The most «Indian» Xiaomi smartphone is back — the third generation of Mi with pure Android, without the MIUI shell, and even part of the Android One program. The eternal participant in all sorts of top «best low-cost smartphones» — now with an AMOLED display and a fingerprint scanner right on the screen
Xiaomi Mi A1 at one time became a kind of shock. A smartphone on «pure» Android, performed by a company that made a name for itself, and at first the whole business was based on the shell for this operating system — it seemed a little surreal. Nevertheless, the move turned out to be successful — both Mi A1 and Mi A2 followed it with very serious success. And the appearance of the A3, unlike the continuation of the Pocophone series, for example, could have been predicted. The smartphone was presented in July, and in Russia it was released in August, and at a very reasonable price.
However, it immediately became clear that this is a kind of compromise masterpiece, combining an atypical display type (AMOLED) for its price category with an unusual, but already in a negative sense, resolution (1560 × 720), as well as the relevant and adequate Qualcomm platform for this class. Snapdragon 665 — with no NFC module. How much does all this add up to a potentially hit smartphone and has Xiaomi gone overboard with compromises?
|Xiaomi Mi A3||Xiaomi Redmi Note 7||moto g7||Nokia 7.1||Honor 8X|
|Display||6.01 inches, AMOLED, 1560 × 720 pixels, 286 ppi; capacitive, multi-touch||6.3 inches, IPS, 2340 × 1080 pixels, 409 ppi; capacitive, multi-touch||6.2 inches, IPS, 2270 × 1080 pixels, 403 ppi; capacitive, multi-touch||5.84 inches, IPS, 2280 × 1080 pixels, 432 ppi; capacitive, multi-touch||6.5 inches, IPS, 2340 × 1080 pixels, 396 ppi, capacitive multi-touch|
|Protective glass||Corning Gorilla Glass 5||Corning Gorilla Glass 5||Corning Gorilla Glass (version not specified)||Corning Gorilla Glass 3||No information|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 665: Quad-core Kryo 260 Gold @ 2.0GHz, Quad-core Kryo 260 Silver @ 1.8GHz||Qualcomm Snapdragon 660: eight Kryo 260 cores, 2.2 GHz||Qualcomm Snapdragon 632: Quad-core Kryo 250 Gold @ 1.8GHz + Quad-core Kryo 250 Silver @ 1.8GHz||Qualcomm Snapdragon 636: eight cores Kryo 260 (8 × 1.8 GHz)||HiSilicon Kirin 710: eight cores (4 × Cortex A73 2.2GHz + 4 × Cortex A53 1.7GHz)|
|Graphics controller||Adreno 610||Adreno 512, 850 MHz||Adreno 506, 650 MHz||Adreno 509, 720 MHz||ARM Mali-G51 MP4, 650 MHz|
|RAM||4 GB||3/4 GB||4 GB||3/4 GB||4/6 GB|
|Flash memory||64/128 GB||32/64/128 GB||64 GB||32/64 GB||64/128 GB|
|Connectors||USB Type-C, 3.5mm||USB Type-C, 3.5mm||USB Type-C, 3.5mm||USB Type-C, mini-jack 3.5 mm||MicroUSB, mini jack 3.5 mm|
|Memory card slot||There is||There is||Yes (dedicated microSD slot)||There is||Yes (dedicated microSD slot)|
|SIM cards||2 x nano-SIM||2 x nano-SIM||2 x nano-SIM||2 x nano-SIM||2 x nano-SIM|
|Cellular 2G||GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz||GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz||GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz||GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz||GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 MHz|
|Cellular 3G||HSDPA 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz||HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 MHz||HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 MHz||WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100 MHz||HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100 MHz|
|Cellular 4G||LTE Cat. 12 (600 Mbps), bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28||LTE Cat. 12 (600 Mbps), bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40||LTE Cat. 7 (300 Mbps), bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 38, 40, 41||LTE Cat. 6 (300/50 Mbps): bands unknown||LTE Cat. 4 (150 Mbps), bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41|
|WiFi||802.11a/b/g/n/ac; 2.4/5 GHz||802.11a/b/g/n/ac; 2.4/5 GHz||802.11a/b/g/n; 2.4/5 GHz||802.11b/g/n/ac; 2.4/5 GHz||802.11a/b/g/n/ac; 2.4/5 GHz|
|Bluetooth||5.0||5.0||4.2 (aptX)||5.0||4.2 (aptX)|
|NFC||Not||Not||There is||There is||There is|
|Navigation||GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou||GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou||GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo||GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS||GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou|
