Xiaomi Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite unveiled, Kenya availability still in doubt

The long-awaited successor to the impressive Xiaomi Mi A1, the Xiaomi Mi A2, is finally here.

At an event in Madrid, Spain, Xiaomi has made public what many who’ve cared to follow already knew: the Xiaomi Mi A2. As leaks had intimated in the run up to the launch, the Xiaomi Mi A2 is accompanied by the Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite.

Of course, the reason why the Xiaomi Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite have generated so much interest than the average budget Xiaomi smartphone is because they are Android One smartphones and you know what that means, right? Stock Android and timely updates without having to break the bank.

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While its predecessor was announced in September 2017, Xiaomi couldn’t will till then to show us what it has been working on.

Xiaomi Mi A2

For those who will be getting the Mi A2 as an upgrade to their Mi A1, like I plan to do, it will be quite the device.

Like the Mi A1 which was based on an already existing Xiaomi smartphone (the Mi 5X), the Mi A2 is based on the Mi 6X.

The Mi A2 has several improvements over the Mi A1 making it a worthy upgrade, at least on paper. The screen size increases from the 5.5-inch panel on the Mi A1 to just under 6-inches on the Mi A2. In keeping up with the times, the display is also upgraded from the standard 16:9 aspect ratio to an 18:9 one.

Users can expect to choose between various memory and storage options just like they did with the Mi A1 last year. There will be one difference, though: the availability of a 6GB RAM + 128GB onboard storage variant.

Users can also expect better performance from the Mi A2’s Snapdragon 660 which is an upgrade to the Snapdragon 625 that the Mi A1 packs which was no slouch itself.

Cameras, one of the areas where I had bones to chew with the Mi A1, have also been upgraded with the front-facing shooter getting flash light.

The Snapdragon 660’s built-in Artificial Intelligence engine is responsible for some of the modifications that Xiaomi has made to the stock Android experience. These have to do with the selfie camera which gets the AI beauty mode and an AI-powered portrait mode, features that we have also seen make their way to other newer smartphones from Xiaomi running on MIUI, its custom Android overlay. The two rear cameras are not left out in this whole AI melee as AI comes in to process the images they capture while also applying beauty effects to snaps they take.

Buyers of the device will also find a case in the box, something that wasn’t there on the Mi A1 – I had to order a case off Amazon and a friend I recommended the device to had to turn to Alibaba.

Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite

The Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite, on the other hand, is the first of its kind since the Mi A1 did not have a sibling. What some may like (who likes such?) or not like is the presence of a notch for no reason at all other than Xiaomi wanting to place a notch on a budget smartphone. As such, the screen’s aspect ratio is a queer 19:9 to accomodate the notch. It is a bit smaller than the Mi A2.

However, while the camera quality on the Mi A2 Lite is expected to show that it is inferior to the Mi A2, and which is the case for almost all the features anyway, its beefy 4,000mAh battery will seek to make sure it is not a bystander as everyone admires and longs for the Mi A2.

By comparison the Mi A2 has a 3,010mAh battery. This, as you will notice, is slightly smaller than the unit on last year’s model. However the difference between both the Mi A2 Lite and the Mi A1 and the Mi A2 is expected to be made up for thanks to the Snapdragon 660 chipset on the Mi A2 as it is more power efficient than the Snapdragon 625 that powers both the Mi A2 Lite and the Mi A1.

It is worth noting that the Xiaomi Mi A2 lacks a microSD card slot meaning that the storage option that one opts to go with (see spec sheet below) is final as it cannot be expanded. The Mi A2 Lite, on the other hand, will allow uses to pop in their microSD cards and expand storage. The latter also has a microUSB port for charging and data transfer while the former keeps the USB Type-C port found on the Mi A1.

Interestingly, and this will likely be a disappointment to everyone who loved/loves the Mi A1, the Mi A2 joins the growing list of smartphones that lack a headphone jack. That’s right, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack on the Xiaomi Mi A2. The Mi A2 Lite has one, though.

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What I am not sure of is whether the Mi A2 has managed to add a feature that is there on the Mi A1 but not so pronounced. After an update, users of the Xiaomi MI A1 realized that their device supported fast charging (thanks to Qualcomm Quick Charge) but the only problem was that the charging brick/wall adaptor that comes in the box does not support it. So one needed to find one that did in order to enjoy the same. This, and the device’s pricing, are deal breakers because the Kenyan market is currently well-served by another Android One device that barely compromises on anything: the Infinix Note 5.

The Infinix’s disadvantage, however, is the Chinese brand’s decision to go with a MediaTek processor.

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Pricing and availability

Unfortunately, Kenya is not one of the 40 countries that was confirmed at the launch event to be getting the Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite at launch. In fact, no African country even makes the list.

However, given the popularity of the Mi A1 in the country, at least if my little struggle to get the device in Nairobi since November last year is anything to go by, it is probably a matter of time before the device hits the market either officially through channels like online retailer Jumia Kenya and offline through partners like Anisuma and others where current Xiaomi devices can be found or through third parties like Avechi Kenya (avoid them if you can).

The official global Xiaomi Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite pricing details have not yet been revealed even though we know that the Mi A2 will be going for between €249 (almost Kshs 30,000) for the base model i.e. 4GB RAM+32GB onboard storage and €349 (Kshs 41,000) for the 6GB+128GB variant in Spain, the first market where it will go on sale (on August 10th). The 4GB+64GB variant will be going for €299 (Kshs 35,000) in the same country which should give us a hint of what we can expect the device to go for when it gets to our shores.

The Mi A2 Lite, on the other hand, will be going for €179 (Kshs 21,000) and €229 (Kshs 27,000) for the 3GB+32GB and 4GB+64GB variants respectively.

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