Flashback: Xiaomi’s promising however ill-fated Android One telephones


After the Google Play Version 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 targets, One telephones differed from Play Version fashions in a number of different methods.

As you’ll be able to inform by the headline, we need to deal with one specific department – the 4 fashions launched by Xiaomi – and what their final destiny was. The One program remains to be round, principally stored alive by Nokia, however Google has moved on to different methods of attempting to realize the unique targets.

These targets, for those who who don’t bear in mind, have been to construct a line of inexpensive units for rising markets. Android One was designed to work on techniques with little RAM and to spare the battery as a lot as doable. The primary One telephones have been constructed on a standard platform and got here out in 2014. Later fashions provided diversified {hardware}.

Xiaomi was comparatively late to the get together – its first providing, the Xiaomi Mi A1, got here out in late 2017. Nonetheless, it was the primary Android One gadget to be accessible globally (in 37 markets). The identical {hardware} was additionally accessible because the Mi 5X in China, operating Xiaomi’s typical 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 principally pure Android, although Google did allow some maker apps to be pre-loaded, in contrast to the stricter Play Version telephones. Additionally, Android One telephones might be bought via the maker’s typical retail channels, whereas the others have been restricted to the Google Play Retailer (a serious a part of why they failed). Nicely, the excessive costs didn’t assist both.

Regardless of what its various title would possibly recommend, the Mi A1 didn’t even have a lot in widespread with its comtemporaries from the Mi 5 sequence, 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 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 telephone 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 targets for Android One was to run on low-cost, low-RAM units, although the Mi A1 was not one among them. As an alternative, it tried to lure in consumers who appreciated Xiaomi {hardware} and costs, however weren’t followers of MIUI.

The telephone even had a twin digicam with a 12MP most important module (1/2.9” sensor, 1.25µm pixels) and a 12MP telephoto module (2x magnification, 50mm). The primary digicam might report 4K video at 30 fps, one thing that eludes some mid-rangers even in the present day.

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

Listed below are some digicam 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 digicam 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 digicam samples

Additionally, some low-light photographs (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 strong for the time. The environment friendly Snapdragon managed to stretch the battery to a really respectable 87 hour endurance ranking.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 was priced at ₹15,000 (just below €200 on the time), although costs in Europe have been considerably larger, €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 telephone had broader attraction than its typical MIUI units, which gave it the boldness to increase 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 as much as Android 9 Pie in late 2018) in addition to three years of safety patches. This was Google’s manner of attempting to advertise longer software program assist for Android telephones and the discount of bloat helped preserve 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 additional 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 removing of the three.5mm headphone jack.

The Mi A2 modified the twin digicam setup as properly. The 2x telephoto module was gone, changed by a 20MP digicam 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 images.

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 digicam of the unique was changed by a extra succesful 20MP shooter. It carried out rather well in good mild, for low-light conditions it had a devoted LED flash.

Here’s what the principle 12MP digicam might 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 digicam samples, HDR on

The 20MP secondary digicam did assist take higher photographs at nighttime:


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 digicam samples: Auto • Handbook, common lens • Handbook, low-light lens

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

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

Xiaomi additionally provided a decrease price model, the Mi A2 Lite. It cut up the distinction in display measurement and got here with a 5.84” IPS LCD (1080p) and it launched a notched design to the sequence (a controversial transfer, as you’ll be able to think about).

The Lite used the identical Snapdragon 625 as the unique. This one minimize the bottom configuration to three/32GB (with a 4/64GB possibility), however no less than it restored the microSD slot (and three.5mm headphone jack too).

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

The telephone had stored the 12MP most important digicam and dropped the low-light digicam, 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 worth (3/32GB) and a €230 improve (4/64GB). Nonetheless, given the digicam scenario (which misplaced its 4K recording capabilities), the Mi A1 regarded slightly higher than the Lite. Be aware that each the Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite have been additionally accessible 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 sequence (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 digicam (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 digicam was accessible with a 13mm lens and an 8MP sensor. There was additionally a 2MP depth sensor on board. The selfie digicam was additional upgraded to a 32MP sensor.

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

Try digicam samples from the Mi A3 under (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 photographs

And some full-resolution 48MP pictures 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 photographs

As we stated, the Mi A3 lacked a devoted telephoto digicam, however the high-resolution sensor provided another 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 photographs

Not like earlier fashions, the A3 had an ultrawide digicam:


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 photographs

The battery mixed the most effective 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 an alternative of 12nm). The telephone 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 telephone nonetheless lacked NFC, which wasn’t splendid, 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 worth of €250, similar because the A2. The low decision show and the plastic construct rubbed some followers the fallacious manner, however there have been nonetheless those that believed within the Android One dream.

The dream turned to nightmare for Mi A3 house owners, nevertheless. The telephone made its debut with Android 9 Pie and regarded ahead to the standard two OS updates. You’ll be able to in all probability inform the place that is going.

The Android 10 replace first began seeding in March 2020, nevertheless it was rapidly pulled after some customers reported that their telephones turned unresponsive. The rollout resumed a few weeks later with the problem seemingly resolved. One other subject was found, so the replace to Android 10 needed to be tried for a 3rd time. That also had just a few bugs in it, which have been corrected just a few 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 telephones. It was pulled just a few days later, however that was too late for some. With no simple repair, folks 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 might work out the problem and at last launch a “brick-free” Android 11 replace. At this level followers had misplaced any belief that they had in Xiaomi’s A-series – Android One’s purity was imagined to make updates fast and straightforward. The Mi A3 expertise was something however.

This wasn’t an Android One subject, not so far as we will inform, one thing was critically fallacious with how Xiaomi was growing 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. In the long run, not one of the Mi A sequence have been finest sellers.

The wedding of Xiaomi {hardware} and Android One held a lot promise, nevertheless, questionable {hardware} decisions and the disastrous Mi A3 updates gave the A-series a foul status. In the end, Android Go version rose to fill the area of interest of low-cost smartphones, specializing in a few of One’s unique targets. However by concentrating on solely entry-level {hardware}, the Go version telephones simply lack the attraction of a pure Android mid-ranger.



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