Xiaomi Mi A2 Review with Android 9.0 Pie

I had been using Xiaomi Mi A1 Android One smartphone since the end of 2017,  and was mostly satisfied with it thanks to regular (monthly) firmware update, although I was a bit disappointed by the camera overtime. Eventually I had a serious issue with Mi A1’s eMMC flash, and stopped using it at the end of last year, or roughly after one year of service, since the phone became unusable, unbearably slow.

Xiaomi Mi A2 and A2 Lite where released last summer, and having seen Mi A2 was getting an Android 9.0 firmware in Q4 2018, I asked GearBest whether they could send a sample to review the latest Xiaomi Android One phone. They accepted, and I posted the first part of the review in early December. However, at this time, I did not get the update, since it was not released in Thailand, but soon enough Xiaomi Mi A2 got upgraded to Android 9.0 Pie. I’ve now been using the phone for two months, and can report my experience with the device.

Mi A2 Review Android 9.0

Benchmarks: Antutu, PCMark, 3DMark, and GeekBench

Let’s start with the usual benchmark. In the first part, I ran Antutu 7.x in Android 8.1 Oreo, and got 111,353 points. I repeated the test with Android 9.0, and the score has now increased to 133,504 points.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Android 9 Antutu 7
Click to Enlarge

For reference, the top smartphones get a little over 300k points but Xiaomi Mi A2 score is not bad for a $250 phone.

PCMark Work 2.0 performance score was 6,743 points.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Android 9 PCMark Work 2.0
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The best devices get close to 10,000 points for Work 2.0 performance benchmark at the time of writing.

I started 3DMark graphics benchmark with Ice Storm Extreme, despite being told the phone was too powerful, but I should have believe it, as Mi A2 just maxed out the benchmark. For reference, Xiaomi Mi A1 got 8,045 points in Ice Storm Extreme.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Android 9 3Dmark
Click to Enlarge

Switching to Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan benchmark yielded about 1,230 points in both.

I completely the generic benchmarks with GeekBench 4.

Xiaomi Mi A2 GeekBench 4
Click to Enlarge

1,630 single core score and 4,739 multi-core score compares to 856 and 4,161 points for Xiaomi Mi A1. You’ll find the detailed results here. It should be noted that others achieved over 6,000 points in the multi-core score with Mi A2. The only rational explanation I have for the discrepancy, and I have tested several time, is that my ambient temperature (around 28°C) is likely higher than others.

Storage and Wi-Fi Performance

As usual I went with A1 SD Benchmark app to evaluate storage performance. The 32GB eMMC flash achieved a decent 211.49MB/s sequential read speed, and 125.14MB/s sequential write speed.

Xiaomi Mi A2 A1 SD BenchNote that read speed was cached, so it may not be representative of the actual speed of the eMMC flash. As a side note, I’d recommend people not to buy the 32GB version of the phone, and instead go with the 64GB. My phone storage is often full, so I have to uninstall apps or delete files, and since it does not come with a micro SD card slot, we can’t easily expand it. What worries me is with the storage being always nearly full, the flash may wear out faster than on my Mi A1 with 64GB storage.

Let’s now try WiFi performance using WiFI 5 (802.11ac) and iperf.

  • 802.11ac WiFi upload

  • 802.11ac WiFi download


So download looks excellent, althrough upload is a litle disappointing, but nothing too bad, it’s perfectly usable.

Xiaomi Mi A2 WiFi Performance
Throughput in Mbps – Click to Enlarge

Now bear in mind that I moved home, and don’t currently use the same router. Furthermore, previously the router was outdoor (about 4 meters from the test location + wall), and this time the new router is in the same room about all 2 meters from the test device, so I would expect slightly better performance in my new environment.

Anyway, I don’t have complaint about WiFi throughput. However, there’s another WiFi related issue as I’ve noticed is that the phone often fails to connect in places I’m used to go such as friends’ houses or restaurants, and I need to move closer to the router in those places – than I used to with Mi A1 – to detect the access point, and connect. So there appears to be a very annoying range issue on the phone.

Rear and Front Facing Cameras

Another selling point of Xiaomi Mi A2 is its improved camera capabilities, so I’ve put it to the test.

Rear Camera

Let’s start with some close shots using the rear camera.

mi-a2-camera-text
Click for Original

Text looks pretty good, and I could even use the phone as a scanner with Clear Scan app, which produced results good enough for some government’s paperwork.

mi-a2-camera-orange-pi-sbc
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I then took a photo of Orange Pi One SBC, and it looks better than the equivalent shot with Mi A1 with most marking clearly readable.

