Flashback: Xiaomi’s promising but ill-fated Android One phones


After the Google Play Edition program failed, Google labored with makers to create a brand new line of “pure Android” units – Android One. Eradicating bloatware was solely one of many objectives, One telephones differed from Play Version fashions in a number of different methods.

As you may inform by the headline, we need to deal with one explicit department – the 4 fashions launched by Xiaomi – and what their final destiny was. The One program continues to be round, largely saved alive by Nokia, however Google has moved on to different methods of attempting to attain the unique objectives.

These objectives, should you who don’t bear in mind, have been to construct a line of reasonably priced units for rising markets. Android One was designed to work on methods with little RAM and to spare the battery as a lot as attainable. The primary One telephones have been constructed on a typical platform and got here out in 2014. Later fashions provided diversified {hardware}.

Xiaomi was comparatively late to the social gathering – its first providing, the Xiaomi Mi A1, got here out in late 2017. Nonetheless, it was the primary Android One system to be obtainable globally (in 37 markets). The identical {hardware} was additionally obtainable because the Mi 5X in China, operating Xiaomi’s common MIUI software program.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

The Mi A1 model arrived with Android 7.1 Nougat. It was largely pure Android, although Google did allow some maker apps to be pre-loaded, not like the stricter Play Version telephones. Additionally, Android One telephones could possibly be offered by way of the maker’s common retail channels, whereas the others have been restricted to the Google Play Retailer (a significant a part of why they failed). Nicely, the excessive costs didn’t assist both.

Regardless of what its different identify may counsel, the Mi A1 didn’t even have a lot in widespread with its comtemporaries from the Mi 5 collection, which had flagship {hardware}.

It had a decently giant 5.5” 1080p show, an IPS LCD panel (the Mi 5 had a 5.15” show). It was a very good show with nice distinction and never so nice colour rendering. The show was protected by Gorilla Glass 3, whereas the chassis was made out of aluminum.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

The cellphone was powered by the Snapdragon 625, a 14nm chip identified for its effectivity. It wasn’t significantly quick with eight Cortex-A53 CPU cores (2.0 GHz) and an Adreno 506, nevertheless it acquired the job finished. It was paired with 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of storage (eMMC 5.1), plus a microSD slot.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

As we talked about, one of many design objectives for Android One was to run on low cost, low-RAM units, although the Mi A1 was not one in all them. As an alternative, it tried to lure in consumers who preferred Xiaomi {hardware} and costs, however weren’t followers of MIUI.

The cellphone even had a twin digital camera with a 12MP most important module (1/2.9” sensor, 1.25µm pixels) and a 12MP telephoto module (2x magnification, 50mm). The principle digital camera may report 4K video at 30 fps, one thing that eludes some mid-rangers even at the moment.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

Listed below are some digital camera samples for an indication of what the Mi A1 was able to:


Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/2150s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1541s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1967s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1681s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1967s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1849s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review


Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1744s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1926s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 125, 1/60s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 125, 1/60s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 125, 1/695s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP regular camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1185s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review

Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP most important digital camera samples


Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP telephoto samples - f/2.6, ISO 100, 1/1650s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP telephoto samples - f/2.6, ISO 100, 1/1015s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP telephoto samples - f/2.6, ISO 100, 1/2800s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP telephoto samples - f/2.6, ISO 100, 1/2310s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP telephoto samples - f/2.6, ISO 100, 1/1540s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP telephoto samples - f/2.6, ISO 100, 1/1249s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review

Xiaomi Mi A1 12MP telephoto digital camera samples

Additionally, some low-light images (these will develop into related later):


Xiaomi Mi A1 low-light samples with HHT enabled - f/2.2, ISO 6400, 1/13s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 low-light samples with HHT enabled - f/2.2, ISO 1600, 1/13s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 low-light samples with HHT enabled - f/2.2, ISO 6400, 1/13s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 low-light samples with HHT enabled - f/2.2, ISO 6400, 1/13s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 low-light samples with HHT enabled - f/2.2, ISO 2000, 1/13s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review
Xiaomi Mi A1 low-light samples with HHT enabled - f/2.2, ISO 6400, 1/13s - Xiaomi Mi A1 review

