Xiaomi Mi A1: First Impressions

Being the Xiaomi aficionado of the site, I was absolutely excited to see Xiaomi partner with Google to announce an Android One branded device. There is so much that is just perfect with Xiaomi hardware—it’s cheap, it’s competitively priced, and lasts long. However, I am very clear on one thing: I absolutely abhor MIUI. The custom take that Xiaomi has on Android is no less than a devil child, and the first thing that I did after buying my current Xiaomi was to flash LineageOS on it.

Since this phone ships with stock Android software, I was pumped on seeing the flash sale announcement. I seem to have good luck with these sales since I always snag one or more pieces on sale every time. This does not go without saying that flash sales cause me no headaches—they do. I generally enlist the help of at least 5 friends in order to make sure that I am able to buy the Xiaomi device that I want without any issues.

So without further ado, here are the initial impressions of this device.

Mandatory Disclosure: I have not received this device as a review unit, and all the views stated here on out are my own. I have purchased this device with my own money, and this is not sponsored by anyone or Xiaomi.


The Mi A1 box

There is not a lot of change to the packaging that comes along with a Xiaomi device. There’s the power brick, a USB-C to USB-A cable, the phone, some paperwork and manuals, and a pin to remove the hybrid SIM card/microSD card slot.

Unboxing a white color (Photo: FoneTimes)

Look and feel

This device comes in two variants, one in gold, and the other in black. The one that I have is black in color, and Xiaomi says that there is an extra coating on the back of the black device which prevents fingerprints from affecting the back. Regardless, I am getting a case as well as a glass screen protector for it soon enough.

The Front. Notice the white-only LED.
A side view (Ignore the clutter!)


Let’s talk business. The phone boots up, and you are not greeted with the MIUI set-up screen. The set-up is same as that of any device with a vanilla custom ROM on it. You set up your Google accounts, WiFi, data options among other things, and the assistant sets up the phone for you.

Note: Unlike the promo videos, there are four pre-installed Mi apps on this device. Thankfully, they can all be uninstalled, so props to the software team here.


There is a lot of hype around the camera on this device, and the camera is the primary selling point of this device. However, don’t start making your final decisions already, since I will definitely take this baby out for trial runs including some night time shooting and post back with the results.

Portrait mode (Photo: reddit.com/user/mearjunsha)
HDR mode (Photo: reddit.com/user/mearjunsha)
2x zoom (Photo: reddit.com/user/mearjunsha)

The stabilization isn’t the greatest, but the colors on this are great, especially the front camera.

What happened to the LED colors?

There seems to be only one LED color available on this device. White is the only choice that you have when you are trying to set up colors for the LED. I don’t understand why Xiaomi has skimped out on this one. Even its cheapest model right now, the Redmi 4A, has multi-colored LED. This seems very weird to me, and it’s off-putting. I can live with it, yes, but it’s kind of disappointing.


There is one weird bug on this device. When one plugs in their headphones or earphones, you get this notification from the System UI tuner, and it should not be here.

The System UI tuner notification shouldn’t be here.

The phone lags while charging for first 15-20 secs. It then performs fine. Pressing power button twice shows a blank screen when locked when it should open the camera app. Yikes.

Final thoughts

Mi A1 supports A/B seamless update system, which is really awesome, and I have already received one OTA update on this device. Despite the minor software bugs, the Mi A1 looks promising, and I’m definitely looking forward to fully testing out this device, so stay tuned for my full review.