The Mi A series was started back in 2017 to address a crowd that preferred vanilla Android over OEM skins but were also tired of suboptimal options in the budget segment. The Mi A series went on to become the most popular Android One series in the world and is now continuing its legacy with the newly unveiled Mi A3.
While the Mi A3 is a sure-shot upgrade from its predecessor; the Mi A2, new entrants in the market have made this price segment highly competitive. Keeping that in mind and the fact the A3 only offers a 720p display in a segment where FullHD displays are now the norm, does the A3 still manage to set itself apart? Find out in our full review of the Xiaomi Mi A3!
Xiaomi Mi A3 Design & Build Quality Review
The Mi A3 is a massive upgrade from the Mi A2 in terms of design. Unlike the all-metal build that was found on the A2, the A3 gets a polished glass design that is nothing but a pleasure to look and hold. I’d also go to the extent to say that this is the best-designed phone in the price segment. The design is extremely refined, the phone is very comfortable to hold and the eye-catching colours are a pleasure to look at.
The Mi A3 is a delightable phone to hold and look at.
The A3 is a rare breed in that it gets a 3.5mm jack at a time when most other phones are losing it. Output via the jack and speaker is quite good. The only complain I had regarding listening to music on the phone is that the volume rocker doesn’t work when the display is off. But, hopefully, this might be an issue with the review unit that we got. Xiaomi has also thrown in an IR blaster in the mix and I’m glad they did.
The “Not just Blue” variant offers a swirling gradient that draws attention in a crowd. I’d personally prefer the “More than White” colour variant that has a pearl finish which takes the premium feel of the phone a notch above. For people who aren’t fans of gradients, the “Kind of Grey” colour variant should serve well. Although glossy, it might go unnoticed in front of the other two colours.
Xiaomi Mi A3 Display Review
The display on the A3 has been a point of contention for end-consumers and critics alike. While I would’ve definitely appreciated a higher resolution, brighter display, the 6.08-inch Super AMOLED display on the A3 isn’t a deal-breaker for sure. I’m not sure if I had would have the same opinion if this was an LCD panel.
Xiaomi Mi A3 Performance Review
The display offers deep blacks and punchy colours. If you’re not one of those people who pixel-peep, you won’t have a problem with the 720p display. The A3’s display also hides a fingerprint underneath it. This in-display fingerprint scanner is one of the worse ones I’ve seen on a phone and how I wished Xiaomi had stuck with a traditional capacitive scanner instead. The AI Face Unlock feature is present too, but it also lacks the finesse.
The A3 is the first phone in India to sport the Snapdragon 665 SoC which is a successor to the widely-used Snapdragon 660 SoC. The phone comes in two variants of 4GB and 6GB of RAM with a corresponding 64GB and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage respectively. In terms of performance, the A3 wonderfully handles day-to-day tasks. The light Android One UI further adds to this and makes the phone a breeze to use. RAM management was pretty decent too and it didn’t struggle in keeping applications running the background.
But when it comes to gaming, the A3 is underwhelming. Asphalt 9 frequently skipped frames and PUBG defaulted to low graphics. At the lowest settings, the game was playable and heat management was pretty good too. But, if you’re really into gaming, I’d suggest you to skip this phone and get the Redmi Note 7 Pro instead.
SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro Review: The Knight In Xining Armour
Xiaomi Mi A3 Software Review
The Mi A3 runs on Android One and is a dream for fans of Xiaomi’s hardware & affordability who are tired of the ad-riddled MIUI. It comes with Android Pie out of the box and offers barely any customizations on top. There are a few apps bundled along with the regular Google’s suite of apps but you needn’t worry as all these applications can be uninstalled (except the Mi Camera app).
If you’re coming from MIUI or Samsung’s UI, you’ll find the Android One software too bland. There’s not a lot of settings to tinker around with and the software is pretty barebones (yet functional). But then again, this phone was made keeping the purists in mind who weren’t a fan of cluttered UIs and I personally loved the clean interface. Since this is an Android One phone, rest assured of getting Android updates for the next 2 years and security updates for the next 3 years. In fact, this will be one of the first Xiaomi phones to get Android 10.
Xiaomi Mi A3 Camera Review
The Mi A3 is yet another Xiaomi phone that houses a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor. Accompanying the primary sensor, are two other lenses. There’s an 8MP ultra-wide sensor and a 2MP depth sensor for portraits. Unlike Pixel phones, the Mi A3 comes with Xiaomi’s own camera app that is found on its other phones and offers plenty of settings and modes to make the most of the cameras.
In daylight, the Mi A3 takes great pictures that are well-detailed and have great colour reproduction. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with how close the reproduced colours were to the actual ones. As expected, the pictures taken by the ultra-wide sensor weren’t as good but I do appreciate the inclusion of this sensor. Portraits turned out to be pretty good too and I see the 2MP depth-sensing camera helping there.
For low-light situations, the camera app does have a dedicated Night Mode. For still shots, the Night Mode does help in getting more details and reducing noise. But if you’re shooting in a dynamic environment, i.e. a club etc., the night mode too doesn’t help.
Annoyingly, I found the dynamic range to be completely off at times while taking pictures with the primary sensor. The background of the image would lose all details while the subject would come out just fine. I guess this is a software bug that can be addressed in a later update.
The 32MP selfie camera is sufficiently capable at taking selfies and also takes good portraits. But I found the phone to struggle with exposure when selfies were taken against a bright background. Being a Xiaomi phone, there’s an AI Beauty mode too for times when makeup isn’t enough. This front camera can take panoramic selfies and 1080p videos. The phone’s primary camera can take up to 4K videos at 30fps. The cameras lack OIS but the presence of EIS does help a lot. Videos taken from the phone were pretty good too.
You can check out more camera samples here.
Xiaomi Mi A3 Battery & Charging
The Mi A3 sports a 4,030mAh battery and supports 18W fast charging. Sadly, the charger in the box is only a 10W one and you’ll have to buy an 18W charger separately for faster charging. With the charger and cable in the box, the phone took about 1 hour and 45 minutes to go from 15 to 100%.
Although the phone supports 18W fast charging, there’s only a 10W charger included in the box.
But the lack of a faster charger is made up with the battery endurance of the phone. The phone is an absolute champ and inspite of heavy usage, I would usually end the day with about 15-20% of juice still left. In terms of SoT, it easily averaged between 6.5-7 hours.
Xiaomi Mi A3 Verdict
The Mi A3 is a pretty solid offering that offers a lot for its price. Right from the stellar hardware to the simplistic vanilla Android, the phone easily stands out amongst the crowd. It’s got a good set of cameras, stupendous battery life, great software and stunning build quality. The return of the 3.5mm jack is also highly appreciated. But on the other end of the spectrum lies its average gaming performance, poor fingerprint scanner and a lower-resolution display.
But all in all, this is a commendable smartphone that sets itself apart by offering great build quality and clean software at a really attractive price point. But if you’re looking for better performance, the Redmi Note 7 Pro or the Realme 5 Pro would be a better bet. For a better video shooting experience, the recently unveiled Motorola One Action is also worth checking out.