• Thursday, May 24, 2018

Xiaomi Mi A1 Review - Xiaomi with Pixel features!

Introduction

Today we’re testing a device the main attributes of which are regular system updates and affordable price – the Xiaomi Mi A1! Let’s see together whether it lived up to expectations!

Built by Xiaomi and run by Google – the Xiaomi Mi A1! This is a device that came as a result of cooperation of the Chinese premium manufacturer and Google, and at the same time it represents the first device of Android One program, which will secure to Xiaomi Mi A1 regular software updates and security patches, and all that on stock Android environment! Nexus? Pixel? No, Xiaomi! Next to the Android One, Xiaomi brings into the middle segment a pretty good chipset at a very affordable price point, and as icing on the cake, a double main camera! Next to all this, the Mi A1 can be obtained in various memory configurations, while a DualSIM tray is standard. Inside the factory box of the Global version we could find: US charging adapter, Type-C USB cable, user manuals and a film protection for the Mi A1. Today we’re testing the 32GB Black color version, and also available are Gold, Rose Gold and Red.



What does a Xiaomi with a Nexus/Pixel feel has to offer? Let’s check it out!
 

Display


Although this is a device that came to the market in September 2017, the Xiaomi Mi A1 does not have an “infinity” display as we could see on more expensive devices. However, the display is not bad at all! Here we have a well-known 5.5” LTPS IPS display which Xiaomi opts for quite frequently, and which we could see in Mi 5X as well. On this diagonal, FullHD 1080p resolution is quite common in the middle class, and with the aspect ratio of 16:9 the display results in 403 pixels per inch (PPI). This number is more than just good and it offers very nice image quality.


This panels can show up to 16 million colors. Views are pretty realistic, although many would prefer Samsung’s AMOLED display with their “fuller” colors. Anyway, black colors are very nicely reproduced, the brightness of the display is very good, and the panel showed contrast of 1570:1 – which is an amazing result! Visibility on the sunlight at maximum brightness is good, but we could notice that in such cases the colors seem pretty washed up. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Of course, the Mi A1 has an ambience light sensor through which the display will be illuminated if the mode chosen is AUTO.
 

Hardware and OS


Little by little we come to what enables the stock Android environment of the Xiaomi Mi A1 work as it should – the built-in hardware. Let’s start with the chipset.

A good chipset consists of a number of factors, and the choice of chipset itself determines the success of a device in 90% of cases. Xiaomi played it safe by implementing Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 into the Mi A1. This is a 14nm processor which is still one of the more economic chipsets regarding battery consumption.


This is an octa-core CPU that consists of Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2GHz. This is not a big.LITTLE architecture, but instead these are eight completely same cores with the same clock speeds.
Alongside this CPU there is the Adreno 506 GPU which represents the middle ground. With its DX12.1 support, the GPU performed excellently for those who like to spends some time here and there playing some games on their mobile devices.
The brightest point regarding the market price of this device is the built-in memory – 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM clocked at 933MHz. Internal storage memory of the device that we have in our test is 32GB, while a 64GB version is also available. Internal storage is expandable via a microSD card, and it supports expansions of up to 128GB which adds up to the theoretical maximum of either 160GB of 192GB, depending of your device’s version.


The general feel about this setup is excellent! All animations and transitions are very fluid, and all this is due to great balance between the built-in hardware and stock Android. As we have previously mentioned, the gaming experience is pretty good. A good representative of the capabilities of the Xiaomi Mi A1 is the good old AnTuTu benchmark that showed a score of 62 921 points, and put this device alongside Samsung Galaxy A5 2017, Huawei P10 Lite and Mate 10 Lite devices.



Apart from all this, there is also a perfectly positioned fingerprint sensor – it is located in the center on the back of the device. It is very fast and accurate, and we don’t have any complaints about its work.



The Mi A1 does not have stereo speakers, and its speaker is located on the bottom of the device, to the right of the Type-C connector. The lock button and volume rockers are located on the right side of the device.


We come to the most interesting part, next to the double main camera setup. Of course, this is the preinstalled pure Android environment which was developed within Android One program. The main features are: pure and fluid software even of middle class components. During testing, our device was running of Android 7.1.2 with security patches dated to September, and the update to 8.0 Oreo came available but it was quickly removed due to errors within the Dialer application. Next to the stock environment and excellent working speed, the Android One program promises quick software updates, and Xiaomi Mi A1 will see at least two major software upgrades – Android O is already here, and Android P will also be available on this device. Although many will miss the Xiaomi MIUI user interface, we cannot complain on the practicality and the speed of the stock Android!

There are very few signs that this is, in fact, a Xiaomi device. One of these is the “Mi” folder that contains shortcuts to “Feedback” and “Mi Remote” applications. The first one will let you report a bug or make a suggestion directly too Xiaomi, while the other one will let you control all your IR devices remotely (Mi TV / Mi Box, TV, AC unit, ventilator, A/V receiver, DVD player, projector or camera). The IR blaster is located of the top of the device, just next to the microphone.



 

Camera


Another very interesting field is the camera section of the Mi A1!

On the back we can find a double main camera setup -  something that was previously available only in high class devices. Xiaomi Mi A1 has two 12MP sensors. We’ve seen many different combinations of the double camera setup, and Xiaomi opted for one wide-angle and one telephoto lens. The wide-angle lens covers the angle of 26mm with the aperture of f/2.2. Pixel size I 1.25µm. The telephoto lens covers the angle of 20mm, the aperture is smaller at f/2.6, and individual pixels are also smaller compared to the regular sensor - 1µm.

