A couple of months ago, my brother-in-law came to me with a question: he needed an affordable Android smartphone of $ 200-300 that he could buy in the UAE or Lebanon and that would make things right. My response prepared in the category in recent years has been the Samsung A / C / J series. You get good hardware, decent software with less bloating nowadays, excellent post-sales support, no matter which repair shop mom and dad stops, easy purchase of accessories, and it's super fast to sell when the time comes to separate your phone. But that's just because Samsung's presence in Lebanon is huge LG's mid-range devices are too expensive for functions, Moto and HTC essentially do not exist, Nokia / HMD has not yet started selling phones, and Huawei began to enter the market about a year ago. Even so, the jealous process of killing EMUI is still a cause for concern in our WhatsApp society or nothing, so I usually walk away from it in my recommendations.
But since this time I was not limited to Lebanon, my thoughts went directly to Moto. Lenovo has ruined some things about the brand, but the mid-range G and E series still have a good value for money. I started looking for some Moto options in Souq (the online store owned by Amazon in the UAE) and then I stopped short. A light bulb went off in my head: the Xiaomi Mi A1! I remembered that I covered the device announcement here on AndroidPolice and was very impressed by everything I had, a feeling that ran when I reviewed it. I also remembered a mention that I would come to the UAE. Then I looked and there it was. For 789aed (approximately $ 215), my brother-in-law could take a Xiaomi Mi A1 of 64GB from Souq, with a spec sheet that ridiculed every Moto and Samsung of $ 200-300 he had found. Oh and Android One.
I did not think twice. I told him to get a Mi A1 for him and another for my dad. I was intrigued and wanted to try it out a bit … under the innocent disguise that my father's LG G2 was getting old and needed an update. During the last weeks, I had the Mi A1 with me (while I was waiting for a case and a glass protector to send from eBay because my father has a special ability to drop phones on everything) and I had time to see it more or less thoroughly . My thoughts are still as positive as before: this is easily the best value you can get for your money in the Android world in any category .
Currently, the Xiaomi Mi A1 of 64 GB goes for 789a in the United Arab Emirates ($ 215) and ₹ 13,999 in India ($ 218). For that relatively cheap sum you get, tell me:
- Design and manufacture of metal unibody
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor
- 5.5 "Full HD IPS screen (1080 x 1920)
- 64GB of storage plus MicroSD slot (or dual SIM)
- 4GB of RAM
- Dual 12MP cameras on the back with 2x optical zoom, 5MP camera on the front
- LTE, dual band WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, radio FM  USB charging type C with 3080mAh battery
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Rear fingerprint sensor
- Infrared blaster to control your electronic devices
- Front notification LED
- ] "Pure" Android 8.0 Oreo, which started rolling a few weeks ago, stopped and now resumes.
The capacitive buttons are in the wrong order Oh, the tragedy! / S
that the phone does not have are just a few things:  No NFC, which may or may not be crucial for payments, depending on where you live.
But the rest? I can not understand how Xiaomi manages to put so much value in a device and still get a penny of profit. It's amazing to be honest. All other devices in the same price range, and even in the $ 300-400 support, have nothing in My A1. Either the processor is slower, the screen has only 720p, or there is 1.5 or 2GB of RAM on the top, 3GB if you're lucky, or just 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, or load on MicroUSB, or It is many / all of the above. Not to mention the IR Blaster and the front notification LED, which many media outlets are currently lacking.
Xiaomi marks those boxes in a package that looks much more premium than its price. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw and held the Mi A1. The thin metal body feels very good, if it is slippery (hence the waiting for the box), in the hand. The neatly curved edges around the back and the bevelled edges at the front where they meet the screen add more elegance to the design. In the black version, the antenna lines are even more difficult to detect and, therefore, the illusion of a uniform metallic piece is completed. I have trouble making people believe that it's a $ 215 phone because it looks and feels a lot more expensive than that.
The chamfered edge adds a bit of class to the design.
The side buttons are just a bit heavy, but they do the job. The rear finger sensor is relatively fast and has not given me any problems since I installed it. It is also in the back, where I prefer it to be. And USB-C charging means that this phone has moved to the new era and is easier to connect for a charge, but it has not moved so far that it forgot the 3.5mm headphone jack. It is still there.
The screen is also excellent. This price segment is full of 720p screens, so it's nice to see a 1080p with good viewing angles and external visibility, especially given the fairly large size of 5.5 ". I quite enjoy its colors and the few times that I had turned on my Pixel 2 XL, I had trouble deciding which one was better, or worse.
And then we come to the software. Part of the reason why I have not considered Xiaomi in any of my recommendations in the past, besides the lack of official availability in Lebanon, has been her software mask. Yes, I know that MIUI has come a long way, but the design is at odds with Android's management now, creating a different software experience between integrated applications and third-party applications, which can be even more confusing for users. usual. In addition, the way you handle processes in the background and administration is still problematic, especially when it comes to notifications and Bluetooth. The Xiaomi Mi A1 is the first device of the company that solves that problem by doing a side completely of MIUI and opting for Android One. Look, I will be the first to tell you that the "pure" Android experience has so many problems and even more functions than The manufacturer's masks are missing, but in this case, it gives a sense of reliability to the Mi A1 that it was not. It is not there with any of the company's previous devices. At least if my father calls me to ask how to change a configuration or do something on this phone, I can answer without guessing if MIUI does it the same way or not.