Xiaomi Mi A1 low-light samples with HHT enabled

There was additionally a fingerprint reader on the again. The battery sealed inside had 3,080 mAh capability. Whereas it didn’t assist quick charging, the bundled 10W charger acquired from zero to 30% in half an hour, which was stable for the time. The environment friendly Snapdragon managed to stretch the battery to a really respectable 87 hour endurance score.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 was priced at ₹15,000 (just below €200 on the time), although costs in Europe have been considerably increased, €230-€300, relying on the place you bought it. Nonetheless, the A1 launch was a giant deal – it was one of many first Xiaomi fashions to launch in Europe. Xiaomi believed the cellphone had broader attraction than its common MIUI units, which gave it the arrogance to develop to new markets.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

One of many guarantees of Android One was quick updates. The telephones have been slated to obtain two OS updates (certainly, the Mi A1 acquired up to Android 9 Pie in late 2018) in addition to three years of safety patches. This was Google’s means of attempting to advertise longer software program assist for Android telephones and the discount of bloat helped maintain updates easy.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 arrived in mid-2018. It had a bigger 5.99” 1080p show and a extra highly effective Snapdragon 660 chipset with 4 Cortex-A73 derived cores and an Adreno 512 offering some further oomph. The bottom configuration had 4GB of RAM once more and provided a 6GB improve.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

Storage began at 32GB once more, although Xiaomi had eliminated the microSD slot. There have been 64GB and 128GB choices, however the expandability boosted A1’s value-for-money picture. Followers have been additionally irked by the elimination of the three.5mm headphone jack.

The Mi A2 modified the twin digital camera setup as nicely. The 2x telephoto module was gone, changed by a 20MP digital camera with a 1/2.8” sensor (1.0 µm pixels) and a brighter f/1.8 aperture, which was meant to assist with low-light pictures.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

The outcomes have been really fairly good, although we nonetheless missed the tele module. On the plus aspect, the lowly 5MP selfie digital camera of the unique was changed by a extra succesful 20MP shooter. It carried out very well in good mild, for low-light conditions it had a devoted LED flash.

Here’s what the primary 12MP digital camera may do by itself:


Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/3224s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/3116s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/4065s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 125, 1/4674s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review


Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/3739s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/4249s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/2597s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 camera samples, HDR on - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/3739s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review

Xiaomi Mi A2 digital camera samples, HDR on

The 20MP secondary digital camera did assist take higher images at midnight:


Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Auto - f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/20s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Manual, regular lens - f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/20s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Manual, low-light lens - f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/20s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review


Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Auto - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Manual, regular lens - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Manual, low-light lens - f/1.8, ISO 2500, 1/17s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review


Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Auto - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Manual, regular lens - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/15s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review
Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light camera samples: Manual, low-light lens - f/1.8, ISO 2500, 1/17s - Xiaomi Mi A2 review

Xiaomi Mi A2 low-light digital camera samples: Auto • Handbook, common lens • Handbook, low-light lens

Regardless of the bigger physique, the A2 didn’t enhance battery dimension and introduced a 3,000 mAh energy cell. It did introduce assist for 18W Fast Cost, nonetheless (v3 globally, v4 for India).

The Xiaomi Mi A2 launched with Android 8 Oreo and obtained its second main OS update to Android 10 in early 2020. The bottom value went up and the 4/32GB mannequin now began at €250 with the highest 6/128GB choice going as much as €350.

Xiaomi additionally provided a decrease price model, the Mi A2 Lite. It break up the distinction in display dimension and got here with a 5.84” IPS LCD (1080p) and it launched a notched design to the collection (a controversial transfer, as you may think about).

The Lite used the identical Snapdragon 625 as the unique. This one reduce the bottom configuration to three/32GB (with a 4/64GB choice), however a minimum of it restored the microSD slot (and three.5mm headphone jack too).

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

The cellphone had saved the 12MP most important digital camera and dropped the low-light digital camera, changing it with a 5MP depth sensor. This one did have a bigger 4,000mAh battery, although, which was a welcome improve.

The Mi A2 Lite was cheaper than even the unique mannequin with a €180 base value (3/32GB) and a €230 improve (4/64GB). Nonetheless, given the digital camera state of affairs (which misplaced its 4K recording capabilities), the Mi A1 appeared just a little higher than the Lite. Notice that each the Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite have been additionally obtainable with MIUI in China.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

This brings us to the Xiaomi Mi A3, which arrived in mid-2019. This was the final mannequin within the collection (no Lite mannequin this time round) and in addition the purpose the place the cracks have been actually beginning to present.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

The {hardware} confirmed some spectacular upgrades with a 48MP most important digital camera (1/2”, 0.8µm, f/1.8). There was no devoted telephoto lens, however this sensor had native 2x lossless zoom. For the primary time an ultrawide digital camera was obtainable with a 13mm lens and an 8MP sensor. There was additionally a 2MP depth sensor on board. The selfie digital camera was additional upgraded to a 32MP sensor.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

