Xiaomi has in India announced its Mi A1, which differs from the other handsets in the company’s line-up by running not MIUI but Android One, meaning it has full access to Google services out of the box.
Xiaomi now has five Mi Home stores in India, with the first opening in May 2017. In the next year it plans to open a further 100 stores in India, suggesting the company has big plans for the country.
What is Android One?
Android One was introduced as an affordable smartphone solution by Google in June 2014, marking its attempt to extend Android’s reach into new markets. At the time it said it would help it to connect the next billion users.
Android One is a list of competitive specifications that allows any OEM to build a low cost affordable smartphones with up-to-date hardware. These devices run stock Android and receive updates direct from Google, although vendors can add their own apps if they choose.
Android One in essence sets a minimum standard for the very cheapest Android devices, ensuring that Google’s software is able to run the way it expects it to, and importantly with full access to Google Play – many of Xiaomi’s smartphones are sold without access to Android’s usual app store.
Xiaomi says the Mi A1 runs a pure Google interface, which benefits from Google Play Protect and monthly security updates. The phone will be upgraded to Android Oreo by the end of the year, and as an Android One device it will be one of the first to get next year’s updated OS.
How to buy Xiaomi Mi A1 in the UK
The Mi A1 has an RRP of RS 14,999 in India, which converts to £179.43 in Sterling. However, since it’s not officially available in the UK, you’ll need to pay a little over the odds to obtain one.
AliExpress currently lists the Xiaomi Mi A1 between £194.65 and £221.12. It will ship orders as soon as it has stock, but they may take a few weeks to arrive in the UK from China.
If you are considering purchasing the Mi A1 from AliExpress, keep in mind that goods shipped from China will incur import duty when they arrive in the UK. This is calculated at 20 percent of the value on the shipping paperwork, plus an admin fee of around £11.
Official markets for the Mi A1 are displayed in the image below:
Xiaomi Mi A1 Features & Specifications
With Android One onboard you might think the Mi A1 a cheap device, but it’s got some impressive specs and a good-looking design.
Turn over the fingerprint-resistant full-metal body and you’re greeted with a dual-camera, making this the first Xiaomi phone to go on sale in India with such a feature. The premium design that features a large 5.5in full-HD display with Gorilla Glass protection and smooth, rounded edges.
Available in black, gold and rose gold, the 7mm-thick Mi A1 is 168g in weight. It has a fingerprint scanner on the rear for securing access; you’ll also find an increasingly rare IR blaster on the top.
It’s been hailed as Xiaomi’s first dual-camera phone, which isn’t strictly true. It is the first dual-camera Xiaomi phone to go on sale in India, however.
The dual-camera setup houses separate 12Mp wide-angle and telephoto lenses with 2x optical zoom and up to 10x digital zoom. Large 1.25um pixels enable significantly more intake of light for better low-light photography.
Google Photos is preinstalled for automatically backing up any photos taken on the Mi A1, but Xiaomi bundles its own MIUI camera app rather than Google’s alternative.
Inside is a Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor, which was built on the 14nm manufacturing process and is integrated with the Adreno 506 GPU. It promises smooth performance and decent battery life, and with a pyrolytic graphite sheet that is said to decrease the temperature by 2°C the Mi A1 shouldn’t get hot in use.
This chip is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, along with a 3,080mAh battery that charges over USB-C.
For audio the Dirac HD Sound algorithm can produce a more natural and transparent sound, claims the company. There’s also a 10V smart power amplifier, which Xiaomi says improves playback quality and protects the speakers from damage at high volumes. The Mi A1 can support high-impedance headphones up to 600 ohms.
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