Xiaomi's phones have always stood out for the sheer value for money they offered, but MIUI takes some getting used to. That's what makes the Mi A2 such an enticing option — you're getting that same great hardware as well as a pure Android experience. Here's what you can look forward to from the Mi A2.
Android One on Xiaomi hardware is still great
The launch of the Android One-based Mi A1 last year was a major departure for Xiaomi, which has touted its MIUI skin as a key differentiator since its inception.
The Mi A1 didn't push the needle in terms of sales nearly as much as the Redmi Note 5 series, but it was a hit with users looking to get an uncluttered software experience along with great hardware.
The Mi A2 doesn't deviate much from that ideal, and the software is near-identical to last year. There are a few additions from Xiaomi — including a Mi Remote app to facilitate usage of the IR blaster, Mi Store, Mi Community, and Xiaomi's own file manager, but aside from that, it's the same great Android experience as you'll get from any Android One phone today.
Snapdragon 660 is the best mid-range chipset right now
Xiaomi rolled out a few devices with the Snapdragon 660 over the course of the last 12 months, but the Mi A2 is the first global device from the manufacturer to feature the chipset. And that's great, because the Snapdragon 660 is one of the best chipsets available today.
The Snapdragon 660 has Kryo 260 cores that are clocked up to 2.2GHz. The Kryo cores offer the same level of performance as the Snapdragon 820, and it manages to do so on devices that retail for under $400.
Alongside the Snapdragon 660, the Mi A2 also offers up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. That particular option will set customers back to the tune of $410, the 4GB/64GB option strikes the sweet spot, coming in at just $325.
The 18:9 panel offers more screen real estate
I'm not a fan of the notch, and thankfully Xiaomi didn't go that route with the Mi A2 (the A2 Lite, though, does have one). The Mi A2 has a more sensible 18:9 panel, and while there are noticeable bezels at the top and bottom, you do get much more screen real estate in roughly the same dimensions as the Mi A1.
The 5.99-inch FHD+ (2160x1080) screen on the Mi A2 is backed by Gorilla Glass 5, which should offer a decent amount of protection against tumbles.
Talking about design in general, the Mi A2 is significantly thinner than its predecessor, and that's immediately evident from the moment you pick up the phone. The design language hasn't changed all that much from last year, and the black variant of the Mi A2 in particular looks very similar to that of the Mi Max 2.
Both the front an rear cameras have been overhauled
The rear camera on the Mi A2 now features a 12MP + 20MP configuration, and unlike last year, the secondary sensor isn't a telephoto lens. Instead, it is used primarily for taking photos in low-light conditions.
Like the OnePlus 5T last year, the Mi A2 automatically switches between the two sensors based on the amount of ambient light available. The 20MP IMX376 sensor is preferred over the 12MP IMX486 module as the former relies on pixel binning to reduce noise for low-light shots.
To make things more interesting, Xiaomi is rolling out the ability to switch between the 12MP or 20MP camera manually — the 12MP lens is denoted the standard lens and the 20MP listed as the low-light sensor in the manual mode settings.
The same 20MP IMX376 sensor is present up front as well, and it also uses pixel binning to produce selfies that are full of detail. Like most of its devices this year, Xiaomi is leveraging AI smarts to include a portrait mode for the front camera, and there's also an LED flash module at the front that kicks in when taking selfies in low-light scenarios.
The Mi A2 builds on the strengths of its predecessor in this area, and could just be one of the best
Quick Charge 4.0 exclusive to India — QC 3.0 everywhere else
One feature that's thankfully intact from last year is Quick Charge 3.0. Xiaomi hasn't always offered a compelling charging solution on a majority of its phones — sticking to 5V/2A instead — but the Mi A1 and the Mi Max 2 were the exceptions last year in the budget category.
But if you're picking up the Mi A2 from India, you'll be able to use Quick Charge 4.0 speeds. Xiaomi has stated that it will offer Quick Charge 4.0 exclusively for the Indian market, which is great news for customers looking to pick up the Mi A2. There's far too few devices that offer QC4.0 — and even fewer wall chargers — but it's a move in the right direction.
The Mi A2 comes with a standard 5V/2A charger out of the box, so you'll have to use a third-party wall unit to leverage Quick Charge 3.0/4.0.
More to come
We've barely scratched the surface with the Mi A2. The phone has plenty going for it, and the hardware updates make it a much more compelling option if you're looking to pick up a phone for under $400.
As for availability, Xiaomi says the Mi A2 will be heading to over 40 global markets in the coming months, so it shouldn't be too difficult to get a hold of the device.
What are your thoughts on the Mi A2? Let us know in the comments below.