Xiaomi recently launched the Mi A2 (Review), the successor to the Mi A1 (Review), which was the first Xiaomi smartphone to run a stock build of Android and was well received by buyers and critics alike. The new Mi A2 is also an Android One smartphone that features 4GB of RAM, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, an all-metal body, and a dual camera setup at the rear.
Priced at Rs. 16,999, the Mi A2 competes with Xiaomi's own Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review), which starts at Rs. 14,999 and has long been the segment benchmark. With MIUI, it offers nifty features such as Dual Apps and Second Space, and the specifications are nothing to scoff at either. We spent some time comparing the two smartphones in detail, and here is what we found.
The Mi A2 looks a lot like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro, only slimmer and more polished. Both the Mi A2 and Redmi Note 5 Pro have tall 18:9 displays, rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, and vertically stacked dual rear camera setups. There is very little to distinguish between the two phones' fingerprint sensors in terms of speed and accuracy.
Made out of aluminium, both phones feel reassuringly solid in the hand. They are a bit too tall to be used comfortably with one hand, though. The Mi A2 is extremely slippery and the back attracts a lot of fingerprints. The Redmi Note 5 Pro's rear panel does not pick up fingerprints thanks to its matte finish.
The camera unit on the Redmi Note 5 Pro juts out a fair bit from the chassis, but the one on the Mi A2 protrudes even more, making it impossible to use on a desk or a flat surface. Button placement is identical on the two phones. The power and volume buttons — which are placed on the right edge — are tactile, but a bit too small for our liking.
The Mi A2 lacks a headphone jack. You get a USB Type-C to 3.5mm dongle in the box, which you will need if you want use your existing headphones. The 3.5mm port is present at the bottom on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Mi A2 has a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfers, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro makes do with a Micro-USB port.
Just like its predecessor, the Mi A2 is an Android One smartphone with a focus on clean, fluid software, and timely updates. This time around, Xiaomi has omitted a few key features, such as the headphone jack and a microSD slot for expandable storage. In comparison, the Redmi Note 5 Pro retains the legacy port and has a hybrid dual-SIM tray that lets you expand storage by up to 256GB.
The Xiaomi Mi A2 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor while the Redmi Note 5 Pro uses the Snapdragon 636 SoC. The Mi A2 is available in two variants, one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage priced at Rs. 16,999, and one with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the price of which will be revealed when it goes on sale in the coming weeks. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is offered with either 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage at Rs. 14,999, or 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage at Rs. 16,999.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro has a 4000mAh battery while the Mi A2 has a smaller 3000mAh battery. Connectivity options on both phones include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and GPS/ A-GPS. The Mi A2 supports Bluetooth 5 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro makes do with Bluetooth 4.2. Both the Mi A2 and Redmi Note 5 Pro lack NFC but do support dual 4G VoLTE.
Both phones have 5.99-inch full-HD+ displays with 18:9 aspect ratios and no notches, which we like. The screens on both smartphones are quite reflective, which impacts outdoor legibility. The colour temperature on the Mi A2 is much warmer and the colours are slightly more vivid. The Redmi Note 5 Pro's display gets brighter but looks slightly dull in comparison.
Both smartphones breeze through day-to-day use and deliver smooth and consistent user experiences, with quick app load times and smooth UI animations. However, the Mi A2 edges out the Redmi Note 5 Pro in benchmarks. In AnTuTu, it scored 133,918 points compared to the Redmi Note 5 Pro's 116,050. In PC Mark Work 2.0, it scored 6,213 compared to the Note 5 Pro's score of 5,673.
The Xiaomi Mi A2 is a part of the Android One initiative, which means it runs a stock build of Android 8.1 Oreo with the August security patch at the time of writing this article. With the Mi A2, you can expect timely Android version updates as well as security patches.
