Why Xiaomi Mi A1 is the Android enthusiast's dream budget smartphone

The smartphone maker has brought a device that promises not just timely updates, but also a standardised usage experience that Google can vouch for.

 |  5-minute read |   06-09-2017
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Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Tuesday (September 5, 2017) launched its latest flagship the Xiaomi Mi A1 at a competitive price of Rs 14,999. As evidenced by the smartphone's global launch event being held in India, the Mi A1 is a device that has been crafted by Xiaomi in partnership with Google to tap into the strong Android enthusiast community existing in the country that's on the lookout for a phone that provides a close to stock Android experience and above par specs but without spending a bomb. 

With the Mi A1, Xiaomi has come out with an Android One based smartphone that does exactly that. The Chinese smartphone maker which has previously made quite a name for itself with devices that are light on the pocket but heavy on specs, has blended the best of Xiaomi and Google mobile operating systems into one finely crafted package. 

But before we talk more about the phone, let's talk about what Android One is, and why it makes the Mi A1 special. 

What is Android One?

Android One is Google's attempt at strengthening the legion of fanboys that its mobile operating system enjoys. This is an old project which Google is looking to infuse new life into with this new partnership with Xiaomi. Under the Android One, Google wants to provide pure Android experience on budget smartphones.

The first phones under Android One were seen in the sub-continent in 2014 when the Android platform had just started maturing. At the time, Google partnered with Indian smartphone manufacturers such as Micromax and Karbonn and Spice. 

The Android One moniker at the time failed to make an impact because of a lack of exciting hardware and the consumers' general lack of faith in the brands Google chose to partner with. However, by joining hands with Xiaomi – a smartphone maker which has previously made quite a name for itself with devices that are light on the pocket but heavy on specs – Google is looking to right the wrongs of the past. 


What does the Xiaomi Mi A1 look like?

As mentioned before, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is a flagship device that boasts of flagship worthy specs but fits nicely in the budget segment with a price tag of Rs 14,999. Which probably is the phone's biggest draw. But more about that later. For now, let's talk about how it looks.

The phone borrows from Xiaomi's DNA when it comes to the design. Crafted using a metal unibody design with chamfered edges in three colour variants –  Rose Gold, Black and Gold – the phone is thus easy on the eyes. 

The back of the phone houses a fingerprint reader at the centre, there's MI branding at the bottom and an LED flash along with a dual camera setup on the upper left hand corner of the phone. There are also two iPhone 7 like antenna bands on the bottom and top of the device. 

Coming to the front, the Mi A1 comes sporting Xiaomi's trusted 5.5-inch 1080p display protected by a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass sheet that has previously been seen on phones like the Redmi Note 4.

At the bottom, there's a speaker grille, a USB-Type C port along with a 3.5 mm jack while the microphone and the infrared sensors have been placed at the top of the device. 

What's under the hood?

True to the nature of all Xiaomi offerings, the Mi A1 is a beast on paper. The phone comes packing under the hood Xiaomi's trusted octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC paired with 4GB of RAM. The SoC which has been used on a number of phones is not going to set benchmarks alight, but is known for providing a good mix between performance and power usage. There is 64GB of storage provided onboard which can be expanded using a MicroSD card. The battery that's keeping the system running here is a 3080mAh non-removable pack.

Jumping on the dual-camera bandwagon

Xiaomi's phone brings with it a 12-Megapixel + 12-Megapixel dual camera setup at the back. The camera module has a telephoto and a wide-angle lens setup, which looks to have been implemented well by Xiaomi. There's also a 5-Megapixel camera at the front. 

Xiaomi interestingly has decided to equip the phone with their own camera app, barring which the device would have sported a pure stock Android OS. 

Budget segment winner in our midst?

Xioami by mixing the best of Android with the impressive hardware has created a phone that has all the ingredients to become a winner in the budget segment of the market. Xiaomi has always created powerful phones, but its take on Android – the MIUI – has not always been popular with consumers who have complained of bloatware and irregular software updates. 

However, with Mi A1, the smartphone maker has brought a device that promises not just timely updates, but also a standardised usage experience that Google can vouch for. 

Add to the mix, what looks like a more than capable flagship level 12-Megapixel dual camera module and good looks all at a price of Rs 14,999 and it's easy to see why we have a winner on our hands. 

Also read - Why JS Khehar was arguably one of the worst Chief Justices of India


Sushant Talwar Sushant Talwar @sushanttalwar

Tech journalist, DailyO

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