Xiaomi jumped onto the Android One bandwagon with the release of the Mi A1 last year, which featured mid-range specifications in a good quality chassis running stock Android, instead of Xiaomi’s MIUI Android skin. While the Mi A1 seemed to be a compelling buy at first, Mi A1 users all around the world faced quite a lot of issues with the device. Rupesh here at Beebom even used it as his primary device for quite some time and, much like other Mi A1 users, got fed up of the poorly optimized stock Android experience. Quite recently, Xiaomi launched the second generation update for its A300ndroid One lineup – the Mi A2 (Rs. 16,999) – in India. Once again, the device brought along the promise of a great stock Android experience on mid-range hardware. While we expected Xiaomi to have fixed all the issues we faced with the first-gen device, not much seems to have changed. Read on to find out how the Mi A2 fared in our testing:
Xiaomi Mi A2 Specifications
As always, before getting further into the review, let’s get the Xiaomi Mi A2’s specifications out of the way. Here’s a quick look at all that’s packed within the new Mi A2:
|Dimensions||158.7 x 75.4 x 7.3 mm|
|Display||5.99-inch FHD+ 18:9 IPS LCD|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 660|
|Primary Camera||12MP f/1.8 + 20MP f/1.8 with PDAF and EIS|
|Secondary Camera||20MP f/2.2|
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo (Android One edition)|
|Sensors||Fingerprint sensor (rear mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass and IR blaster|
|Connectivity||802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, and BDS|
Design and Build Quality
Xiaomi is known for using premium components and offering great build quality even in their mid-range devices and the Mi A2 is no different. The device looks quite a lot like the Redmi Note 5 Pro, with a smooth metal back and a glass front. Quite like the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the Mi A2 also features a vertically oriented dual camera setup on the back and a circular fingerprint sensor placed high in the center. What differentiates the Mi A2 from the Redmi Note 5 Pro are the device’s antenna lines and the Android One branding.
Up front, the Mi A2 sports a 5.99-inch FHD+ LCD with an 18:9 aspect ratio and relatively thick bezels on the top and bottom. The front-facing camera, along with the sensors and earpiece are located within the top bezel. The power button and the volume rocker reside on the right edge of the device, and are made up of metal offering a satisfying tactile feel.
On the left edge lies the SIM card tray which supports dual SIM cards but doesn’t include support for a microSD card slot, which is quite disappointing. Down on the bottom edge, the device features a USB Type-C port flanked by speaker grills on either side. Even though the device features two speaker grills, it only has a single bottom firing speaker. Up top, the device features an IR blaster along with a secondary noise cancellation microphone. What’s more disappointing, however, is the fact that the Mi A2 lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack.
While I can understand smartphone manufacturers removing the headphone jack in premium devices in order to get closer to a cord-less future, removing it in a mid-range device is just not acceptable. The missing headphone jack means that every Mi A2 buyer will have to further invest in a pair of Bluetooth earphones; a decent pair of which will cost somewhere around Rs. 3,000 – Rs. 5,000.
If Xiaomi believes that there will be some people who’d be willing to make that investment, then I would like to remind the company that anyone capable of making that added investment will go for the Poco F1 instead, which costs just Rs. 4,000 more than the Mi A2 and, here’s the best part, it includes a headphone jack. Even though Xiaomi is thoughtful enough to include a USB Type-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter, it just doesn’t justify the company’s move to remove the headphone jack in a mid-range device.
Another aspect of the Mi A2’s design that I didn’t like was the substantial camera bump which made the device wobble when kept on a flat surface. On top of that, having the device rest on the camera module isn’t all that reassuring, because if a user accidentally places any pressure on the device when it’s kept on its back, it might damage the camera module. While it’s quite clear that Xiaomi took that route to make the device as slim as possible, the company could have easily minimized the camera bump, by making the device thicker which would have also allowed the company to include a bigger battery and perhaps a headphone jack. That move alone would have dealt with three main issues that I found on the Mi A2.
