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[Reviews] [Mi Product Review #26] [Device Team] Mi A1 Review: Google Android All the Way!

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17:04, Sep-26-2017 | From PC
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Mi A1 Comprehensive Hands On Review: Google Android AOSP All the Way!
by mitch002

A1.jpg

Hello again for another issue of Mi Product Review, we are already on Volume 26 at the moment and this time we will shift our attention to the newly unveiled phone by Xiaomi dubbed as the Mi A1. This phone was the first to be unveiled together with Android One which was the highlight and spotlight of the phone. Mi A1 did made a lot of noise across the Xiaomi Universe and I am honored to give you my review of the said unit. Created by Xiaomi, Powered by Google.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Specs
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 MSM8953 Octa-core processor 2.0 Ghz Cortex-A53
  • Adreno 506, 650 Mhz
  • 4GB of RAM LPDDR3
  • 5.5-inch LTPS FHD display, 403 PPI, 450 Nit Brightness
  • 64GB of storage
  • 12-megapixel dual rear camera, F/2.2 lens 5-chip lens Wide Angle Camera, F/2.6 5-piece lens PDAF support Telephoto Lens
  • 5-megapixel front camera with 1080p recording
  • Dual SIM (nano sim size), Micro SD sim 2 slot capability supports up to 128GB
  • 3G, LTE, 4G+, VoLTE
  • Dual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Rear Finger Print Sensor
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, Bluetooth 4.2
  • 3080mAh battery
  • Android Nougat 7.1
  • USB-C port
  • Black, Gold, Rose Gold
  • USB C OTG Supported

Official Video:


What's in the Box:

You can find in the box are the following: Mi A1, Quick Charge 2.0 Charger, USB C Cable, Manual, Sim Ejector Pin. There are no headset nor protective case inside this unit since this is not a flagship unit.

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Actual Unit.
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Unboxing Video:

Design:
Okay, let me be as frank as possible, first impression I had on this unit is simply it looks just like Iphone 7 Plus, the color, the camera as well as the finishing of the phone. Now, with all the units that they have been releasing, sometimes its pretty hard to think of any new design, its either you copy me or I copy you in the smartphone industry. Let me exempt Mi MIX from this discussion, as it was really design to be unique on its own.

The Mi A1 is a design of its own among the Mi series phones, and this is the first time that Xiaomi has released a phone that is not MIUI UI loaded, this one came instead with Google's Android One. Created by Xiaomi, Powered by Google as their slogan said.

The bottom of the Mi A1 sports the USB C charger, the 3.5mm audio jack, the single hole on the left is the mic, the 4 holes on the right is for the loudspeaker. There are also 2 screws for you to take off the back case, should there be a need in the future. There are so many questions before why does the sound only comes from the right holes and not from the left, simple, its because the left is dedicated to be used as mic in. Now this design will avoid those confusion / expectation from customers who are not really so technically inclined.

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On the left of the phone sports the Sim Tray, it can accomodate 2 nano sim used simultaneously, or 1 nano sim and 1 micro sd card (up to 128GB) for that additional storage. But there is always a way to use them both together, you just need to buy a Sim + Micro SD adaptor to be able to use 2 sim and 1 micro sd all together. But as usual, do it at your own risk.

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On the right sports the usual power button and the volume rockr. Pretty same for all units of Xiaomi.

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On the top of the phone there lies the infrared as well as the noise cancellation mic.

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The back sports the embossed dual camera with dual led flash as well as the fingerprint scanner. Up front is the selfie cam, 3 capacitive button and the white LED notification light. Yes I know that its quite disappointing for many of us, but it seems this trend will continue as we have seen this on Mi 6 and Mi Max 2. The Android One logo is printed just below the traditional Mi Logo on the back of every Xiaomi phone.

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Snapdragon 625

Xiaomi has choose to use the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 as opposed to the later version in the 660 and 630 series. This is probably due to its proven performance under multitasking jobs as well as battery handling capability and probably overstocking of this said processor.

