Updated: September 5, 2017 4:18:41 pm
Xiaomi Mi A1 is the first smartphone from the Chinese startup to sport a dual-rear camera. But priced at Rs 14,999, that isn’t the only selling point of this phone. For this phone, Xiaomi has partnered with Google’s Android One project, which most of us thought was dead and buried. Just like other Android One phones in the past, the Mi A1 runs stock Android, though this is still on Nougat and the Oreo build is sometime away.
Xiaomi Mi A1 will go on sale on September 12 via company’s Mi.com and Flipkart online. The smartphone will be available offline in Mi Home Stores as well as company’s retail partner stores including Vijay Sales, Croma, eZone, Hotspot, and more. Airtel is giving 200GB of additional data to users who purchase the Mi A1. Xiaomi Mi A1 will also be up for grabs in other markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa as well as America.
Google’s Android One project was first announced in September 2014 in India, when Sundar Pichai was heading Chrome and Android. At the time, the project was all about bringing pure Android and quick updates to the more affordable phones. Google had announced three phones in India at the time in partnership with Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles. All three phones had standard specifications and ran Android OS, but were priced at under Rs 7,000.
But those Android One phones didn’t really set the market on fire, and a second batch never came to India. Google does still have the Android One phones in countries like Japan with Y!Mobile stores, which is a more premium device. In Turkey, there is a complete portfolio of Android One phones with General Mobile.
With Xiaomi’s Mi A1, the Android One program is jumping into the mid-range segment in India, as well as countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Russia and Indonesia. Specifications of the Mi A1 are the same as the Mi 5X. It sports a 5.5-inch full HD resolution display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage (which is expandable), coupled with a 3000/3080 mAh battery. The rear camera is 12MP+ 12MP with a telephoto and a wide angle lens while the front camera remains at 5MP as we’ve seen in some other Xiaomi smartphones.
The phone supports 4G VoLTE in India and this is a dual-SIM smartphone. There’s no added water, dust resistance and Xiaomi has kept the fingerprint sensor at the back of the phone like with other devices.
The highlight is the rear camera, which supports a ‘bokeh’ mode for those who want to take more portraits. On the design front, the Xiaomi Mi A1 continues with the same metal unibody design we’ve seen, though with muted Antenna bands on the top. On the back, it has a horizontal dual-rear camera setup, which does jut out a bit. The black version might remind some of the countless other dual-rear camera smartphones in the market like the OnePlus 5, even iPhone 7 Plus. Xiaomi is launching this in three colour variants: Black, Gold and Rose Gold, which will be made available later on.
Mi A1 is also unique in the sense this is the first phone from the Chinese player which won’t come with the company’s main MIUI installed. MIUI, the company’s customised UI skin, has been a crucial part of Xiaomi phones, and it will be missing from this pure Android phone.
The phone currently runs Android Nougat 7.1.2 and is already on the latest August security patch with both Google and Xiaomi promising regular updates. However, the Android Oreo update for the Mi A1 will roll out by the end of the year, according to Google. It also says the Xiaomi Mi A1 will be among the first to get the Android P update.
Android One phones promise the latest software and a smooth experience, according to Google. The search giant is also stressing that Android One phones are secure from a software perspective and comes with Google Play Protect, which ensures protection against malware.
Xiaomi’s Mi A1 is a made in India smartphone like some of the company’s other offerings. It will also be made available in other markets, which is why Google and Xiaomi refer to this as a global launch.
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