Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Mi A1: Is the new Android One phone worth upgrading?

Xiaomi Mi A2 is the successor to the last year’s popular Android One-based Mi A1 phone. The latest offering from Xiaomi promises better camera and performance. But is it compelling enough for you to upgrade?

tech Updated: Aug 10, 2018 13:39 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Xiaomi Mi A1,Xiaomi Mi A1 vs Xiaomi Mi A2,mi a2 launch in india
Xiaomi Mi A2 will go on sale in India on August 16 via Amazon and mi.com(HT Photo)

Xiaomi earlier this year conducted a poll on its India Twitter handle, asking users their preference between custom MIUI ROM and stock Android. Before the poll was completed, majority of the votes surprisingly went to the stock Android. Not a perfect parameter to derive anything. There is indeed a large number of people who want the stock Android, but of course in a hardware packaged by the likes of Xiaomi.

Unsurprisingly, Xiaomi’s Mi A1 became an instant hit along with other successful Redmi phones last year. Mi A1 was also the company’s first arrangement with Google for the Android One programme, which too found a new lease of life with the success of the phone. Almost one year later, the company is looking replicate the same with Xiaomi Mi A2.

Xiaomi’s second outing with Android One is very different. And some of the aspects you may like and some you may not. Let’s take a look at the new Xiaomi Mi A2 and how it fares with Mi A1, and decide whether you should upgrade.

Mi A2 is supposed to set new standards for design. The company is aggressively pushing “Industrial Design (ID)” for the new phone. In all fairness, Xiaomi Mi A2 is indeed a good looking phone, with much slimmer profile. For instance, it’s only 7.3mm thick and has an aluminium unibody with a curved back panel that is tapered towards the four sides.

One important thing that sets the Mi A2 apart from Mi A1 is the bigger and fuller screen on the front — 5.99-inch 18:9 Full Screen Display, protected by a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 panel. The predecessor, though a big departure from the then-Redmi and other budget phones, came with a 5.5-inch full HD display. What is missing is the slimmer bezels around the display. But in terms of resolution, there isn’t a lot of upgrade, per say.

Xiaomi Mi A1 is still among one of the good looking phones in under Rs 15,000 category (HT Photo)

In fact, in terms of pure aesthetics, both the phones are pretty good looking. Just that Xiaomi Mi A2 is on the slimmer side.

Result: Xiaomi Mi A2

The strength of the Mi A2 and Mi A1 is the stock Android. With Xiaomi’s near-excellent hardware prowess, the software experience is pretty fluid. Based on Android One, Xiaomi Mi A1 and Mi A2 both are eligible for Google’s latest OS, Android Pie.

Result: Tie

While Xiaomi Mi A1 offered one of the best camera experiences at its time, Mi A2 raises the level of the game by offering a combination of 12MP + 20MP dual rear camera with f/1.75 aperture, Lens switching, and AI portraits. The predecessor came with 12MP+12MP dual rear camera with f/2.2 and f/2.6 aperture. Based on our experience, Xiaomi Mi A2 delivers pretty impressive results, even in low-light conditions. From bokeh modes to casual photography, the experience is top-notch.

The camera module is now more protruding and vertically aligned on Mi A2 (HT Photo)

There’s also an improvement in the selfie department. Xiaomi Mi A1 came with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera whereas Xiaomi Mi A2 offers 20 megapixel sensors for the same. Apart from the resolution bump, the Mi A2 has LED flash and AI portrait modes. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi A2: First Impressions, Unboxing

Result: Xiaomi Mi A2

What we loved about the Mi A1 was the combination of pure Android, powered by a capable chipset. The phone came with octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor and 4GB RAM. One year later, Mi A2 brings Qualcomm’s more capable Snapdragon 660 processor along with 4GB RAM. There will also be a 6GB of RAM variant in the future. The upgrade in chipset does bring an improvement in the performance, but if you’re not a heavy user, we doubt you’ll notice the significant boost.

If you love playing graphic-intensive games and demand more optimisation from your phone, Xiaomi Mi A2 is a good choice. Otherwise, Xiaomi Mi A1 is a decent performer. ALSO READ: Mi A1 First Impressions

Result: Tie

Deal breakers
Xiaomi’s effort to include Industrial Design comes with a big sacrifice. The Xiaomi Mi A2 doesn’t come with 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, it is making up with a bundled (3.5mm to USB Type-C) connector and a fast-charging capable USB Type-C port.

We think it’s a big deal breaker for those who don’t want the hassle of carrying a connector to use the audio or invest in a Bluetooth headphone. While we welcome the inclusion of fast charging, sacrificing the 3.5mm headphone jack is pretty inconvenient. We’ve seen enough brands try to force the trend, but 3.5mm headphone jack shouldn’t go away unless there’s a complete ecosystem for wireless audio.

Mi A2 skips 3.5mm headphone jack. (Xiaomi Mi A1 in the image) (HT Photo)

Another unpopular move, in our opinion, is the removal of microSD card. Xiaomi Mi A1 came with 64GB built-in storage and supported expandable 128GB via a microSD card. It had a hybrid SIM slot which essentially means you can use either one SIM and one microSD or two SIMs. At a time when brands are giving all options to users with two SIM slots plus microSD, Xiaomi Mi A2 just quietly does away with that and offers no microSD. 64GB is more than enough for most of users. But a microSD slot just gave more choice to users.

That said, Xiaomi Mi A2 is more expensive than Mi A1 was at the time of the launch. Xiaomi Mi A2 price hovers above Rs 16,000 whereas Mi A1 stayed within Rs 15,000 threshold. Surprisingly, Xiaomi’s own Redmi Note 5 Pro, a top-end model with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage, is priced at Rs 16,999.

Xiaomi Mi A2 promises a significant improvement in terms of camera and overall design. But on other aspects like performance, upgrades are pretty much incremental. If you’re a Mi A1 user, the second-gen Android One from Xiaomi may not be a very appealing proposition, unless you are seeking better camera experience. As said earlier, Mi A2 isn’t without compromises. So, if you don’t mind a phone without 3.5mm headphone jack, Mi A2 could be for you.

First Published: Aug 09, 2018 09:22 IST