Phones

Review of an inexpensive smartphone Xiaomi Mi A1 with a flagship camera

Written by Tyler Rondman

Review of an inexpensive smartphone Xiaomi Mi A1 with a flagship camera

Appearance and management

The design of the new Xiaomi camera phone is iconic and very attractive. The case is moderately lean and made of aluminum. The edges are rounded, so it’s convenient to keep. Unlike Mi 6, it’s not difficult to take it off the table or from a hard surface.

Some might like this, others wouldn’t, but Xiaomi Mi A1 is very purposely independent in appearance. The latest models of Samsung, Nokia, Sony look different in their own way. Very few are unable to notice it’s resemblance with iThe Mi A1, though it’s very latest and stylish like the iPhone 7 Plus. In particular, the Chinese manufacturer seemed to be inspired by the way the “apple-phone” has a bottom panel and modules of the main camera. Though it was inspired, in Xiaomi these elements are still slightly different. Another thing you might ignore is that one phone has a flash on the right of the cameras, the other has on its left.

Traditional roll call: the fingerprint sensor is present and is on the rear panel; on the bottom, there are one speaker, UBS Type-C port, microphone and appreciably, it has got Chinese feature – 3.5 mm headphone jack. On the upper edge there is an infrared port in order to use the smartphone as a remote control. On the right panel, there is the lock button and the volume swing, and on the left there is a tray for two SIM cards in nano format. Instead of one SIM you can put microSD.

In total, the Mi A1 is available in three colors: They’re black, gold and rose gold. We got a black sample, it has a fingerprint-resistant coating. Previously while I was photographing with it, I had to clean my glasses every time I took the smartphone in my hands. It looks much more decent than the Sony Xperia XZ Premium ( review ), which immediately leaves the print of sweaty hands.

The fingerprint sensor is very convenient, and most importantly – it worked flawlessly during the preparation of the review.

Display and sound

Xiaomi Mi A1 Display Test Results
Maximum brightness level (max / min) 516/2 cd / m 2
Contrast (more = better) 1538: 1
Color coverage (sRGB) (90-100% = ideal, more = worse) 85%
DeltaE (less than = better) 1.35
Gamma (ideal – 2.2) 2.3
Color temperature (ideal = 6500K) 9200

 

The entire front panel of the phone contains a solid glass which is slightly curved at the edges. At the same time, the display is straight – there are very thin faces on the sides. The screen Xiaomi Mi A1 is not bad either in performance or in practice. The 5.5-inch diagonal fits well with Full HD resolution, and high color accuracy makes the eye feel good. The contrast is more than enough, and the gamma is very close to the ideal. Only the color temperature is not up to the mark, because it makes the image on the smartphone seems colder than it should be. And no temperature adjustment is provided. You can only change the brightness: from 2 cd / m 2 (just right at night), to as much as 516 cd / m 2. On a sunny day everything is visible on the screen without any problem. The sensor coating also works without any complaint.

The audio system of the smartphone is very good. True, there is only one speaker – on the lower edge. However, this speaker sounds very good and loud. But it is even more pleasant to hear music in headphones – the sound is clear, the details are well audible. According to the manufacturer, Xiaomi Mi A1 has a “smart powerful” amplifier as it is capable of pumping and high-impedance headphones. Let me remind you again that they have a separate 3.5 mm connector on the bottom panel next to the USB Type-C. However, no adapters is included.

Photo and video

Actually, an extra-ordinary camera quality is the most important feature of Xiaomi Mi A1. Xiaomi Mi A1 has two cameras on the back, both have 12-megapixel matrix, each of them is colored. It’s better than those smartphones of which one camera shoots only in black and white shades and unfortunately, the user does not see. The lens of one camera has a focal length of 26 mm, the other – 50 mm, which at the output gives a double optical zoom. Also, Xiaomi Mi A1 is able to blur the background of a photo, imitating the work of “adult” cameras.n of the application and set the contrast level to normal, because by default it is greatly overestimated. In addition, to get good pictures, you often need to turn on the HDR mode. So, if you don’t want to get a surprise, it’s better to double-check the pictures before you start shooting. Finally, to make your pictures better, you can use the manual exposure adjustment: the automation in the Xiaomi Mi A1, in my opinion, sometimes shines through the pictures.

Switching between cameras takes place instantly. And they’re able to HDR as well as shoot well. The most interesting thing was to test the portrait mode, because the blurred background with appropriate use makes the photos much more interesting. But still you’ll miss the advantage of semi and professional cameras.

The portrait mode in Xiaomi Mi A1 impressed me double. The software perfectly handles the photo, and there is nothing to complain about. In the photographs shown in the example, it can be seen that the slightly tangled hair or just placed hands in the sides confused the software. In addition, in portrait mode, the camera has a noticeably smaller dynamic range, and activating the HDR, you can take exit from the portrait mode.

After experimenting with different scenes and objects of shooting in portrait mode, I came to the conclusion that it is not very suitable for portraits. But the camera does a good job with software blur in macro photography. But the quality of photography sometimes depends on the complexity of the shape of the object in the foreground. And sometimes not. With the girl’s hair the camera was difficult to handle, but the wool of the ferret arose no problem.

