Xiaomi Mi A1
Credit: Xiaomi

Xiaomi has announced the Mi A1, a new flagship Android One phone largely focused on the Asian and African market with the tagline of “created by Xiaomi, powered by Google.” It has a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, a metal body, and a dual-camera system that includes a secondary telephoto lens for 2x zooming and portraits with shallow depth of field.

On the spec side of things, the Mi A1 has Qualcomm’s increasingly ubiquitous Snapdragon 625 processor, which we’ve found to strike a great balance between performance and battery life, and a fairly standard 3080mAh battery. The phone charges over USB-C, unlike Xiaomi’s more budget-orientated offerings, and the company is even including a custom 380V charger that it says is designed to handle India’s frequent power spikes.

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But the Mi A1’s most distinctive feature is its software: it runs stock Android, not Xiaomi’s own MIUI skin, and is part of Google’s Android One program. Android One launched three years ago as Google aimed to codify the Android experience for low-end smartphones. It hasn’t been a huge success, but Google undoubtedly wants to expand the program to a wider range of products to ensure that people continue to have access to the latest versions of its software and services.

To that end, the Mi A1 will get Android Oreo by the end of the year, and Xiaomi says it’ll be “one of the first” phones to get Android P — which we haven’t heard anything about — in 2018.

The Mi A1 is starts at 14,999 rupees (about UGX 840,000) excluding tax for a 64GB model with 4GB of RAM, but it’s less than half the price of something like the OnePlus 5 or a quarter the price of an iPhone 7 Plus. It won’t be a top seller for the company, then, but it represents an intriguing upmarket move for the Android One program and a potentially compelling combination of software, hardware, and price.

Xiaomi is releasing the Mi A1 in more countries than usual — a total of 13 markets in Asia, ten in Europe, ten in the Middle East and Africa, and four in Central and South America. It’ll be available on September 12th.

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