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At first glance, the Mi A1 impresses with its minimalistic yet premium design and full metal chassis. The antenna bands fluidly blend with the top and bottom edges at the back, and while they look quite prominent in gold and rose gold variants, they are hardly noticeable in the black variant. There’s a minor camera bump on the back, but it’s not an eyesore.
Also, it’s slimmer than other Xiaomi devices with curved corners which makes it a compact smartphone that fits comfortably in your palm and at 165 grams, it weighs just right too. The buttons on the side and the fingerprint sensor on the back are also comfortably within reach.
Overall, I think it’s the best-designed Xiaomi device in its price segment as yet. It has a refreshing new design language, something similar to what we recently saw with the Mi Max 2, and the Mi A1 looks like a smaller sibling of the Mi Max 2.
The Mi A1 sports a 5.5-inch Full HD display with a 2.5D curved glass, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on top for protection.
The display is quite bright and the text and images look sharp. Even though the display is a tad reflective, sunlight legibility is good enough and viewing angles are great.
For the Android One experiment, Xiaomi goes back to its recent favorite, the Snapdragon 625 chipset paired with 4 GB of RAM. The mid-range Snapdragon 625 processor is not the most powerful in the business, but offers a good balance of power optimization (leading to longer battery life) and performance push.
And with those internals, the Mi A1 does quite well chugging along nicely with whatever one throws at it. I’ve not stress-tested it till now, but multitasking with several apps in the background and everyday navigation is quite breezy. There’s no noticeable lag or stuttering, and the smartphone is quite responsive in everyday usage.
The Mi A1 is powered by stock Android, and comes with Android 7.1.2 out of the box. As an Android One smartphone, it aims to offer pure Android Nougat experience with a guarantee of Android Oreo update before the end of this year. In a surprise announcement at the launch, it was shared that the Mi A1 will also receive the Android P update, whenever it’s available.