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Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

The mid-range smartphone segment, as always, is on fire. The Xiaomi Mi A2, the brand’s latest entry to the segment, is definitely one that can shake things up. It is the brand’s second Android One device, after the Mi A1.

It’s packing powerful mid-range specs and promising cameras, so let’s see if it actually can shake things up. Find out in our full review.

Design and Construction

When we first got our hands on this phone at the launch event in Madrid, the design immediately stood out to us. It’s impressive because both facets of design, aesthetics and build quality, are above average.

It has visual features of the pre-notch era including thick top and bottom bezels, only moderately slim side bezels, and a non-glass back. It’s not exactly a blast from the past either though, with a prominent rear camera bump enough to rival the iPhone X, as well as sleek curves on the side and nicely spaced components.

We will dive deeper into software later, but we need to address this now because a smartphone’s UI on screen is just as much part of the overall design as the actual hardware — we saw this with the Mi A1, but seeing a Xiaomi device not running MIUI is visually different, and a breath of fresh air for someone like me who prefers stock Android.

On the front face is the 5.99-inch FHD+ LTPS display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. As mentioned earlier, we have thick top and bottom bezels and side bezels that are thick by 2018 standards. The only other components here are the 20MP front camera, call speaker, and notification LED, all populating the top bezel.

The backside has a very nice, smooth matte finish on the aluminum, and is sparsely populated as well. The dual 12MP + 20MP + LED flash rear camera module and fingerprint scanner are all we have. The Mi A2 is a fairly tall phone, but even when holding it towards the bottom, the fingerprint scanner is still an easy reach.

Also at the back is an Android One stamp to signify that you are, in fact, using a Mi A2 instead of a Mi 6X, which is basically the MIUI version of this phone.

On the left side, we have a dual nano-SIM tray without a place for a microSD card, which is perhaps one of the Mi A2’s biggest design caveats.

The right side houses the volume rocker and power/lock button. The buttons are nice and clicky, and the power/lock button sits below the volume control, making for easy thumb control.

Up top, we have the secondary microphone and IR blaster, while the bottom houses the audio grilles that sandwich the USB Type-C port.

Holding the Mi A2 is nice thanks to the curved edges and smooth back, but is slightly slippery due to the latter. This can be remedied by using the jelly case that Xiaomi includes in the box.

Display and Multimedia

The Mi A2 has a 5.99-inch FHD+ (2160 x 1080) LTPS display with a pixel density of 403ppi. The resolution is good enough to satisfy the viewing needs of most users. The display is sharp and vibrant with colors that pop out, good contrast, and is bright enough for outdoor use on a sunny day.

Since the Mi A2 runs stock Android, there isn’t any built-in display tuning software, but you do get adaptive brightness, and “Night Light”, which will filter out the blue light from your screen at a set time of day.

Like most devices in its class, this phone uses a single down-firing speaker beside the Type-C port. It is quite loud and can somewhat fill up a small, quiet room. Quality isn’t impressive, but hey, it’s a smartphone. There’s a good amount of highs and mids, and lows are present, but not strong. It’s decent for hands-free calls, listening to music, watching videos, and gaming.

Camera

One of the highlights of the Mi A2 is its set of cameras. At the rear, it uses a dual setup consisting of a 12MP Sony IMX 486 sensor and a 20MP Sony IMX 376 sensor. The front camera is a 20MP Sony IMX 376 sensor as well.

The camera app is one of the only things truly ‘Xiaomi’ about the Mi A2, as it uses the one found in MIUI. Features include HDR, HHT (Hand-held Twilight), Beautify, Panorama, Portrait, Tilt-shift, Straighten, Group Selfie, and Manual Mode.

The price and raw specs of this device are the initial hooks for prospective buyers, but the abilities of the cameras are more of a sleeper hit than you’d think. They are impressive.