The antenna lines merge with the rest of the metal in the black version.
The Android 8.0 Oreo update started shooting a few weeks ago in My A1, but stopped and now resumes. I got it with the first batch and I do not think that this unit has been affected by any error, at least I have not encountered any. It is a smooth and "clean" experience that leaves My A1 cleared by the potentially duplicate applications of OEM and Google, and is almost the same as the Nokia 8 software, which I have already reviewed extensively.
You get Launcher 3 (customizable icons, notification points, shortcuts to apps and widgets), with Google in the side panel, which I configured to show the weather, provide directions to the house and my father's work, and give it some updates on soccer scores for a few teams in the League, Ligue 1 and Premier, as well as the national team of Brazil. The World Cup is fast approaching and I am sure you will enjoy live updates and news. I have not set up Google Assistant because it's better to read English than to talk, but it's there if you ever need it.
You also get the customizable drop-down notification area of Android 8.0 with grouped notifications and quick response, its Settings panel with access to Developer Options and System UI Tuner, and the default Google applications for the phone, contacts, messages, calculator, clock, file management, Google Calendar, Gmail, Gboard, Google Maps, Google Photos, YouTube and Duo The only thing missing is the Google Wallpaper application, but you can get it from Play Store. It's a very cohesive experience with similar iconographies and colors regardless of the application you use, and keeps the application drawer clear so you do not have to create a "Do not touch" folder for all applications that my father should not mess with. with. (Looking at you, LG and Samsung)
The only traces of Xiaomi software that are on the phone are two Mi services in the configuration, a Comments application, a My Forums application that I uninstalled and the My Remote application that I could remove, but I chose to keep it. It was easy to add a new television and all the controls are quickly accessible in the interface of the application to be able to change channels and volume and change the entries without problems. Being able to control TV with your phone will surely make my father smile. My mother will hate me for that, but hey, I'm here for technology, not for marriage counseling.
Oh, and there's the Xiaomi camera application. I like its interface much more than Nokia's. The portrait mode is just a touch away and so is the optical zoom from 1x to 2x. But my favorite UI option is to touch and hold and take a picture at once so you do not have to focus, then move your finger to the shutter button to shoot. Like most of the parents I met, my father has a shaky / blurry photo syndrome, so I'm glad we removed a part of the equation with this method. I also like that when you touch the screen there are two up / down arrows so you can slide and change the exposure. Nokia did not include that in their camera application, which forced me to go to settings to change the exposure every time, so I'm happy that Xiaomi did it. The results are not extraordinary compared to a Galaxy S7 / S8 or a Pixel 2, but for the price segment they are more than good.
The more I use this My A1, the more problems I have to find a major flaw in it. It does the basics well, and makes the additions neat and funky as well. Think about it, what most people use on their smartphones these days is browse, search, take some photos, social networks and messages, and watch some videos. Oh, and calling, of course, they're phones after all. Those can be done with a minimum of decency in any relatively modern phone with $ 150 + Android, but the big drawback will be the RAM and storage. If I had a penny for every time I had to help someone empty the local storage of their low-end phone to be able to update WhatsApp again, or every time I had to eliminate some unnecessary applications that were monopolizing the RAM of someone's phone and slowing down at a snail's pace … I'd like to have $ 3 or $ 5 maybe. But still. The 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM in My A1 make it one of the few devices in the category that are immune to these problems for the foreseeable future.
And the more I use this My A1, the more it costs me to justify the price of any $ 300-400 smartphone. Most of them do not contribute anything else and some have cumbersome OEM cases to clog the device. Android One and relatively fast updates and security patches play an important role here in the creation of a single point of sale for the Mi A1 in the category. Even the $ 500-600 segment feels too expensive when you put on paper the exact differences with Mi A1 and compare its value.
And let's not talk about the $ 700-1000 segment. Better screens, better cameras, faster processors, yes … But we will all continue sharing memes on WhatsApp and uploading photos on Snapchat / Instagram, regardless of the phone we have. If I am honest with myself, I could live with My A1 as my main device. Hell, my Pixel 2 XL does not have a 3.5 mm connector, an IR disintegrator, or a MicroSD slot and I would have obtained four count on me, four My A1 units for the price? The Pixel is worth quadrupling the price? Can I do 4 times more things, or do things 4 times faster or better? I doubt it very much, but I work for Android Police, so a phone made in Google is more like a commercial expense than a personal choice.
One of these costs 4 times the price of the other.
Even If the My A1 is not up to the task, you should keep it in mind the next time a friend or relative asks you for a good smartphone below the $ 500 range (if you live in a country where it is easy to buy / work with your operator bands). You will get much more of this $ 215 than you will get from any other device at this time, with very little commitment. Simply whisper your price when asked about it, because it is one of the best hidden secrets of the smartphone market with Android.