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Mi phones have an enviable reputation of being standouts whatever their price and size class, thanks to strong points like great hardware design and good feature sets.

Today we’re taking a close look at the Mi A1, a midrange unit that looks to be just as impressive as its Mi brethren, but with a twist: it’s one of the latest phones to be released under Google’s Android One pure-Android lineup.

Join us as we find out whether the addition of stock Android is enough to push the Mi A1 all the way to the top!

Class design act

Design-wise, the Mi A1 is very much a Mi phone – which means to say that it shares more than a few design elements with many of the company’s other phones. This isn’t a complaint given the more-than-satisfactory design expertise the company’s developed over the years.

The phone boasts a high-end feel thanks to its smooth metal chassis; this is one of those phones that requires a case because it’s a mite slippery and a tad prone to scratching and denting. It’s been put together with care; not a hair is out of place and there are no unsightly gaps.

Every so often you’ll want to slip this phone’s case off to admire its stately, classy looks and great fit and finish (but will probably want to slide the case back on to keep it in tiptop condition).

The Mi A1 is nicely built and sits well in one’s hand due to smoothly rounded edges and nice ergonomics, and it weighs all of 165 grams – no heavyweight this. Its 5.5-inch IPS display, fortified with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, looks nice and sharp, but can struggle a little bit under glaring sunlight given that the display panel is a little bit reflective. This issue is far from being a deal-breaker, though, so no worries.

Flip the phone over to have a look at its (mildly protruding) dual cameras and slightly recessed fingerprint scanner. Down under reside the USB-C port and headphone jack (a cause for celebration for those of you unwilling to give up on your wired headphones).

Lastly, regarding color choices, you can purchase a Mi A1 in your choice of black, gold, and rose gold.

Overall, design-wise, the Mi A1 is yet another stylish Mi unit; yet another impressive phone from Mi, especially given that this is a midrange model and not a top of the line one.

Stock Android superbness

We’ll hold off reviewing Android One/Android Nougat in this review – that’s best saved for another review altogether. But suffice to say that the mere fact that the Mi A1 comes with unadulterated Android Nougat (7.1.1, if you must know) makes a world of difference.

Absent are the tweaks and customizations that nearly all other Android phones possess, including Mi’s other units with their MIUI overlays, and the phone even comes bundled with just a handful of Mi’s own apps.

And of course Mi A1 owners also get the assurance that their phones will receive regular security patches – as well as the update to Android Oreo. Moreover, at the launch event some time back, it was also announced that the phone will also receive the upgrade to Android P when it’s released. Really something to look forward to.

As for the version of Android Nougat and Oreo that this phone runs, we’re pleased to tell you that upgraded or not, the phone remains eminently usable, super stable and really quite fast. As befits the latest and greatest operating system from the big G itself.

Plus the assurance of instantaneous security updates goes a long way towards reassuring you of security and support. A definite plus in this day and age.

Snappy performance

Quite simply, when taken through our pretty hectic day-to-day lives, the Mi A1 did pretty well at almost every task.

Let’s start with the camera, which as we’ve mentioned is a dual-lens affair (a 12MP wide-angle, 26mm, f/2.2 lens combined with another 12MP 50mm f/2.6 telephoto lens, backed up by a dual-tone LED flash). While this phone isn’t the first one to come equipped with such a format in the midpriced segment, it does boast 2x lossless optical zoom, which is unique to the segment. So those of you who like to zoom in might be well-served.

The camera does about as well as can be expected; shots were almost all sharp and clear and true to actual color. While the camera struggled a little bit in low-light settings, the shots it took still weren’t half bad given the challenging conditions.

Lastly, the front-facing camera is a 5MP affair, and as such it does about as well as can be expected, especially in good light.

How about in terms of overall performance? Well, the Mi A1 is no speed demon, but it does really well for a midranger. Its beating heart is the tried and tested Snapdragon 625, which, combined with its 4GB of RAM, helps it sip power while maintaining decent performance.
The 625 helps deliver battery life that’s more than satisfactory, especially given the phone’s relatively modest 3080mAh battery; we averaged a little less than a day when we used our test unit moderately heavily, which isn’t bad at all in this day and age. And thanks to Quick Charge 2.0, topping up doesn’t have to take very long at all.

Oh, by the way, if you’re wondering about internal storage, the Mi A1 comes with 64GB of internal memory, expandable via the nano SIM-cum-micro SD card slot.

The verdict

In our view it’s crystal-clear – not many brands currently offer phones boasting better bang for the buck than the Mi A1.

This phone is a winner in anyone’s book, given its combination of really nice hardware, cutting-edge software, and decent feature set – and this is a midrange phone to boot.

As a matter of fact – we’re certain that the Mi A1 may just be good enough to sway some of you in the market for a high-end phone!



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