Xiaomi Mi A1 first impressions: Looking to shake things up with stock Android, at an impressive Rs 14,999 price point

This time apart from its moderate pricing it looks like Xiaomi is also banking on the phone's dual-camera setup to garner a large audience.

Xiaomi Mi A1 has been unveiled in India at a launch event in New Delhi on 5 September at a price of Rs 14,999. This time apart from its aggressive pricing, it looks like Xiaomi is also banking on the phone's dual-camera setup to garner a large audience. The Xiaomi Mi A1 will be selling on Flipkart from 12 September at 12 pm on wards.

Xiaomi Mi A1 first impressions: Looking to shake things up with stock Android, at an impressive Rs 14,999 price point

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The phone comes in Gold, Black and Rose Gold colours. The Rose Gold variant of the phone will be available in a month's time, while the Gold and Black colour variants will start selling from 12 September. Apart from Flipkart, the Mi A1 will be available online on mi.com while offline sales will be conducted via Mi Home stores across the country, as well as other retail outlets associated with Xiaomi.

One thing that immediately makes the Mi A1 stand out, is the lack of the MIUI skin. Yes, the Mi A1 runs on stock Android 7.1.2 Nougat. The phone is the first Android One device by Xiaomi and is therefore devoid of the standard MIUI user interface which is seen in all Xiaomi phones. Many had pegged the A1 to be almost the same as 5X however, the stock Android experience in the A1 feels refreshing.

I managed to get my hands on the phone and tried out some of its features. What follows is our first impressions of the device. The full review will be out soon.

Build and Design

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The Xiaomi Mi A1 comes with a metal unibody design. The corners of the phone have been rounded to give a better grip in the hand and at 7.3 mm thickness, it is a sleek device. The antenna lines have merged with along the top and bottom edges of the phone's metal body. Much like what we have seen on the Apple iPhone 7 or the OnePlus 5. The phone feels pretty light in the hand weighing 165 grams without any external case on the phone.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The navigation buttons are all capacitive and there is a fingerprint sensor placed on the rear side of the phone and is easily accessible by the index finger. The right side of the phone has the volume and power buttons and on the left side, there is a compartment for placing your SIM/microSD card. The phone seems very easy to handle and one-handed operation is not an issue. On the rear side, at the base you will notice the Android One branding on the Mi A1.

Display

Xiaomi Mi A1 colour variants

Xiaomi Mi A1 colour variants

There is nothing extraordinary about the phone's display. Xiaomi has provided a standard 1080p display on the phone's 5.5-inch screen which is protected by 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. There are thick bezels on the top and bottom of the phone and also some bezels on the screen's left and right. Understandably, Xiaomi has not gone for QHD display on the A1 or on any of its other phones as cost of the phone would then rise considerably, which defeats Xiaomi's budget friendliness. Pictures and graphics appeared quite crisp to me during my short time with it and the touch screen was highly responsive as well.

Camera

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The Xiaomi Mi A1, as mentioned earlier, is the first Xiaomi smartphone with a dual-camera setup that has been introduced in the Indian market. The phone makes use of one wide-angle lens and a one tele-photo lens. Both these sensors have a 12 MP resolution and are supported with dual-flash positioned just beside them. The camera can give up to 2x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom. The bokeh effect, in which only the subject appears in focus while the background is blurred, can also be achieved by the Mi A1. While using the camera to check this effect it appeared as though the camera had blurred out some of the subject's outline as well. This could have been a one off incident but otherwise, the camera seemed decent enough for the price it is being sold at. The phone can shoot videos at 4K resolution at 30 fps and take time-lapse and slow-mo shots as well. A more detailed review of the camera will be available alongside the full review.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The bokeh effect, in which only the subject appears in focus while the background is blurred, can also be achieved by the Mi A1. While using the camera to check this effect it appeared as though the camera had blurred out some of the subject's outline as well. This could have been a one-off incident. But otherwise, the camera seemed decent enough for the price it is being sold at. The phone can shoot videos at 4K resolution at 30 fps and take time-lapse and slow-mo shots as well. A more detailed review of the camera will be available alongside the full review.

Chipset, RAM, Storage, OS

The Mi A1 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset which houses an octa-core processor clocked at 2.0 GHz and an Adreno 506 GPU. The phone has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage which can be expanded by a microSD card. While operating the phone, I was able to switch between different apps quite fast and was the phone was quick to open these apps as well. On the software front, as told above, the A1 is an Android One smartphone and comes with the stock Android OS. Currently, it is running on Android 7.1.2 Nougat but it will most definitely be getting an Android Oreo update in the coming months, according to top Xiaomi officials. This means that there will be no MIUI interface on this phone nor will the company be providing any official custom ROM for installing MIUI separately for the Mi A1.

On the software front, as told above, the Mi A1 is an Android One smartphone and comes with the stock Android OS. Currently, it is running on Android 7.1.2 Nougat but it will most definitely be getting an Android Oreo update in the coming months, according to top Xiaomi officials. This means that there will be no MIUI interface on this phone nor will the company be providing any official custom ROM for installing MIUI separately for the Mi A1.

Connectivity and Battery

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

The phone has a hybrid dual-SIM slot, which means that you can have either two SIM cards or a SIM and a microSD card. Both the slots support 4G LTE connectivity. There are also options for connectivity using Bluetooth along with Wi-Fi and hotspot capabilities. The phone has a USB Type-C port which is just beside the 3.5 mm audio jack. The phone has a 3,080 mAh battery and also an IR blaster, so you can use the phone as a remote for controlling your TV or AC.

Conclusion

The Mi A1's stock Android experience combined with Xiaomi's reputed hardware and design language may pave a refreshing new path for the Android One program, which did not taste much success in its first outing. At Rs 14,999, Xiaomi has priced the Mi A1 quite aggressively. This pits the phone against the Moto G5S Plus which was launched on 29 August, at Rs 15,999, which also comes with stock Android.

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Image Credit: Xiaomi

Xiaomi also gets to woo an increasingly savvy audience who prefers stock Android user interface. So users who were staying away from Xiaomi phones as they were not completely sold on the MIUI skin atop Android OS, now have an alternative. While a detailed review will be coming out soon, the limited time that I spent with the Xiaomi Mi A1 makes the phone look promising.

But will this phone signal the resurrection of the Android One program? Only time will give us that answer.

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