Xiaomi has always tried to be the ultimate value brand with extremely aggressive pricing paired with some pretty good raw power. While the company has somewhat managed to establish itself as that, there are a few hurdles that stop it from being the absolute best. For example, Xiaomi’s UI over Android is bloated really bad and could do with a few touch-ups and redesigns. However, if you’re in the mid-range segment, that might not be a problem for you anymore. Google started its Android One program a few years ago giving purely stock android access and updates to third-party manufacturers so they could focus on building better phones. Xiaomi was one of the first companies to pounce on that opportunity and released the Mi A1, which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be a massive success thanks to a superior and fluid pixel-like OS experience at a much lower price.
Now, almost 2 years later, we finally have the 3rd Generation of the Mi A series, the Xiaomi Mi A3. A lot of people were hyped for this phone after the not-so-user-friendly changes that came to the Mi A2 in the form of a smaller battery and no headphone jack. While that phone was still a success and had an amazing camera, we just couldn’t wait for the next one. So, here we are, with the brand new Xiaomi Mi A3. However, things are not exactly as good as we’d hoped they would be. Don’t get me wrong, the Mi A3 has potential to be a fantastic phone but I don’t know – maybe we were expecting a bit more from Xiaomi this time around. Anyway, let’s get into the nitty gritty and see what makes the Mi A3 great and what makes it not-so-great.
Design and Display
In terms of design, the Mi A3 is an absolute win. After last year’s Mi A2 was overshadowed by its lesser model Mi A2 Lite in terms of design, Xiaomi really needed to make things right. The fact that the expensive variant looked outdated in front of its own little brother was pretty weird. Anyway, things are more streamlined here this time around. There is only a single Mi A3 model and it is based on the Mi CC9e. What this translates to is solid design that Is still acceptable for a midrange device in 2019. We have the really small round notch around the camera up top, which, honestly looks great. The phone has an overall premium feel to it thanks to a metallic unibody design and great build quality. On release, there are 3 colours available: White, Grey and the enchantingly beautiful Blue.
Other than that, its’s all pretty standard stuff with edge-to-edge 6.01” OLED display above a very small chin (80% screen-to-body ratio). However, there is a slight downgrade here as the OLED screen is actually a 720p panel rather than a 1080p one like on the Mi A2. I don’t understand the reasoning behind it as the difference between a 720p panel and 1080p panel is definitely noticeable. Anyway, thanks to the 720p display, we have a measly pixel density of 286 pixels-per-inch which, in 2019, is just not acceptable. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 though so it would be able to withstand some drops easily. We also have a fingerprint sensor under the display according to 2019 standards and it works well. Breaking the 2019 trends however, the headphone jack has thankfully made a return and is a welcome addition.
The camera has always been the strong point for the Mi A series. In similar fashion, the Mi A3’s camera shines as well. Packing a 48 MP main sensor with a pretty reasonable f/1.78 aperture, a secondary 8 MP ultra-wide angle camera (118 degrees) and a 2 MP depth sensor for portrait images, the Mi A3 performs very well in most scenarios. The software processing for the camera has always been good and it shines here as well. The images look sharp, vibrant and have a fair bit of dynamic range to them. The portraits look crisp as well and the edge detection is on point. Low-light photography is one of the strongest points of the MI A3, with it managing to obliterate all competition at this price range. However, you would need a rather steady hand for long exposure shots because the camera doesn’t come with OIS.
On the video recording side of things, the Mi A3 is ok at best. The rear camera is capable of recording 2160p video at 30fps or 1080p video at up to a pretty decent 120 fps. However, while the software stabilisation does a decent job of keeping the video stable, the lack of OIS still leaves much to be desired. The videos are detailed and good looking but just lack that oomph factor that some of the better equipped phones have. On the selfie side of things, we have a 32 MP camera which takes some extremely detailed selfies and shoots up to a 1080p30 video. However, it does have the tendency to over-expose the background during portrait shots but that is an attribute of Xiaomi’s software, not of the camera itself.
Performance and Battery Life
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset powers the Mi A3 which is not a massive upgrade over last year’s Snapdragon 660 in the MI A2. Xiaomi could have potentially introduced one of the better 700-series Snapdragon processors but at only €250, you can’t really complain. The 4GB of RAM could have been more but again, is appropriate for a mid-range device. The Mi A3 goes through most tasks thrown at it with ease. The multi-tasking is also super fluid thanks to stock Android. In terms of gaming, the Mi A3 is decent enough but don’t expect to run PUBG or Fortnite at full graphics settings and get good framerates. However, for normal usage, it is perfectly fine. The base model comes with 64 GB of storage with room for expansion via MicroSD. However, adding only €30 more to the price would get you the 128 GB model.
One of the main drawbacks of the Mi A2 was its mediocre battery life. It only had a small 3,000 mAh battery which didn’t last for very long. However, Xiaomi has addressed that issue as the Mi A3 comes with a massive 4,030 mAh battery. The upgrade increases the battery life by about 30% which is massive and the Mi A3 now lasts for a whole day and beyond easily. The Mi A3 is also capable of fast charging at 18W but sadly, the power brick in the box is only capable of providing 10 Watts of power which is a bummer.
Price and Release Date
The Xiaomi Mi A3 is available to pre-order right now and will ship to Spain first on July 24. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, I presume there would be more launch events for individual countries like Xiaomi has always done. So, the phone could roll out throughout the world within the next month or so. The Mi A3 starts at €250 for the base model with the 128 GB model costing €30 more. The phone comes in 3 colours and overall, offers some amazing value for money.
If you want something with a good camera and battery life and don’t really care much about performance, then the Mi A3 should definitely be up there in your shopping wish list. Xiaomi has done a relatively good job at making consistent upgrades apart from a couple of things which, if you’re a casual user, won’t matter much to you anyway.