Both cameras are equipped with Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) system which offers quite good focusing speeds and decent precision. With two camera sensors it is possible to have optical zoom up to x2 with no loss of quality. To the left of the main camera sensor there is a double LED two-tone flash. Other camera functions are: Geo-Tagging, Touch Focus, Face Detection, HDR and Panorama.


Now that we’ve covered all basic camera specifications and systems, we’ll take a look on the quality of photos produced by these cameras. Let’s start by saying that day time photos are of very good quality with great color reproduction, shutter speed, details and low levels of noise even in shadows. Dynamic range is also very good, and it can be even more improved by using the HDR mode. Telephoto sensor offers similar results, although smaller aperture needs more light in order to achieve those results. A massive advantage is, of course, the 2x optical zoom. You must be wondering how the optical zoom works at lower brightness? Basically – it doesn’t. If the scene is too dark, the device will automatically use the wide-angle sensor and through it use digital zoom (image cropping), instead of the optical zoom from the telephoto lens, which will greatly influence the quality of photos. This is why we don’t recommend zooming photos in low light shooting conditions.


Night time photos are good, but they won’t blow your mind. Color reproduction is also pretty nice, but the lack of details ruins the overall impression.
Two cameras allow for the more and more popular portrait mode with nicely blurred backgrounds (bokeh effect) while the object is perfectly sharp. Mi A1 does this job quite well, although it can be “confused” by too bright backgrounds or backgrounds with too many details. The time needed to process portrait photos with the bokeh effect is fine and on par with other devices from the upper middle and high class.

One of the things that didn’t stay “pure” in this whole system is the camera interface. It is a typical Xiaomi camera interface which offers several options if you choose to take photos in the landscape mode:


 
  • Left section which offers: HDR, Portrait mode and flash modes
  • Right section which offers: the shutter, video recording button and gallery shortcut
  • Central section which offers: optical zoom button, filters, options and camera orientation switch.
The Manual mode of the Mi A1 allows you to choose which sensor you wish to use which is definitely a good option for all who like to play with photos.

The main camera supports video capturing with the maximum resolution of 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 30 frames per second. Video quality is excellent! Plenty of details, great colors and stable framerate! Sadly, next to 4K videos, there is no option to shoot 1080p FullHD videos at 60 fps, but you can take FullHD videos at 30 fps. Aside from these, HD 720p and SD 480p resolutions are also available. Videos are captured in .mp4 format with stereo sound. Next to classic videos there are also Time-Lapse videos as well as Slow-Motion videos in 720p HD resolution at 120 fps.



The front facing camera does not bring anything spectacular. There is a sensor with only 5MP resolution with no auto focus, and with aperture of f/2.0. Results are decent and more than just good as far as social networks are concerned. It also supports video capturing, and you can take videos in 1080p FullHD resolution at stable framerate of 30 fps. An interesting addition is the Group Selfie, a mode that will make the device take several different photos of people (if there are multiple people in the scene) and later patch them all together in order to make everybody look equally good.

 

Connectivity


The list of connections built into the Mi A1 is quite long. This device is, of course, 4G compatible, and it also has a hybrid card slot. What is this about? One slot offers you with an option to either use two nanoSIM cards simultaneously, or one nanoSIM combined with a microSD card. Whether you’re a geek or a business user, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is an excellent choice! Of course, the Type-C is standard for 2017, so the Xiaomi Mi A1 uses the version 1.0 with speeds that match those of the version 2.0 standard.

List of wireless connections consists of:
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • A-GPS (GLONASS, BDS)
  • Infrared Port
  • Bluetooth v4.2 (A2DP, LE)
  • FM Radio

One huge disadvantage is the lack of an NFC system.

Supported network frequencies are:
  • 2G GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • 3G UMTS: 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
  • 4G LTE: 800 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2300 / 2600 MHz
 

Battery


Xiaomi Mi A1 is equipped with a 3080 mAh battery which is, sadly, non-removable. Another bad thing is that, out of the box, this device does not support fast charging, but it will later be enabled through software upgrades to the Oreo beta, and it will surely be available on the final version of the Google’s OS. This is a Li-Ion battery.

Our device runs on Android Nougat, which means there is no fast charging, so the charging time is just under 2 hours. Average use will bring around 15 to 18 hours of autonomy, which is pretty nice for an average user. SoT (Screen on Time) with one full charge, several hours of gaming and viewing YouTube videos with the brightness set on 60% came up to 6 hours and some minutes, which is very good. Wireless charging is not supported.
 

Final words


This is definitely one of the more interesting devices lately! Xiaomi Mi A1 spiced the end of the year in a great way. Xiaomi – Google collaboration resulted in a well-balanced device, which will satisfy even some more demanding users with its price and amazing performance. Lack of the NFC system is definitely a minus, as is the lack of fast charging – but only for a while! Fast charging comes available with Android Oreo update that is already available OTA (Over-The-Air). We think that the Mi A1 is a device that will be remain quite good for a long time due to announced regular system updates and decent hardware. It is also a good choice both for those who like taking photos and playing games, and for those who seek for a system that is basically the same as on Pixel devices.

Do you like the Xiaomi Mi A1? We’d love to see your opinion in the comment section below. If you have any suggestions or you would like to see a specific device being reviewed, feel free to write to us either here on our Facebook page. If you liked our review, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook, and sit comfortably as we’re working hard on new material for you!

Xiaomi Mi A1 Full Specifications

Advantages and disadvantages

Reasons for and against it

Great hardware and software combination
Pretty good camera
Build quality
DualSIM tray + microSD card expansion
Not waterproof
No NFC system