The Mi A1 (Review) was the first smartphone from Xiaomi that was part of Google's Android One program. It had powerful hardware for the price like most other Xiaomi smartphones, but ran Android instead of Xiaomi's own MIUI. While the device didn't generate the same amount of buzz as its Redmi siblings, it found some buyers. A year later, Xiaomi launched a successor, the Mi A2 (review). While Xiaomi Mi A2 was probably one of the best camera smartphones in the Sub-Rs. 20,000 segments at the time it had a few shortcomings. A 3.5 mm headphone jack was missing and the memory could not be expanded. Xiaomi has now launched a successor for the Mi A2, the Mi A3. This new model makes up for the shortcomings of the Mi A2, but has Xiaomi saved on something else? We check the Mi A3 to find out.
Xiaomi Mi A3 design
The Xiaomi Mi A3 has a glass sandwich design, a change compared to the metal-coated Mi A2. Corning Gorilla Glass 5 is located on the front and back, as well as on the camera module, with the help of which the device is to a certain extent resistant to scratches from everyday use. The screen has a dewdrop notch at the top, which contains the selfie camera. The Mi A3 has thin bezels on the sides, but the top and bottom are relatively thick.
Xiaomi opted for a plastic frame for the Mi A3, which was finished in chrome on our More Than White unit. The Mi A3 is also available in the colors Kind Of Gray and Not Just Blue. The color names seem to be inspired by Google's selection for the Pixel phone series. At the top are a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a secondary microphone and an IR transmitter that can be used to control IR-based devices.
The Mi A3 has a USB Type-C port on the bottom with two grids, with only the right one being a speaker. Xiaomi has positioned the power and volume buttons on the right side and these are easy to reach. The hybrid dual SIM tray is on the left side of the device.
Xiaomi offers a triple camera configuration on the back as well as a single LED flash. The Mi A3 does not have a rear fingerprint scanner like the Mi A2 because it has a built-in fingerprint scanner instead.
Xiaomi Mi A3 specifications and software
Competition in the Sub-Rs.15,000 segment is becoming tougher, and manufacturers are supplying smartphones with the best possible hardware. We already have phones like the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and the Vivo Z1 Pro (Review) in this segment that are equipped with the SoCs Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 and Snapdragon 712.
The Xiaomi Mi A3 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665, which we just saw in the recently launched Realme 5 (review). This processor is the successor to the Snapdragon 660, which powered the Mi A2. It is based on an 11 nm manufacturing process and has four Kryo 260 cores, which are clocked at 2 GHz, and another four Kryo 260 cores, which are clocked at 1.8 GHz. There are two versions of the Mi A3, one with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, the other with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. We had the higher end for this review. Xiaomi promotes UFS 2.1 storage for the Mi A3.
The Mi A3's HD + display was a surprise for us. The predecessors of this phone, the Mi A1 and the Mi A2, both had Full HD + panels. Yes, the Mi A3 uses an AMOLED panel compared to the LCD panels of the older models. A pixelation can be seen when reading text on the Mi A3, however, as the density is below 300 pixels per inch. We have not found a way to adjust the color output of the screen, which we found too strong for our taste. The panel has sufficient brightness and is easy to read outdoors. However, sometimes it was not easy to look at it in direct sunlight.
The Mi A3 has a 4,030 mAh battery, which is larger than the 3,000 mAh battery of the Mi A2. This phone supports 18W quick charge, but Xiaomi only comes with a 10W charger in the box. The Mi A3 also supports Bluetooth 5, dual-band WiFi, dual 4G VoLTE and four satellite navigation systems.
Since the Mi A3 is part of the Android One program, Android is run instead of MIUI by default. No bloatware is preinstalled, which means no spam notifications are sent. There is a Mi community app as well as some Google apps. There is no app to use the IR emitter, so you have to download one yourself. If you like standard Android, the Mi A3 delivers just that. You also get the "Digital Wellbeing" function. The Mi A3 will receive major updates to the Android operating system for two years and security updates for three years.
Xiaomi Mi A3 performance and battery life
There were no delays or stuttering while using the Mi A3, and the Snapdragon 665 SoC in this phone could run apps with no issues. We had the 6 GB RAM variant of the Mi A3 in the test and could easily multitask without having to end apps in the background. Apps loaded without fuss. The built-in fingerprint scanner is slightly lower on the Mi A3 than on some other smartphones with the same technology. However, it is not impractical and it doesn't take long to unlock the smartphone.
We ran our usual benchmarks to find out where the Mi A3 fits at the same price level compared to the many smartphones recently launched. AnTuTu scored 141,132 points, and Geekbench 4 single core and multicore tests gave 1,504 and 5,386 points, respectively. GFXBench T-Rex and CarChase achieved 51 and 13 frames per second, respectively.
