Earlier today at a launch event in New Delhi, Xiaomi announced that they will be joining the Android One program with the launch of the Xiaomi Mi A1. While the phone was only announced today and has seen surprisingly few leaks, Xiaomi has managed to ensure a short gap between the announcement and the release, with the first phones available for sale in just a week from now on September 12th at noon IST on Mi.com and Flipkart for an MSRP of INR 14,999 (~$235), which places it directly in competition with Motorola’s G5S Plus.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is an important step forward for both Xiaomi and for the Android One program, and it is being treated as such. The Xiaomi Mi A1 launch has been given all the pomp and circumstance of a proper flagship phone launch, with Xiaomi calling it a milestone in their global expansion. It may not be the highest priced phone on the market, but it appears to have a solid set of hardware, and the partnership aims to solve problems that both Android One and Xiaomi have.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 platform and brings 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage along with it. The highly efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor creates a package with the 5.5″ (13.5 cm) 1080p display and the 3080 mAh battery that will likely provide the fantastic battery life that Xiaomi has come to be known for.
One of the key features of the device that Xiaomi is highlighting for the Mi A1 is the dual camera optical zoom. Xiaomi is using a system similar to the one used in the Xiaomi Mi 6; pairing a 12 MP, 1.25μm pixels, 26 mm equivalent f/2.2, wide angle camera with a 12MP, 1μm pixels, 50 mm equivalent f/2.2 telephoto camera to allow for seamless optical zoom as well as allowing for depth sensing effects like computational bokeh. The rear cameras will be able to record 4k, 1080p, and 720p videos at 30 Hz, as well as 720p slow-mo videos at 120 Hz. The front camera is a 5MP sensor with 1.12 μm pixels and an f/2 lens.
The 5.5″ 1080p LTPS display has a PPI of 403, a contrast ratio of 1000:1, and is rated for 450 nits of brightness. The phone will come with a 5V 2A charger, USB Type-C, 802.11ac, a rear fingerprint scanner, dual-sim capabilities, and a microSD card slot (which uses the second SIM slot).
Frequency band support is a bit limited for a global phone, but is sufficient for local use. The Xiaomi Mi A1 brings support for GSM Bands 2/4/5/8, UMTS bands 1/2/5/8, and LTE bands 1/3/5/40/41, with VoLTE on compatible networks.
At 163 grams, the phone is a bit on the heavy side compared to the competition, as can often be expected with all-metal phones, but it isn’t large, measuring in at 155.4 x 75.8 x 7.3 mm.
As expected with Android One, the Xiaomi Mi A1 will be launching with one of the latest versions of Android in 7.1.2. The device will be updated to Android Oreo before the end of 2017, and both Xiaomi and Google are hoping for it to be one of the first devices to receive Android P when it eventually gets announced and launched.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 will initially be available in black, gold, and rose gold color variants. Xiaomi put a substantial amount of work into improving their fingerprint resistance on the back of the device, likely aiming to fix the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4‘s issues in that regard, and it seems to have paid off. The Xiaomi Mi A1 is substantially better at avoiding oily fingerprints on its back than previous Xiaomi devices.
Surprisingly, Xiaomi is making a major push for this phone in brick and mortar locations. While the phone will be sold on Mi.com and Flipkart, Xiaomi will also be carrying it in all Mi Home stores, many Mi Preferred Partner stores, and a slew of Large Format Retail partner stores.
While the phone will initially release in India, Xiaomi is stressing that the Mi A1 is a global launch, which will be coming to more than 40 markets around the world. Xiaomi’s global expansion builds upon the work that they have done over the past year with the Xiaomi Mi Note 2 (which we recently reviewed). Hopefully, we will see a version of the Xiaomi Mi A1 with expanded frequency band coverage, as the current band support will limit its usefulness in countries that rely heavily on LTE bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17.
The Xiaomi Mi A1 signals quite a shift for the Android One program. While we have still yet to see any tier one manufacturers join, Xiaomi is by far the largest manufacturer in the program, and should go a long way towards building visibility for Android One handsets, especially in India where Android One was initially targeted and where the Xiaomi Mi A1 will be launching. Android One isn’t reaching the 600 USD price point just yet, but this is a definite step into a higher performance category, and is starting to feel like a shade of Android Silver and Google Play Edition devices. This launch may be indicative of the direction Google wants to take Android One in, especially with how important this launch is being treated as. We can expect to see larger hardware variety in future Android One devices if Google’s words during the announcement are to be believed.
The combination of Xiaomi’s hardware and competitive pricing with the Android One program’s clean Android builds and good support history may prove to be a winning combination that people have been clamouring for.