The software is fluid and devoid of any third-party bloat. There are a few preinstalled Mi branded applications called like Mi Drop, Mi Community, Mi Store, and File Manager. The Redmi Note 5 Pro in comparison runs a heavily skinned version of Android 8.1 Oreo. MIUI 9.5 is loaded with useful features like a one-handed mode, a powerful theming engine, and Dual Apps, which lets you run a second instance of any app with a second account. However, the experience is not as clean as stock Android, with a confused and cluttered Settings menu.
Being an Android One smartphone, the Mi A2 should receive the Android Pie update soon. There is no information as of now regarding an Android Pie update for the Redmi Note 5 Pro. As is the case with most phones these days, both models support face recognition, which works well enough in favourable light but is hit-or-miss in low light.
Simply put, the Redmi Note 5 Pro delivers better battery life. In our HD video loop battery test, the Xiaomi Mi A2 lasted only 8 hours and 40 minutes, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro went on for an impressive 16 hours and 10 minutes. At the end of a typical workday, the Mi A2 was running on fumes, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro had around 30 - 40 percent left in the tank.
Charging is slow on both smartphones as they ship with standard 10W chargers. Both do support quick charging - the Mi A2 boasts of Quick Charge 4+ technology and the Note 5 Pro features Quick Charge 2.0 - but you will have to buy a compatible charger to take advantage of these features.
Both smartphones have dual camera setups at the rear. The Xiaomi Mi A2 has a 12-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of f/1.75, and a 20-megapixel secondary one with pixel binning technology and an aperture of f/1.75 On the front, the smartphone has a 20-megapixel camera with an aperture of f/2.2.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro's rear dual camera setup consists of a 12-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of f/2.2, and a 5-megapixel secondary one with an aperture of f/2.0. On the front, it has a 20-megapixel f/2.2 camera. Both smartphones have a dual-LED flash at the back and a single-LED flash up front.
The Mi A2 has a distinct edge when it comes to outdoor shots. Its rear camera has better dynamic range and captures more detail than the one on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The colours are more accurate on the Mi A2 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a tendency to blow out the highlights.
When it comes to indoor shots, the Mi A2's rear camera pulls in more light, but shots taken with the Redmi Note 5 Pro are slightly more detailed. The Mi A2's colour temperature is too warm while colours captured by the Redmi Note 5 Pro are more realistic.
In low light, the Mi A2 manages to edge out the Redmi Note 5 Pro with more detail and slightly less noise. Shots taken with the Redmi Note 5 Pro also have a warmer hue. Portrait shots taken by both smartphones are average at best. However, the Mi A2 has better edge detection, especially in low light.
It is a close call with the front cameras. The Redmi Note 5 Pro captures more detail in low light but the Mi A2 delivers more vibrant shots. In favourable light, the Mi A2 delivers slightly more detail but it is the Redmi Note 5 Pro that captures more accurate colours.
Both phones allow you to take portrait shots with the front camera, and there is very little to distinguish between the two. The beauty mode on the Mi A2 is undeniably superior, while the Redmi Note 5 Pro excessively whitens faces. Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the Redmi Note 5 Pro while the Mi A2 can go up to 4K. Videos taken by both smartphones during the day or at night are decent at best.
The Xiaomi Mi A2 (Review) offers a cleaner software package, the promise of timely updates, a brighter and punchier display, and a better rear camera setup. If you can live without the headphone jack and microSD slot, the Mi A2 is more modern and a better package overall.
However, the Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) still has some tricks up its sleeve. It retains essentials like expandable storage and the legacy 3.5mm jack, has similar performance in day-to-day use, and undercuts the Mi A2 in price by Rs. 2,000. Its battery life is also a lot better. Availability is another area where the Redmi Note 5 Pro edges out the Mi A2. While Xiaomi struggled to meet demand for the Redmi Note 5 Pro initially, it is now readily available on the company's official website. The Mi A2 in comparison is currently being sold only via flash sales.
Is Xiaomi Mi A2 the best Android One smartphone in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.