaomi device to use outdoors. The brightness levels are inadequate to offer a comfortable viewing experience in direct sunlight. The Redmi Note 7 series' LCD panels are much brighter than the OLED screen on the Mi A3.
Realme 5 Pro, Motorola One Action Among Handsets With High-Resolution Displays
If you are always hooked to your device for video playback and gaming, the sub 15K market now offers several devices with crisper 1080p resolution. The Realme 5 Pro and Moto One Action are two handsets with much better displays in the sub 15K price bracket.
Will Xiaomi address the low-resolution issue with the Mi A4? Seems like we are too early to talk about it; however, we are eagerly waiting for the company to release the sales reports of the Mi A3 to find out the users response for the low-resolution screen.
Camera Performance- Good In daylight, Realistic Colors, Natural Portraits
Xiaomi Mi A3 uses the same 48MP sensor that we have tested on the Redmi Note 7 Pro. It captures 12MP shots by default and uses the familiar Sony IMX 586 sensor. The non-stabilized lens manages to capture crisp shots with good detailing in daylight. The camera on the Mi A3 captures true-to-eyes colors and does not add any unwanted saturation.
The images look very natural and realistic. Contrast levels are on point and the dynamic range is also good. You can capture 48MP shots but the difference is not very stark as compared to pixel-binned 12MP shots. Moreover, the Mi A3's camera's autofocus mechanism is not always consistent. You have to work it out quite a times to capture a crisp shot.
8MP Wide-angle Lens, 2MP Depth Sensor, 4K Video Recording at 60fps
The 8MP ultra-wide angle lens with 118° field-of-view manages to add a new perspective to the shots but dynamic range and details suffer. The 2MP depth-sensor creates a pleasing bokeh effect. Needless to say, portrait shots have been a speciality of the Mi A series. You can record 4k videos at 30fps on the Mi A3 which look crisp. The 1080p videos and the slow-motion videos also look impressive.
Low-Light Camera Performance
I was expecting some brilliant low-light shots as the camera on the Mi A3 works on a bright F/1.79 aperture sensor. But the lack of OIS forces the camera to rely on increased ISO levels that bring in more noise. The Night mode helps to some extent by correcting the exposure levels in the regular camera mode. The wide-angle shots in low-light fail to impress.
32MP Selfie Camera
As far as the selfies are concerned, the Xiaomi Mi A3 boasts the largest selfie sensor available in the market. The front camera uses a Samsung-made 32MP sensor that outputs vibrant and detailed pictures. The selfies look sharp and show natural skin color tones. You also get AI Beautify and AI scene detection to enhance and tweak the image output.
Xiaomi Mi A3 runs on the octa-core Snapdragon 665 CPU. It is built on the 11nm fabrication process that makes it much more energy-efficient than the Snapdragon 660 CPU that supplied power to the Mi A2. The 64-bit CPU also brings a new Adreno 610 GPU that is more or less similar to Adreno 512 in raw performance but reduces battery drainage.
And as the GPU has to supply power to a low-resolution display, the gaming performance is decent for the price but you can get better gaming handsets in somewhat similar price-point. For instance, the Vivo Z1 Pro and Realme 5 Pro are better gaming handsets than the Xiaomi Mi A3. These handsets make gameplay much more immersive due to 1080p displays and comparatively smoother graphics delivery and better frame rate.
The chipset on the Mi A3 is paired with 4GB and 6GB RAM configurations with 64GB and 128GB UFS 2.1 storage, which makes the multitasking and general tasks snappy and lag-free.
Sluggish In-screen Fingerprint Scanner
Xiaomi Mi A3 probably has the slowest fingerprint scanner as per industry standards. The company claims that the smartphone features the 7th Gen in-screen fingerprint scanner; however, it is slow and often struggled to recognize the stored fingerprints. A conventional biometric scanner would have made much more sense than the incompetent in-screen fingerprint scanner.
Software Performance- Smooth And Clutter-Free
The highlight of the Xiaomi Mi A3 is undoubtedly the clean stock Android software experience. Unlike the company's MIUI skin, the vanilla Android on the Mi A3 is free of unwanted advertisements and bloatware. Similar to other stock Android Pie handsets, the Mi A3 brings all the goodness of smooth Android user-experience.
The Pixel phones-like launcher, gestures, app drawer and other small yet important elements make a lot of difference in the user experience. Motorola One Action is another handset running the stock Android Pie in the same price bracket.
As the Xiaomi Mi A3 comes under the Android One program, the handset is signed up for faster updates and longer support from Google. Xiaomi Mi A3 will receive two years of OS updates and three years of security updates from Google. Moreover, it will be among the first few devices to receive the Android Q update in the coming months.
Battery Life, Audio And Connectivity
The low-resolution screen combined with a bigger 4,030 battery unit and efficient chipset enables the Mi A3 to last longer than its predecessors. The smartphone can easily last a day even with heavy usage. If you are a moderate user, you can derive a battery life of up to two days on the Mi A3.
The smartphone also supports 18W fast-charging; however, the company ships the device with a 10W charger in the box. As far as audio is concerned, the Mi A3 features a single bottom-firing speaker. The speaker can fill a small room as it gets adequately loud and produces clean audio.
For connectivity, the Mi A3 offers Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/a Hybrid SIM card tray, 3.5mm headphone jack, IR blaster, FM radio and Type-C port.
Xiaomi Mi A3 is a good bargain at a starting price of Rs. 12,999; however, it fails to deliver a groundbreaking performance. The only reason you should go for the Mi A3 is to experience stock Android on a Xiaomi hardware, which is pretty solid most of the time. The 3.5mm headphone jack has also made a comeback along with a microSD card slot and a big battery cell to solve the battery issues.
The OLED panel is a welcome change but the lack of a high-resolution screen is a definite setback and can be a deal-breaker if you cannot compromise on the display performance. Moreover, we have experienced better gaming performance on some other handsets priced at similar price-point. The in-screen fingerprint scanner on the Mi A3 also failed to impress us. The camera performance is good but once again not groundbreaking.
If you look at the competition, the Realme 5 Pro which comes at a starting price of Rs. 13,999 offers an additional macro lens, better overall camera performance, crisp 1080p display, snappy chipset and better gaming performance. However, the OPPO's ColorOS is no match for a stock Android user experience if you prefer vanilla Android UI.
You can also consider the newly launched Motorola One Action which also brings stock Android user-experience, much better 21:9 aspect ratio 1080p display and a dedicated wide-angle lens video camera that allows you to record landscape videos even when the phone is held vertically. The decision depends upon your requirement from a device.