|Sensors||Light, proximity, accelerometer/gyroscope, magnetometer (digital compass), IR sensor||Light, proximity, accelerometer/gyroscope, magnetometer (digital compass), IR sensor||Illumination, proximity, accelerometer/gyroscope, magnetometer (digital compass)||Illumination, proximity, accelerometer/gyroscope, magnetometer (digital compass)||Illumination, proximity, accelerometer/gyroscope, magnetometer (digital compass)|
|The fingerprint scanner||Yes, on screen||There is||There is||There is||There is|
|Main camera||Triple module: 48 MP, ƒ / 1.8 + 8 MP, ƒ / 2.2 + 2 MP (depth sensor), phase detection autofocus, dual LED flash||Dual module: 48 MP, ƒ / 1.8 + 5 MP, ƒ / 2.2, phase detection autofocus, dual LED flash||Dual module: 12 MP, ƒ / 1.8 + 5 MP, hybrid autofocus, LED flash||Dual module: 12 + 5 MP, ƒ / 1.8 + ƒ / 2.4, autofocus, dual LED flash||Dual module: 20 ƒ / 1.8 + 2 MP, phase detection autofocus, LED flash|
|Front-camera||32 MP, no autofocus, no flash||13 MP, no autofocus, no flash||8 MP, no autofocus, no flash||8 MP, ƒ/2.0, no autofocus, with flash||16 MP, ƒ/2.0, autofocus, no flash|
|Nutrition||Non-removable battery: 15.31 Wh (4030 mAh, 3.8 V)||Non-removable battery: 15.28 Wh (4000 mAh, 3.8 V)||Non-removable battery: 11.4 Wh (3000 mAh, 3.8 V)||Non-removable battery: 11.63 Wh (3060 mAh, 3.8 V)||Non-removable battery: 14.25 Wh (3750 mAh, 3.8 V)|
|Weight||173.8 g||186 g||172 g||160 g||175 g|
|Water and dust protection||Not||Not||P2i (splash protection)||Not||Not|
|Operating system||Android 9.0 Pie (Android One)||Android 9.0 Pie, MIUI shell||Android 9.0 Pie||Android 8.1.0 Oreo (Android One)||Android 8.1 Oreo, EMUI shell|
|Current price||$120 for 4/64 GB version||$120 for 3/32 GB version, $120 for 4/64 GB version||120$||$120 for 3/32 GB version||$120 for 4/64 GB version, $120 for 4/128 GB version|
⇡#Design, ergonomics and software
Xiaomi Mi A3 is made in the most modern style: glass on both sides and metal around the perimeter, it shines and shimmers “like a big one”. But it looks beautiful only in blue and mother-of-pearl. Black Mi A3, doomed to be the most popular, looks deadly boring and banal.
Nevertheless, you can’t refuse the smartphone’s relevance – Xiaomi tried to deprive the front panel of the frames, and even though it turned out to be very conditional (they are here, and quite large), the general style is observed: there is a “droplet” cutout, and in a meaningless competition “who has a higher percentage of the front panel area occupied by the display,” the smartphone got involved. The corners of the screen spoil the impression, the radius of curvature is not synchronized with the corners of the body — this is a perfectionist’s hell. Yes, and the droplet itself is a technique that is rapidly becoming obsolete. It is hoped that even Apple, who invented the notch, will abandon it this year, but the trail will still drag on for some time.
Otherwise, Xiaomi Mi A3 looks and feels more expensive than it really is — a bit thick (8.5 mm), but well tailored. And the back panel, despite the glass coating (well, more precisely, glass-polymer — Gorilla Glass 5 is front and back), is relatively non-slip and has good oleophobic characteristics. At least, it does not immediately overgrow with prints, and they are easily rubbed off.
In any case, the smartphone can be immediately protected – the kit includes a silicone case, and rather atypical one, with a plug for the USB Type-C port. The characteristics do not state that this plug provides some additional moisture protection, and it becomes less convenient to charge the gadget, but psychologically it still feels like an additional concern. A “naked” smartphone officially does not have any moisture protection either — it would probably be unreasonable to expect this from a near-budget model.
But one could expect that there will be a mini-jack — and it is here, while the flagships no longer have it. Even Samsung has given up this bastion in its Galaxy Note 10. The analog audio jack has finally become the lot of popular smartphones. Mi A3 is no doubt popular, but despite its low status, it received a USB Type-C port. Someone takes this for granted, but remember at least the much more expensive Vivo V15 Pro / Vivo V17 Neo, where it was not.
I also note the infrared port on the top side, the basic hardware keys on the right side and the absence of a visible fingerprint scanner. Yes, Xiaomi Mi A3 is by far the most affordable smartphone with an on-screen fingerprint sensor.
