Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X) Review

Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X)

Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X)

Xiaomi

Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X) is Andriod One mobile
July, 2018
5.99" LTPS IPS LCD display, Snapdragon 660 chipset, Dual:12 MP + 20 MP primary camera, 20 MP front camera, 3000 mAh battery, 128 GB storage, 6 GB RAM.
EUR:€190 | USD:$215 | PKR:36,999 | INR:15,330

Rate It:User Rating: (Excellent)


Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X) Review

Xiaomi Mi A2 (Mi 6X) Review


Introduction

Less than a year ago, Xiaomi launched their first phone to support Google One platform, Xiaomi Mi A1. When they launched that phone last year, company's collaboration with stock Android software was an experiment, but having seen unprecedented success with that device, that phone is now part of Xiaomi's yearly cycle. Hence, for year 2018, Xiaomi has launched their new Android One phone, Xiaomi Mi A2 (Also known as Xiaomi Mi 6X in China). It's a phone that sports stock-like Android software, miles apart from Xiaomi's usual MIUI implementation, a software the company really banks on to engage its community. It is a budget device, which aims to deliver some flagship results at a low price point. With an all new camera setup, beefed up specs from last year and some design changes, Xiaomi's latest entrant seems to be ready to take the crown of budget phone of year 2018. Its predecessor was a success, but will Xiaomi Mi A2 implement its position in market as well as last year's model? Let's find out.

Design

While Xiaomi Mi A2 retains general look of Xiaomi Mi A1, there's a noticeable change in its identity. For one, phone feels wider, meaning it is not as ergonomic as its predecessor. It's also slimmer now but has a full matte aluminum build like last time. Phone also looks wildly similar to Apple iPhone X, and some would even go as further as to call it yet another Apple iPhone X clone.

Entire front of Xiaomi Mi A2 is covered with scratch-resistant 2.5-D glass which is slightly rounded at a point where it meets with metal frame. There's a large display which has small bezels on left and right side. However, bottom and top bezels are really big when compared to current high-end smartphones of 2018. This is why Xiaomi Mi A2 only manages to reach a screen to body ratio of 78%. At top bezel, you'll find a front facing camera, an LED flash light, sensors and an earpiece, pretty standard combination for most phones except for front facing LED flash. There are no physical buttons on front as UI is navigated through virtual buttons on screen.

Coming towards back of this device, first thing you'll notice is dual camera setup. Both cameras and an LED flash are placed vertically on top left of back, with a noticeable bulge. Protruding camera module isn't a big deal, but it's a comprise many slim smartphones have to make. You will also find a fingerprint sensor below it, at center of rear panel. It has a chrome ring around it, which makes it look premium and easy to locate with your finger. Mi branding can be found on bottom with some manufacturer information and an Android One logo. Both look and feel of this matte aluminum finish at back are great making this smartphone feel grippy in hands. Phone is also very comfortable to hold in hands, thanks to its thickness of 7 mm.

At right side of this device, there's a power button together with volume keys while left side is where there's a sim tray. At top of this phone, there's an IR blaster which is very commonly seen on Xiaomi's smartphones. At bottom, there are dual grilles with a USB Type-C port in middle of them, however, they are there only for aesthetic purpose with only one grille having a mono bottom firing speaker. Sadly, kneeling down to the trend, Xiaomi has evicted 3.5 mm headphone jack from Xiaomi Mi A2. It's rather disappointing as Xiaomi Mi A1 had it and it was one of many reasons why people loved that phone.

Overall, it's not new design, more of what we have seen from other Chinese manufacturers. Design mimics Apple iPhone X in many ways, but that also makes this phone look more premium than its predecessor. While, not a huge fan of this design and eviction of headphone jack, I feel that Xiaomi fans will not be disappointed as at this price point, there's not much to complain about.

Display

Lots of Xiaomi Mi A1 users complained of its enormous bezels on device, when it was late last year. It's safe to say Xiaomi knew about this and made sure that Xiaomi Mi A2 has major reduction in bezels this time around. Phone now has a 5.99-inch IPS LCD Full HD+ display with a resolution of 1080x2160p, aspect ratio of 18:9 and pixel density of 403 ppi.

Xiaomi Mi A2's display uses PWM for brightness control. PWM flickering crops up at 21% brightness and lower and because this display operates at a very high frequency, even susceptible individuals should not experience any adverse effects such as headaches or eye strain during prolong periods of usage. As it is an LCD display, Xiaomi Mi A2 cannot achieve perfect blacks due to display's backlight, but it does have accurate color reproduction and dynamic range is just about right as well.

Liquid-crystal display performs very well outside however, it is quite difficult to read screen content in direct sunlight. I felt that maximum brightness should have been higher on this display, as it goes to just 500 nits. For comparison, Samsung Galaxy S9's display goes over 1000 nits at full brightness, but again, it is the best display on any smartphone at the moment. Also, viewing angles of this IPS panel are very good. Colors do not become distorted even at extreme angles.

