- Very Affordable
- Good Display
- Super thin Build
- Snappy Performance
- Impressive Camera
- Based on AndroidOne
- No Headphone Jack (Dongle Included)
- Underwhelming Battery Life
- No SD Card Slot
Despite the Mi A2 battery life, the phone screams near perfection with the specification. Not to forget it's strong point, which is the camera - does wonderful job. Recommended.
Xiaomi, also known as Mi – did something last year which we didn’t expect at all. That is partnering up with Google and announcing their very first AndroidOne Smartphone, the Mi A1. This smartphone really took off in an extremely positive way that people loved it and it was one of the best-selling phones last year. Following that, they have unveiled the successor this year – the Mi A2. Just like any other successor, the Mi A2 has a huge improvement over the predecessor. With that said, it’s time for us to give our final verdict on whether its worth purchasing or even upgrading from the Mi A1 in this Mi A2 Review.
Design & Build Quality
The Mi A2 has a bit of a refreshed design this time around. It does not look anything like the Mi A1 which came out last year. This time on the front, you’ll notice that the corners of the display are rounded off and there’s no more capacitive buttons as they have been moved on to the screen. On the back, you’ll notice that it’s designed in a curve manner. We saw this similar design choice with the Redmi Note 5 but this one has more curve than you think. It was nice to hold in the hand and sits well on the palm of my hands. Another unpopular opinion with the Mi A2 which I like are the antenna bands on how it goes upwards instead of one straight line. Overall, very nicely designed.
The phone is constructed in Glass and metal, which gives you a premium build to it. On the front, it’s covered in 2.5D Glass, which offers a nice finish. The phone is ridiculously thin and light. One thing you’ll notice is how prominent the camera bump is. It’s a lot thicker than the Redmi Note 5. Other than that, it’s pretty much normal. Holding it in one hand is nice but using it requires two hands. But good thing is, it didn’t slip off my hand. The weight of the phone is evenly balanced, which means it won’t topple off your hand. The buttons on the phone are tactile and very clicky which I like.
To make sure that you keep your Mi A2 safe, they have included a decent soft TPU case that covers the phone well. It has a blip on the front to avoid the display have a direct contact on the surface you place it on. I am impressed.
Specification and Benchmark
Under the hood, the Xiaomi Mi A2 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor which is a huge upgrade from the Mi A1 which had a Snapdragon 625 instead. Following that, it comes in two different configurations – 4GB RAM | 64GB Internal and 6GB RAM | 128GB Internal. Not just that, the RAM has been upgraded to a LPDDR4X. That’s pretty much it.
Below you’ll see the benchmark scores from the Mi A2. Do take note that the benchmark scores are purely raw performance based as the final experience varies according to how you use it. But this should give you a rough estimation on what the phone is capable of.
The Mi A2 sports 5.99-inch IPS LCD panel in a 18:9 aspect ratio with 2160×1080 resolution for a pixel density of 403ppi. It’s a rather large display so viewing content is a delight, though colour accuracy is substandard at best. When it comes to sunlight legibility, the panel doesn’t perform well even when the brightness is cranked up to the top. Text and images are definitely viewable under the light but won’t be extremely sharp. Also, blacks aren’t as deep, given that it isn’t an AMOLED display, though it’s not the greatest LCD panel out there. All in all, the Mi A2 has a decent display and should fill all your viewing needs.
Powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor and backed by 4GB / 6GB of RAM, the Mi A2 is an extremely snappy smartphone. I really enjoyed my time using it as a daily driver, and barely experienced any stutters. Apps opened and also loaded quickly, while scrolling pages was done with a breeze. There was no letdown in performance even when up to a dozen apps were open in the background.
When it came to gaming, the Mi A2 performed decently well in games such as PUBG Mobile. It was playable when graphics were set to medium, and rather smoothly at that. However, there was the occasional dropping of frames but that barely hindered my gaming experience. Also, the ergonomics of the device makes it easy to hold and game, thanks to the bezels on the top and bottom. Lots of accidental presses were avoided thanks to it.
Battery & Charging
Ah, the battery. We are now ever so dependant on smartphones and good battery life is definitely needed to power us through the day. Unfortunately, the Mi A2 doesn’t really excel in this category. On most days, I would start out with a full battery at around 9 am, and would be in dire need of a charge by 4 pm. That is if I’m using my phone heavily throughout the day. However, on moderate usage it was able to last 11 to 12 hours on a full charge with about 15% left. Screen on time varied from 2.5 hours till 3 hours, and again it depended on my usage.
As for charging, the bundled 5V / 2A charger juiced up the Mi A2 from 0% to 100% within 1.9 hours. Meanwhile, a 30 minute charge gave the battery 35% of juice. Really wish Xiaomi included a larger battery in the Mi A2, and I’m sure most wouldn’t have minded the thicker device. Overall, battery life shouldn’t be a problem if you’re a moderate user, but keep a powerbank handy if you treat your smartphone like an extended part of your body.