Xiaomi Mi A2 camera flowers
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All flowers shot looked good, with faithful colors.

Xiaomi Mi A2 camera temple
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The same is true for photos with good light, but as is often the case, the camera struggles a bit more while facing the sun.

Xiaomi Mi A2 camera fighting the sun
Click for Original

There’s some pollution in Chiang Mai at this time, but the photo below makes it look quite worse than it really is with the image being quite foggy.

Xiaomi Mi A2 camera foggy
Click for Original

I also also had a try at zooming with the photo below.

Xiaomi Mi A2 camera zoom
Click for Original

Dusk photos are also a bit foggy, but at the time the air was clear, no fog at all.

Xiaomi-Mi-A2-camera-dusk
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Night time photos are a bit grainy.

Xiaomi-Mi-A2-camera-night
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I also went in a fairly dark street (below), and I can actually see more details than with my own eyes on the photo.

Xiaomi Mi A2 camera dark scene
Click for Original

For closer subjects, the flash is triggered so low light photos look good.

Xiaomi Mi A2 camera flash
Click for Original

Videos are shot at 1080p30 by default with H.264 codec, and (MPEG-4 AAC / 128 Kbps / 44100 Hz) stereo audio sounds fine.

However, the auto-focus somewhat messed up the video at night time

Front-facing Camera

The font-facing camera work as one should expect, so no complains overall.

Xiaomi Mi A2 selfie camera hello kitty
Click for Original
Xiaomi Mi A2 front facing camera singha
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Xiaomi Mi A2 front facing camera statue
Click for Original

I also used it for video calls through LINE app, and the image is clear and sharp.

You’ll find two videos samples with the front-facing camera during the day and at night below.

Battery Life

Xiaomi Mi A2 battery has the same capacity as Mi A1’s battery, or about ~3,000 mAh, but I found it was hard to get a full day of battery life out of the phone for my use case (Web browsing, YouTube, gaming, and chatting 4 to 5 hours a day). One reason might be because I found the display not to be very bright, so I set the brightness to the maximum often.

In my previous reviews I used LAB501 Battery Life app to test battery life from 100% to 15% for browsing, video and gaming cases, with brightness to 50%, WiFi and Cellular (no data) enabled, and I repeated this method again for Mi A2.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Battery Life
Click to Enlarge

But in some cases let it run to less than 15% battery charge, and the video benchmark automatically stopped with 20% battery charge left. So I normalized the results for 100% to 15% as follows considering the discharge is mostly linear:

  • Browsing – 664 minutes (11 hours 4 minutes)
  • Video – 646 minutes (10 hours 46 minutes)
  • Gaming – 519 minutes (8 hours 49 minutes)
Xiaomi Mi A2 Battery Life Review
Battery life in Minutes – Click to Enlarge

Xiaomi Mi A2 fares better than I would have expected in this test considering I can’t get a full day (e.g. 8:00 to 22:00) of battery life. The browser battery life is lower than Mi A2, but gaming lasted longer so the GPU may be significantly more power efficient.

Lab501 app has not been updated since 2012, and I noticed GeekBench also offered a battery life benchmark.

GeekBench Battery Benchmark
Click to Enlarge

So I ran it for future reference with full discharge, and without dimming the screen, selecting 50% brightness instead. Geekbench Battery Score: 3343 points.

Xiaomi Mi A2 GeekBench Battery Score
Click to Enlarge

I’m not quite sure why the score is not in minutes or hours/minutes, but nevertheless, we can see the discharge (blue line) is pretty much linear, even after the system enters power savings mode (grey line) with 15% battery life left. Total time for the test was 5 hours 44 minutes.

The score does not look too bad, as it’s right between Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8. The best device in the comparison windows is Samsung Galaxy Note 8 with 5,000 points.

Fast charging is not supported, and it takes around one hour and 30 minutes for a “full charge” from 15% to 100%

Miscellaneous

Bluetooth

I used Bluetooth for files transfer between my phones, to connect wireless Bluetooth headset, and synchronize data from Weloop Hey 3S sports smartwatch and no problem. Once I also connected the phone to Onkyo TX-NR636 A/V receiver to play music.

GPS

I’m mostly using two apps with GPS features: Nike+ Running and MAPS.me, and overall I’m very satisfied with a fast fix, and good accuracy as shown in the screenshot below.

Xiaomi Mi A2 GPS Accuracy Nike Running
Click to Enlarge

Gaming

I played four games with the phone: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Bleach, Riptide GP2, and CSR Racing 2. I test the first three quickly, but I play the last one daily. All games play smoothly with high frame rate, but in CSR Racing 2 I have a problem with the game missing the first gear press from time to time. It did not happen with my previous phone, but it could also be a bug with the game itself, as CSR 2 is one of the worse game I ever played when it comes to bugs.

