Is the Xiaomi MiA1 its most promising budget smartphone?

The revival of Android One?

We often associate the term “budget” with Xiaomi. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Today, the Chinese company announced its newest smartphone in the MiA1. But it isn’t entirely new.

The specifications

If it wasn’t for the hype, the launch of the MiA1 could have gone unnoticed. That’s because it is just a re-branded version of Xiaomi’s Mi5X. Here’s the low-down on what you’ll be getting with this device:

Display 5.5-inch LTPS IPS LCD; Full HD resolution (1080p); 403ppi
Camera Rear Dual: 12MP (22mm; f/2.2) + 12MP (50mm; f/2.6); 2x optical zoom; phase detection autofocus; 2160p video at 30fps
Front: 5MP; 1080p video
Body 155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3 mm; 165g
Processing Power Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core (up to 2GHz); Adreno 506 GPU
Memory 4GB RAM; 64GB storage; micro-SD card up to 128GB
SIM Card Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
Battery 3,080mAh; Fast Charging compatible
OS Android 7.1.2 (upgradeable to Android 8.0 in Q4)
Network LTE
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.2 LE ; USB Type-C 2.0
Sensors Fingerprint (rear-mounted); accelerometer; gyro; proximity; compass
Security Lock type: Pattern; PIN; Password; Fingerprint

DSLR-like photos at a fraction of the price?

Many manufacturers, high-end or budget, are starting to put dual-cameras on their smartphones. And the MiA1 is no different. With a standard and telephoto lens, the set-up is quite similar to that found on the iPhone 7 Plus – and Xiaomi isn’t shying away from admitting it.

The features will allow you to zoom into a subject without losing quality or capture portraits with the background blurred. Once again though, this is something we have seen with the Mi5X.

Most unique feature?

So if this is just a re-branded phone, why should you be bothered? There is a bit more to it. In the past, Xiaomi phones have had their proprietary MIUI skin dominating the software experience. However, that isn’t the case with the MiA1.

A collaborative effort by Xiaomi and Google

By utilising Android One, this is the flagship so to speak for the platform. Android One’s primary aim was to provide a bloatware-free, pure Android user experience on a budget. And the MiA1 is set to do just that.

A stock UI from a company other than Google makes this phone exciting

The software experience on the Xiaomi MiA1 is one that is similar to a stock Google smartphone such as the Pixel. This means you will see no bloatware and updates to the latest Android versions will be quicker. Xiaomi has stated that the MiA1 is set to receive Android Oreo by the end of the this year, while the phone will also be one of the first to receive Android P in 2018.

Pricing and availability

This phone isn’t aiming to be Xiaomi’s lowest end offering like the Redmi 4 and 4X. But at the same time, it is not high-end by any means. At 14,999 rupees (about Dh859), it slots in nicely between both of these categories. We think the company is banking on the Android One software experience to stand out with this one.

Regions that will see the MiA1

The Xiaomi MiA1 will be available starting September 12. And in addition to India, it will debut in a variety of markets including Europe, the Middle East and Africa. So far, we have not got any confirmation on its official local pricing but stay tuned for future updates.

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