These values are in the same range as those of Realme 5 (review). Comparing these values to those of the Redmi Note 7S (test) (supported by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660), we found that the Mi A3 performed slightly worse in CPU tests, but had an advantage in the GFXBench tests, which was lower than the low ones Values could be – resolution display.
PUBG Mobile uses the default for low quality, with the graphics set to smooth and the frame rate set to medium. We raised the graphics quality to balanced, and the Mi A3 was still able to play the game without jerking or lag. After playing the game for 30 minutes, we found the smartphone felt slightly warm and had a 10 percent battery drain.
The Mi A3 offers a good battery life compared to the Mi A2. In our HD video loop test, the Mi A3 ran for 16 hours and 21 minutes. With our regular use, which consisted of running all benchmarks, taking photos and videos and using an active WhatsApp account, each full charge took about a day and a half. The included 10 W charger brought the Mi A3 to 27 percent in 30 minutes and 54 percent in one hour. We recommend investing in an 18W fast charger if you want to speed it up.
Xiaomi Mi A3 cameras
The Xiaomi Mi A2 offered good cameras for the price, and of course people expect the Mi A3 to fill their shoes. Xiaomi went with a triple camera setup on the Mi A3. There is a Sony IMX 586 sensor with 48 megapixels for the primary camera and a secondary camera with 8 megapixels and a wide-angle lens with a field of view of 118 degrees. The third is a 2 megapixel depth sensor. The Sony IMX586 sensor can also be found in premium phones such as the OnePlus 7 (review) and the Redmi K20 Pro (review). For selfies, the Mi A3 has a 32 megapixel front shooter.
The camera software on the Mi A3 does not differ significantly from that on Redmi smartphones that run MIUI. In addition to the usual photo and video modes, the camera app of the Mi A3 offers several recording modes, including portrait, night, panorama and pro. There are also quick switching options for HDR, AI, the flash and filters. There is a 48 megapixel mode that allows you to take photos at the full resolution of the sensor. However, regular photo mode provides 12-megapixel pixel shots for better clarity.
Photos in daylight had good details. The phone was able to lock focus quickly and correct exposure. Objects in the distance were recognizable and text in the distance was also legible. However, the Mi A3 HDR does not do very well and lifts black a little too aggressively. This reduces the contrast of the photos and makes them look artificial. The wide-angle sensor helps capture wider frames, but you lose details compared to shooting with the primary sensor.
Taking macro shots with the Mi A3 was not easy because focusing was slow and we occasionally had to move away from the subject to lock the focus. If the Mi A3 does that, it will take very good pictures. There was a good separation between motif and background and details were reproduced well. Portrait mode allows you to adjust the level of background blur before taking a picture. The phone has good edge detection and accurate colors in this mode.
In low light conditions, the Mi A3 delivers good pictures as long as you are patient. Focus is saved quickly, but taking the picture is a little slow. The recording took a little longer than expected, which sometimes caused motion blur. After pressing the shutter button, we had to remain completely still for a while to make sure the image was in focus. Low-light shots had good details and the noise was under control. When you put the Mi A3 into night mode, you get brighter pictures with better details.
Selfies taken outdoors had good details and the subjects were correctly exposed. The app has a beautification mode that can be activated before the shot. For selfie portraits, the phone got good edge detection and gave us the option to set the blur level. In low light conditions, we had to keep the phone steady longer than usual to ensure a clear picture. Selfies taken in low light had good details and were well exposed.
Video recording is best at 4K for the primary camera and 1080p for the selfie shooter. There is video stabilization when shooting with the primary rear camera at 1080p, and the output has been well stabilized. A shimmering effect was visible in poor lighting conditions. There is no stabilization when shooting with 4K or with the selfie camera.
Two steps forward, one step back is the best way to describe Xiaomi's strategy with the Mi A3. The company brought back the 3.5mm headphone jack and expandable memory, but reduced the screen resolution to HD +. The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 is a powerful processor and offers good performance for the price. The Mi A3 also benefits from a larger battery and lasts longer than its predecessor on a single charge. The camera performance is quite high for a phone at this price level, which makes it stand out from others.
At its starting price of Rs. 12,999, the low-end variant of the Mi A3 does not offer the same good price-performance ratio as some other smartphones. The Realme 5 (Review) offers the same processor from Rs. 9,999. If your performance is above photo quality, Xiaomi's own Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) with the more powerful Snapdragon 675 SoC is within reach. 13,999.
The high-end variant of the Mi A3 priced at Rs. 15,999 are not very appealing because the Realme 5 Pro variant is available with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage space for Rs. 16,999. Realme's offer seems to be interesting based on our first impressions. For more information, see our full review of this phone. So stay tuned to Gadgets 360.
The Xiaomi Mi A3 will only appeal to those who really appreciate the first-class Android experience and software updates and who want good camera performance without breaking the bank. For this specific target group, the Mi A3 is currently the best option on the market.