Google’s Android One program has never been dead, and while that thought had crossed our minds in the past, the search giant corporation is here to disprove us as it has rekindled the One flame with a brand new Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone that will go on sale to the Indian market by September 12.
We got wind of this device a couple of days when word went round that the Chinese OEM was working with Google to put an Android One device on store shelves. Often, these are rumours that we take with a pinch of salt owing to how Chinese Android phone manufacturers roll. In other words, I have never understood their obsession with forking Android to the core, changing UI elements, removing stock features and adding a fresh coat of paint in attempt to appeal to the Chinese market that is so in love with iOS-esque interfaces.
Our skepticism can be substantiated by these OEMs’ stubbornness to fix their interfaces. In fact, companies such as Huawei only toned down its EMUI skin a couple of months ago with its Huawei Mate 9 device in an effort to sell its devices to Western markets that have expressed their dissatisfaction about unnecessary software additions.
That aside, Xiaomi has sold millions of devices to the Indian market, and I know a couple of friends who own their handhelds, including yours truly. The company’s strong points have always been their competitive prices and excellent build quality. Most of their phones have metallic backs, 2.5D displays and admirable attention to detail, to mention a few.
Primarily, the Mi A1 should be a low-cost device for emerging markets. Android One phones are equipped with stock Android and no bloatware, which means faster updates from Google itself, as well as other goodies such timely security patches for those who value them.
Here are the specs:
- 5-inch fullHD (1080 * 1980) screen
- 2.0 GHz octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip
- 64 GB of storage with microSD card support up to 128 GB, and 4 GB of RAM
- A decent 3080mAh cell
- USB Type C
- Dual Sim capabilities
- Dual 12 MP cameras (one is a telephoto sensor) and a 5MP front snapper
The most important spec here is the price, which is 14,000 Indian Rupees that translates to about KES 24,150. Android 7.1.2 is also included, and Xiaomi says Android Oreo will roll out before the year ends.
There are a lot local vendors such as Avechi and PhonePlaceKenya that import these devices on a small premium, so check up with them if you are interested because the device will not make it to the Kenyan soil, although South Africans and our friends in Egypt will be able to buy one.