Other than that, it's the same display found on Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. At a midrange price point, it is indeed a solid display with nothing in particular to criticize.

Hardware

A secret to speedy performance on an Android smartphone is clean software and powerful specs. Being an Android One device, Xiaomi Mi A2 had to make sure it level ups its hardware as that would make a deadly combination with a near stock Android. Most obvious upgrade choice would have been Snapdragon 636 that is in Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, however, Xiaomi have exceeded expectations by arming its latest Android One device with a very powerful Snapdragon 660 processor and Adreno 512 GPU. That is coupled with either 4GB RAM with 32/64 GB of onboard storage or 6 GB RAM with 128 GB of storage. This combination gives this phone an edge over its competitors as Snapdragon 660 is a premium midrange CPU that thinks it's a flagship CPU, with performance that sits only a little below Snapdragon 821, found in Google Pixel XL. However, if you need more storage, there is no microSD card slot on this phone so choose storage option wisely.

During my performance test, phone turned out to be very snappy. It's not as snappy or quick as OnePlus 6, but at a budget price point, you won't find anything snappier than this one. With a midrange chip, phone doesn't perform as good as phones rocking a Snapdragon 845, however, I tested some games on this phone, including PUBG Mobile and performance was solid at 30 fps (high settings). I also carried out some benchmark tests and phone scored 132211 on AnTuTu and on Geekbench 4, 1638, which is higher than Google Pixel XL's score of 1331. That itself shows how close this phone gets to a flagship phone carrying a Snapdragon 821 and that Xiaomi Mi A2 is operating right at top of what we can expect from a midrange smartphone. These benchmark scores are backed up in daily use, where I've experienced no lag or slowdown. Adreno 512 is also a very capable GPU, but this is perhaps only real nod to midrange, and 3D gaming was noticeably less smooth than on Xiaomi Mi 6, for example.

Compass on Xiaomi Mi A2 is also upgraded and more accurate than the on Xiaomi Mi A1. NFC would've been nice, but it's hard to find that at this price point. Sadly, headphone jack is gone for good, which is a shame, but you do get a USB Type-C audio adapter inside box. Speaker on this phone is a single bottom firing speaker, and as much as I like dual speakers in a phone, I don't mind a single speaker here as it's a budget device and speaker is loud enough for most tasks. Also, this phone is aimed at a global audience so Xiaomi Mi A2 also supports LTE Band 20 for full UK 4G coverage.

This could've been the best hardware combination on a budget smartphone, had Xiaomi kept headphone on it. Even without it, it is one capable phone which still is my favorite at the moment for midrange devices.

Battery

I did have my concerns in battery department of this phone as Xiaomi Mi A2's battery is marginally smaller than Xiaomi Mi A1's. With such a thin body, Xiaomi only managed to fit a 3010 mAh battery inside.

Honestly, I've been absolutely hammering Xiaomi Mi A2 over last couple of days, taking dozens and dozens of photos, recording loads more video that I usually do, and I've been relatively surprised with its battery's longevity. Phone certainly isn't going to be a battery champ like Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, but it will easily last a full day of moderate use. Another benefit is its inclusion of Quick Charge 3.0, though you'll need to get a better charger than one bundled with this device, a 5V/2A one. With bundled charging brick, I managed to charge this phone from a zero to 100 percent in just 1 hour and 42 minutes. Where I was unimpressed was screen on time of this phone as I only manage to get 3 hours of heavy gameplay from a full battery. That might be a deal breaker for some people as Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 gave a solid 5-6 hours of screen-on time.

Phone also doesn't support wireless charging and frankly I have no issues with that. Also, Xiaomi Mi A2's India version is going to support Quick Charge 4.0, so I am a tad bit unhappy that global version of this phone doesn't support that.

Overall, I feel that Xiaomi has to make a cut here as this phone does come with a much expensive processor than in Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. Hopefully, in next iteration of this device, we'll get a bigger battery.

Camera

Cameras on Xiaomi Mi A1 were great and that is pretty much what you get with Xiaomi Mi A2 as well. Simply put, camera performance of Xiaomi Mi A2 was just as amazing. Phone has a dual camera setup, with one 12 MP sensor and one 20 MP sensor, both having f/1.8 aperture.

While I was a pretty big fan of photos taken by Xiaomi Mi A1, I found that it struggled in low-light, or shooting subjects that tend not to stay still for too long such as kids and animals. Xiaomi obviously thought same, and Xiaomi Mi A2 camera has had a massive overhaul. With a main 12MP snapper, and a 20MP secondary with larger 2 Ám pixels which excels in lower light results are excellent. Colors are vibrant but they don't look too artificial as on some previous Xiaomi phones. In auto mode, phone will automatically switch between 12MP and 20MP cameras depending on light condition which prevents shots from blowing out or looking too dark. Portrait mode is aided by an AI mode, enabling what Xiaomi calls 'semantic segmentation'.

