Now that Google Nexus is officially dead and Android One has mysteriously gone quite for a while now, your only hope for pure Android experience, i.e. Android without bloatware, would be Google-sanctioned devices such as the Pixel line is your only hope. That said, unlike Android One or even the Nexus line, pure Android experience is not for the budget-conscious. Right now, Pixel is premium and alternatives like OnePlus, Motorola and more recently the Essential Phone, which are the closest you can get to pure Android experience, aren’t cheap as well.
Well, while it seems like all hopes are lost, it is not. Because Android One has resurfaced, courtesy of Chinese handset maker (and the maker of pretty much everything), Xiaomi. The company’s freshly announced Mi A1 is an Android One device and if you don’t already know, Android One is the Mountain View tech giant’s initiative to bring stock Android to emerging nations which means, cheap and local handsets. However, the Mi A1 here is anything but cheap, or at least it is not as cheap as they were intended to be. It is definitely not a 50 dollars thing.
At INR 14,999 (Indian Rupees, or about US$234), it is about the priciest budget phone yet, but the saving grace is, the device’s specs aren’t budget too. So I guess, it is the case of you get what you pay for. Speaking of specifications, Mi A1 gets a rather dope premium build. It sports a 5.5-inch LTPS FHD display wrapped in a full-metal body that measures a mere 7.3 mm thin. And it is lightweight too, tipping the scales at just 165g (5.82 ounces). Clockwork is provided by an octacore Snapdragon 625 processor that clocks in at 2.0 GHz with a 650 MHz Adreno 506 taking on the graphics duty. It gets the now industry norm 4GB, along with 64GB onboard storage which is, expected, expandable but only up to 128 GB via microSD card.
Imaging department gets an optical zoom dual-camera comprising of a wide-angle lens 12MP 1.25um with f2.2 aperture and a telephoto lens, also with 12MP sensor but at 1.0um and with f2.6 aperture. The setup comes with a two-tone flash, two times optical zoom, PDAF and promised to deliver low-light photography enhancements, along with HDR adjustment and facial recognition function. Around the front, it gets a 5MP item, also with facial recognition. And oh, it is totally 4K video capable and of course, slo-mo (720p at 120fps) is standard too.
Other details include a 3,080 mAh battery, rear fingerprint sensor, “high-quality sound,” USB Type-C port, dual SIM support, 4G with support for VoLTE as well as older 3G and 2G networks, dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with support for WiFi Direct and WiFi Display, Bluetooth 4.2/HiD, headphone jack, IR blaster, plus a host of sensors that makes a modern day smartphone ticks. Xiaomi Mi A1 is an Android One device powered by Google and as such, out of the box, you’d be getting the suite of Google software including the likes of Google Assistant, Google Photos, Google Play Music, and but perhaps the most attractive proposition is, unlimited photo storage and shared albums.
The device will, of course, run on stock Android OS with promise of Android Oreo by end of the year. So, it is not going to be an Android O device at launch. Anyways, $234 sounds like something I would pay for a pure Android experience (though not so much of it is going to be Android Go), but alas, as it turns out Xiaomi only has eyes on emerging markets, with India being the first to get it (hence the price’s currency indicated in this post) followed by Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Mexico. Xiaomi Mi A1 will also be heading to Hong Kong and Taiwan as well. The last heard, Singapore will be getting the device in October, though price is not known at this point.