Take a look at digital camera samples from the Mi A3 beneath (these use the 2-to-1 pixel binning):


Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/1537s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/1590s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/1537s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/2096s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review


Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/1590s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/2562s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/2427s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/1708s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review

Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP images

And some full-resolution 48MP photographs for these :


Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/1469s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 103, 1/1626s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/1570s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/2168s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review


Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 102, 1/1518s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/2396s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/2168s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP photos - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/1686s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review

Xiaomi Mi A3 48MP images

As we mentioned, the Mi A3 lacked a devoted telephoto digital camera, however the high-resolution sensor provided an alternate method to zoom in:


Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP 2x zoomed photos - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/1397s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP 2x zoomed photos - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/1773s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP 2x zoomed photos - f/1.8, ISO 101, 1/1441s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review

Xiaomi Mi A3 12MP 2x zoomed images

Not like earlier fashions, the A3 had an ultrawide digital camera:


Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/1133s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/973s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1186s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1380s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review


Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/1168s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 102, 1/1898s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1549s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review
Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide photos - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/1133s - Xiaomi Mi A3 review

Xiaomi Mi A3 8MP ultra-wide images

The battery mixed the perfect out of the A2 era – the 4,000 mAh capability of the Lite and the 18W quick charging of the common mannequin.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

The Mi A3 switched to the Snapdragon 665, although efficiency was the identical because the 660 (regardless of utilizing a smaller 11nm node as a substitute of 12nm). The cellphone nonetheless felt quicker total, helped by the improve to UFS 2.1 (quicker storage than the eMMC utilized in earlier fashions).

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

Xiaomi additionally heard followers and introduced again the microSD slot and the three.5mm headphone jack. The cellphone nonetheless lacked NFC, which wasn’t best, however earlier fashions didn’t have it both.

A few downgrades have been much more disappointing. The show grew to six.09” and switched to a Tremendous AMOLED. That sound nice till you discover the 720 x 1,560 px decision, too low for a mid-ranger in 2019.

Additionally, whereas the back and front have been shielded by Gorilla Glass 5, the all-metal physique of earlier releases gave method to a plastic body.

Flashback: Xiaomi's promising but ill-fated Android One phones

The Xiaomi Mi A3 arrived with a base value of €250, identical because the A2. The low decision show and the plastic construct rubbed some followers the improper means, however there have been nonetheless those that believed within the Android One dream.

The dream turned to nightmare for Mi A3 homeowners, nonetheless. The cellphone made its debut with Android 9 Pie and appeared ahead to the normal two OS updates. You’ll be able to in all probability inform the place that is going.

The Android 10 update first began seeding in March 2020, nevertheless it was shortly pulled after some customers reported that their telephones turned unresponsive. The rollout resumed a few weeks later with the difficulty seemingly resolved. One other situation was found, so the replace to Android 10 needed to be tried for a third time. That also had a number of bugs in it, which have been corrected a number of weeks later.

Xiaomi Mi A3 starts receiving stable Android 10 for the third time

Sadly, issues didn’t go higher when it got here to replace to Android 11. The unique launch on the finish of December 2020 was bricking phones. It was pulled a number of days later, however that was too late for some. With no simple repair, individuals needed to mail of their bricked telephones to get them mounted.

Android 11 is rolling out to the Xiaomi Mi A3 and bricking phones left and right

It took till the top of January earlier than Xiaomi may work out the difficulty and eventually launch a “brick-free” Android 11 update. At this level followers had misplaced any belief that they had in Xiaomi’s A-series – Android One’s purity was presupposed to make updates fast and simple. The Mi A3 expertise was something however.

This wasn’t an Android One situation, not so far as we are able to inform, one thing was significantly improper with how Xiaomi was creating its One software program. Plus, the inventory UI and restricted pre-installed apps didn’t show to be the draw that Xiaomi and Google hoped they might be. Ultimately, not one of the Mi A collection have been finest sellers.

The wedding of Xiaomi {hardware} and Android One held a lot promise, nonetheless, questionable {hardware} decisions and the disastrous Mi A3 updates gave the A-series a nasty popularity. Finally, Android Go version rose to fill the area of interest of low cost smartphones, specializing in a few of One’s authentic objectives. However by focusing on solely entry-level {hardware}, the Go version telephones simply lack the attraction of a pure Android mid-ranger.



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Flashback: Xiaomi’s promising but ill-fated Android One phones

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