The sensor, of course, is optical — it does not react to a wet finger in any way. But at the same time, the rest works quite quickly and stably, the same Samsung Galaxy A80 sensor (which costs $400, let me remind you) wins very easily in this regard, like the sensor in Nokia 9 PureView. There is no desire to immediately switch to a less secure, but faster way to identify a user by face using only the front camera. But if you like it better — please, everything is in the security settings.
There is not much to say about the operating system. It’s Android 9 Pie without additives, GMOs and any specifics like branded apps. They are not here — just the usual «Google» set. The smartphone is included in the Android One program, which means the fastest integration of updates. There is currently no information on transferring Mi A3 to Android Q. The operating system works quickly and smoothly, using a smartphone is pleasant. But without a hitch, it didn’t work out without a hitch — Mi A3 can freeze in the most unexpected place: either the Bluetooth signal is suddenly interrupted, or the familiar application will fail. It is difficult to say what this is connected with, but the device cannot be given a five for the work.
⇡#Display and sound
The Xiaomi Mi A3 screen is the most controversial part of it. On the one hand, AMOLED is almost never found on $100 smartphones. In current competitors, the Mi A3 has only a horde of various Samsungs: from this summer’s hit Galaxy A50 to last year’s clever Galaxy A8. You know the advantages of organic LEDs over liquid crystals even without us — each pixel glows on its own, without external illumination, which provides conditionally infinite contrast and real black where the LCD matrix shows some of the shades of gray. The screen is equipped with a touch coating that responds to 10 simultaneous touches, and, unlike the Mi 9T, there are no problems with sensitivity — well, or I didn’t notice them.
But the use of an AMOLED screen in this case led to unreasonable sacrifices. The panel with a diagonal of 6.01 inches received a resolution of 1560 × 720 pixels, frankly insufficient for such dimensions. The pixel density is 286 ppi. Further — worse. The panel is made using PenTile technology, and this can be seen on large pixels. As a result, the picture is frankly loose, a ladder is noticeable on the fonts, the icons are full of colors around the edges. Especially noticeable on the white fill. The compromise here is visible to the naked eye.
Alas, the Xiaomi Mi A3 screen has one more problem — insufficient brightness. In laboratory conditions, it was possible to squeeze 366 cd / m2 out of the screen2 — a little even for an AMOLED display. This is emphasized by the absence of a dynamic «jump» in brightness in the sun. These 366 candela is the real maximum. The polarization layer helps to some extent, but the smartphone is still uncomfortable to use in the sun — the picture is too dim.
The display settings are also scanty: you can adjust the brightness yourself or let your smartphone do it, select the font size and image scale, activate night mode with a blue filter — and that’s it. You can’t work with color rendition. The way Xiaomi Mi A3 is set up out of the box will stay with you forever. Let’s just hope it’s set up properly. Let’s check.
The color gamut exceeds the sRGB standard, which is still generally accepted in the industry, but also falls short of the new standard (DCI-P3). The average gamma value is 2.23 with a fairly calm behavior of the curves — this is a good indicator. The temperature is slightly increased, but not too critical: on average, it stays at the level of 7,600-7,700 K, this level, as a rule, seems to be the most comfortable for users — most prefer moderately cold tones. The average deviation of DeltaE on the Color Checker scale, which includes both a wide range of colors and shades of gray, was 5.39 at a rate of 3.00 — an average indicator. In general, it is worth recognizing the display setting as rather normal — there are no horrors here.
In Xiaomi Mi A3, as I already noted, there is an analog audio jack, but this did not lead to any feats on the audiophile front. The smartphone sounds mediocre over the wire. Worse, it noticeably lacks power — even at maximum volume, listening to music using the Mi A3 + wired headphones bundle is not very pleasant. Wireless connection is much better — aptX, aptX HD and LDAC profiles are supported. With good Bluetooth «ears» Xiaomi Mi A3 sounds at the level. The speaker here is monophonic, located on the bottom edge — quite loud, it does not sound elegant, but do not miss a call. As a phone, Mi A3 is also quite capable.
⇡#Hardware and performance
Xiaomi Mi A3 is built on the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 hardware platform, a fresh version of the well-known Snapdragon 660, installed, for example, in Redmi Note 7. work with artificial intelligence and multi-camera systems. The cores themselves, on the contrary, operate at a reduced frequency. Here, as in the 660th, eight custom Kryo 260s are used, but the maximum frequency of the four older ones is 2.0 GHz, and the four younger ones are 1.8 GHz. The graphics subsystem is fresh — Adreno 610. The technological process is 11 nm.
