The Xiaomi Mi A2 is a looker, though little has changed since the A1. The aluminum unibody is as large and as thin as it was on the Mi A1, the fingerprint scanner is thoughtfully positioned at the back, and the dual-camera is around there, too.
The most notable update is the screen, of course, and that's the first thing you'll notice. Xiaomi has adopted the trendy 18:9 aspect ratio for the Mi A2 screen, but don't you worry - nothing has been chopped off here. The display is of 1080p resolution (extended up to 2,160px vertically) and is a perfect rectangle, well almost - if you look closely you'll see the tiny rounded corners Xiaomi likes to add on its high-end smartphones.
The navigation keys are gone - Xiaomi has kept the Mi A2 footprint the same as Mi A1's so bezels were cut, and the control deck had to go. But that's fine, now you get those keys onscreen and they occupy the extra 240px below the usual 1,920. This way no apps would be broken. You can hide the virtual keys, of course, and opt to use the whole screen estate for specific apps - if you prefer it this way.
Above the screen is the new 20MP selfie camera behind f/2.2 lens. It's actually the same IMX376 sensor as the one Mi A2 uses as a secondary helper on the back for the low-light shots. A warm LED flash is also available at the front.
The selfie department has seen one of the biggest upgrades since the Mi A2 with the new sensor and dedicated flash. The new high-res imager can do real-time auto HDR, but it can also do pixel binning in low-light for some better shots. The high-end selfie experience is boosted with the assistance of so-called AI software which provides portrait shots with blurred backgrounds, smart beautifications, among other enhancements.
Finally, the whole front is protected by a piece of Gorilla Glass 5 - until recently (now there is GG6) the most shatter-proof glass, though it's not as scratch-resistant as older versions.
The rest of the Mi A2 is one piece of aluminium. The frame is thin and with rounded edges, while the back has the antenna lines running around the top and bottom in a way that doesn't interrupt the design. This is pretty much what we saw on the Mi A1, even the fingerprint scanner is at the same spot.
The camera hump looks different though - it now has the vertical alignment of the iPhone X's snappers, also adopted by the recently released Redmi Note 5 Pro. The 12MP main snapper has the top position, the 20MP low-light shooter is at the bottom, while the LED flash is in-between.
The dual-camera has been completely revamped. It has a 12MP sensor for the regular shots, but the 20MP helper is not just for depth-info, it does pixel-binning and will, in theory, produce better low-light photos. Telephoto zoom is not available on the Mi A2 though, as there is no telephoto lens. Both sensors have bright f/1.75 lenses - another update since the Mi A1 and its f/2.2 and f/2.6.
The camera hump is huge though and the Mi A2 wobbles when put on a flat surface. But there is a transparent case in the retail box, which will get rid of the wobbling if that bothers you.
The Mi A2 packs a 3,000 mAh battery - no improvement in the capacity. There is support for Quick Charge 3.0, but due to the low retail price the phone comes with a regular 10W charger. If you want a faster charging, you'll have to buy a more potent charger.
One thing that had to go for some reason is the 3.5mm audio jack. Why? We can't tell. We doubt Xiaomi could find a proper explanation either. And this will upset a lot of users. But it is what it is. There is a provided USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter in the box if that's any consolation.
Handling the Xiaomi Mi A2 felt much like operating the Mi A1 - same phone, but with a larger display. In spite of the pixels growth, we didn't need to do much finger stretching. The design and the looks are modern, the shape and the matte finish on the metal provide enough grip even though there is a small sense of slipperiness, while the lack of a notch is much appreciated. And if it weren't for the audio jack omission, we would have considered the Mi A2 exterior as pretty flawless.
The Mi A2 runs on the latest available Android Oreo, the vanilla kind, as the phone is part of Android One. This guarantees 2 years of regular updates, but will those be timely enough - it's too early to tell. The same thing was promised for the Mi A1, but the OTAs were often delayed - most notably the update from Android to v8.1. Here is hoping Xiaomi and Google will do it better this time around.
The phone has nothing that could be considered as bloatware, but does come with two Mi apps - Mi Remote and Mi File Manager.
Finally, in addition to the fingerprint security, you can also use Face Unlock - that's Google's Trusted Face option in Smart Lock. It's not secure enough, but it's cool, so it's up to you to decide.
Xiaomi Mi A2 runs on one of our favorite mid-range chipsets - the Snapdragon 660. And this is a massive jump over the 625 SoC inside the Mi A1. The 660 silicon has a powerful octa-core processor with Kryo 260 cores and one very capable Adreno 512 that can ooze more than enough fps for a 1080p display.
Until now the Snapdragon 660 chip was powering upper-midrangers and flagship models, so we are beyond happy to see the chip powering a €250 phone.
We ran a few benchmark test to give you a better idea where the Mi A2 stands against its rivals.
Higher is better
Higher is better
Higher is better
Xiaomi has upgraded all three cameras since the Mi A1. The primary setup on the back now has a Sony IMX486 12MP sensor behind f/1.75 lens. It has big enough pixels at 1.25µm and should be capturing some pleasant photos.
The secondary snapper is a 20MP Sony IMX376 with 1.00µm, also behind f/1.75 lens. It is used for depth information for the portrait shots, and does pixel binning in low light. The latter means the camera combines the information from four pixels into one and the result should be a brighter shot.
So, how does it work then? Well - in Auto mode the camera takes all decisions by itself. Its so-called AI decides whether to use pixel binning and which camera should be used to take a photo - it can be with either of them or both. Regardless, you will always end up with a 12MP photo, though if you switch to Manual, you can force a 20MP image out of the Mi A2 too.
The camera app looks barebone and you swipe through the different modes, but there are lots of advanced settings so if creative control is what you need - you can have it.
Naturally, we snapped a few shots with the Mi A2. The photos came out well with nice rendition, pleasant colors and contrast. The dynamic range could have been better and even though we used Auto HDR, the Auto didn't use HDR at scenes where we felt we needed it.
We also took some low-light shots around Madrid. Except for some blurry photos due to the lack of OIS, most of the images look kind of awesome for the class.
The Mi A2 has a second 20MP Sony IMX376 sensor - it serves as a selfie shooter. The cam supports Auto HDR, can do portrait shots with simulated bokeh, and various smart beautifications are available as well.
The selfie shots we took looked great with plenty of detail and an exposure always focused on our faces.