Now on the gaming side, I played my favorite game NBA2k17 and graphics is pretty ample and there were no obvious lags during game play. I was able to enjoy one full game with the Adreno 506 GPU inside the Mi A1, therefore it can handle simple games with ease. On the side note, I was able to play Asphalt 8 without a problem as well on this unit.

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Connectivity

WiFi connectivity was simply excellent, I connected to both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz on my Mi Router HD and it was seamless. I was able to obtain 4G+ signal on my phone and speed was okay (this is network based, not phone based). VoLTE is still not available in my country so I cannot test it. There is no problem achieving 4G+ on this unit and speed is pretty good and it is also network dependent. Bluetooth connectivity was not a problem on this unit as it paired well with my Mi bluetooth sports headset.

Network Support:
  • 2G:GSMB2, B3, B5, B8
    3G:WCDMAB1, B2, B5, B8
    4G:TD-LTEB38, B40
    4G:FDD-LTEB1,B3, B4, B5, B7, B8, B20


Audio & Video

Well audio was pretty good as we were able to play some good music on my bluetooth sports headset as well as my pistons headset. Im glad they did not take off the 3.5mm audio jack on this unit, as many of us has their own respective favorite headsets that they cherish. The loudspeaker seems to be clearer compared to Redmi Note 4X and its louder in terms of decibels.

Display is good under the sunlight as I was able to read under the roaring sunlight. I was able to finish one whole movie on this unit and the display is pretty much above average, but of course don't expect the display to be as nice as the Mi 6 since its on a different price point.

Android One
This is pretty much the talk of the town for this unit, the Android One raised many expectations for Xiaomi users and let us take a tour and see how it fares on my expectations. On bootup screen it shows a rainbow bar and the Mi Logo on the bottom, then it will kick into the Android One logo before you go to the setup screen.

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Setup was pretty easy as it was expected from Google, everything went smoothly and now we were able to enter the home screen for the first time. It looks very simple and the next word is probably empty. All I can see up front is Google Chrome, Gmail and Google Play.

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Inside the menu after we connected to the wifi and it updated itself, some apps like the Mi Remote, Youtube, Google Drive and Google Maps suddenly appeared, probably its the update package. It just went on an auto update on its own.


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The dropdown notification for me was very simple, I was trying to see how to change the toggle and add some toggles like hotspot and screenshot, I cant seem to find it. Oh by the way, did you know that taking screenshot on this unti was quite a pain as I have to go back to the old android method of taking screenshot using Vol Down + Power hold for 1 second and snap! I was so accustomed to 3 fingerprint screenshot on MIUI.

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The Dial pad looks pretty naked to me.
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Some security features on this device.

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I took a screenshot of the settings menu should you like to take a look at it.

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Camera

Now for my favorite part of the review, the camera. Photos, photos and more sample photos, that's how I determine if the camera is good or not. Now based on specs sheet, the camera is pretty decent, 12mp wide angle lens and a 12mp telephoto lens combined to give you that extra clear shot. It is especially good and designed for taking bokeh shots. Now I am so accustomed to my Mi 6 camera and I have been taking good shots here and there. Lets see how this dual camera fare against the Mi 6.

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Before I proceed and show you all those awesome shots, the Mi A1 sports the Chinese brand OV Lens at the back as well as Sumsung lens up front. You can also use manual mode to take your photos on this camera with exposure time setting of 1/15s and ISO of 3200. You can switch between wide angle lens or telephoto lens inside the manual mode.

Camera Manual Modes:
  • White Balance
  • Focus
  • Exposure Time: Max 1/15s (pretty disappointed in this one, Mi 5s has exposure time up to 32s)
  • ISO up to 3200
  • Lens: Wide or Tele

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Actual Photos

Low Light

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Good Lighting
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Bokeh Shots:

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Selfie Camera

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The camera has taken good pictures on bright and well lit objects, but under dim light, its a little behind as opposed to the Mi 6 and Mi Max 2 based on my keen observations. The front camera I have no problem taking good selfies like I have just posted above. The results are quite at par with Mi 5X since they are of the same camera sensors and specs. This did not reached my expectations as those advertised pretty portrait shots probably are enhanced photos or manual mode shots.

