Xiaomi Mi A2 Review

Xiaomi Mi A2 Review Xiaomi Mi A2 is a re-branded Xiaomi Mi 6X phone. Xiaomi Mi 6X was 1st launched in Apr 2018, while the A2 was released in July 2018. Mi A1 was one of the best phones in 2017. It combined Xiaomi's hardware chops with the simplicity of Android One, leading to a device that was a delight to use. While the premise of the Mi A1 was great, Xiaomi failed to follow through on a few initial promises — the Oreo update didn't arrive until the start of the year, and when it was rolled out, it was plagued with so many issues that Xiaomi had to pull it. With the Mi A2, Xiaomi is hoping to learn from last year's mistakes. The phone has immensely superior hardware within the variety of a snapdragon 660, together with an upgraded dual-camera at the rear and an 18:9 display up front. That said, the Mi A2 loses out on the 3.5mm jack even though it has the same 7.3mm thickness as the Mi A1, and there's no MicroSD slot as well.


Design and Display

The Xiaomi Mi A2 design is pure Xiaomi. Which is rather a polite way of saying it’s deeply reminiscent of Apple’s recent iPhone work, with the odd crowdsourced Android element for good measure.

This is essentially the exact same phone as the Mi 6X, at least in terms of hardware. From the front, it’s something of a blank slate, with just only the marginally rounded corners of its 18:9 display and a tastefully muted notification light-weight providing any hint of flamboyance.

From the back, the shape and positioning of the Mi A2’s dual-camera unit are pure iPhone X. It protrudes even more than on Apple’s flagship phone, however, which causes the Mi A2 to wobble and clatter quite alarmingly when you lay it down on a hard surface.

The positioning of the phone’s fingerprint sensor three-quarters of the way up the back of the phone is redolent of any number of Android rivals. Which is fine, because it’s easy to feel out, fast and reliable.

Xiaomi clearly didn’t get the 2018 memo that glass is in; the Mi A2’s body is formed of a single piece of matte aluminum. It might not be the hippest cat on the block, but at least this phone will survive a trip to the floor with only a minor ding to show for it.

Derivative style aside, this is often a quietly spectacular phone to wield, with a slim 7.3mm body and a just-so weight of 166g. It feels dense, but not heavy. The stealthy all-black color of the review model only adds to this sensation of understated quality. With this combination of design influences, the Mi A2 reminded me of the OnePlus 5 – another Android phone that wasn’t exactly a design innovator, but which felt great in the hand.

On the bottom of the phone, you get a pair of drilled speaker holes (only one of which is actually a functioning speaker) flanking a USB-C port. Flipping to the top of the phone, you’ll notice an increasing niche however extremely helpful feature within the sort of an IR chargeman. Together with the bundled Mi Remote app, you’ll be able to use the Xiaomi Mi A2 as a stand-in for many of your remote controls.

Unfortunately, even more, notable than this bonus inclusion is what the Xiaomi Mi A2 leaves out. After our complaints regarding the Xiaomi Mi A1 last year, there’s still no NFC here. That means you won’t be able to make use of Google Pay to make mobile payments.

To a particular extent, I might understand the lack of NFC if the first marketplace for the Mi A2 involves countries that haven’t yet embraced mobile payments. But given that this is supposedly a global phone, it’s a little tougher to swallow.

Yes, there’s an adapter bundled in here, but it’s a half-baked solution to a self-inflicted problem.

Xiaomi has equipped its Mi A2 with a big 5.99-inch display, that stretches get in the obligatory 18:9 aspect ratio. It isn’t unmanageable, but in the unlikely event you haven’t grown accustomed to using a second hand for general operation by now, you’d better learn to do so.

As with its choice of metal rather than the glass on the rear of the phone, Xiaomi has ignored prevailing trends on the front. There’s no notch to be found. This is a pure rectangle of a display, rounded corners excepted.

With a Full HD+ 2160 x 1080 resolution, the Xiaomi Mi A2 display is lots sharp enough. It doesn’t get very bright though, even when you turn off auto-brightness and crank up the slider to full.