The results of synthetic tests speak for themselves — between Redmi Note 7 and Mi A3 there is relative equality in most benchmarks with a somewhat surprising (albeit minimal) lag in graphics performance, although it was here that an increase was possible.
For a smartphone of its class, Xiaomi Mi A3, however, has sufficient power — some «buggy» of the operating system, not related to hardware performance, does not interfere with using it with sufficient comfort. Apps open quickly, screens scroll almost instantly, and basic apps are a pleasure to use, although the camera app could launch and complete tasks faster. The Mi A3 does not have a serious gaming potential, but you can run almost the entire range of Google Play on this gadget.
The declared ability of Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 to work with neural network computing (“artificial intelligence”) is confirmed by a synthetic test: Ludashi AI Mark scored 15771 points against 5558 for the same Redmi Note 7. The smartphone processes tasks related to machine learning three times faster.
The Xiaomi Mi A3 cooling system works medium-efficiently. The smartphone at least does not fail, demonstrating a decrease in frequency in a 15-minute session of the CPU Throttling Test up to 70% with an average performance of 114 GIPS. In this regard, the gain from the failing test Redmi Note 7 is huge. But relative to other competitors in the lower middle class, Mi A3 looks like an ordinary good one.
Xiaomi Mi A3 received 4 GB of RAM — this, at first glance, is not much, but it is enough for a smartphone with an HD screen. There are two options for the amount of built-in storage — 64 and 128 GB. But — and this is becoming less and less common in Xiaomi smartphones — the Mi A3 has a memory expansion slot through a microSD card. It will take up the second slot for a SIM card, but if dual SIM is not critical for you, you can save money and take the 64 GB version.
⇡#Communications and wireless communications
The Xiaomi Mi A3 is generally in line with expectations from a $100 smartphone, but in one area it is surprisingly good – we are talking about the quality of the LTE connection. Both of its nano-SIMs can work with 4G networks, moreover, the 12th category, with a top speed of up to 600 Mbps. Here the gadget repeats the Redmi Note 7. And here’s another important point — all the communication bands necessary in Russia are supported, so there should be no unforeseen communication problems. If there are, blame the operators rather than the smartphone.
On this, the wireless talents of Xiaomi Mi A3, alas, end. Yes, the smartphone works with dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), it has a built-in Bluetooth 5.0 module, as well as an infrared port, through which, when installing the appropriate software, you can control household appliances, but here no NFC — and that’s pretty damn disappointing. This chip today should be present in all smartphones that respect themselves and the user.
The navigation module works with GPS (A-GPS), GLONASS and BeiDou and does it stably, with normal speed and accuracy.
Xiaomi Mi A3 received a triple camera module. Literally on the machine in this case, we are already recalculating the number of cameras in the context of the possibility of optical zoom, but, alas, this is not the case — Mi A3 has an extended shooting angle, but 2x zoom is available only through software tricks. The third camera is a depth sensor that only helps in portrait modes.
The main module is a 48-megapixel Sony IMX582 sensor with physical dimensions of 1/2» (the size of an individual pixel is 0.8 microns), with an aperture lens ƒ/1.8, which provides 35mm-equivalent 26mm focal length shots. This is exactly the same combination as the Xiaomi Mi 9T. By default, the camera shoots with a resolution of 12 megapixels, the 48-megapixel mode must be activated separately, the option is available in the «professional» shooting mode. There is no optical stabilization, phase autofocus and works exclusively with the main camera.
The second camera is equipped with an 8-megapixel 1/4» sensor (pixel size — 1.12 microns) with an aperture lens ƒ/2.2, which has an equivalent focal length of approximately 12 mm — that is, we get the opportunity to shoot with more than a doubling of the angle of view. The 2x zoom we’re offered in the camera app relies on the ability to shoot at 48MP and crop out the excess. The reception is well known and quite effective — it does not reach the “optical” level available, for example, Xiaomi Mi 9T. Although for posting on social networks, such pictures will fit perfectly.
In terms of overall shooting quality, the Mi A3 could well claim prize positions in its class — it did not manage to get into our comparative review, but the superiority over Redmi Note 7 both in this parameter and in capabilities is quite obvious. Yes, the main camera of the Mi A3 noticeably lacks dynamic range and there is room for improvement in detail, but you can easily get a juicy picture in decent lighting. The wide-angle module is worse in terms of color reproduction and completely overwhelms the dynamic range, but in daytime conditions it can be used to shoot a shameful landscape, and with proper skill — a different plot. Spatial distortions are very noticeable, despite the fact that the smartphone is trying to correct them using software methods — the picture at the edges is blurry and distorted in terms of proportions.