This year’s Mi A2 comes with a dual-camera setup featuring a 20MP + 12MP combo. While the Mi A1 came with two 12MP shooters to produce 2x zoom, the 20MP shooter on the successor is meant to improve low light performance. When you head over to the front, you’ll be greeted by a 20MP camera featuring a selfie flash. Android One powers this device but the camera app is very much Xiaomi inspired, which I rather like.
Front Facing Camera
The selfie camera is able to capture some pretty detailed shots. If you’re like me, and is all for natural beauty, go ahead and turn the beautify function off. However, color reproduction could be better. My skin tone is made rather fair when I take selfies with the Mi A2. Portrait mode is also available and works well, and subject separation is quite good I must admit. It was able to detect the fringes of my messy hair, and actually blur the background instead of my hair.
The selfie flash is a nice addition, though I didn’t make much use of it, and I doubt you’ll find yourself using it much either. It’s quite bright and will definitely illuminate your face when needed. Check out some selfies of my rather substandard face below to judge for yourself. I mean the camera of course, not my face.
Rear Facing Camera
When it comes to performance of the cameras, I must say it’s a great improvement over the Mi A1. Shots taken with the rear camera had plenty of details, and colour accuracy was solid in most conditions. When shots are taken with HDR, the colours tend to pop which is nice of course. However, dynamic range could be better but that’s barely a complaint. All that can be said for shots taken in broad daylight, but when the lights start to dim, that’s a different story, not entirely though.
Shots taken in low light are definitely not bad, especially for a mid-range handset. I would say they are okay, with most detail still preserved and colour saturation still present. However, noise is definitely introduced to shots but that’s no surprise as lack of light tends to do that. I also tried out the new pixel binning feature which is meant to improve pictures taken in low-light.
First of, in order to use the 20MP lens to snap pictures, you’ll have to switch to Manual mode. Once doing so, switch the lens from “Regular” to “Low Light” in order to make use of the secondary lens. According to Xiaomi, smart lens selection will be made available in a future update. Now, when it comes to image quality of the secondary shooter, it is mediocre really. It does brighten up shots but that’s all it really does. Quality is distorted with noise introduced, and colour reproduction is totally off.
Being a smartphone in 2018, portrait mode is an inclusion in the Mi A2. Shots produced using this are great, though the background blur can get pretty shabby at times especially when lighting isn’t ideal. Feel free to check out some shots taken with the Mi A2 in the gallery below.
The Mi A2 shoots in 2160p and 1080p at 30fps. There is no form of stabilisation when shooting at 2160p, but there is EIS at 1080p. Video quality is average, and I wouldn’t recommend using this for vlogging but will do for social media posts. Audio quality from videos is – once again not its strongest suit, and at time it is barely audible.
I/O, Speaker and Security
As for the I/O, the Mi A2 has a USB -C Port at the bottom which can be used for charging, Data Transfer and, connect the included dongle. Yes, you heard that right. This phone does not have a headphone jack but fret not as it comes with a dongle. You could always pick up a pair of Bluetooth earphones – like the Mi Bluetooth Sports Earphones or the Sudio Niva which we reviewed a while back. I personally am bummed out for not having a headphone jack, but it’s gone I guess and it’s time for me to accept it. (Crying intensifies)
Along side the USB -C Port, you’ll find the downwards firing speakers. Now one of them is only the speaker. I have to say; the speaker sounds well. It didn’t distort and managed to give a clear listening experience. It is rather flat and does not have any bass response to it. The details were quite sharp and clear. If you were to crank it up to the max, you still won’t have any issues. It’s perfectly fine.
As for security, you can unlock the phone with the fingerprint sensor which is located at the back of the phone itself. It’s very quick and snappy. Really good.
UI & OS
The Mi A2 runs AndroidOne out of the box with no custom UI. To give a gist about it, AndroidOne is a pure Android where it follows Google’s protocol of keeping it safe and updated from the threats. In fact, AndroidOne promises to offer the upcoming major Android Updates as well. With that said, the experience with the AndroidOne is nice. It’s clean, free of bloatware and spyware.
The only thing that’s different is the Camera App as Mi has partnered up with Google and decided to include their proprietary camera instead. Other than that, the rest is very much the same. The whole launcher and the way it looks is simplistic and neat. Sadly, Google still doesn’t allow you to create folders in the App Drawer. I am still okay with that. None the less, if you ever want something that isn’t overwhelming or want the cleanest experience ever – look no further. The settings are straightforward and easier to access as well.
After using the Mi A2 for a bit of a time, I have to say the Mi A2 really holds up as a strong contender. I personally am bummed out that it does not have the Telephoto lens but the camera on the Mi A2 sure does not leave me with any regrets as the camera has improved a lot. The performance is a lot snappy. The only downside is the battery life. I do wish it had a bigger battery because if it did, it would have been the perfect phone at this price tag.
RM 999 for the 4GB | 64GB and RM 1199 for the 6GB| 128GB is a huge steal and comparing with others in the market, the Mi A2 is a clear winner. Do we recommend the Mi A2? We definitely do. Just make sure to carry a battery pack with you.
P.S. I really hope Mi A3 has a bigger battery – honestly, I don’t mind a thick phone with huge battery. 😊