Xiaomi Mi A1, Android’s most exciting new phone, is on its way to Kenya

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is currently on pre-order in Kenya. It starts selling officially next month. Apple’s best iPhone, yet, the iPhone X, has not started selling but should do so soon. What do the Galaxy Note 8 and the iPhone X have in common? They are rich people smartphones. Let’s not lie to one another. At over $1,000 (more than Kshs 100,000), they are not, in any way, an ordinary person’s phone nor do they pretend to be. If anything, and probably this is why they exist, they are many an ordinary person’s dream phone.

The iPhone X with all its bezel-less glamour and the Galaxy Note 8 in all its waterproof S Pen glory can still be matched by devices that, put alongside them, will easily pass as unremarkable and probably forgettable. However, such devices, when left to stand on their own, are every bit worth the ordinary man’s attention and admiration.

One of those devices is the Xiaomi Mi A1. As we had previously noted, the Mi A1’s cling to fame is its availability under the Android One program.

Pardon my earlier misgivings about the program, Android One is not dead. Its death has been greatly exaggerated. The program lives on with two back-to-back product releases in the last two months alone. The Project Fi-enabled Moto X4 that is set to become the first Android One smartphone to hit the United States market and the Mi A1 that we are talking about today.

Being an Android One device means only one thing, which is very important to most of us hardcore Android fans: a pure Android experience with no sight of Xiaomi’s infamous app drawer-less MIUI custom software layered on top. That and the guarantee that it will be among the first to receive Android 8.0, Oreo, is enough motivation. Never mind the chance to be in the driving seat when Android P (?) starts rolling out this time next year.

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The device has a dual-camera system that features telephoto and wide-angle lenses just the like the Apple iPhones that its maker has always copied drawn inspiration from. Buyers of the device also get more memory and onboard storage than comparable devices in its price range are able to offer.

Specifications of the Xiaomi Mi A1, which we consider impressive, are as listed here.

The elephant in the room has always been the availability of Xiaomi smartphones in the country. Sure, the Chinese device maker did make some effort to avail its devices in Kenya through its Africa-wide distributor, Mobile in Africa Ltd but that was it. The last time we ever heard about MIA and Xiaomi was when they were changing tact to bolster their relationships with their then newfound buddies Orange Kenya (now Telkom Kenya), a mobile network operator with barely a blip of influence (see the industry regulator’s official numbers [PDF] to ascertain this) in Kenya’s ever-growing mobile market. That has meant starving the market of the latest Xiaomi devices. Since the brand is hardly that familiar to most Kenyans anyway, that’s probably not been a big deal for most people.

However, thanks to the lack of official presence of the Xiaomi brand in the Kenyan market, third parties have taken up the challenge and ensured a steady supply of Xiaomi smartphones at almost the same market prices that they go for in China, India and elsewhere. One such (online) retailer that has consistently done so is Avechi Kenya. And, starting Monday, September 25th, the Xiaomi Mi A1 will be available for purchase through Avechi.com for Kshs 26,000, pretty much in line with what the device goes for in its launch market, India.

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In other words, you can buy 4 Xiaomi Mi A1s next Monday for the price of 1 Galaxy Note 8 (less Kshs 1,000 kwanza)!

Here’s a little something about the Mi A1 that you may or may not know: it has an increasingly endangered feature, an Infrared sensor. This means that coupled with Xiaomi’s dedicated mobile app or the many that you can find on the Google Play Store, you will be able to use your phone as your TV remote. It’s one of the features I absolutely loved about the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2, my first ever serious encounter with a Xiaomi smartphone, and it is the one feature on the Huawei Mate 9 that makes life much easier both in the office and at home where finding the remote is not always guaranteed.

There’s another feature, too: VoLTE. VoLTE is short for Voice over 4G LTE networks. If you have a 4G phone, have you noticed how it usually auto-switches from 4G to 3G when you are making or receiving a call? Both Safaricom and Jamii Telecommunications Limited (JTL) – I have had the privilege of seeing tests of this from both ends/companies live – will be rolling out VoLTE in days to come.

We can’t wait to lay our hands on the Mi A1, are you?


Disclaimer: AndroidKenya.com is not affiliated or in a partnership with Avechi Kenya in any way and this is not an advertorial disguised as a news piece.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com