Xiaomi is popularly known as the budget king in the smartphone market, especially in a market like India. The Redmi 5A, launched at the end of last year, turned out to be the best-selling devices for the Chinese giant so its successor – Redmi 6A – that launched in India just last month had a reputation to uphold.
The Redmi 6A takes a leap and stumbles into 2018 with a taller 18:9 display, a slimmer body, and a dual-camera-like lens setup – with a flash instead of the sensor. The biggest distinction between the Redmi 5A and Redmi 6A will, however, have to be the processor. This year’s Redmi 6A (starts at Rs. 5,999) is powered by a MediaTek chipset instead of the usual Snapdragon one and that could make all the difference, as you will see in a while.
I’ve been using the Redmi 6A for the past week and if you’re thinking to buy this budget device, well, here’s everything you should know about my experiences before you make that decision:
What’s in The Box
Just like its predecessor, the Redmi 6A also comes packed in a tiny red-colored box that boasts the Xiaomi branding and the name of the device on the front. The box itself does not contain a lot of stuff, especially the clear case that Xiaomi usually includes with their smartphones. Here’s everything you get in the box:
- Redmi 6A (black variant)
- microUSB cable
- Charging adapter
- SIM ejector tool
- User Guides
Redmi 6A: Specs
Before we dive in and talk about my experience with the Redmi 6A, here’s a quick look at the key specifications of the device:
|Dimensions||147.5 x 71.5 x 8.3 mm|
|Weight||145 g (5.11 oz)|
|Display||5.45-inch HD+ display|
|Processor||MediaTek Helio A22|
|Storage||16GB/32GB, expandable via microSD|
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo-based MIUI 9.6|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual 4G, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, microUSB port|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, proximity, compass|
Design and Build
While most smartphones today don either a metallic or glass build, the Redmi 6A touts a plastic build that’s in line with the price segment it rests in. The design and aesthetics of this device are exactly the same as its brethren, the Redmi 6, but it does feel like a definite upgrade over its predecessor.
The device is quite sleek and its refreshed design makes it looks quite appealing, giving you the satisfaction to grip and use it comfortably with a single hand. The buttons on this device are quite clicky but it’s difficult to distinguish between the power and volume slider – which wouldn’t really matter to an average user.
The Redmi 6A opts for a modern, taller display panel and sheds the physical navigation buttons that we saw on its predecessor. You now have minimal side bezels, with slightly bigger bezels at the top and bottom, which I don’t really mind because you’re getting a larger screen in an almost similarly-sized body.
The shape of the camera module would trick anyone into thinking that the Redmi 6A is offering you a dual rear-camera system in its sub-6000 price segment, however, that’s obviously not the case. You only get a single rear camera and an LED flash sitting in a module looking similar to a dual camera setup.
Also, while we’re talking about the rear, I’d like to point out that the Redmi 6A doesn’t sport a fingerprint scanner – either on the back or front, still I kept reaching out for it out of habit. The speaker is placed at the bottom of the rear panel, the microUSB port on the bottom, and the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top. However, there’s no IR blaster at the top this time around.
The Redmi 6A features a 5.45-inch HD+ IPS LCD display, which is only a little bigger than its predecessor. It touts of an 18:9 aspect ratio and display resolution of 720×1440 pixels.
The display on the Redmi 6A is good enough for a budget smartphone. It does get quite bright, even when you pull it out in direct sunlight, but the brightness drops too low and needs to be adjusted very often when you are inside. The brightness levels are not well-defined and the screen sometimes looks quite dim even at 50% brightness.
Holding the Redmi 5A and 6A alongside each other, I sometimes felt that the display on Xiaomi’s former device is much better and color accurate than the Redmi 6A. It may also be a little on the warmer side as compared to 6A, whose display appears cooler but you won’t need to give much thought to it.
Xiaomi has recently grown a lot in the camera department, specifically with the arrival of the Mi A2 and Poco F1, however, the set of shooters on its budget phones are still a bit lacking but perform decently for its price tag. The Redmi 6A sports a 13MP camera on the rear and a 5MP selfie shooter, both with an f/2.2 aperture, and it’s no exception to this latest sub-6,000 device from Xiaomi.
