The Android One programme is one of the few bastions of hope for those looking for a stock Android experience. Apart from Google’s Pixel devices, these are your next best bet for a user experience clean of all the bells and whistles that manufacturers usually tack onto their phones.
Xiaomi’s Mi A1 that was released a couple of years back in 2017 was an affordable yet fairly well specced device that kicked off this trend for the Chinese manufacturer where it would nix its regular MIUI for a pure Android operating system.
The upgraded version of the device, the Xiaomi Mi A2, also known as the Mi 6X is some other markets, aims to please Android users who want a phone that offers a great stock experience out of the box.
The phone has a fair assortment of kit bundled with it. On top of the obligatory power cable and plug, it throws in a soft TPU casing to protect the phone. Alas, it ditches any free headphones as the phone lacks a 3.5mm audio jack though it does come with a Type-C to 3.5mm audio jack dongle bundled with the box in case you still have a pair of your own headphones.
Clad in matte black aluminium, our test unit of the the Mi A2’s bears a passing resemblance to an Apple iPhone7 at first blush in terms of its form factor and design. If black is not your style, you can pick between a shade of blue or the usual blinged up gold.
A 6-inch IPS display adorns the front and it offers a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution and a decent 401ppi. Fortunately, it does not have a notch to mar the view and has an 18:9 aspect ratio which lends it well to movie watching and gaming. To give it an aspect ratio this large, they’ve ditched any front buttons, allowing them to lengthen the screen and offer more real estate up front. The revamped design also gives it a cleaner look.
Other changes include the use of a vertical dual camera array to the upper left of the Mi A2’s rear which looks largely inspired by the iPhone X. At a casual glance, the uninitiated will likely mistake one for the other. What breaks the illusion that it’s not something from Cupertino is the incorporation of a fingerprint scanner in the middle of the back panel.
The Mi A2’s rear dual cameras comprise of a 12-Megapixel f/1.8 and a 20-Megapixel f/1.8 with Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) and Sony’s top-shelf IMX376 sensor that uses pixel binning for better shots. Up front, the phone has a 20-MP f/2.2 camera for selfies.
The left of the phone hosts a dual SIM card tray while the right has a volume rocker and power button. Unfortunately, the phone lacks expandable memory so what you have is all you get. Up top, the phone has the pleasant addition of an IR blaster to control appliances and the like.
Another quibble is the omission of the good old 3.5mm headphone jack. Sadly this means it won’t work with older wired headphones so you will need a pair of wireless ones to enjoy music with this phone. Alternatively, you can use the bundled Type-C to 3.5mm audio jack dongle though the logistics of keeping it around whenever you need to listen to music are somewhat irksome as its small size lends it to a tendency to get lost when you need it the most.
On the bottom you will find a USB Type C port which is great as it brings the Mi A2 up to speed with other modern phones. Most importantly, it supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 so you can get your phone back up to half or full charge in no time. The build quality is definitely very solid and it feels more premium than its price point lets it on to be.
Xiaomi Mi A2 Performance
Under the hood you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor with an Adreno 512 GPU. It comes in one of several variations either as a 6GB RAM + 128GB storage or 4GB of RAM + 64GB of storage. Our test unit was the latter which is a fairly comfortable amount of storage for a casual user.
One big downside with the Mi A2 is the lack of any expandable memory.You will need to be content with the available memory on the phone from the get go. Admittedly, this may be a deal breaker if you intend to expand your memory or want to carry over data from a microSD card. Alternatively, you can opt for the Mi A2 with 128GB of storage for a bit more cash.
Putting the Mi A2 through its paces, it scored 130,955 on AnTuTu and 1,585 for single core and 5,781 for multicore on Geekbench. Graphically it scored 1,276 on 3DMark Sling ShotExtreme which isn’t too shabby.
Getting down to the performance itself, the Mi A2’s processor is quite decent and well suited for getting everyday tasks done. One particular benefit to note is that the Mi A2 is part of the Android One programme. Owners will be assured to get the latest version of Android for some time to come in the future. In fact, our review unit already received an update to Android P (Pie).
Everything feels fast and snappy in general given the lack of any bloatware. Games, web browsing and movies were handled in a fairly capable fashion. The likes of PUBG were quite playable and ran smoothly on medium settings.
The Mi A2’s FHD+ wide 18:9 aspect ratio display offered sufficiently vibrant colours and detail to make enjoying a round or two of Netflix a pleasant experience. Like many other phones of its ilk, the Mi A2 has a mono speaker at the base of the phone which proved serviceable at best with decent volume and clarity though it proved easy to obstruct when held sideways during gaming sessions. That aside, the Mi A2 is a solid workhorse that can tackle most general tasks without undue trouble.
Xiaomi Mi A2 Camera
Coming down to camera performance the Mi A2’s pair of rear cameras aren’t half bad for a phone in this price range. The camera interface may be quite bare bones but it is easy to get around with either a swipe to the left or right to navigate to the mode of your desire.
The usual assortment of portrait and manual modes are present so if you ever have the need to snap a human subject and clearly separate them from the background, this should do the trick. Shots under good lighting are excellent with great dynamic range and accurate colour rendition while retaining a good amount of detail.
Low light photography and macro shots were pretty decent too though there’s some softness if you start pixel peeping. Granted it is not going to be on the same level as a flagship smartphone butthe results were pretty respectable, more so for what you pay for with shareworthy images sufficient for social media use.
In terms of video quality, the Xiaomi Mi A2 surprisingly has a 2160 @ 30fps mode that should satisfy those who want higher resolution videos. It isn’t something we normally see at this price range which makes it a pleasant bonus though you need steady hands for best effect. If you dial it down to capturing Full HD videos, you’ll benefit from Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) to address the usual hand jitter.
Xiaomi Mi A2 Battery Life, Price and Conclusion
With a standard usage scenario with data on through the course of a working day, constant use of social media and texting along with voice and videos, the Xiaomi Mi A2 was able to easily last a day with about five or so hours of on-screen time on its 3,000mAh battery. This is more than sufficient to last you a day on average though you’ll be looking for a charging port come sundown.
For its price, the Xiaomi Mi A2 brings a lot to the table albeit with some compromises. For a sub RM900 phone, you’re getting a decent display, a good rear camera and a clean Android One experience.
The tradeoff though is a lack of a 3.5mm audio jack and no microSD card expansion slot which may deter more demanding users. If you can live with the lack of an audio jack and expandable storage, the Xiaomi Mi A2 is well worth a look, especially if you are a Google Android purist at heart and can’t stand the usual bloatware that goes into phones.
What we liked Great rear camera, Android One OS makes things clean and snappy, smooth performance
What we didn’t No audio jack, no microSD card expansion slot
We say A great midrange workhorse running Android One that blends a good display with smooth performance and an excellent rear dual camera for its price range though it falls short of greatness with the lack of expandable storage and the omission of an audio jack.
Price RM899 (4GB RAM/64GB) RM1,099 (6GB RAM/128GB)
Display 5.99-inch IPS LCD, 2,160 x 1080 pixels, 403ppi
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Memory 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage (non expandable)
OS Android 9.0 Pie
Camera 20-MP w/ f/1.75 + 12-MP (rear) + 20-MP (front)
Size/Weight 158.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm / 168g
Review unit courtesy of Xiaomi Malaysia