Today Xiaomi announced the Xiaomi Mi A3, the latest phone in its “A” line. In the past, Xiaomi’s A line has been a good bet if you’re looking for a midrange smartphone. This latest model comes in at €249 (~$ 280) and is launching in Europe on July 24. Decent phones in the sub-$ 300 price range are tough to come by, so any serious device priced this low is worth paying attention to. Just looking at the spec sheet, though, we do have some concerns.
As you’d guess, the A3 is a third-generation Xiaomi A phone, and in many ways, these represent the least “Xiaomi” phones Xiaomi makes. Instead of Xiaomi’s iOS-inspired “MIUI” Android skin, these phones are in Google’s “Android One” program, which means they come with stock Android and get two years of OS updates. The phones usually get a wider distribution than your typical Xiaomi phones (watch out for the LTE bands, though), so even if you’re not in Europe, they’re usually easy to pick up on a site like Amazon.
Xiaomi is going with a notched front design for the Mi A3. There’s a tiny teardrop notch at the top of the phone, a medium-sized bottom bezel, and rounded display corners. The front and back of the phone is made of Gorilla Glass 5. On the back, you’ll find a triple camera setup, and on the front is an optical fingerprint reader in the display. Xiaomi is taking a page out of Google’s playbook with wacky color names. There are three colors: “More than White,” “Kind of Gray,” and “Not just Blue.” Xiaomi says there’s a “nano-level holographic pattern” on the blue and white models.
The Xiaomi Mi A3 is powered by the new Snapdragon 665 SoC that was announced in April. This SoC uses eight of Qualcomm’s custom “Kryo 260” cores (based on the Cortex-A73 design) at 2GHz, along with a Adreno 610 GPU, all built on a 11nm manufacturing process. The phone has 4GB of RAM, a 4030mAh battery, a USB-C port, an IR blaster, and a MicroSD slot. The €249 (~$ 280) version gets you 64GB storage, while a €279 (~$ 313) version will have 128GB of storage. The rear triple camera setup uses a 48MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and a 2MP depth camera. The front camera is 32MP.
A big deal is the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack, which existed on the A1 but was removed from the A2. After lots of complaining from customers, it seems like Xiaomi actually listened and brought back the audio jack for the Mi A3. Good job, Xiaomi.
The major concern I see on the Xiaomi Mi A3 spec sheet is in the display section. The 6.1-inch, 1560×720 OLED display (282ppi) does not sound great, and for this price I would have liked to see a 1080p-class resolution. Heck, the Xiaomi Mi A1 and A2 both shipped with 1080p displays, so why the sudden downgrade? Xiaomi could argue that the A1 and A2 used LCDs and this phone is an OLED, but I’m not sure that’s worth the trade-off.
LTE compatibility on the Xiaomi A line is usually pretty limited. In this case, your LTE bands are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, and 40. That is not fully compatible with any US carrier, but you might be able to get OK T-Mobile service with it.
For now, the phone is launching in Spain, but it will slowly be moving across Europe over the coming weeks.
Listing image by Xiaomi