The cameras on the Redmi 6A may sound unimpressive but they perform quite satisfactory for the price. You can click some sharp picture, with good color reproduction, a decent dynamic range, and social media-worthy shots once in a while in day-light conditions. The photos will appear decent and worth sharing with friends but nothing too exceptional, with crisp shadows and highlights. So, check out some camera samples right here:
As for low-light conditions, well, the image quality is sub-par and you will find that Redmi 6A sometimes captures a lot of noise – which isn’t a good thing. The photos captured at night time are decent and usable.
Coming to the trendy portrait mode, the Redmi 6A doesn’t provide you the option to click bokeh photos from the rear camera. However, the selfie camera does bring along a toggle to switch to portrait mode and capture photos with decent edge detection (sometimes too aggressive) and okayish background blur that I don’t mind it though. The portrait photos in low-light or artificial lighting are prone to bad edge detection or over-exposure.
The good thing is Xiaomi’s portrait mode can recognize multiple people in the frame and adjust the edge detection and bokeh accordingly.
As any other Xiaomi phone, the Redmi 6A is also backed by the company’s uber-popular MIUI custom skin which runs on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. It’s the same experience and feature set that is available on all Xiaomi devices. It is loved by the users because it obviously is handy, easy-to-use, and loaded with a ton of features like app vault, India-specific features, dual apps, and more, to the brim.
I too like the aesthetics of MIUI 9.6 and also its fluidity, as well as optimization, which is the reason it sits quite close to my beloved stock Android experience. The Redmi 6A also serves you with Xiaomi’s gestures and they’re quite intuitive, except for maybe the back gesture from the side bezel that meddles with an app’s hamburger menu and apps with swipeable tabs.
If you’ve been keeping up with our website/ YouTube channel or news about Xiaomi then you would know that MIUI is plagued with an enormous flood of ads across system apps. You not only see ads in between content (or the settings menu more recently) but also get full-page ads as the splash screen for apps. And it’s damn annoying!
However, you can get rid of these ads by turning off a bunch of settings, so if you’re keen on removing the same then read through our guide right here.
All of Xiaomi’s phones that launched in India were powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips for the longest time, however, the Chinese giant has now settled its tussle with a rival chipmaker – MediaTek and the Redmi 6A is now powered by the Helio A22 as opposed to a Snapdragon processor. There’s 2GB of RAM, with 16GB or 32GB of storage options available for this device.
I have been testing out the lesser storage variant of the Redmi 6A and my experience with the device has been terrible – to sum it all up in a single word. While MIUI has been well-known for software optimization, I would say that it seems like Xiaomi hasn’t perfected the software experience of its custom ROM for MediaTek chipsets.
I’m saying this because my fellow writer Varun Mirchandani had pointed out during the Redmi 5A review that his device worked perfectly even with 2GB of RAM, but its much-awaited successor (and possible best-seller) appears to have a bottleneck and our 2GB RAM variant here couldn’t handle heavy workloads. Let me explain:
The Redmi 6A works perfectly when all you’re using it for is calls, communication with friends via Whatsapp or minor tasks that don’t really require you to use a whole lot of memory but switch this scenario on its head and you’ve got an experience that’d push users away from picking up the device.
The device isn’t able to handle heavy workloads and the software starts to give up and stutter instantly. It was most evident to me while watching videos on YouTube, where redmi 6A lagged and frame drops were galore. Whenever I tried to scroll through my recommendations or minimize the video player to the bottom, I found the experience to be cringe-worthy because of the sluggish behavior of the device.
I was curious for as to why Redmi 6A’s performance was sub-par than my expectations, thus, I decided to pull the Redmi 5A out of our cupboard and test it out once again. The Redmi 5A at the Beebom office is also running MIUI 9.6 and are you ready for it? It was working buttery smooth, with minimal stutter or lag of any sort so the software doesn’t seem to be the problem here, but we’re waiting for the MIUI 10 update to see if it improves the experience or not.
Anyway, if you’re someone who gives a ton of weight to benchmark numbers, we have attached the Geekbench and AnTuTu results of our device right here:
Talking about the gaming performance, which has become extremely crucial since PUBG Mobile launched on Android a few months ago, the Redmi 6A surprisingly performs quite decently in this segment. I played everything from light games like Mr. Gun, Monument Valley to heavy games like Asphalt 9, PUBG Mobile and came to the conclusion that you can enjoy games on this device, but with your fair-share of frame drops and stutters. It, however, won’t be as sluggish as the overall UI.
