I’m sure you’ve read reviews about the Xiaomi Mi A1, the phone called the Mi 5X in China, which is released as an AndroidOne device globally.  The difference between the Mi 5X and Mi A1 is the operating system with the later powered by Google’s pure Android, instead of the typical MIUI based Android.

Well, last week, I’ve managed to swap my far superior Ulefone T1 for the Mi A1, and now here’s my review based on using the Mi A1 for a week.

But hey, before I go on, the Mi A1 specifications can be seen below.

Specifications of the Xiaomi MiA1 smartphone.
Specifications of the Xiaomi MiA1 smartphone.

THE ADVANTAGES OF THE Mi A1

You all know I am a fan of taking photos as this can be seen on my Instagram, hence making the camera of the Mi A1 being the first I check upon obtaining the phone.

With 12MP telephoto and wide-angle optics, the images taken with the Mi A1 were superb, and I personally love the portrait mode which creates a really nice bokeh effect as you can see below.

A portrait shot using the MiA1
A portrait shot using the MiA1

Macro or close up photos also came out nicely with tiny details seen. The photo below is me trying to take an up-close shot of the plants around the house.

Photo using the MiA1
A macro photo using the MiA1

Enough about the camera, let’s move on to the physical looks of the phone.

Physically, the MiA1 also came out strongly because it is a looker with the unibody shape the phone has looking very premium.

The unibody MiA1.
The unibody MiA1.

I wouldn’t complaint about the 5.5-inch HD screen which I thought had good display and was really nice for watching movies.

In terms of speed, the phone works without any obvious lags and can do plenty of task without a hick-ups and this is largely due to the 4GB RAM accompanying the Mi A1.

I also loved the 3.5mm jack location which was placed at the bottom of the phone, and the loud speaker which was just beside the jack performed admirably.

MiA1 back
Under the phone is the 3.5mm audio jack and speakers

Last but not least, the Mi A retail price is only RM1099 on the Offiial Xiaomi Lazada store, hence making it one of the cheapest flagship smartphones available. To top it off, AndroidOne offers unlimited photo back-up with Google photos, so that’s like awesome!

PROBLEMS WITH THE MI A1

However, there’s some glitches with the Android version of the Mi A1 which is the first AndroidOne smartphone under Xiaomi.

The MiA1 is Xiaomi's first AndroidOne smartphone
The MiA1 is Xiaomi’s first AndroidOne smartphone

While everything seems smooth, the Android 7.1 accompanying the Mi A1 isn’t without bugs, but it is rather unnoticeable to be honest, and its pure Android experience meant there’s no built-in antivirus and cache booster embedded.  

Also, the beautiful polished metal skin does make the phone slippery, needing owners to use a case shall they want to avoid any possible damages from falls.

The MiA1 dual camera
The MiA1 dual camera

Another issue is how the phone seems to heat up when taking photos using portrait mode, which is a disturbing find really, but this issue seems to be fixed in the latest Android update.

Speaking of photos, while the images produced with the Mi A1 were impressive, they were no where near the ones taken using the Asus Zenfone 3 I’ve reviewed earlier, despite the fact the Zenfone 3 having only one lens.

Last but not least, it’s rather sad that Xiaomi hasn’t made any waterproof or splash proof phones to date, and this includes the Mi A1.

Other than those three issues, the Mi A1 isn’t bad at all, especially if you consider the price.

BATTERY LIFE OF THE MI A1

The battery life of the Mi A1 is pretty sweet. A single full charge can last for over 12 hours with normal use,l or perhaps longer with WiFi and Bluetooth switched off.

The battery life of the MiA1.
The battery life of the MiA1.

If you are a mobile gamer however, the battery life is expected to drop, though I’m not sure of how much since I didn’t try it for such a task.

To recharge, it is worth to note that charging the Mi A1 for 60 minutes will give you around 55% of juice if using a third party USB-C cable, which isn’t exactly that fast for what some claim to be a quick charged enabled phone. Charging was much faster noted on the Xiaomi USB-C cable.

VERDICT OF THE MI A1

For an AndroidOne phone, the Mi A1 is simply awesome. The camera is amazing, the battery life is good, and the phone looks great.

There are minor setbacks nonetheless, but nothing major.

When you put all those hardware specs with the retail price of RM1099, you get a real bargain for such an amazing phone.

But if you are really keen to buy the Mi A, consider buying the Mi A1 from third party retailers on Lazada because some are offering it at only RM999, just like I’ve found here.