You’ll definitely want to flick that latter toggle to the off position as well. For some reason, Xiaomi’s adaptive brightness function is all over the place here. It frequently drops the screen brightness way too low in moderate indoor lighting conditions, while we often found it could get uncomfortably bright in darker conditions.

Camera
As with most phones currently, the camera is that the real attraction here. It's common currently to search out dual-lens cameras on budget phones, since to the unwise they appear real fancy. Less common is to find such a well-specced dual-camera on a budget phone.

The Mi A2 has a primary 12MP, f/1.75 lens, and a secondary 20MP, f/1.75 lens. Unlike the Mi A1, there’s no longer a 2x optical zoom lens. Now the secondary lens is dedicated for low light shooting, though it also helps for portrait mode bokeh effects. The Mi A2 uses pixel binning to combine light data from four adjacent pixels on the 20MP sensor into two-micron Super Pixels, resulting in a 5MP image that’s upscaled back to 20MP resolution.

The front-facing camera uses the same 20MP sensor at f/2.0 aperture. It additionally offers front-facing HDR, a 4,500K selfie light-weight and portrait mode. In the camera’s app portrait mode, the Mi A2 will automatically choose the best camera for the conditions. The rest of the time you’ll have to manually switch to the 20MP sensor by swiping over to Manual mode and tapping the button on the side. Despite what you might have read elsewhere, the Mi A2 only switches automatically in portrait mode, which is not all that great.

Weirdly, when you switch between the two rear-facing cameras, you can still leave all the settings in Manual mode on auto. A simple toggle in auto mode would’ve given the 20MP sensing element a far better probability of use by regular people. It looks affordable to assume burying the lens-switching button in Manual mode means that a really little percentage of Mi A2 owners can really use it.

The Mi A2’s camera results range from spectacular to spectacularly confusing. In daylight shots, the Mi A2 has a solid dynamic range and almost never blew out highlights. The Mi A2’s 12MP camera has very good color accuracy, with nice colors without over-saturating and good detail even in the shadows. Even in low light situations, it performs admirably, maintaining good color and contrast, and keeping noise to a minimum. I found portrait mode to be higher than most, although I still wouldn’t suggest it. It’s blur edges are more convincing than the usual misjudged hard crop, but the overall result still looks quite fake.

When you switch to the 20MP sensor things get a little weird. Despite being billed as the “low-light camera,” there’s usually more noise in low-light shots from the 20MP sensor. While it occasionally picks up more detail, it tends to do very weird things to the image quality. Its weird cartoonish “enhancements” create the end result look nothing like reality. Just zoom into the buildings in the two riverside city shots or the foliage to the right of the streetlamp. It looks like a difficulty with image process in manual mode, instead of the hardware.

The Mi A2 offers auto HDR on both the rear and front-facing cameras. There are AI beautification modes if you’re into that kinda thing, a front-facing flash for low-light selfies, a good panorama mode, filters, and a straighten option to correct your wonky horizons. For video, there’s support for 4K at 30fps, FHD at 60 and 30fs, and HD at 30fps. Video stabilization only works well at FHD and it’s best during daylight hours. While the stabilization is still there at night time, it’s much easier to spot, and thus less effective, thanks to the shuddering lights in the footage. There are also slow-motion and time-lapse videos.

Operating System
The Xiaomi Mi A2 is basically the Mi 6X with one notable distinction. It runs pure Android 8.1 Oreo, with no cumbersome MIUI interface stratified on the top. It's also upgradable to Android 9.0 Pie.

Storage and Ram
There are a few RAM and memory configurations: 4GB of RAM with 32GB or 64GB of storage, and 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage.

Conclusion
The Mi A2 is an almost unbeatable budget phone in this price bracket, well designed and offering decent performance and photography. The Xiaomi Mi A2 is a phone that punches way above its weight. A few hardware shortfalls and limited availability drop it just short of an automatic recommendation, but this is deeply impressive stuff from Xiaomi.

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