Skip to main content

Hands on: Xiaomi Mi A3 review

For the purists

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © Aakash Jhaveri)

Early Verdict

A much-needed alternative in the budget segment for those who want great value for money but can't stand Chinese Android skins.

For

  • Android One
  • Compact form factor
  • Super AMOLED display
  • Triple cameras
  • Brings back the headphone jack

Against

  • 720p display
  • Fast charger not included
  • Not the best track record with updates

Two years ago, Xiaomi did the unimaginable—partner with Google to make a smartphone that runs stock Android over MiUI. This was the birth of the Mi A series of budget smartphones that were a part of the Android One program. Over time, it not only went on to become one of the most popular Android One devices but also acted as a gateway for Xiaomi into the western markets where consumers aren’t really big fans of Chinese phone skins.

The latest member to that clan is the Mi A3 which brings a lot more finesse to the lineup along with other trendy upgrades needed for the 2019 smartphone race. After spending some time with it, here’s why the Mi A3 is the most formidable Android One device around.

Xiaomi Mi A3 price and availability in India

In India, the Mi A3 is available in two configurations. The 4GB+64GB variant is priced at Rs 12,999 and the 6GB+128GB model is priced at Rs 15,999. Colour variants include More than White, Not just Blue and Kind of Grey. The first sale is scheduled for 12 PM on August 23. 

Design

Mi A3 in blue

Mi A3 in blue (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

 The Mi A series has always played in the budget segment, but this year, the design is leaps ahead of the predecessor with a premium Gorilla Glass 5 sandwich build that is very comfortable to hold. Add the fact that the display size is rather small and we get a rare compact powerhouse. 

The back panel looks very classy, especially on the white variant which shimmers in shades of blue. More than White, indeed. The Not just Blue variant has these crazy lines on the back that dance with the light and change at each angle. 

It’s been a while since I last held a compact phone that felt so reassuring to wield, in the same ranks as the Samsung Galaxy S10e. A big step up from previous devices in this lineage.

Display

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

The Mi A3 has a 6.08-inch Super AMOLED display with a dot notch up top. It’s a beautiful panel that boasts of bright, vibrant colors that are a pretty extraordinary feat in this price segment. This also enables the device to opt for an in-display fingerprint scanner.

One of the most common questions we got was around the inclusion of an HD+ (720 x 1560) display. Honestly, the pixelation wasn’t all that evident while using the phone at a regular distance from the face, and the otherwise high quality of the panel does help overlook that.

A good quality display is easier to appreciate than a higher resolution one.

Performance

As with most smartphones in this segment, the Mi A3 is powered by a Snapdragon 600 series chipset, the Snapdragon 665 to be more specific that was announced just three months ago. This is an octa-core chipset fabricated at 11nm and is a little more powerful than the SD660.

That is paired with the Adreno 610 GPU and up to 6GB of RAM which combined with stock Android are sure to provide a consistent and fluid experience. The Snapdragon 665 is a fairly capable processor that should be more than adequate for most basic tasks and even gaming.

Of course, the main talking point about the Xiaomi Mi A3 is the software package. As a part of Google’s Android One program, the Mi A3 runs a clean build of Android and is first in line for future version updates. Currently, it is on Android 9 Pie and will soon be updated to Android 10

Cameras

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

 Photography has always been a strength of the Mi A series, and with the A3, Xiaomi is bringing much-needed upgrades to the camera package. We get a triple camera setup on the rear with a 48MP primary camera, an 8MP ultra-wide shooter and a 2MP depth sensor. The front camera uses a 32MP sensor.

The images were pretty vivid and had ample dynamic range. The color profiles were very similar between the primary and the ultrawide cameras which is not a very common element. And just the fact that the phone is so ergonomic, it helps with holding it steady and use single-handedly.

Battery

The Mi A3 has a 4,030mAh battery in a frame this tiny. Factor in the lower resolution display, Super AMOLED construction and an efficient processor in combination with stock Android, the Mi A3 is sure to last a day of long use. The included charger can output at 10W over USB Type-C, but also supports up to 18W fast charging. 

Early verdict

By this point, we have few doubts over Xiaomi’s pricing and value offerings when it comes to smartphones. The Redmi series has usually been an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a great budget phone, but the suggestions were often met with frowns at MiUI. The Mi A3 changes that. 

It retains all the Xiaomi essentials such as a premium design, reliable cameras, and stellar battery life, and now, brings a touch of class that is going to appeal a lot more users. In India, there weren’t a lot of great options for consumers looking to get a stock Android phone. The Mi A3, just by the virtue of its components, propels itself to the top of that list. 

Simply speaking, it’s the one for the masses that has very few negative points. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.