Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite full review

This isn't the first time we've seen Xiaomi's Mi A2 Lite, because in China it's better known as the Redmi 6 Pro. But the Mi A2 Lite is more appealing to a UK audience thanks to its easier (now official UK) availability and more familiar operating system, running Android One rather than MIUI.

The pictures within this article are in fact of the Redmi 6 Pro, which was announced before the Android One version. It was sent to us by GearVita, where it costs £131.38. But the design and features are identical.

The Mi A2 Lite may be more expensive with a retail price of £179, but you don't have any of the fuss importing goods from China might entail, such as factoring in import duty. It runs all Google services out of the box, and supports all UK 4G bands (not always a given with Xiaomi China ROM devices).

It bests the Honor 9 Lite - the previous leader of our budget phones chart - in a number of ways, yet it comes in at a cheaper rrp. And that makes this phone well worth a second look.

Xiaomi's budget line can be rather confusing. As well as this Redmi 6 Pro there's the standard Redmi 6 and cheaper still Redmi 6A (the latter two are now both officially available in the UK). The 6 Pro or Mi A2 Lite has very little in common with either of those phones, as we'll outline below. It looks a lot more like the mid-range 6X (which is confusingly the MIUI variant of the Android One-powered Mi A2), but the hardware is very different.

(Xiaomi also sells budget phablets in its Redmi line, but we won't confuse the situation any further here - see best Xiaomi phones for more details.)

Also see: Best Xiaomi Deals

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite: Design & Build

The Mi A2 Lite or Redmi 6 Pro is almost unrecognisable from its cheaper Redmi 6 and 6A brothers, instead looking a lot more like the Mi A2 - here the most notable difference is the lack of a screen notch on the Mi A2.

Even before you turn it on you'll notice it has a metal body, whereas the cheaper models are plastic. It's not a unibody design, and there's a noticeable ridge between the screen's plastic bezel and the metal frame. There are also plastic top and bottom end caps at the rear, which should improve cellular signal, but even despite this the overall feeling in the hand is much more premium.

At the back the A2 Lite has the same centrally mounted fingerprint scanner as the Redmi 6 and Mi A2, and like the latter its dual-camera sits vertically with the LED flash in the middle of the arrangement. The Redmi 6's flash instead sits to the side looking more like an afterthought.

You'll also spot the speaker grille that is rear-facing on the 6 and 6A has been moved to the bottom edge, with drilled holes sitting either side of the Micro-USB port - perhaps the biggest giveaway of this phone's budget roots.

There is just one speaker here, with the other row of holes concealing one of the phone's two mics - you'll find the other on the top edge, where it also offers an IR blaster.

If we can't have our phone's speakers at the front then the next best place is at the bottom - on the rear as they appear on the two cheaper models they tend to fire sound directly into your palm. While we're on the subject of audio, the three cheapest Redmi 6 phones offer a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top but the Mi A2 does not.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Unique to this phone in the Redmi 6 series is an enlarged slot-loading SIM tray that can accept both two SIMs (Nano) and a microSD card up to 256GB in capacity. Given that it already offers 64GB internally, storage is very generous, but we're impressed that it doesn't force us to choose between two SIMs and storage expansion.

The Mi A2 Lite or Redmi 6 Pro is a fraction taller than its cheaper siblings, but you wouldn't expect Xiaomi to have been able to achieve so much with the extra room. Not only is there a 4,000mAh battery inside, which is 1,000mAh more than you get with the 6 or 6A, but Xiaomi has also been able to fit a larger screen - 5.84in up from 5.45in. The Mi A2 is fractionally larger still at 5.99in, and without the notch.

And here's where we get to the major aesthetic difference within the Redmi 6 family. Whereas the 6 and 6A are fitted with HD panels, this model has a 19:9 full-HD+ display. There's a notch at the top, as seen on the Mi 8, which includes the front-facing camera, earpiece and sensors. 

The screen is fantastic quality for a budget phone, with its IPS display tech offering realistic colours, excellent clarity, and a maximum brightness of 456cd/m2 in our tests. More than anything else, though, its 19:9 aspect ratio and notch just make it look a lot more special.

The Mi A2 Lite/Redmi 6 Pro still has a fairly chunky bottom bezel, despite the fact its navigational buttons are onscreen (or not, if you opt for full-screen gestures within MIUI 9). But it's smaller than you see on the Redmi 6 and 6A, and the side- and top bezels are pleasingly slim.

Overall it looks and feels great in the hand - not like a flagship, but also nothing like a budget phone.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite: Core Hardware & Performance

We've already touched on the increased battery capacity, but numbers on a spec sheet don't mean much when you also consider the fact this phone has a larger, higher-resolution screen and a faster Qualcomm processor than the 6 and 6A, which are both fitted with MediaTek chips.