All these specs and software tweaks sound good, but most manufacturers are using same Sony sensors, so it's the hardware and software combination that can really help in performance and processing terms. Having used Xiaomi Mi A2 for a short while its first signs are promising: app is quick to load and super-fast to snap away at subjects too. There are a bundle of shooting modes available within the camera too. From more basic, such as Square or Panorama, through to more complex options such as full manual control (which even offers shutter speed control).

In practice, it means that edge detection is greatly improved from previous Xiaomi phones such as Xiaomi Mi 6, which also have a good camera but sometimes produced portraits that looked a little fuzzy around edges. Portraits taken on Xiaomi Mi A2 have sharper edges and even group portraits look great.

At front, Enhanced selfie camera has same 20MP unit that is on the rear, and now comes with a flash for extra help in low light conditions. Even though it's a single camera, portrait selfies look great. Also, Videos shot on this phone also come out great, with phone supporting videos up to 4K at 30 fps with 720p at 120p. Sadly, you don't get to shoot videos up to 60 fps even at 1080p, but overall video quality come out to be pretty good, as they are stabilized with gyro-EIS.

Overall, it's a pretty good camera, even better than I was expecting it to be. At some places, camera performed even as par as Samsung Galaxy S8's camera. Xiaomi fans will be delighted with this and this will be a huge factor which will drive them to buy this phone over its competitors.

Software

Xiaomi Mi A series started off with pure Android experience, and that was whole-heartedly accepted by most of its users, including Xiaomi fans. With Xiaomi Mi A2, you get the same pure Android experience, this time shipping Android 8.1 Oreo straight out of box.

Xiaomi's MIUI skin has continued to divide opinion as some see it as a refinement of Android, which offers a slickness only rivalled by iOS while others view it as derivative, bloated with pointless apps, and too focused on driving you towards Xiaomi's own digital storefront. That is one reason why Xiaomi opted for Android One for their budget king series as Google itself is responsible for pushing out updates to Xiaomi Mi A2. It is also one of few devices which will get Android P first when it launches and has a guaranteed OS updates for 2 years and security updates up to 3 years.

On this phone, you get usual selection of Google applications including Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Duo, Play Music and so on, but that's about it. Only Xiaomi apps installed are Mi Remote, which allows you to use phone's IR blaster to control appliances around your home, Xiaomi's camera app and a Feedback app that provides a direct line to Xiaomi with bugs and suggestions. For security, you're getting a fingerprint scanner which is pretty quick as well as standard facial recognition which, if I'm honest, isn't the best one I've seen. It's rather slow as compared to some Huawei devices. Also, there's literally nothing outside of core apps, which will make this phone a very attractive device for Android purists.

Xiaomi Mi A2 isn't quite as up to date as Google's Pixel line of handsets, but like other Android One phones, is sure to receive timely updates moving forward. Plus, since there's no overwhelming UI skin being laid over top of core OS, updates should come relatively quickly, making this a solid choice if you love stock Android but can't afford a Google Pixel 2.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of pure Android and this is certainly one of the best Android experiences I've had on a phone. It is not as smooth or snappy as let's say, OnePlus 6, but it is a terrific software experience at this price point.

Conclusion

Xiaomi Mi A2 is available right now in China starting at 250 euros or around $290 for 4GB/32GB version, then continues to 280 euros/$330 for the 4GB/64GB model, and finally to 350 euros/$410 for the 6GB/128GB phone. It'll be available in Spain from 10 August 2018, France and Italy around the same time, then a total of 40 territories following, but distinctively no UK or USA. Phone will be available in five different colors: Black, Gold, Blue, Red and Rose Gold. It'll also come with a Quick Charge 4.0 version in India, but there's no word on an international release of that version yet.

To look at, you wouldn't think that Xiaomi Mi A2 is a budget, affordable phone. Its build quality, feel in hand and general operation, especially thanks to Android One, make it a sleek and capable phone for a price that no other can match right now. Interestingly, Xiaomi Mi A2 only features a 'Mi' logo at rear, while 'Xiaomi Communications Ltd.' is nothing but a barely visible line of text. It's as though this phone was built for a market outside company's China homeland.

One thing that might concern some Xiaomi fans in UK is that, for whatever reason, Xiaomi Mi A2 won't be available in UK. Which makes me feel like Xiaomi is biding its time because, at this price, Xiaomi Mi A2 is a serious force to be reckoned with, irrelevant of whether you know about or can say this brand name out loud. Xiaomi has made some cuts when it comes to the speaker, missing SD card slot and relatively low battery capacity. Face recognition also performs very poorly, and there's a lack of water protection as well. On the other hand, performance on this device is really great for a midrange device, while camera on this phone really outperforms any smartphone in this midrange segment.

In the end, I would say that Xiaomi fans and other people will be delighted to see a phone so capable in midrange category of smartphones, while some might argue about things it doesn't possess. I would say, for me, this is indeed the best phone in its category you can at this moment.