Xiaomi Redmi 8A Hands-On: Redefines the Entry-Level Segment

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Xiaomi Redmi 8A is the latest entry-level smartphone to launch in India. The phone made its debut in India earlier this week as part of the company's mid-cycle refresh. To recall, the Redmi 7A was launched in India back in July this year, and at the end of September, we now have the Redmi 8A. This is something which we do not get to see very often from Xiaomi, but the Chinese company seems to be making it a habit. The Redmi Note 6 Pro was launched in India during November 2018 and we got to see the Redmi Note 7 Pro in February 2019 which is just a four-month refresh cycle. In the case of Redmi A series, the refresh happened in just two months and we still don't know what made Xiaomi launch the Redmi 8A this early. Nevertheless, despite being a mid-cycle refresh, the Redmi 8A packs some major upgrades over its predecessor and most of them are first in its segment as well. Let's find out what the Redmi 8A has in store for us.

Xiaomi Redmi 8A Hands-On: Design and Display

The Redmi 8A features a brand new design when compared to its predecessor. The camera module placement, button placements remain the same, but Xiaomi has added a textured back this time around that gives an extra grip to the phone. The Redmi 7A, Redmi 6A and Redmi 5A all featured plain back panels, but the Redmi 8A is different and Xiaomi is calling this design as 'Aura Wave Grip.' As the name of the design itself suggests, the Redmi 8A offers better grip and overall in-hand feel compared to others. And yes, the back panel is still made out of plastic and Xiaomi is not bundling any case inside the retail box.

Xiaomi launched the Redmi 8A in three colour options- Sunset Red, Ocean Blue and Midnight Black. We have the Ocean Blue colour variant and it looks decent for an entry-level smartphone. Rest of the design elements are pretty much the same; We have the power button and volume rockers to the right, SIM card tray to the left and USB Type-C port & 3.5mm headphone jack to the bottom.

This new entry-level smartphone from Xiaomi now has a bigger 6.22-inch HD+ display that comes protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. This is something we haven't heard before in this segment. The phone also has a teardrop notch on top and a noticeable chin that houses the Redmi branding. All the previous Redmi A series of phones were aimed at compact form factor users, but the Redmi 8A has a bigger screen which is not a bad thing at all. As for the display specs, it's an IPS LCD panel with an NTSC ratio of 70.8%. I have used the Redmi 8A for only a brief period and what I noticed is the screen attracts a lot of fingerprint smudges which inevitably affects the sunlight legibility.

Xiaomi Redmi 8A Hands-On: Hardware and Software

Xiaomi has made many changes to the Redmi 8A when compared to the Redmi 7A, but hardware is not one among them. The Redmi 8A uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 chipset and it comes in two variants- 2GB+32GB and 3GB+32GB. Graphics will be taken care of by the Adreno 505 GPU. Also, the RAM used by Xiaomi is of LPDDR3 and the storage technology is eMMC v5.1. The phone also comes with a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion.

Sensors on the Redmi 8A include Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Electronic Compass and Accelerometer. Connectivity options include Dual 4G, VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, AGPS, GPS and GLONASS. It's also the first phone under Rs 7,000 to ship with a USB Type-C port and we just hope that all the upcoming entry-level phones make a shift to this standard. The Redmi 8A lacks a fingerprint scanner, so you'll have to rely on the AI Face Unlock or the good-old Android unlocking systems like Pattern and Pin Code.

The Xiaomi Redmi 8A comes pre-loaded with Android 9 Pie-based MIUI 10.3.1. You'll get the same MIUI experience on the Redmi 8A as other smartphones and it has features like Dark Theme, Full-Screen Display gestures and so on. It will be interesting to see whether Xiaomi upgrades the phone to Android 10-based MIUI 11 or not.

Another aspect where the Redmi 8A excels is the battery department. Yes, the Redmi 8A sports a massive 5000mAh battery and there's 18W fast charging support as well. Inside the retail box, Xiaomi is bundling a 5V/2A, but if you have an 18W fast charger, then the phone is capable of charging much faster.

Xiaomi Redmi 8A Hands-On: Cameras

Similar to the Redmi 7A, the Redmi 8A also features a single 12MP camera on the back, but Xiaomi has used the Sony IMX363 sensor on the smartphone. For the unaware, Sony IMX363 is the same sensor that was used on several flagship smartphones last year like the Poco F1, Mi 8 and so on. It's great to see Xiaomi using high-end sensors even on entry-level phones, but the camera performance will surely take a hit on the Redmi 8A due to the sub-par hardware. On the front side, Xiaomi has added an upgraded 8MP shooter for selfies and video calls.

The Redmi 8A is capable of recording 1080p videos at 30fps from the rear camera. The camera app also offers AI Portrait mode, something which was added to the Redmi 7A as well with a software update.

Xiaomi Redmi 8A Hands-On: Verdict

The Redmi 8A is a major upgrade over the Redmi 7A and there are a lot of things to like in this phone. Firstly, the design of the phone has been updated and it now provides a better in-hand feel. Next, there's the bigger display and even a 5000mAh battery to provide more than two days of battery life. The rear camera sensor used on the Redmi 8A is a flagship sensor and it will be interesting to see how the camera performance is. Lastly, it has a USB Type-C port which is something we did not expect to make into the entry-level phones until 2020.

It's astonishing how Xiaomi pulled off that price tag for the Redmi 8A. The phone comes in two variants- 2GB+32GB version priced at Rs 6,499 and the 3GB+32GB model that will retail for Rs 6,999. Xiaomi redefined the entry-level segment a few years ago with the Redmi 4A and Redmi 5A smartphones, and now, it's back into the game with the Redmi 8A which will probably be the trendsetter in the segment. Just when we thought that Xiaomi may not get any more aggressive in the Indian market, well, it stunned everyone with the Redmi 8A. The first sale of the Redmi 8A will be on September 29 during the Flipkart Big Billion Days.

What do you think about the Redmi 8A? Let us know by commenting below.

Reported By

Managing Editor

Chakri is a go-to guy for your next smartphone recommendation. Back in his engineering days, he used to play with smartphones by installing custom ROMs and that passion got him into the tech industry. He still goes nuts about a smartphone knocking his door for review. Currently managing everything at Telecom Talk, Chakri is trying to master PUBG Mobile in his free time.

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