Coming to the display, the Xiaomi Mi A2 packs in a decent 5.99-inch FHD+ IPS LCD which has an 18:9 aspect ratio and no notch. The display looks fairly impressive at first glance and even after using it for quite a while, I noticed that it doesn’t get all that bright, which means sunlight visibility will be an issue. Color accuracy on the Mi A2 isn’t all that great either and since it’s running stock Android, it doesn’t have an option to change color temperatures according to their preferences.
Viewing angles are pretty decent and the touch response it good as well, which means you’ll face no issues consuming media with your friends or interacting with the device. The screen is covered by Gorilla Glass 5, which will protect it from minor scratches and scuffs. It even has an oleophobic coating which will repel fingerprints and keep the display clean at all times. Compared to the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the Mi A2’s display is a bit lacking and the fact that the older device allows users to adjust the color temperature, makes the Mi A2 look even worse.
Being an Android One device, the Mi A2 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo with almost no bloatware. While the device does ship with a few apps pre-installed, including Mi Store, Mi Community, Mi Drop, Mi Remote and Google Tez, they’re not installed as system apps, which means that they can be uninstalled in case they’re deemed unnecessary. The stock Android experience on the Mi A2 isn’t nearly as good as the stock Android experience on other devices, which was the case with its predecessor as well. The device feels a bit unoptimized from the get go, with UI elements lagging or stuttering in just a couple of days of use.
As I mentioned earlier, I had high hopes for this device and I was expecting Xiaomi to improve upon the Mi A1, at least in the UI department, but it seems like Xiaomi has released another unoptimized Android One device in the market. Compared to the Xiaomi Mi 6X, which is essentially the MIUI variant of the Mi A2, the stock Android device just doesn’t feel as fluid as the one running MIUI. There is some respite, however, as Xiaomi can easily address these issues in a software update. But whether they will do so in the near future remains to be seen.
The Xiaomi Mi A2 packs in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC coupled with 4GB of RAM, but it doesn’t perform as admirably as you’d expect it to. I tested the device quite thoroughly, running most popular benchmarking apps and intensive games, and I was left disappointed. The Xiaomi Mi A2 was able to manage decent scores in AnTuTu, Geekbench 4 and 3DMark, when compared to Snapdragon 636 powered devices like the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 and the Nokia 6.1 Plus.
However, it was quite surprising to the see the device lag behind in multi-core performance on Geekbench 4, when compared to the aforementioned devices. On comparison with the Nokia 7 Plus and the Xiaomi Mi 6X, both of feature the same Snapdragon 660 SoC found on the Mi A2, the device lagged behind. This is a clear indication that the Android One ROM running on the Mi A2 is poorly optimized.
In day-to-day use, the device fared quite well in the first two days of use, but it started lagging and freezing soon after. On several occasions the device’s screen froze while running a benchmark or playing an intensive game, making the navigation buttons unresponsive and forcing me to force shutdown the device by holding the power button.
Gaming performance on the device was pretty great in less demanding games, but I experienced frequent stutters while playing intensive games like PUBG on medium settings, which were selected by default. Much like the Mi A1, the Mi A2 is an unoptimized mess and I sincerely hope that Xiaomi pushes software updates as soon as possible to improve its performance. For a more detailed look at the Mi A2’s performance check out our performance and gaming review of the device.
The last-gen Mi A1 packed in a 12MP+12MP dual camera setup, with one of the 12MP sensors featuring a telephoto lens for 2x lossless zoom. This year, however, Xiaomi has swapped the telephoto lens with a 20MP secondary sensor which aims to provide better low-light performance. The primary 12MP sensor is also better than the last-gen device, with a f/1.8 aperture, over the Mi A1’s f/2.2.