We ran Geekbench 4's battery test, in which it bested the Redmi 6 by a full 2 hours with a 10 hour 36 minute result. That's a very good score in this test, and in the real world it's not going to stumble getting you through dusk till dawn. Xiaomi claims this is a two-day battery, but in reality that's going to depend on how much you use your phone.

None of the Redmi 6 models support wireless charging, but the Mi A2 Lite is supplied with a fast (not Quick Charge-fast) 10W adaptor in the box while the Mi A2 has Quick Charge support.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Xiaomi has fitted the Redmi 6 with a MediaTek Helio P22, and the Redmi 6 with a MediaTek A22. This Mi A2 Lite or 6 Pro comes with a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, clocked at 2GHz and integrated with 650MHz Adreno 506 graphics. There's 4GB of RAM, too, but 3GB of memory in the 6 and just 2GB in the 6A.

(In fact, the Redmi 6A's core hardware really isn't anything to get excited about with a meagre 16GB of storage. This phone's 64GB looks colossal by comparison.)

So we probably don't need to tell you that it outclasses the 6 and 6A in our benchmarks. The others got a lot closer in GFXBench, with the Redmi 6 actually taking the lead by a few frames, but that's only because the Mi A2 Lite has a higher-resolution screen and therefore more pixels to push. We'd much rather play games and watch movies on its larger, Full-HD+ screen.

The benchmarks also reveal much higher performance scores than those achieved by the Honor 9 Lite, which is really the main competition. Whereas the Honor scored 3668 points in Geekbench 4, for example, the Xiaomi phone stomped all over that with 4294.

Both those scores point to phones that may not keep up with the flagships, but offer decent, usable performance for daily tasks.

You can compare all our test results in the chart below.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite: Cameras & Photography

If photography is a priority for you then we'd advise looking closer at the Mi A2, which features a 20Mp + 12Mp dual-camera at the rear and a 20Mp selfie camera at the front. This phone is pretty well specced for a budget phone camera, however - and, again, better specced than either the Redmi 6 or 6A.

Xiaomi has fitted the Mi A2 Lite with a 12Mp + 5Mp dual-camera with 1.25um pixels, PDAF and a single LED flash at the rear, and a 5Mp selfie camera at the front. It supports some intelligent AI features, such as smart selection of preset filters and settings, and a bokeh-effect (blurred background) portrait mode. It can also shoot 1080p video at 30fps, or 720p slow-mo at 120fps.

Our tests shots (some of which are pictured below) revealed a camera that offers decent quality at this price. Viewed at full-size noise is noticeable, and there's not as much detail as we'd like, but colours and exposure are good.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite Auto

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite HDR

In low light the Xiaomi did a reasonable job, and we were impressed with how it picked out the different shades of black and how well it reproduced text. The overall result is not as pin-sharp as we'd like, but we can hardly complain at this price.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite Low Light

Mi A2 Lite Software

if you opt for the Mi A2 Lite rather than the Redmi 6 Pro your device will be running Android One without the MIUI customisation. This is a pure version of Android Oreo 8.1 that will always be first to receive OS and security updates from Google.

The Mi A2 Lite runs all Google's apps and nothing else out of the box. You'll also notice it includes an app tray, whereas the Redmi 6 Pro with MIUI does not.

Some of the apps missing from the Mi A2 Lite with Android One rather than MIUI include Dual Apps (which lets you run two instances of individual apps) and Second Space (which lets you create a separate environment on your phone and is handy if someone else is using it).

You can learn more about Android Oreo in our full review.

Mi A2 Lite: Verdict

Xiaomi phones can be offputting for users in the UK because of their MIUI interface and lack of support for Google Play, but that is not the case with this Mi A2 Lite. It's running Android One, with full Google services preinstalled, and you don't need to import it from China. It offers excellent value for money and easily surpasses other budget phones at this price point, with a good all round spec that includes a premium design, decent cameras and great performance.

Specs

Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite: Specs

  • 5.84in Full-HD+ (1080x2280) 19:9 display
  • Redmi 6 Pro: MIUI 9.6 (based on Android Oreo 8.1)
  • Mi A2 Lite: Android One (based on Android Oreo 8.1)
  • 2GHz Snapdragon 625 14nm octa-core processor
  • 650MHz Adreno 506 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage, microSD support up to 256GB
  • 4G FDD-LTE B1/3/5/7/8
  • dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Nano)
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 12Mp + 5Mp AI dual-camera, f/2.2 aperture
  • 1.25um pixels, PDAF, single LED flash, 1080p video @30fps/720p slo-mo @120fps
  • 5Mp front camera, AI face recognition
  • rear fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Micro-USB
  • 4000mAh battery
  • 10W charger
  • 149.33x71.68x8.75mm
  • 178g

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