Other comments

Multitouch Tester app allowed to confirm the touchscreen supports 10 touch points. I found the speaker to be a decent quality, and I often use it to listen to YouTube video. Note, the phone does not come with a headphone jack, and instead a USB-C to 3.5mm audio jack is provided in the package.

I didn’t play with cellular data much, except during a 5-day trip overseas, and I had no problem using it as all.

As part of Android One program, I already received firmware update to Android 9.0, as well as two security updates since I received the phone two months ago.

Conclusion

Xiaomi Mi A2 smartphone mostly does the job, but I would not necessarily recommend it because of 2 or 3 keys issues: poor WiFi range, no micro SD card slot (so I’d recommend the 64GB model instead of the 32GB model I got for review), and the screen is not that bright, so it may be an issue to use in direct sunlight.

PROS

  • Latest Android 9.0 Pie firmware
  • Part of Android One program with promise of regular security and firmware updates for 18 months (including Android 10.x).
  • Good & sharp 2160 x 1080 display
  • Good Wi-Fi 802.11ac performance
  • Good eMMC flash performance
  • Improve camera capabilities over Mi A1
  • (Incremental) performance improvement over Mi A1

CONS

  • Poor WiFi range (I find myself having to get up to get signal in places where I used to be able to connect with Mi A1 or other phones)
  • The screen is not very bright
  • No micro SD card socket, and 32GB is clearly not enough in my case, as I regularly have to uninstall apps, or remove files/photos to keep using the phone.
  • Fast charging not available
  • Lack of 3.5mm audio jack

I’d like to thank GearBest for providing a review sample. Since I don’t recommend the 32GB flash version, Xiaomi Mi A2 (64GB Black) can currently be purchased for $209.99 shipped via GearBest, but you’ll also find did on other website such as Amazon for $205 and up.

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theguyuk
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theguyuk

The comment you made about your previous phone having EMMC flash problems, reminds me of budget Alcatel I had which one day just refused to work, even thought fully charged, it is dead.
Length of product life should be a rating too but sadly that takes years!

blu
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blu

Why is the hello-kitty stand photo mirrored?

Member

It is a photo taken with front camera. From the options the setting for “mirror front camera” can be turned on or off.

Member

I had the Mi A2 Lite originally…died after 3 weeks…random reboots, then encryption errors.
GearBest has a 45 day exchange policy…so I upgraded to the regular Mi A2.

More than happy so far, but I’d buy either one again.
Actually liked the smaller physical size on the A2 Lite.

Diego
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Diego

I can’t seem to agree with your negative points. WiFi range is same or slightly better than my other devices. Battery lasts easily for two days if not used for excessive surfing, but still a couple of hours is possible. In my opinion battery life has greatly increased with Android 9 over 8.1.

Screen brightness is ok for our kind of weather.

Data is excellent, especially dual 4G feature. Runs rock solid on JIO with VoLTE, unfortunately here in Europe no VoLTE, coz its neither Samsung nor Apple, so not approved by carriers. Mobile network makes a huge difference in battery life, having good coverage pays off here.

Fast charging is available, on a Google Nexus 5x charger it draws > 2A according to ampere app, on the mi and Samsung chargers just about 1.6A, although it only can handle 5V no 9V.

No SD and no 3.5″ is crap of course 😉

Diego
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Diego

Oh and one more thing: the cam.
Its mostly fantastic, bit obviously lacks, as smartphone cams do… Zoom, low light, SW instead of optics n glass…
And the focusing bug in movies is at times annoying.

All in all a great cam for a 200$ phone, but not perfect.

Diego
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Diego

@CNX now I’m getting your point about display brightness…
We were ice skating today brilliant weather. It’s hard recognising much while wearing sunglasses.
How should I word it, its legible but wouldn’t want to watch a movie or read a novel in bright sunlight.

Member

After reading this awesome article and the comments, I compared Xiaomi A2 with A2 Lite. I was surprised to find out a long list of differences. A2 Lite has audio jack and a slot for microSD but it lacks so many other things. Anyway, just trying to say that until today I was not aware that A2 and A2 Lite are so different. It is like having two completely different hardware devices with same software and under the same marketing name 🙂
https://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=9140&idPhone2=9247

Diego
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Diego

Thats the case, in china those are different devices, just for global marketing they became siblings under the android one umbrella.

xiaomiman
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xiaomiman

Also “Private DNS” option on network settings, +1

和田進一
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和田進一

would there be a Xiaomi A2 Lite review? looking forward to it