Review: Xiaomi Mi A2 improves on its predecessor: Page 2 of 2
By Edwin Yapp September 26, 2018
Battery and performance
For a budget phone, the Mi A2 does well in terms of battery longevity. I attribute this to the fact that it not only has a sizable 3,000mAH battery but the fact that it runs Android One.
Just to be clear; Android One is a programme launched by Google Inc to give manufacturers of smartphones the option of using a pure Android operating system, thus giving it parity with Google’s own smartphones.
What this means practically is that the Mi A2 comes already equipped with the latest Android iteration, which is Android Oreo 8.1, which boasts an experience that is devoid of unnecessary clutter and bloatware. It will also be compatible with Android P (Pie) upgrades in time to come.
Android One users also gets the added benefit of getting updates much sooner than most other vendors such as Samsung or Huawei.
Readers would know that I favour the stock Android feel and so the A2 feels great for me to use. Personally, I do think the Oxygen OS on the OnePlus, like the recent OnePlus 6 I reviewed, gives better customisations such as gestures and themes, but the Android One performs well here too.
From a benchmark standpoint, here are the figures. Using Geekbench 4.0, single-core scores were 1,637 while multi-core scores were 4,783. With 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme, it was 1,276, which is decent for the graphics performance.
The results aren’t too bad, as the other Android One smartphone I reviewed in July, the Nokia 7, came in with scores from Geekbench 4.2 at 1,585 for single core mode, while multicore mode scored 5,781. As for AnTuTu, the Mi A2 came in at 130,955, slightly lower than Nokia 7’s 139,245.
On a day-to-day use, everything was good. There was no visible lag, and every app I used while multitasking was working properly. Battery performance is also OK. You can easily get through the day with a relatively heavy use. Screen on time is five hours from 100% to 1%.
Audio performance was OK, loud enough for viewing but not as good quality as the other smartphones I’ve tested in the past. But it’s better than the Nokia 7, given that it’s in the same range.
The real shine was for me in the Android One performance. Snappy and not bloated, the stock Android feel brought out a lot of the characteristics that other smartphone lacked in this area, IMHO.
Camera and video
This is one area that’s often tough to improve on over one’s predecessor. The Mi A1’s phone was pretty decent already, offering detailed and contrasting images as long as there is plenty of light. There wasn’t however auto HDR, which is now standard in the Mi A2, so this is one up on the A1.
Apart from the auto HDR, picture quality has also improved, due to the more megapixel, focal length and sensor size specifications. All these bumps have made the Mi A2 a very good camera in this price range. Selfie shots were also acceptable, and in fact quite good, given it’s 20MP specification.
The camera app is also decent and quite easy to use, thanks to the simplified organisation within the app. All you have to do to change modes is to either swipe left or right to get the mode you want. Swipe right to the end, you’ll also get the manual mode, which allows you to fine tune settings should you want to.
Portrait modes are the in thing today. Basically, the object focused on is brought up closer and more pronounced by increasing the bokeh effect using depth data from the second camera. The Mi A2 does well here, even sometimes being able to show this effect without the use of portrait mode.
Low-light photography was also quite good. While not quite being able to challenge the detail from the high-end phones, such as the recent OnePlus 6 I reviewed, I did find the low light acceptable.
Videos are recorded with various resolutions: [email protected], [email protected] (gyro-EIS), [email protected] My test indicated they were alright, and including the slow motion function. It doesn’t rival the top end, as expected, but it’s acceptable.
Who is the Xiaomi Mi A2 for, you might ask? The straightforward answer to that is that it’s for those who want a fairly high-end specification smartphone and yet prefer the stock Android feel.
Compared for example to the more expensive Huawei Honor 10, which may perform on paper better than the Mi A2, I would prefer the latter as the back-to-basics features works better for me, rather than one that has fancier features such as AI-camera.
The design and build of the Mi A2 is premium enough to be considered a high-end device without having to pay an arm and leg for it. Performance-wise, it has the balance of a good processor, enough memory, good camera, and long battery life.
Yes, some may complain about the absence of NFC and the phone jack, for which I would argue that it’s something that more and more consumers would have to get used to, as this is the trend for the future.
All in all, if you’re in the market for a budget smartphone, I would wholeheartedly recommend buying the Xiaomi Mi A2.