• Operating System: Android 8.1 Oreo
  • System on Chip: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB, expandable with microSD
  • Display: 5.99-inch 1080 x 2160 IPS
  • Camera: 20+12MP (rear), 20MP (front)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 + A2DP + LE, 802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct
  • Dimensions: 158.7 x 75.4 x 7.3 mm
  • Weight: 166g
  • Pros:
  • Good camera
  • Display
  • Affordable
  • Cons:
  • Thick camera bump
  • Lacks native audio jack

Strong Midrange Choice

The year of 2018 has certainly given us a few affordable midrange options so far and now Xiaomi has chimed in with its own Mi A2 – a device with vanilla Android 8.1 installed. After having it for a few weeks, we find it a good smartphone for those who don’t need the premium bling that certain brands have. Below is our impression of the device.

Xiaomi went with a minimalist approach for the Mi A2, giving it a smooth aluminium body. It has rounded corners and a slightly curved back for some grip, ensuring that it doesn’t slip off despite the smooth metal body. What we didn’t like in terms of design is the thick camera bump at the back, which makes it wobble on tables or any flat surface. Using the included silicone case doesn’t completely eliminate the issue, but does make it less wobbly.

It comes with an 18:9 aspect ratio 5.99-inch IPS display that has great resolution, a fingerprint sensor and dual cameras (20MP and 12MP) at the back, as well as a 20MP front camera and an infrared port on top. Unfortunately, Xiaomi opted to ditch support for a microSD card and 3.5mm audio jack. To use headphones or earphones with the Mi A2, you will need to use the converter that’s included in the box. This also means that you can’t charge the phone while watching videos or listening to music at the same time.

Having a large screen with good resolution makes this device good for watching videos. The brightness is average here but the contrast is quite good. Colour output is decent, but not the most accurate or vibrant we’ve seen. It also leans towards the colder colour temperature, particularly blue and purple.

In terms of overall performance, the Snapdragon 660 chip and 4GB of RAM in the Mi A2 will ensure you have a smooth user experience. We had no issues multitasking or even gaming on it, and the absence of bloatware that hog the system’s resources is always a plus.

Moving on to the cameras, the Mi A2’s rear cameras deliver good detail and sharpness when capturing in HDR mode, though the dynamic range isn’t very wide. Colours have a good balance too, with enough vibrancy in day shots to pop. Low-light shots also have good exposure and detail, thanks to the lens that’s dedicated for low-light conditions.

However, the camera software is a bit basic and while there’s a manual mode, some settings require you to go into the Settings menu, which isn’t what you want to be doing when you want to take a quick photo.

CHIP CONCLUDE: If you’re looking for something affordable, performs well and has a good camera, this smartphone is a choice you should consider – assuming you can ignore the lack of microSD and audio jack.

(previously published in issue September 2018)