Xiaomi and Google, have a lot in common. Both the companies have invested heavily on bringing low-cost, quality products based around the Android ecosystem to emerging markets like India. While Xiaomi has its Redmi range of phones, Google has its much-ambitious Android One initiative. A collaboration between the two was just inevitable, so it seems. Xiaomi is now apparently working with Google on a new Android One phone. The phone — codenamed the Xiaomi A1 — would likely be a cost-effective handset geared towards emerging markets like India with promised timely OS updates right from Google.
The Xiaomi A1 would likely be a re-branded Xiaomi Mi 5X that the Chinese company launched only recently. But while the Mi 5X seems to be only a China-exclusive affair for now, the A1 will sell anywhere but China, chiefly because of the fact that it would run stock Android and come pre-bundled with Google services that are virtually non-existent in China. The A1 would make little sense in China, but, outside its home turf it would be something to really look forward to because of the polarising nature of Xiaomi’s home-brewed MIUI.
A Xiaomi phone running stock Android is the dream
MIUI, although it offers a seamless experience across the board, is known for some heavy skinning on top of Android, something that hard-core geeks don’t really appreciate. Also, because there’s third-party skinning involved — and because Xiaomi likes to update each and every device in its portfolio more or less on similar lines — the fact that users have to wait longer for updates, doesn’t go down well with many. That besides the fact that the company is known to kill off some key Android features just so it can maintain a uniformity across its devices is a subject of much debate.
Xiaomi’s upcoming Android One phone would cater well with the audience not enamored of its custom MIUI. Not only would the A1 pack in the latest and greatest in Android at all times, it would be the closest thing next to what a certain Google Pixel has to offer at the end of the day: unadulterated software.
Xiaomi launched the Mi 5X — which may be considered as a mini Mi 6 — in China last month. Xiaomi VP and India MD Manu Kumar Jain recently hinted on Twitter, that the company may launch the Mi 5X in India in September. “Can’t wait for you guys to check out Xiaomi’s first dual-camera phone in India. Coming next month,” Jain wrote on Twitter recently.
But, will it come to India?
Although the tweet made no specific mention of the Mi 5X, the fact that it talked about dual rear cameras suggests Xiaomi may bring the mini Mi 6 to India as early as next month. Some may say that even the Mi 6 may stand a chance, since it also comes with a dual camera system on the rear, and the fact that Xiaomi is dangerously missing out on a flagship phone in India for a long time now, make it a bigger – and safer – bet for the company in question. But, last we heard, the Mi 6 isn’t coming to India, which means unless there’s a very drastic change in plans, the dual camera phone that Manu was hinting at should be anything but the Mi 6.
The new revelation — concerning the Xiaomi A1 — however may change some equations. Since the A1 is roughly based on the Mi 5X — having similar hardware — and that it has very little to do in its home turf — because, well Google — there’s a slight possibility that the A1 may be heading to India instead of the original Mi 5X. But because we don’t have a definite time-line for the release of the A1 yet, it would be better to take this piece of information with a pinch of salt and see how things pan out in the days to come.
The closest thing to reality however is the Mi 5X, and for now, it seems that is the phone that would be launching in India in September.
The Mi 5X notably brings the Mi 6’s dual rear cameras to the masses. The Mi 5X, just like the Mi 6, (also) comes with a dual camera setup on the rear — 12-megapixel + 12-megapixel — where one lens is wide-angle while the other is telephoto. The Mi 6 dual cameras offer 2X optic zoom and 10X digital zoom (just like the iPhone 7 Plus) and therefore technically result in clearer distant shots and professional bokeh effects in portraits. The Mi 5X should be more or less on similar lines.
The Xiaomi Mi 5X comes with a full metal unibody design and a rear mounted fingerprint scanner. The phone, with its all metal body and dual rear cameras looks remarkably like the iPhone 7 Plus from every nook and corner. Everything from the 2.5 D curved glass on the front to the antenna lines placement on the back, screams the iPhone. The only visible difference is seen in the fingerprint scanner placement. As opposed to the iPhone 7 Plus that comes with a front-mounted fingerprint scanner, the Xiaomi Mi 5X sports one on the back. It comes with physical capacitive — soft keys — keys on the front and will be available in three colours: black, gold and rose gold (pink).
On the hardware side, the Mi 5X comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clubbed with 4 gigs of RAM under the hood. It comes with 64GB of internal storage and USB Type-C for charging and data syncing. It is further backed by a 3,080mAh battery.