Battery, Benchmarks

This topic is one of the most sensitive and most talked about for a phone, taking a look at the 3080 mAh battery performance, it can withstand up to 8 hours and 29 minutes of Screen-on-time for it screen size is pretty not what everyone is expecting from this unit. Mi A1 is a Mi 5X without the MIU unit it lasted less than the 9 hours that the Mi 5X has to offer, this is just based on normal usage, once you go heavy on the usage, this might last you for 5 hours and you will probably be looking for your powerbank halfway thru the day.

Now for the charging department, this unit does not support Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. The highest ampere that it has notched was 1.8 Amperes, both on Ampere App and the Ampere Meter that I used. Thats the reason why the supplied charger was only QC 2.0. I tried the QC 3.0 Charger used in Mi Notebook Air and Mi6, but still it only notched 1.8 Amperes.

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The Mi 5x was able to achieve a score of 62,948 points out of the box in AnTuTu benchmark test and Mi A1 scored 63,186 points, which is just a few notch up from the Mi 5X results. This is not what I expect from this unit as I could have scored better since there are no other bloatwares available in this unit except everything Google. But I don't really expect more than that since it came with the Snapdragon 625, what's important is that it gets the job done, if you want a higher score, you need to purchase the Mi 6.

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Here are other benchmark data that you might want to take a look at as well.

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Mi A1, Premium Made Affordable!

After playing back and forth for several days using the Mi A1 as my daily driver, I'm pretty impressed with the capability this phone has to offer. The price point at 230 USD is something too hard to pass up for a spinoff of the Mi 5 series, I have been a big fan of the Mi 5 and till now still am. The Mi A1 is pretty distinct in its own ways especially the design, tho its almost copied from the Iphone 7 Plus, at the end of the day I can say that it looks and feels premium at that price. If you are a person who loves simplicity for your UI, then this is the perfect phone for you, but if you need more functions out of your UI, then Mi 5X is the right unit for you.

I do recommend this unit over the Mi 5s Plus which the dual camera I didn't find pretty much good to use. But if you are looking for a better camera sensor, I would suggest you upgrade to Mi Max 2 or Mi 6. My overall Android One experience is 7/10, Im going back to MIUI as it is still the better option for me as I need more functions out of my phone.


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Disclaimer: Please don't send me any PM regarding any type of Sales related inquiries. I'm a Xiaomi enthusiast but not a seller of Mi Products. I'm just a hardcore Xiaomi Fan, one notch higher than many of you here. Also I'm a Tech Blogger in the Philippines and all my review devices are either bought by myself from Xiaomi or borrowed from someone for a short period of time.

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17:39, Sep-26-2017 | From PC
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Excellent overview
Thank you for sharing this with us.

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17:41, Sep-26-2017 | From PC
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Fantastic review, complete and clear... Thanks for sharing so many pictures with the dual camera of this phone... I too prefer the Miui OS, but agreed with you that who needs a pure and simple Android stock phone has, here, probably the best choice in the world now, considering the final selling price.

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17:59, Sep-26-2017 | From APP
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great review

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18:04, Sep-26-2017 | From PC
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excellent review, thanks for sharing it!

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18:37, Sep-26-2017 | From Redmi Note 4X
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Great!!!!

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19:37, Sep-26-2017 | From PC
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Awesome, going to spend a lot of time to experiment this phone.

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21:15, Sep-26-2017 | From Redmi Note 3
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Can we flash Mi 5x MIUI ROM on Mi A1? I want to use MIUI....

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21:21, Sep-26-2017 | From Redmi Note 4X
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nice review !

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08:47, Sep-27-2017 | From PC
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Awesome review mate
Please click REPLY so I can respond immediately

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