In low light, the Xiaomi Mi A3 camera does not completely fail, but it does not have any supernatural abilities either — the aperture ratio of the main module is not bad, but there is a serious lack of an optical stabilizer. You can squeeze something out of the Mi A3 camera using a special night mode that uses multi-frame composition — the clarity and detail of the picture are noticeably increased, but at the expense of naturalness. But who cares about this naturalness today?
Approximately this is how engineers developing mobile cameras argue today, who without exception receive image enhancement systems through machine learning technologies. We have already seen this on a number of Xiaomi smartphones, but it is in the Mi A3 that the AI intervention looks the most serious: the smartphone no longer slightly brings the scene to the standards laid down in its “brains” that are appropriate in a given situation, but sometimes does it dramatically — raising the saturation in certain areas and sharpening, as well as working with shadows. There is no need to talk about a natural picture — and if you are a fan of shooting everything “as is”, then it is better to turn off the setting.
Xiaomi Mi A3 does not have a dedicated telephoto module — and this affects not only the inability to use the optical «zoom», but also — perhaps even to a greater extent — the portrait capabilities of the camera. 26 equivalent millimeters is a good focal length for reportage, architecture, landscape and, to a certain extent, macro photography, but not for portraits. Spatial distortions of the optics lead to a change in the proportions of the face — and for some reason Mi A3 does not really deal with this programmatically, does not include intelligent zoom. High-quality blurring of the background, for which a dedicated camera is even provided here, does not save the situation. For portraits, Mi A3 is suitable only if you are not too demanding in this matter.
Despite the “pure” Android without signs of MIUI, the Xiaomi Mi A3 has its own camera application, well known from all the latest gadgets of the brand. The best part is that the A3 differs from its counterparts — here the watermark with the name of the smartphone is not set by default, this option is not activated. Hooray.
In terms of video shooting, Xiaomi Mi A3 can claim the leadership in the class: it can shoot up to 4K resolution at up to 30 frames per second with active digital stabilization — no one else offers this in this price category. You can choose H.264 or H.265 codec, there is an option to shoot slow motion video: up to 240 fps at 720p resolution and up to 120 fps at 1080p.
The front camera is impressive with a resolution of 32 megapixels! Relative aperture — ƒ / 2.0, focus is fixed. There is software background blur and the ability to apply various optical distortions and color filters. The beautifier is very powerful, but can be disabled. Selfie lovers should definitely like the Mi A3.
Xiaomi Mi A3 has a battery with a capacity of 15.31 Wh (4070 mAh, 3.8 V). And this is the case when the numbers do not lie — a smartphone with a six-inch HD-screen based on organic LEDs and with a not very powerful, but energy-efficient platform is enough to work quietly for one and a half to two days on a single charge. Mi A3 is one of those devices that you can forget to put on charge at night — and not scream in the morning from hopelessness. If you use your smartphone extremely actively, without coming off even for a minute, it will last for 12-13 hours, but almost no one will offer more today.
In our traditional test with HD video playback at maximum brightness, with the wireless connection on, with the current updates, Xiaomi Mi A3 showed the expected high result — more than 17 hours. Just compare it to its direct LCD competitors (although part of the reason for their loss is our test video with plenty of dark scenes that OLED wins).
Xiaomi Mi A3 is not an undisputed choice in the lower middle class. We are already used to the fact that Xiaomi is desperately dumping, offering smartphones that are not too catchy and not too interesting for their chips, which have a disproportionately better combination of price and quality than competitors. Mi A3 is a completely different option, with very bright pluses and equally deafening minuses.
This is the most inexpensive smartphone with an AMOLED display, not counting the various Samsung Galaxy (expectedly inferior in performance), but at the same time, the display frankly falls short in resolution, which, combined with PenTile, gives an unusually loose picture. This is a smartphone with a very suitable triple rear camera, but the portrait mode, which seemed to be bet on, fails due to the too wide viewing angle. This is a smartphone that works great with LTE, in which there is no NFC module — and this drawback alone cuts off a fair amount of potential target audience. This is a pure Android smartphone, which always seems to be a guarantee of stable and fast performance, but in this regard, everything is not so smooth.
As a result, Xiaomi Mi A3 still looks like a very attractive gadget, just without the “default choice” halo characteristic of Xiaomi. Competitors, including those produced by Xiaomi itself, can argue with him.
- high-quality cameras — both rear and front;
- AMOLED display;
- excellent autonomy;
- an in-screen fingerprint scanner that works well.
- no moisture protection;
- no NFC;
- display resolution too low
- portrait mode in the camera does not work great.