Dual-camera smartphones: The Xiaomi Mi A1 faces stiff competition in the under Rs 15,000 bracket

Xiaomi announced its latest smartphone, the Xiaomi Mi A1, at a launch event held in New Delhi on 5 September. The company has priced the device at a price of Rs 14,999 and the device will be available through both the online as well as offline retail channels. One thing to note here is that the Mi A1 will be available as a Flipkart-exclusive, along with availability on Mi store.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The company has termed the device as its first ‘Flagship Dual Camera’ smartphone to be launched in the Indian market. The reason for this terminology is because this is the first Xiaomi smartphone to launch in India that packs a Dual camera setup. The company compared the dual camera performance of the smartphone with the likes of the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and OnePlus 5.

However, the dual camera setup is not the only highlight of Mi A1. This is the first Android One smartphone from Xiaomi. This means that the smartphone offers a stock Android experience out of the box instead of the heavily skinned MIUI version of Android as on other Xiaomi devices. This is a first for the company because this will give users a reason to choose a Xiaomi device if they were holding against buying a Xiaomi device because of the MIUI operating system.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The Xiaomi Mi A1 comes with a metal unibody design along with a 5.5-inch Full HD 2.5D display. The screen has an LTPS IPS LCD display panel that is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The Mi A1's rounded edges give the phone a premium feel and it has a fingerprint sensor located at the back. In terms of memory, the A1 offers 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage which is expandable via a microSD card. The smartphone is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clocked at 2.0 GHz along with Adreno 506 GPU to handle graphics-intensive tasks.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

In the camera department, the phone sports a dual camera with a 12 MP wide-angle sensor and a 12 MP telephoto lens. This enables 2x optical zoom along with the ability to take portrait images with shallow depth of field by creating a bokeh effect which blurs a subject's background. The camera also offers up to 10x digital zoom and has dual-flash as well. On the front of the phone is a 5 MP selfie camera.

However, as mentioned in a previous comparison, the Xiaomi Mi A1 isn't the only game in town. Off late, several companies, including Motorola, Lenovo, Huawei, and Coolpad have launched the Moto G5S Plus, Lenovo K8 Note, Honor 6X, and Coolpad Cool Play 6 in the market at around the same price.

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

Lenovo Moto G5S Plus

A dual-camera setup is no guarantee of image quality, however. The implementation of a dual camera setup may vary from device to device and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Usually, the configuration of the camera depends on the pricing of the device and what features the smartphone manufacturer is promising. Smartphone makers are capitalizing on buzz words like ‘dual camera’ as more and more people may think that dual-camera setup is much better than a single-camera setup.

For our comparison, we chose the Xiaomi Mi A1, Moto G5S Plus, Lenovo K8 Note, Huawei Honor 6X, and Coolpad Cool Play 6. All these smartphones are around the same price point and target the budget smartphone buyer. Bear in mind that we're still not done testing some of these smartphones, so we're currently comparing them only on paper. A real world test should follow soon.