Well, Xiaomi had touted that Redmi 6A is the only smartphone in the budget segment to feature a 12nm processor. However, it seems like the company would’ve been better off using the same 14nm chipset like everyone else – ahem, Snapdragon 425 SoC, that was already present in the Redmi 5A.
Connectivity has been a strong suit for this Xiaomi’s Redmi series and the Redmi 6A is no exception. The device sports two dedicated SIM card slots instead of traditional hybrid SIM card trays we see in most smartphones nowadays. One of these slots also features a dedicated microSD card slot as well, which is great since my 16GB variant will fill up fast and so might yours.
The dual SIM also support dual 4G standby, which is just awesome for a budget phone.
Apart from that, you’ve got the usual connectivity options including Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, FM Radio, A-GPS, GLONASS, and more. There’s also a microUSB charging port at the bottom, which is okay considering the price point and the adoption of USB-C. The removal of the IR blaster, however, comes as a disappointment to me because it’s a great feature to have in a phone.
Audio and Telephony
The Redmi 6A comes with a single speaker grill at the bottom rear and it certainly gets quite loud and outputs clear audio, which is a good thing for such a tiny phone. The likes of Imagine Dragons and Greta Van Fleet sounded fine but the highs were too tinny and unbearable at times.
The best part of the speaker being on the rear is that you can simply place your phone down on a table (or cup the bottom half with your hand) to amplify the sound. I’m even glad about the decent amount of volume steps, i.e 15, available on the device
In terms of call quality, I had been using my Airtel SIM card on the Redmi 6A for a week and I seem to have no complaints with the experience. The dialer, as well the recipients were able to hear one another extremely clearly- without any static or background noise, thanks to the secondary microphone at the top.
The Redmi 6A boasts of a massive 3,000mAh battery pack that I found to be ample to easily last me the whole day on a single charge. I was able to extract close to 5-6 hours of screen-on time in low to medium usage, where I attended a ton of phone calls, watched videos on YouTube, and spent time on social media.
Redmi 6A packs a massive battery, which is easily enough to last you the whole day – without compromise.
While I am happy with the overall battery life, the lengthy charging time was a pain as you’d need to plug in the device at night because it took more than 2 hours 20-odd minutes to go from 10% to 100% using the 5V/1A charger included in the box. Yes, there’s no quick charging support on board here, but I accept that seeing the fact that Redmi 6A is a budget device.
Xiaomi Redmi 6A: Still the Best Entry-Level Phone?
Yet again, Xiaomi’s latest smartphone does follow along to the lines of its agenda of building a budget-friendly device with a great build and a broad variety of features. We’ve seen that the Redmi 6A (starts at Rs. 5,999) is no exception to the same and checks a bunch of right boxes to match the crop of modern devices of 2018.
The Redmi 6A, however, did carry the burden of having to prove that it was still the best pick in the budget segment – just like its predecessor but that’s where everything goes a little haywire. Xiaomi may have wanted to revive its relations with MediaTek in India and the MediaTek Helio A22-backed Redmi 6A became the bait, not performing up to mark and killing our expectations.
Since the performance and overall user experience are key for a smartphone, the current sub-6000 segment leaves you with little to no options. My top recommendation would be the Snapdragon 425-backed Nokia 2.1 (Rs 6,930) that’s part of the Android One program and could offer you a great vanilla experience – but with a little extra splurging. You could also go for Amazon’s 10.or E (Rs 5,699), which is similarly-specced and powered by the Snapdragon 430 and appears to be a decent pick.
- Appealing build (especially the black variant)
- Decent cameras
- Good battery life
- Clear audio quality
- Value for money
- Sluggish performance
- Ad-backed software UI
- Lack of IR blaster
Redmi 6A Review: The Budget King May Lose its Crown
Much like every Xiaomi device, the Redmi 6A tries to offer you as much value as possible for the cheapest price and that’s something every one of us can agree on. However, I can see that the Chinese giant may have tried to cut some corners by using a chipset which is not optimized to smoothly run their MIUI software and stuffing a measly 2GB RAM phone with ads across the board.
The Redmi 6A could have yet been a success story for Xiaomi and it could still be if users are attracted to its effective pricing, however, the device now sticks out like a sore thumb in the company’s lineup this time around. What are your views on the Redmi 6A? Are you already using the device and have some feedback to add? Well, let us know your opinions in the comments down below.
Buy Xiaomi Redmi 6A from Amazon (Rs 5,999)