Mid-range smartphones: THE SHOOTOUT

Xiaomi Mi A1: Punching above its weight

PHOTO: XIAOMI

Xiaomi's Mi A1 offers impressive hardware and software at a low price, making it one of the breakout mid-tier phones of the year.

The $349 smartphone punches above its weight, with features like dual rear cameras, an all-aluminium body and a Snapdragon 625 processor, along with a stock version of Android that ensures it gets the latest updates the moment they are released.

It's a comfortable medium-sized phone with a 5.5-inch full HD display with good colour saturation and vibrancy.

The Mi A1 runs smoothly with minimal lag, due to the clean Android operating system that isn't bogged down by additional resources.

Xiaomi had to make some cuts, however. Most notably, the Mi A1 lacks near-field communication, which means it does not support cashless apps like Android Pay. It also lacks fast charging, which is a useful thing to have.

And while the Mi A1's dual cameras are an indication of its flagship aspirations, the phone uses lower-end sensors that take decent photos but won't wow anyone.

The cameras falter in low light, producing soft, fuzzy and sometimes rather noisy images.

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

But the Mi A1's zoom lens lets it take some great portrait pictures, with a passable soft background bokeh effect, but only in proper lighting and with some setting up to ensure that the subject is well-lit and in focus.

Lester Hio

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Xiaomi Mi A1: Punching above its weight'. Print Edition | Subscribe