Xiaomi Mi A3 Review: Is It Worth The Competition?

The Mi A1 was the first smartphone from Xiaomi, to be a part of Google’s Android One program. The Mi A1 was a rebranded Mi 5X for global markets running pure Android, and last year’s Mi A2 was also a rebranded version of Mi 6X series, with pure Android experience. Basically, Xiaomi takes an existing smartphone selling in china, switches out MIUI for Android One, and releases it globally.

This time too, Xiaomi did the same thing. The recently launched Mi A3 is a rebranded version of Mi CC9e, but with Android One. The Mi A3 comes with an AMOLED display and a glass back, which surely gives it a very premium look. The Previous generation Mi A-series came with a Metal Unibody design, which was more durable than this years’ Mi A3’s Glass design.

Xiaomi Mi A3 Design

The Mi A3 has a Glass Sandwich design, a change compared to the metal-clad Mi A2. The front and back glass are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The Camera lens is also protected by the Gorilla Glass 5. The Phone has a Dewdrop notch, which houses the selfie camera. The Mi A3 has slim bezels on the sides, but top and bottom are relatively thicker.

The Mi A3 has a plastic frame which is finished in Chrome to give it a more premium feel. The Mi A3 is available in 3 colors – Kind of Gray, Not just Blue & More than White. the color does seem to be inspired by Google’s choices for its Pixel phone lineup. The top side of the phone houses Secondary microphone, an IR Blaster which is used to control IR-based appliances and a 3.5mm headphone jack which was missing in last year’s Mi A2.

The Mi A3 has a USB Type-C Port at the bottom along with 2 grills. Sadly, only the speaker grill on the right side houses the loudspeaker, and the other one houses Primary microphone. As usual, the Power and Volume keys are present on the ride side of the device and a hybrid dual-SIM tray is on the left side of the device.

Xiaomi Mi A3 Specifications and Software

As the sub ₹15,000 segment is getting hotter and hotter, the manufacturers are trying to ship the latest smartphones with the best possible hardware. We have already seen smartphones like Realme 3 Pro and Redmi Note 7 Pro launching with the Snapdragon 710 and Snapdragon 675 SoC respectively, both the smartphones are under ₹15,000 price range. But Xiaomi Decided to go with the Snapdragon 655 SoC.

The Mi A3 is powered by the Snapdragon 655 SoC, paired with Adreno 610 GPU, which also powers the newly launched Realme 5. The Snapdragon 655 SoC is based on an 11nm fabrication process and has four Kryo 260 cores clocked at 2GHz with another four Kryo 260 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. The Mi A3 is available in two variants, one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and the other with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Xiaomi says that UFS 2.1 storage has been used in the Mi A3.

The Mi A3 features a 6.01-inch HD+ Super AMOLED Panel which has a resolution of 720 x 1560 pixels (285 PPI) and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The phone has 80.3% screen-to-body ratio. The Front glass is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The front of the phone has a U-shaped Notch which features the Selfie camera. The Mi A3 also features an In-Display Fingerprint Sensor.

On the camera front, the phone features a triple camera setup that houses a 48-megapixel primary Sony IMX586 sensor with an f/1.79 lens, 8-megapixel secondary sensor with a 118-degree wide-angle f/1.79 lens, and a 2-megapixel tertiary sensor for depth sensing. The smartphone also has the 32-megapixel selfie camera at the front with an f/2.0 lens. The Mi A3 also comes with a dedicated Night Mode, for better shots in the low light situations, and users will also have control on the depth of field in Portrait shots.

The Mi A3 is based on Android One Platform, and hence give users a great stock Android experience. The phone is running on the latest version of Android 9 (Pie). Also, the Mi A3 will be one of the first smartphones to be updated to Android 10 (Q). The Smartphone will continue to get security updates for three years and the Mi A3 will also get 2 major android updates. Thanks to Android One, the Mi A3 gets support for Google Assistant, Google Photos, Google Lens, Digital Wellbeing tools, and more.

