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Monday, Dec 09, 2019

Xiaomi Mi A2 review: Impressive design and performance but not without trade-offs

Priced at Rs 16,999, Xiaomi Mi A2 comes with a premium design and capable Snapdragon 660 processor along with 4GB of RAM. Here is our detailed review of Xiaomi’s latest phone with stock Android.

tech Updated: Aug 18, 2018 12:09 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Here’s our review of Xiaomi’s latest Android One smartphone
Here’s our review of Xiaomi’s latest Android One smartphone(HT Photo)

Product: Xiaomi Mi A2
Key specifications: 5.99-inch FHD+ 18:9 Full screen display, 12MP + 20MP dual camera, 20MP front camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, Android One, 3010mAh battery, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage
Price: Rs 16,999
Rating: 4/5 

There are a number of people who prefer stock Android over custom ROMs simply because of the absence of bloatware. But custom ROMs have their own advantages, for instance they bring additional features and personalisation without requiring downloading third-party applications. The catch however is that not all custom OSes promise good experience and start to lag after some time. This is most probably why the likes of Nokia and Lenovo moved to near-stock Android OS.

The champion of pure Android phones is arguably Xiaomi which last year launched Mi A1. The first stock Android-based offering Xiaomi not only delivered near excellent performance but also outshined rivals in terms of performance and camera capabilities. The partnership with Google for Android One programme also brought in regular security updates and compatibility with future Android updates. Xiaomi Mi A1 is also in queue to get Android Pie later this year.

This year Xiaomi introduced a new A-series phone, called Mi A2. While the stock Android remains the top highlight, Xiaomi Mi A2 also brings a newer design and improved performance. Starting at Rs 16,999, Xiaomi Mi A2 launch price is higher than the last year’s Mi A1 which launched at Rs 14,999.

We have talked in length about the design of Xiaomi Mi A2 in our detailed first impressions. A small recap – Xiaomi Mi A2 is slim at 7.3mm and features unimetal arch body design. Thanks to an 18:9 display, the front seems taller. Xiaomi Mi A2 is quite a good looking phone. The cameras on the back are a bit protruding, though. But that doesn’t bother much if you slap a back cover on the phone. It’s comfortable to hold and use. Despite a slimmer form factor, Mi A2 feels quite sturdy as well.

A closer look at Xiaomi Mi A2’s unimetal arch body design
A closer look at Xiaomi Mi A2’s unimetal arch body design ( HT Photo )

One of the things which we didn’t like was the decision to remove 3.5mm headphone jack. For many, it could be a dealbreaker. A lot of brands in the past have tried to force the trend of removing 3.5mm headphone jack but evidently it hasn’t worked out for them. We think users might have not minded having a slightly thicker phone or design alterations in order to make way for 3.5mm headphone jack.

The good thing is that there is USB Type-C fast support. Xiaomi has introduced Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 support for the Indian variants of the Xiaomi Mi A2. But the catch is you will have to buy a separate charger in order to use the benefits of Quick Charge 4.0.

Xiaomi also chose to remove the expandable storage from the phone. While native 64GB should more than enough for many users, but the availability of microSD keeps options open for users. The expandable storage has been a key differentiator between iPhones and Android devices.

Xiaomi Mi A2 sports 12MP+20MP rear cameras
Xiaomi Mi A2 sports 12MP+20MP rear cameras ( HT Photo )

Xiaomi Mi A2’s strength is the camera quality. Sporting 12-megapixel and 20-megapixel dual cameras, Xiaomi Mi A2 delivers impressive results in day light conditions.

Mi A2 delivers well balanced colour and brightness levels. (Photo resized for web)
Mi A2 delivers well balanced colour and brightness levels. (Photo resized for web) ( HT Photo )

We were also impressed with its low-light performance, a rarity in the phones below Rs 20,000. Selfies are pretty much on par with what you get on other Android phones.

The quality dips in low-light but is still far superior than other Android phones (photo resized for web)
The quality dips in low-light but is still far superior than other Android phones (photo resized for web) ( HTPhoto )

As said earlier, Xiaomi Mi A2 runs on stock Android. The software experience on the phone is quite fluid whereas overall performance is very impressive. From graphic intensive games to long sessions of multimedia streaming, the onboard 660 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM handles everything with ease. In terms of performance, the experience comes very close to Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro.

Other important things such as call quality, audio and battery life are satisfactory. During our review, we were able to use the phone through a day with medium to heavy use which includes long sessions of browsing and multimedia streaming.

Summing up, Xiaomi Mi A2 is a good alternative if you are looking for a phone with no bloatware and premium design. But you will have to compromise on some areas like 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD slot. Also, the phone hovers above Rs 15,000 mark. If you have budget lower than Rs 15,000 and don’t mind a capable custom ROM like MIUI, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 remains our top recommendation.