Sure, there’s the bit where the Mi A1 is plagued by issues regarding its so-so battery life and average camera but good luck finding something with its design and snappy performance that is part of the Android One programme and also has something to allow you control your home entertainment system without costing an arm and a leg.
Of course, one of the key selling points of Android One smartphones is the guaranteed software updates for at least a year and a half of a device’s release. Both major updates as well as the monthly security updates released by Google. Xiaomi has so far delivered on the former with the Mi A1 receiving Android Oreo just hours to the turn of 2017. The latter, though, has been something that Xiaomi has continuously flouted and left users of its Android One phone, like yours truly, having to wait for months to get the updates instead of every month like HMD Global (Nokia) and BlackBerry have been doing religiously for all their devices worth their names.
Since with the refocused Android One programme Google now allows device makers to be gatekeepers of software updates (details), there’s not much that ordinary users can do other than cross their fingers and hope and pray that Xiaomi gets its act together.
Until that comes to pass, users of the Xiaomi Mi A1, at least in Kenya, can be happy that at least the company has kept its end of the bargain and finally released the long-awaited Android 8.1, Oreo, update. The update has been pending installation on my Mi A1 for the last few days and I only just got around to completing that process last night.
The Android 8.1 update, which clocks in at 1.1GB, also includes the latest Android security patch – for July 2018.
While the update may have started hitting Mi A1 units in Kenya last week, it has been around since last month when it was initially released only to be recalled because of bugs that saw users who upgraded their devices losing their SMSs (you can now add backing up text messages to your list of things to do before installing a software update, sigh). However, mid this month, Xiaomi resumed seeding the update to users and here we are!
Even though the update does add some few aesthetics like the new power menu and a more prominent search bar in the settings app, not much else has changed. There’s still no Project Treble support, despite repeated promises and assurances on Mi forums that the same is on the way. EIS and camera2 API (necessary to prop up the Mi A1’s almost shabby shooter) are still bad rumours, unless, of course, you belong to the dreaded “root and ROM” brigade.