The Xiaomi Mi A3 has a triple-camera on its back, but only two of the snappers are active shooters. Just like the Mi 9T, the Mi A3 main camera has a huge 1/2" 48MP sensor behind f/1.79 26mm lens that spits out 12MP images. On top of it, is the 8MP (1/4") snapper behind f/2.2 13mm lens for ultrawide-angle shots. And below the main snapper is the 2MP sensor behind an f/2.4 lens for capturing depth information when shooting in portrait mode.
The 48MP sensor sits is behind an f/1.79 lens and is not stabilized. In fact, none of the snappers features optical stabilization. The main sensor has 0.8µm pixels, the ultra-wide snapper has 1.12µm pixels.
The default camera app is lifted from the latest version of MIUI. Swiping left and right will shuffle through the camera modes, and you will find additional settings in the tab above the viewfinder including option to shoot in 48MP. It lets you adjust some settings like beautification, HDR, AI, video mode, and picture quality. The usual 0.6x/1x/2x toggles are on the viewfinder itself, though the 2x is a simple digital zoom.
Night Mode is also available on the Xiaomi Mi A3 for those long-exposure hand-held shots when light is limited.
Manual mode is available too, and you can even use it to shoot in 48MP.
The 12MP images you'd get by default from the main camera show high level of detail and true-to-life colors. The contrast is excellent, while the dynamic range is notably wide. The images are sharp but not over-sharpened and overall those are among the better 12MP daylight photos we've seen to date with the only visible issue being the moire fringes on the second photo below.
There is a dedicated 48MP mode if you want to shoot in 48MP. It does save the picture in full resolution, but the detail is nothing that special and you can notice various smudged areas and artifacts.
There isn't a benefit of shooting in 48MP and then manually resizing down to 12MP either - you won't get more detail or sharper image. And saving in 48MP is a slower and costly task - one image eats about 30MB of your storage.
There is a 2X zoom shortcut on the viewfinder even though the Xiaomi Mi A3 doesn't come with a telephoto snapper. If you shoot in this 2X mode, you will get a digitally zoomed and cropped picture.
We snapped some 8MP images with the ultrawide-angle camera. Its per-pixel quality is much lower than the main camera, but the colors are still nice, and noise is present only in areas of uniform color.
If you opt for automatic lens correction for the ultrawide-angle photos, then some pictures may have noticeable corner softness.
Xiaomi has an AI toggle, which is a simple scene recognition and it doesn't do much. But it can offer suggestions for which camera you should use in some scenes, so if you are new to this multi-camera stuff, you might what to give the AI a try.
Now, let's see how well those cameras fare in the dark. The photos from the regular camera turned out fine. Despite the f/1.79 aperture the Mi A3 often fails to capture bright enough exposures. The lack of optical stabilization forces it to keep shutter speeds above 1/14s and compensate with higher ISO. Higher ISO brings in more noise, which is then processed and sometimes it leads to reduced levels of captured detail overall.
The Night mode (takes about a second or two to shoot) makes a difference by being able to get the proper exposure even in the darkest environments. The result is nicely balanced, and subjects look a bit more detailed. It's not the best implementation we've seen, but it works a lot faster than, say, Huawei's.
The 12MP resulting images don't quite have the same per-pixel detail as the daylight shots and are quite soft obviously, but they are not too bad either and much better than you'd achieve with the regular shooting mode at night.
You can use the 48MP mode in low-light, too. The native 48MP photos lack noise reduction and once you resize them to 12MP they sometimes may look a bit more detailed. This won't solve the dark exposure, of course, but can help capture more detail. We would still recommend using the Night mode to save yourself the hassle of downloading to a PC, using an app to resize it, save, repeat.
The photos from the ultra-wide-angle camera are quite bad as it wasn't meant to be a night shooter. The noise reduction is very aggressive, and the exposure is often quite dark. Add to that the overall softness and lack of detail, and you get 8MP nighttime images which are not very attractive.
Once you're done with the real world samples, head over to our Photo compare tool to see how the Xiaomi Mi A3 stacks up against the competition.
The quality of the portraits taken with the rear camera of the Mi A3 is dependent on the light conditions. When the light is enough you will be rewarded with some great portrait shots - detailed, with excellent subject separation and convincing faux blur.
The 32MP selfie camera turned out to be an excellent shooter. There is enough detail, the colors are nice, and the images are sharp enough. Sure, you have a limited range for the focus sweet spot, but with enough leeway to cover the different arm lengths and those who prefer closeup shots.
It can also take blurred background selfies and does it quite proficiently even though there isn't a depth sensor. There is a drop in the sharpness, though.
The Xiaomi Mi A3 captures video up to 4K @ 30fps, and all other common modes are available - 1080@30fps and 1080p@60fps. It seems at first that you can capture in these resolutions with both cameras, but you can't really. The ultrawide-angle snapper records only 1080p clips at 30fps, no matter what resolution you've picked up from the selector.
Slow-mo video are available - 1080p @120fps and 720p @240fps.
Let's talk about the main camera. The video bit rate is 40-42Mbps in 4K, about 20Mbps in 1080p at 30fps or 60fps. Audio is recorded in stereo with a 96Kbps bit rate.
The 4K videos are sharp and detailed, pretty great for the class when you examine them from closely. The noise is kept reasonably low. Contrast is excellent, color rendition is quite nice and true to life, and the dynamic range is decent. Overall, we are happy with the 4K footage.
The 1080p capture at 30fps is excellent across the board - resolved detail, contrast, colors, dynamic range.
Unfortunately, the detail in the 1080p videos shot at 60fps is halved making those looked jaggy, if not pixelated.
The videos from the ultrawide snapper have a bit warmer color rendition and the dynamic range is lower. The 1080p videos at 30fps taken have less detail than the ones from the main snapper though they are still very much usable.
The 2X toggle is also available in video recording. In 4K you will get an obvious digital zoom with soft picture and unimpressive detail. If you are shooting in 1080p the zoomed videos are as excellent as shooting at normal range, a benefit of having such a high-res sensor.
EIS is available only when shooting in 1080p at 30fps. The digital stabilization does a great job smoothing the camera shake at the expense of minor loss of FoV.
Here's a glimpse of how the Xiaomi Mi A3 compares to rivals in our Video compare tool. Head over there for the complete picture.