Let’s begin with the rear cameras. First, autofocus is very fast and accurate. Images are very sharp and even small details in the distance are captured. Colors pop out, though, are a tad too saturated for post-production work. This generally means, though, that images are good for posting after the fact — this is Xiaomi’s camera AI scene detection at work, ensuring exposure and colors suited to the situation.

Dynamic range is a little lacking, but low-light performance is solid.

We were pleasantly surprised at how well the portrait mode works when you have enough distance between the subject and background. The device’s camera AI does a great job of not only separating the subject and background but also individually post-processing each.

Video recording with the rear cameras is a dream with very smooth stabilization and up to 4K 30fps for those crispy shots. Other video features include time-lapse and 120fps slow-motion at 720p.

As mentioned earlier, the selfie shooter is a 20MP Sony IMX 376 sensor, same as the secondary rear camera. Quality is good as well, though not the same caliber as the rear pair. Images are still fairly sharp, but colors aren’t spot on, especially when capturing skin tones.

Scenarios with bright backlighting or HDR situations make the front camera struggle despite the built-in HDR mode.

Portrait selfies are decent at best, providing good subject-background separation with the right distance, as well as nice bokeh.

The face smoothening/beautification is a little too aggressive and reminds us of OPPO and VIVO phones.

OS, UI, and Apps

At the time of writing, the Mi A2 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo. Aside from the camera app, you’re getting the full vanilla Android experience as intended by Google. It’s either preferred by many, or a blank slate for those fond of deep, advanced customization.

There are a lot of users who do like MIUI, but what’s nice about this is that there are actually options now. Xiaomi now has three devices (Mi A1, Mi A2, Mi A2 Lite) running stock Android in a sea of MIUI.

The stock Android UI is both clean and functional. It’s got those Google-style icons on the default apps, and you have a built-in app drawer if folders and multiple home screens aren’t your jam.

Navigation is done with the usual three on-screen buttons (back, home, recent apps), but when Android Pie drops for this device, there will be more gestures available.

The only pre-installed apps here is the typical Google suite, and the only other Xiaomi app other than the camera, is Mi Drop, a P2P file sharing app.

Performance and Benchmarks

Powering the Mi A2 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz, Adreno 512 GPU, and 4GB/6GB of LPDDR4X RAM. This is the same configuration found in the Vivo X21, as well as the Nokia 7 Plus. Our unit is the 4GB RAM model.

The Snapdragon 660 is more than a year old at this point, but it’s still a very respectable mid-range chip that packs performance and efficiency. Standard, everyday operation is no problem at all, whether it’s navigating the UI, browsing the web or social media, media consumption, or taking photos.

The phone scored well in our synthetic benchmark tests, scoring over 131,000 in AnTuTu. Compared to the similarly specced Vivo X21 and Nokia 7 Plus though, it lags behind slightly for some reason. This may be attributed to this model of the Mi A2 having 4GB of RAM instead of 6GB, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad performer either.

  • AnTuTu v7 – 131,748
  • Geekbench 4 – 1,653 (Single-core), 4,836 (Multi-core)
  • 3D Mark – 1,269 (SSE – OpenGL ES 3.1), 1,035 (SSE – Vulkan)
  • PC Mark  – 6,756

It can handle light to moderate games with ease, no stuttering or frame drops in sight. Heavier, more graphics-intensive games suffer from occasional frame drops at high settings but are still very playable. It gets slightly warm during gaming sessions, but not so much so that it causes discomfort.

Call Quality, Connectivity, and Battery Life

The Mi A2 comes packed with all your standard connectivity features, namely Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, 4G LTE, and region-based location services (GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS).

Bluetooth 5.0 is very nice to have as the phone can pair very fast with multiple devices. Not having NFC is strange, especially for a device that is expected to be popular in countries where tap-to-pay systems are growing. GPS is accurate, and I personally had no problems getting around Madrid using Google Maps during the launch last month.

Powering the Mi A2 is a 3,010mAh non-removable Li-ion battery. The included charger is a standard, non-fast charging unit, though Quick Charge 3.0 is supported. Using a QC 3.0 charger, it charges from 0% to 100% in just a little over an hour.

