XIAOMI Mi A1: THE FIRST COMPETENT ANDROID ONE PHONE

Harish Jonnalagadda, writing for Android Central:

Xiaomi didn’t cut any corners when it comes to the internal hardware as well. The Mi A1 features a 5.5-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 625, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, microSD slot, dual 12MP cameras, 5MP front camera, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE with VoLTE, and a 3080mAh battery.

After three years of using MIUI, it’s bizarre to see stock Android running on a Xiaomi phone. It’s certainly a welcome change, as the addition of stock Android makes the Mi A1 one of the best devices in this segment. You’re not going to notice any lags or slowdowns.

The Mi A1 has top-notch build quality, decent internal specs, and a dual camera that’s head and shoulders above anything available in this segment. Combine a clean software experience with the promise of quick updates and Xiaomi’s hardware chops, and it’s easy to see that the Mi A1 is the most uncompromising budget phone in the market today

Xiaomi will be in charge of after-sales service for the Mi A1, and going by Google’s non-existent support for Nexus and Pixel devices in the country, that’s a good thing. Xiaomi now has over 500 service centers across India, and is regularly adding more in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Xiaomi has a clear winner in the Mi A1, and now it’s time to see if the company can meet the demand for the phone.

Google first launched Android One back in 2014, positioned primarily as a push to deliver affordable smartphones in emerging markets. However, it never really caught on and it was soon forgotten. Fast forward to today and Google seems to be vying for a second run at it. So what’s changed?

Well, it’s three-fold. One; stock (or pure) android wasn’t in ‘fashion’ then —hey, I’ll take good software however I get it —and two; baseline mobile specifications have become surprisingly good. It also helps that the first offering is a mid-range handset, though arguably the gap between mid and low end is much narrower than that of the high end.

The result is a smartphone I have much more confidence in to recommend it. I have long held the opinion that smartphone vendors should work similar to the PC market. If they do not control the software, they should focus on their hardware, distribution and marketing. Google has enough incentive and resources to tackle iOS as well as help their partners widen the Android ecosystem. More devices lead to more users. And more users lead to more data. More data improves Google’s service offerings and in turn, their improved ad targeting brings in more revenue.

Android One makes sense for both Xiaomi and Google. With the reasons listed above, this collaboration will only help Xiaomi’s brand value and though they do endorse the virtues of their MIUI software skin, the brand has mainly come into the limelight for producing good hardware specifications at affordable rates. I do not think I’m alone in this inference; most of their keynotes and promotional material focuses on these aspects as well.

Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that neither side needs to go all in. Google has a reputation for throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks; just look at the (former) Nexus and Pixel devices. Xiaomi too has simply rebranded a phone they’ve already made – the Mi 5X. It’s similar to how Windows Phone rolled out but in a very different context; the Android ecosystem is thriving and is built to work on a wide variety of hardware – something that may work against it in front of iPhones at the high end, but is unrivalled at the low to mid range segment.

The result: If you’re looking at an Android phone that is not a Pixel, you’d be hard pressed to do worse than Android One’s first offering.

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