Night shots in normal mode are not so impressive. But playing around with the exposure can achieve decent quality for smartphones. Finally, the smartphone also has a front camera with a 5 Mp sensor resolution. Without any complain, it allows you to apply different filters and adjusting the intensity of the “checker”.

The video can be shot even in 4K-resolution, and it looks very good in it. But to record again, you need to check the camera settings. Firstly, change the default HD to 4K or even Full HD. Secondly, you need to focus on touch to switch to automatic. Supports slow motion, but, again, in HD. The sound quality seemed strange to me on the video, but I hope that it will be fixed with the firmware update.

Performance

The Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone received a powerful processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. But this is by no means a slow chip – the system works fine with it. Moreover, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is almost “bare” android. At the same time, the chip is not too much consuming despite the presence of eight cores. It is made of 14-nm process technology. But for games, it does not fit very well. But the RAM in the smartphone is already like a notebook with an initial price category – 4 GB. For today it is enough for everything.

Shell

Xiaomi is fervently loved in her homeland for the excellent firmware MIUI. The Xiaomi Mi A1 runs on the Android 7.1.2, and from the Chinese manufacturer it left only Camera, Mi Remote for controlling the technology with the infrared port and Feedback for sending complaints to the manufacturer about the smartphone’s operation. It is interesting how Russia will perceive the absence of the familiar shell – they will be upset or even not notice, if only the price-performance ratio is at a high, not a new thing for Xiaomi. As the owner of a smartphone with MIUI, Mi A1 lacks a couple of chips, like indicating the current data rate. Ultimately, it seems fine.

The smartphone is equipped with a medium capacity battery – 3080 mAh and is very thin and light. However, with such a battery, you are able to charge the Xiaomi Mi A1 once in every two days. For me, on weekdays, it ran about a day and a half. I use the smartphone very actively: the network and Wi-Fi are constantly on. All these happen with my regular visit on social networks and I even didn’t stop browsing. Listening to music, podcasts, watch YouTube videos on the way home, music through the speaker, etc. were on full swing. And soon after I finish the review, I’ll start a full-time testing of battery life through gaming, reading eBooks and watching videos.Autonomous work


Competitors

Xiaomi Mi A1 Honor 6X Meizu M6 Note
operating system Android 7.1.2 Android 7.0 + EMUI 5.0 Android 7.1.2 + Flyme OS 6
Screen 5,5 “, 1920×1080, IPS, 400 ppi, Gorilla Glass 5,5 “, 1920×1080, IPS, 400 ppi 5,5 “, 1920×1080, IPS, 400 ppi
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (8x Cortex-A53, up to 2 GHz) HiSilicon Kirin 655 (4×2.1 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53) Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (8x Cortex-A53, up to 2 GHz)
Graphic arts Adreno 506 Mali-T830MP2 Adreno 506
RAM 4 GB 3/4 GB 3/4 GB
Permanent memory 64 GB, microSD slot (up to 128 GB), combined with a slot for the second SIM card 32 GB / 64 GB, microSD slot (up to 256 GB), combined with a slot for the second SIM card 16/32/64 GB slot

microSD (up to 256 GB), combined with a slot for the second SIM card

Connectivity LTE, Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11ac 2.4 / 5 GHz, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.2 LTE, Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11n, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.1 LTE, Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11n, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.1
Cameras Basic: double 12 Mp + 12 Mp, 26 mm & 50 mm, with flash

Front: 5 Mp

Main: dual 12 Mp + 2 Mp, with flash

Frontal: 8 Mp

Main: dual 12 Mp + 5 Mp, with flash

Front: 16 Mp

Battery 3080 mAh 3340 mAh 4000 mAh
Dimensions 155x76x7 mm 151x76x8 mm 155x75x8 mm
Weight 155g 162g 173 grams
Price at time of publication N / A 15 000 rubles for the version with 4/64 N / A

Honor 6X

Honor 6X became one of the first budget models with a dual camera on board. Now it is even cheaper than Xiaomi Mi A1. Regarding price, smartphones do not copy each other. For example, in Honor 6X, simple dual camera, low performance, less permanent memory, but with an NFC module, this inexpensive model stands as one of the best in quality products in this market.

Meizu M6 Note

This smartphone, like the Xiaomi Mi A1, was introduced quite recently ( news ). And the competition between them will be serious. See yourself: Meizu M6 Note has the same Snapdragon 625 chip, the same screen size and equal performance. It not only has a dual camera (12 megapixel and 5 megapixel), but also 16-megapixel front one. Undoubtedly, lovers of self-portraits will appreciate this feature. Plus, the smartphone has a 4000 mAh battery which is more capacious than the other brands. But, as in the case of the Xiaomi Mi A1, the Russian price for the Meizu M6 Note remains a mystery.

Conclusion

Xiaomi already has a number of good smartphones, it’s just another add-on. Xiaomi Mi A1 was presented as a smartphone with a flagship camera – and it shoots really well for its class. We can assume that in the Russian market this model will cost about 18 thousand rubles. A similar quality of shooting can be achieved either from the two above-mentioned competitors, or from much more expensive smartphones. Of course, everything is not perfect about it. But it doesn’t need any extra feature either. The best part is that, in HDR mode, you can achieve very good pictures, and optical zoom adds room for creativity and successful frames.

 

About the author

Tyler Rondman

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.