Xiaomi Mi A1 Detailed Camera Review

Xioami Mi A1 has been out for a while now in India. It is a mid-range Android smartphone shipping with Stock Android instead of Xiaomi’s MIUI. It is also part of Android One program, which ensures it will get Official Software Updates, including Android P and monthly security updates directly from Google servers.

Mi A1 is one of the best budget phones with a Portrait mode. It has Dual cameras on the back. A regular focal length 12MP shooter with an F2.2 aperture and a telephoto lens with an F2.6 aperture. How good are these cameras ?

Image Quality : When i first started using it, the image quality was quite bad. Then Xiaomi pushed a massive Oct 2017 update to this phone, which improved image quality and other things. Now it’s on Android 8 Oreo and image quality is quite good with both lenses.

Low Light Photos : Since the regular lens on the back has a slower F2.2 aperture, when the light is low, the Camera bumps up the ISO quite a bit. This results in grainy, noisy images in Low light. Also, often times the shutter speed is too low in these conditions, you are gonna end up with a blurry image.

Auto Focus : In good lighting, Auto Focus worked really good. But, it’s not lightning fast like many other PDAF enabled high end smartphones. In low light, i often find the focusing bad. I have been in situations where it struggled to focus, even if i use touch to focus feature.

Portrait Mode aka Bokeh Mode : This is one of the main highlights of this phone. Portrait mode in my opinion is really good. However, you need to be 2.5 meters away from the subject. I have found close up portraits to work better than the full length, head to toe shots. Also, this mode works on all subjects. However, the close focusing in this mode is bad. So, close up bokeh shots are not possible.

Secondary Telephoto lens : This has an F2.6 aperture lens, which means, in low light this is gonna struggle a lot. In the main camera app, there is a 2x button, which switches to the telephotos lens. However, if you are in low light, since the secondary lens has a slow aperture, the camera app uses the normal lens’s digital zoom to get 2x zoom instead of the secondary lens. Image quality in good lighting is very satisfactory. This extra zoom is really helpful in getting some better compositions. 

Dynamic Range : Most of the time, the default camera app exposes the scene well. By default it uses Center-Weighted metering. You can switch it to Frame Average or Spot metering in the settings. I don’t find the dynamic range to be exceptional. 

DNG RAW Image shooting and Manual Mode : Xiaomi Mi A1’s Camera App has a Manual mode built in. You can adjust ISO, shutter speed, focus and white balance in this mode. However, there is no option to shoot raw images. If you are planning to take some long exposure shots with this device, you are out of luck as the slowest shutter speed supported is just 1/15s.

Google Camera HDR+ aka Gcam Support : Out of the box, you can’t use this HDR+ camera on this device as Xiaomi has disable Camera 2 Api / HAL3 on this device. However, If you are rooted, you can just add a few lines of code to build.prop file to enable this feature. Google Camera with HDR+ works quite well on Mi A1 and can give you improved image quality, especially in low light.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Sample Images


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