Xiaomi Mi A1 First Impressions: Combining the Best of Xiaomi and Google!

Xiaomi’s approach towards the Indian market is sweet and simple- offer insane specifications at cutthroat prices. The Chinese company has been doing the same ever since its entry to the Indian market back in July 2014. Almost all the Xiaomi devices have been successful in the Indian market, apart from the Xiaomi Mi 5 and Mi 4.

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If the price is one factor for Xiaomi’ success in India, then the other one is the device itself. Xiaomi devices, in particular, doesn’t feel like cheap devices under Rs. 10,000. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is an incredible piece of hardware under Rs. 10,000, the same goes with the Xiaomi Redmi 4 as well.

Now, Xiaomi is on top of its game and is cruising to become India’s new number one smartphone brand dethroning Samsung. Xiaomi could well achieve this by the end of this year if they release one more competitive phone in the Redmi lineup.

Well, here comes the device- the Xiaomi Mi A1. Priced at Rs. 14,999, the Mi A1 is not only the brand’s first dual camera smartphone in the Indian market, but also the first Android One Xiaomi smartphone.

For the unaware, Android One is Google’s ambitious project aimed at the Indian market, under which it partnered with several smartphone vendors such as Micromax, Spice, Lava to release Android One powered handsets. Android One smartphones will receive software updates directly from Google.

But this project failed miserably as the entry-level hardware was not able to lure the customers. And Xiaomi offered better specs than the Android One devices back then.

So, Google is now playing a game by partnering with its rival itself- Xiaomi. Android One is all, but dead. However, with this partnership, there’s a little scope for the search giant that Android One will succeed this time around.

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For years now, we’ve been using a Xiaomi smartphone with the MIUI skin built on top of Android. But this time, we’ve a Xiaomi device with stock Android. Will this device change the fortunes of Google’s Android One project? And will this entirely different Xiaomi phone sell like other Xiaomi phones in India? Well, time will answer these questions. But for now, here are my initial impressions about the Xiaomi Mi A1.

Design

Starting off with the design, the Mi A1 looks identical to the Xiaomi Mi Max 2 with its top placed antenna band design and similar rear camera placement. Frontal, the device resembles other Xiaomi devices such as the Redmi Note 4 with a 2.5D curved glass and hardware capacitive keys.

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The front is dominated by a 5.5-inch display for the most part, and above the display, we’ve the earpiece, 5MP front-facing camera, and a proximity sensor. The fingerprint scanner is located at the back of the phone. This Xiaomi smartphone comes with USB Type-C port (like finally), and supports fast charging as well with a 380V charger. The device feels nice in hands and it feels light as well. The smartphone will be available in three colours- gold, matte black, and rose gold (pink).

Display

As said earlier, the front of the smartphone is dominated by a 5.5-inch display along with a scratch resistant layer and 2.5D curved glass on top. The display is vivid and offers rich colours. Viewing angles were fine as well, in my brief time with the phone.

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Hardware

Xiaomi surely is in love with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC because it is the company’s third smartphone in the Indian market to use the same chip. Performance is buttery smooth on this device, thanks to the stock Android. The chipset is accompanied by a 4GB of RAM module and 64GB of internal storage, which is expandable too.

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The entire package is backed by a 3080mAh battery. Now, this is interesting because Xiaomi has launched several smartphones with battery capacity over 4000mAh, and this lad has only a mere 3080mAh unit. Having said that, this is the smaller battery smartphone released in India this year because the entry-level Redmi 4A has a 3120mAh battery unit.

Software

The most important part of the Mi A1 is the software. As said earlier, this is the first Xiaomi smartphone to boot stock Android under Andriod One program. The Mi A1 runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat with August security patch fixes installed. There’s absolutely no bloatware in the device, apart from the Xiaomi’s own camera app and Mi Remote and Mi Store application, which are quintessential though.

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Also, one thing to note here is that: Unlike earlier Android One devices where Google issued software updates, the scenario is different with the Mi A1 because Xiaomi will be delivering software updates to the Mi A1. The Chinese company wants to take control of the dual camera setup with its camera app, which is the sole reason why it’s taking the responsibility to push software update.

However, do not worry because Google promised that it will receive monthly security patch updates and also Android 8.0 Oreo will make into this device by the end of 2017, and it will be amongst the first batch of smartphones to receive Android P next year.

Cameras

Xiaomi hyped the camera so much in this smartphone. Of course, they have to because the Mi A1 could well be Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone for the Indian market. The device has two 12MP sensors at the back, one is a wide-angle lens capturing coloured shots, and the other one is a telephoto lens capturing lossless 2X zoomed images. This is the same camera setup seen on devices such as Apple iPhone 7 Plus and OnePlus 5. I haven’t tested out the camera yet. We will be doing a camera review separately. So stay tuned for that.

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Verdict

All in all, the Mi A1 is a pretty good package. Unlike Motorola which is confusing its users, Xiaomi has gone with a neat and diversified approach. If the company released the A1 with MIUI, then the customers will surely be in a confusion of whether to go with this smartphone or the popular Redmi Note 4. The dual camera setup comes into play, but we’ve several other dual camera options available in the market as well.

Having said that, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is for users looking for a clean Android experience from a reliable smartphone brand. The sales of the device will kick start from September 12. Will you be getting one? Let us know in the comments below.

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