The Mi A2’s camera performance was quite satisfactory, with the device managing to churn out decent photos in almost all lighting conditions. Images clicked in good lighting conditions were quite sharp and detailed, with accurate color reproduction and no over-saturation. The dynamic range was also pretty great, with the camera managing to capture enough detail to separate a wide array of colors in a single frame. Take a look at some of the images clicked using the Mi A2 in good lighting conditions:
Low light performance was also surprisingly good for a smartphone in this price range, with the Mi A2 being capable enough to capture ample amount of light with great detail and little to no noise. All images clicked in low-light situations were well exposed and there was minimal loss of color saturation due to the low-lighting conditions. Here are a few sample images clicked in low-lighting conditions:
Since the Mi A2 features a dual camera setup, it’s quite obvious that it packs in portrait mode capabilities. Portrait images clicked using the device turn out really nice, with good subject separation, accurate edge detection and a natural background blur. The device didn’t face any problems clicking a wide variety of subjects, including inanimate objects. Here are a few portrait mode shots captured using the Mi A2:
The 20MP f/2.8 front facing sensor is a significant step up from the Mi A1’s 5MP selfie shooter and the difference is quite apparent in the sample images. With plenty of light the selfie shooter on the Mi A2 captures detailed images with great color accuracy and little to no noise. The front-facing camera, however, lacks the dynamic range of the rear camera setup and therefore tends to mess up when the camera is facing a light source.The front facing camera also packs in portrait mode capabilities and the software implementation is quite satisfactory. Portrait mode images captured using the selfie shooter have good subject separation and a nice background blur. Here are a few sample images captured by the Mi A2’s front facing camera:
All-in-all, the Mi A2’s cameras perform quite well and easily beat the competition in all scenarios. Compared to the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 and the Nokia 6.1 Plus, the images captured by the Mi A2 have far more detail, little to no noise and great color accuracy. The cameras may perhaps be the only redeeming feature on the Mi A2.
The primary camera setup on the Xiaomi Mi A2 is also capable of capturing 4K video at 30fps and while the video quality is pretty good, the lack of any form of stabilization means that the resulting video is very shaky. 1080p video at 30fps, on the other hand, makes use of electronic image stabilization and the resulting video looks great and is absolutely stable. Here are the sample videos clicked using the Xiaomi Mi A2’s primary camera:
Mi A2 vs. Competitors: Camera Comparison
While it might not do as well in other scenarios when compared to its competitors, the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 and the Nokia 6.1 Plus, it surely outshines the others in the camera department. Both in good lighting conditions and in low light, the images captured by the Mi A2 have more details and better color reproduction. I was fairly impressed by the camera’s performance. Here are some of the sample images we used for comparison:
As you can probably tell from the sample images, the Mi A2 not only outperforms the other devices in good lighting, but it also fares better in low lighting conditions. Portrait mode images clicked using the Mi A2 also offer better edge detection, a more natural looking bokeh effect and ample amount of details. Check out the sample below:
The front facing 20MP camera on the Mi A2 also outperforms the competition, delivering high-quality images both with and without the bokeh effect. Just take a look at these samples below:
The Mi A2 features a single downward firing speaker which gets reasonably loud and remains quite clear at max volume. However, it suffers from the same problem every device with a downward firing speaker faces, the speaker gets muffled quite easily while using the device in landscape mode and the experience isn’t as ideal as you’d get with a device featuring front facing speakers.
Audio output from the 3.5mm headphone jack is remarkably silent, due to the obvious reason that the device doesn’t have one. I had no problems with the audio quality from the earpiece as I was able to hear the caller loud and clear, even in noisy environments. In the audio department, the Mi A2 is quite comparable to the ZenFone Max Pro M1 and the Nokia 6.1 Plus, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro’s speakers offer a significantly better performance in almost all aspects.
The Xiaomi Mi A2 also falters when it comes to connectivity. While most smartphones in this price range offer at least a hybrid SIM card tray, with some even featuring a triple slot tray with room for two SIM cards and a microSD card, the Mi A2 doesn’t offer either. Even though I personally never feel the need for more than 64GB of storage on my smartphone, as I store most of my media in the cloud and don’t really download movies or TV shows, quite a lot of people in the country do and this makes the Mi A2 less than ideal for said people.