The Mi A3 packs a 4030 mAh battery to keep the phone running all day long. The phone also supports 18W fast charging with USB Type-C support. The Output from the 3.5mm audio jack has been improved a lot as compared to Mi A2. The Mi A3 also includes an IR Blaster to control electronic devices with the infrared sensor, and the smartphone also gets P2i coating for splash resistance. The Mi A3 measures 153.5 x 71.9 x 8.5 mm and weighs around 173.8 g.

Xiaomi Mi A3’s Display, Performance & Battery Life

The Mi A3 has a 6.01-inch HD+ Super AMOLED Panel with 19.5:9 aspect ratio. We have a mixed opinion on the display of the Mi A3 as the Xiaomi went with a Super AMOLED Panels, which indeed is a good thing but lowered the resolution to 720p. This brings down the pixel density to just 286 PPI, although the panels are made by Samsung itself, there’s no denying that it doesn’t belong on a device in this segment. You will notice pixelation at times, and the display isn’t bright enough for the outdoor use. There were instances when we can’t see anything on the screen of the phone in the harsh sunlight. In Dark or low light situations, even after turning the brightness slider all the way down, the screen feels like its uncomfortably bright.

The Mi A3 comes with an In-Display fingerprint sensor. This is the first time that we’ve seen the In-Display fingerprint sensor in an Andoird One smartphone, and the experience is just pathetic. The Mi A3’s fingerprint sensor is the slowest I’ve ever come across. The sensor is painfully slow and most of the time, it just doesn’t recognize my finger. The Accuracy rate is somewhere around 20%-30% only. Xiaomi would have been better off using a traditional fingerprint sensor instead of going the in-screen route. The Mi A3’s fingerprint sensor forced me to use a PIN as the primary means of authentication.

Now coming on the Mi A3’s performance, the phone is running on Snapdragon 655 SoC, paired with Adreno 610 GPU and is available in two variants – 4GB of RAM & 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM & 128GB of Storage. The phone features a UFS 2.1 storage module and a dual-channel LPDDR4X RAM module.

The RAM management of the device is great, so there are no issues regarding the multitasking capabilities of the Mi A3. Better RAM management means more apps are kept loaded in the background. We ran a usual set of benchmarks to see where the Mi A3 stands against the competition. In AnTuTu, the phone scored 141,132 points, Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests gave us 1,504 and 5,386 points respectively. It managed 51fps and 13fps in GFXBench T-Rex and CarChase respectively.

These scores are quite comparable with the phones like Realme 5, which is also running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC. However, when we compared Mi A3’s benchmark scores with the Redmi Note 7s, which is powered by the Snapdragon 660 SoC, we found that the Redmi Note 7s actually does score better in terms of CPU tests, but the Mi A3 had a lead in the GFXBench tests which could be because of the low-resolution display.

We also tested the device with games like PUBG Mobile. The game ran on the low quality preset by default, with the graphic settings being set to Smooth and frame rate set to Medium by default. We bumped up the graphic quality to Balanced and the Mi A3 handled the PUBG Mobile without any lag or frame drop. However, the back of the phone did get warm to touch after 30 minutes of gameplay, and the phone did register a 10% battery drop.

The Mi A3 has a very good battery life as compared to last year’s Mi A2. The Mi A3’s 4030 mAh battery can easily last you a full working day, even if you are sort of a mid to heavy user. With our regular usage, which includes running of all the benchmark tests, taking photos and videos, and using an active Whatsapp account, the Mi A3 lasted us about a day and a half. The Mi A3 supports 18-Watt fast charging, but Xiaomi decided to provide a 10-Watt charger in the box, thanks to cost-cutting, the supplied 10-Watt charger took around 30 minutes to charge the device to 27%. In about an hour, the charger managed to charge the device to 54%. We recommend using an 18-Watt fast charger to speed up charging speeds of the phone.

Mi A3’s Camera Review

The Mi A3 features a triple camera setup, with a 48-megapixel Sony IMX 586 primary sensor, an 8-megapixel secondary camera with a wide-angle lens with a 118-degree field-of-view and a 2-megapixel depth sensor for better portrait shots. The Sony IMX 586 sensor is generally seen in premium phones such as Oneplus 7. The Mi A3 has a 32- megapixel selfie shooter for great selfies.