Another thing unimpressive about this phone is battery life, which is just average at best. In our standard video loop test (1080p mp4 video played in a loop, airplane mode, 50% volume and brightness, headphones plugged in), it lasted 12 hours and 31 minutes. In the PC Mark Work 2.0 battery test, it got a result of 7 hours and 44 minutes.

Conclusion

The Xiaomi Mi A2 is a great mid-range device that can almost match the performance of devices like the Vivo X21 and Nokia 7 Plus, which are more expensive. It’s not a pure performance standout in the mid-range market since that title now belongs to the Honor Play.

Its most shining attribute, however, is its cameras. We were handily impressed by the capabilities of the rear cameras especially for their ability to deliver great images without having to do any extra work. Whether it’s photos or videos, pointing, and clicking is enough. The design and build quality also get high marks from us for the simplicity, sturdy feel, and smoothness.

Perhaps the biggest flaw of the Mi A2 is its battery. We would have loved it even more if it could last longer and if Xiaomi included a QC 3.0 charger in the package. Overall, we cannot recommend the Mi A2 if what you’re after, is a performance that lasts the whole day. If you’re looking for a mid-range phone that can take amazing photos and videos though, this is it. The 4GB + 64GB variant of the Xiaomi Mi A2 is priced at Php13,990 and is available at Mi Store Philippines branches.

Xiaomi Mi A2 specifications

  • 5.99-inch FHD+ LTPS display @ 2160 x 1080px, 403ppi
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 2.2GHz Octa-core processor
  • Adreno 512 GPU
  • 4GB, 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 64GB. 128GB internal storage
  • 12 MP (f/1.75,, 1.25µm) Sony IMX 486 + 20 MP (f/1.75, 1.0µm) Sony IMX 376 dual rear cameras with LED Flash
  • 20 MP (f/1.8, 1.0µm) Sony IMX 376 front camera with HDR
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • Gyroscope
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • USB 2.0 Type-C (supports Quick Charge 3.0)
  • Android One (Android 8.1 Oreo)
  • 3,010mAh non-removable battery
  • 158.7 x 75.4 x 7.3 mm
  • 168 g
  • Colors: Gold, Blue, Black

What we liked: 

  • Nice big display
  • Good design and build quality
  • Superb camera quality
  • Respectable performance
  • Good price point

What we didn’t:

  • Average battery
  • QC 3.0 charger not included
  • No micro SD slot
  • Huge rear camera bump
  • Doesn’t perform as well as similarly specced phones

 

 

 

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Avatar for Joey Maceda

Joey is YugaTech's Video Production Manager. He constantly puts effort towards his aspirations to be a filmmaker and journalist... when he's not riding his bike, playing games on his PC, watching anime, cooking, and petting his dogs.

5 Responses

  1. Avatar for m.2 slot graphic card m.2 slot graphic card says:

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  2. Avatar for Reggie Reggie says:

    Hi Joey! Great review. When the supplied jelly case is in place does it protrude beyond the camera bump, providing lift and protecting the lens from scratches? TIA

    • Avatar for Cris Cris says:

      Mentioning the supplied Jelly Case, it just protrude just beside the edge of the camera which will still leave the camera lens vulnerable. If you want it to be protected, you may really need to buy an extra casing like me, I bought a bulky case to compensate the bulk of the camera lens. It’s now leveled from the back.

  3. Avatar for Jay-R Baltazar Yacap Jay-R Baltazar Yacap says:

    I might’ve missed the details but can you please elaborate “Doesn’t perform as well as similarly specced phones”. Please. Waiting for “the” answer.

    • Avatar for Joey Maceda Joey Maceda says:

      It has the same chipset as the Vivo X21 and Nokia 7 Plus but doesn’t perform as well as those phones despite that.

      Though as I said in the Performance and Benchmarks section, “This may be attributed to this model of the Mi A2 having 4GB of RAM instead of 6GB.”

      Hope this clears things up for you, Jay-R!

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