Another missing connectivity option, which I’ve mentioned previously, is the 3.5mm headphone jack and I’ve made my stance very clear regarding the same. Other than that, the Mi A2 features a USB Type-C port, which definitely gives it an edge over competing devices, most of which still feature a micro USB port. For wireless connectivity, the device features 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, an infrared blaster and support for A-GPS, GLONASS and BDS. Even though the device has a satisfactory selection of wireless connectivity options, I wouldn’t rate the device as highly as I would’ve had it not missed out on the microSD expansion slot and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Even in the battery department, the Xiaomi Mi A2 lags behind the competition. The device features a 3,010mAh battery, which compared to the 4,000mAh and 5,000mAh batteries found on the Redmi Note 5 Pro and ZenFone Max Pro M1 isn’t quite as impressive. I conducted an extensive battery test with the Mi A2, to check how it performs in regular use and with intensive use.
Much to my dismay, the Mi A2’s battery is just about average. In regular day-to-day use, which consisted of watching a few videos, some casual browsing, a couple of PUBG games and the usual WhatsApp and calling, I ended the day with about 23 percent battery left and a screen-on time of just over 2 hours.
Under an intensive load, which included running multiple benchmarking applications, playing several games of PUBG and Asphalt 9, along with the activities mentioned in regular day-to-day use, the Mi A2’s 3,010mAh battery drained alarmingly fast. The battery lasted a total of 11 hours, with a screen-on time of about 3 hours and 15 percent charge remaining. While the device’s battery performance is quite comparable to that of the Nokia 6.1 Plus, which has a similar sized battery, it lags far behind the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the ZenFone Max Pro M1 which feature significantly larger batteries at a similar price point.
Xiaomi Mi A2: Should You Buy?
Honestly, no. The Xiaomi Mi A2, unlike the Mi A1 from last year, doesn’t bring anything to the table that other mid-range devices don’t offer. Its competitors – the Redmi Note 5 Pro, ZenFone Max Pro M1 and Nokia 6.1 Plus – perform better in real-world use, and offer a more stable/optimized Android experience. The Mi A2 lacks crucial components, like the 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot, and it features a comparatively smaller 3,010mAh battery. On top of that, its competitors offer great value for money, especially the ZenFone Max Pro M1, making the Mi A2 one of the least desirable smartphones in this price range. The Mi A2 has several shortcomings and the Android One experience that it banks on isn’t that great, so you should definitely skip the device and purchase one of the aforementioned competitors or perhaps save up for the Poco F1.
- Great cameras
- Good speakers
- Nice design and build
- Poorly optimized Android One experience and choppy performance
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
- No microSD card slot for expansion
- Average battery life
Xiaomi Mi A2 Review: Not Worth the Money
Well, that rounds up our review of the Xiaomi Mi A2 (Rs. 16,999). The device offers a decent design and premium build quality at the price range, but it lacks quite a few essential features that users have come to expect from devices in this price range. On top of that, its stock Android performance isn’t as optimized as I expected it to be, making it far less desirable than competing smartphones that run skinned versions of Android. If Xiaomi had optimized the Android experience for the device just a tad bit more, it could have done wonders even without the 3.5mm jack and the microSD card slot, but unfortunately, the devices proves to be as laggy as its predecessor.
In case you’re in the market for a mid-range Android smartphone, you should consider the Redmi Note 5 Pro (Rs. 14,999) and the ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Rs. 14,999), and if you’re looking for a great stock Android experience, you can even consider the Nokia 6.1 Plus (Rs. 15,999). If you can manage to shell out a couple of thousand more, then you should definitely get the new Poco F1. The Mi A2 is just not worth your money.
Buy from Amazon: Rs. 16,999