The Mi A3 has a Xiaomi’s tradition camera app that we have seen in almost all the Redmi phones out there. The Mi A3’s camera app supports a lot of shooting modes including Portrait, Night, Panorama, and Pro, apart from the usual photo and video modes. It also has quick toggles for HDR, AI, the flash, and filters. There’s also a 48-megapixel mode, which allows you to take the photos at 48-megapixel resolution. Sadly, you can’t record a video in 48-megapixel mode. By default, the Mi A3 captures 12-megapixel pixel-binned shots for better clarity.

The photos taken in the daylight have good detail. The MI A3 managed to lock the focus quickly and set the right exposure in the daylight shots. Objects at a distance were recognizable, and text at a distance was also legible. The HDR of the phones isn’t that great as it is lifting black too aggressively. This throws the contrast of photos off, causing them to look artificial. The wide-angle sensor helps capture a wider frame with a 118-degree field-of-view. However, the wide-angle shots do lose out some detail as compared to the main sensor as the main sensor is a 48-megapixel sensor and the wide-angle lens has an 8-megapixel sensor.

Daylight camera sample from the Mi A3 (Image Credits: Gadgets 360)
Mi A3 camera sample with HDR (Image Credits: Gadgets 360)

Taking Macro shots on the Mi A3 isn’t an easy task. In spite of having an f/1.8 aperture, it was slow to focus and occasionally needed us to move away from the subject to lock focus. After the focus is locked, the Sony sensor takes very good macro shots. It managed good separation between the subject and the background and reproduced details well. Portrait mode lets you adjust the level of background blur before you take a shot. The phone managed good edge detection and accurate colors in this mode.

Close-up sample clicked using photo mode on the Mi A3 (Image Credits: Gadgets 360)

In low lighting situations, the Mi A3 has managed to deliver some really good shots but as long as you are patient. The Mi A3 takes no time to lock the focus but is a little slow to capture the image. It takes slightly longer to take a shot in low light situations, which may sometimes result in motion blur. We have to keep the phone still to get a perfect shot under low lighting situations. Low-light shots had good detail, and the noise was under control. The night mode of the Mi A3 takes brighter images with better details.

Low-Light camera sample clicked on the Mi A3 (Image Credits: Gadgets 360)

Coming to the Video recording, the primary camera can shoot up to 4K resolution at 30 FPS and the front-facing camera can shoot videos up to 1080p resolution at 60 FPS. There’s also Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) support for the main camera but only till 1080p resolution, 4K, and selfie videos don’t support any stabilization.

Mi A3’s Pricing and Verdict

The Mi A3 starts at ₹12,999 for the 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage variant, which doesn’t really offer the same great value for money as compared to the competition. The Realme 5 is available at ₹9,999 and offers the same processor as the Mi A3. If the performance of the phone matters more than the camera performance, then we suggest you can take a look at Redmi Note 7 Pro, which in fact gives a really tough competition to the Mi A3. the Redmi Note 7 Pro has a more powerful Snapdragon 675 SoC and is priced ₹13,999.

The higher-end variant with 6GB RAM and 128GB of Storage of the Mi A3 priced at Rs. 15,999 isn’t very appealing, as the recently launched Realme 5 pro’s 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage variant is priced at 16,999. The Realme 5 Pro offers a better Processor and also features Quad Camera setup, with the VOOC charge support. The Mi A3 Comes in three color options – Kind of Gray, Not just Blue, More than White.

Overall, the Mi A3 is meant for those who are looking for a phone with stock Android experience, a great camera performance, and fast software updates. For those who are looking for great performance, they can consider Realme 5 or the 5 Pro and the Redmi Note 7 Pro.

Mi A3’s Pros and Cons –

Pros –

  • Great Camera Performance
  • Premium Build Quality
  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5 (Front and Back)
  • 3.5mm jack is back

Cons –

  • Low-Resolution Display
  • Sluggish In-Display Fingerprint Sensor
  • Audio Output Quality Could Have Been Better

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