Smartphone Moto G5S Plus Xiaomi Mi A1 Lenovo K8 Note Huawei Honor 6X Coolpad Cool Play 6
Display Size (inch) 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5
Resolution (pixels) 1,080 x 1,920 1,080 x 1,920 1,080 x 1,920 1,080 x 1,920 1,080 x 1,920
Pixel Density (PPI) 401 403 401 403 401
Display Type IPS LCD LTPS IPS LCD IPS LCD LTPS IPS LCD IPS LCD
Dimensions (mm) 153.5x76.2x8 155.4x75.8x7.3 154.5x75.9x8.5 150.9x76.2x8.2 152x75.2x8.5
Weight (g) 168 165 180 162 175
Dual SIM Yes Yes Yes No Yes
SIM Type Nano-SIM Nano-SIM Nano-SIM Nano-SIM Nano-SIM
Connectivity Types GSM / HSPA / LTE GSM / CDMA / LTE GSM / HSPA / LTE GSM / HSPA / LTE GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Mediatek Helio X23 HiSilicon Kirin 655 Qualcomm Snapdragon 653
CPU Cores Octa-core Octa-core Deca-core Octa-core Octa-core
CPU Clock Speed 8x Cortex A53 @ 2.0 GHz 8x Cortex-A53 @ 2.0 GHz 3x Cortex A72 @ 2.3 GHz, 3x Cortex A53 @ 1.85 GHz and 3x Cortex A53 @ 1.4 GHz, M4 motion processor 4 Cortex-A53 @ 2.1 GHz & 4 Cortex-A53 @ 1.7 GHz 4x Cortex A72 @ 2.0 GHz and 4x Cortex A53 @ 1.5 GHz
GPU Adreno 506 Adreno 506 Adreno 505 Mali-T830 MP2 Adreno 510
RAM 4 GB 4 GB 3 GB, 4 GB 4 GB, 6 GB 6 GB
Onboard Memory 64 GB 64 GB 32 / 64 GB 32 / 64 GB 64 GB
Expandable Memory Yes, up to 128 GB Yes, up to 128 GB Yes, up to 256 GB Yes, up to 256 GB No
Sensors Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass, Infrared Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Proximity, Compass Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass
Primary Camera 13 MP f/2.0, 13 MP f/2.0 12 MP f/2.2, 12 MP f/2.6 13MP  f/1.7, 5 MP f/1.7 12 MP, 12 MP 13MP f/2.0, 13MP f/2.0
Optical Image Stabilization No No No No No
Autofocus System Phase detection Phase detection Phase detection Phase detection Phase detection
Secondary Camera 8 MP, f/2.0 5 MP, f/2.0 13 MP, f/2.0 8MP 8 MP, f/2.2
Video Capture 4K 4K 1080p 1080p 4K
Flash Dual-LED Dual-LED Dual-LED LED Dual-LED
OS Version Android 7.1 Nougat Android One 7.1.2 Android Nougat 7.1.1 Android 7.0 Nougat Android Nougat 7.1.1
AI (Smart Assistant) Google Assistant Google Assistant Google Assistant Google Assistant Google Assistant
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot
Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR v4.2, A2DP, LE v4.2, A2DP, LE v4.1, A2DP, LE, EDR v4.1, A2DP, LE
NFC Yes No No No No
Fingerprint Scanner Yes, Home button Yes, Rear button Yes, Rear button Yes, Rear button Yes, Rear button
3.5 mm jack Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FM Radio Yes Yes Yes Yes No
USB Type microUSB Type-C Reversible connector microUSB microUSB Type-C Reversible connector
USB Standard USB v2.0 USB v2.0 USB v2.0 USB 2.0 USB v2.0
Battery (mAh) 3,000 3,080 4,000 3,340 4,060
Fast charging Yes, Fast Charge Yes Yes, Turbo charging No No
Colors Lunar Gray, Fine Gold Black, Gold, Rose Gold Fine Gold, Venom Black Gray, Gold, Silver Gold, Black
Prices in India 15,999 Rs 14,999 13,999 Starting 12,999 14,999

Comparing the specifications of the smartphones in this comparison, the hardware in almost all the devices is very similar to each other. No device stands apart from the other in terms of processor and the dual-camera setup. However, comparing just the specifications of the smartphones does lead me to believe that Coolpad Cool Play 6 edges past the others. Mind you, I am purely speaking from the comparison chart above. The real world performance may be very different for the phone and we still have to test that.

Coolpad Cool Play 6

Coolpad Cool Play 6

The reason for this is because the device matches the competition in the baseline specifications but offers a more powerful Snapdragon 653 and 6 GB RAM for a price of Rs 14,999, in comparison to the Snapdragon 625 in Mi A1, Moto G5S Plus, Helio X23 in K8 Note, and the Kirin 655 in the Honor 6X. The competition offers 4 GB RAM when compared to Cool Play 6. However, there is no option to expand the storage on the Coolpad Cool Play 6.

The Honor 6X is the only device that offers a variant with 6 GB RAM and it is priced at Rs 15,999. The Cool Play 6 also offers the largest battery life and USB Type-C. Inspecting the specifications more closely, the Mi A1 is, I feel, the best option here simply because it offers a stock Android experience via the Android One program. I also feel that in this price bracket, the dual-camera offering on the A1 is a more useful choice.

Image Credit: Android

Image Credit: Android

A majority of the devices in this range sport a camera setup where one camera sensor captures images in RGB while the second camera sensor captures images in monochrome mode. However, the Mi A1 packs a configuration similar to the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and the OnePlus 5 where one unit works with a telephoto lens while the other works as a normal camera. The software allows the smartphone to capture images with shallow depth of field after fusing images from both the camera sensors on the back to mimic the portrait images taken with a DSLR.

Considering that the Mi A1 is an Android One device, we can expect monthly security updates directly from Google. John Gold, Global Director of Android Partner Program at Google confirmed that the Mi A1 will receive Android O within 2017 and that it will be one of the first devices to get Android P. The interesting thing to note here is that the company has not even announced Android P / Android 9.0 to the world yet. These statements from Google make a strong case for Xiaomi Mi A1 as a strong contender, especially on the software side of things, at this price point.


Published Date: Sep 06, 2017 10:03 am | Updated Date: Sep 06, 2017 10:03 am