Xiaomi under the Redmi brand launched the Redmi 8A, that company’s latest budget smartphone in India last week. The Redmi 8A is an attempt to fix the shortcomings of Redmi 7A, in terms of display, design, battery, camera, while retaining the same Snapdragon 439 SoC, but this is less than 3 months of the launch of the Redmi 7A. Let us dive into the review to find out.
- Redmi 8A smartphone in Ocean Blue color
- 2-pin 10W charger (5V-2A)
- USB Type-C cable
- SIM Ejector tool
- User manual and warranty information
Display, Hardware and Design
The main change in the Redmi 8A when compared to the Redmi 7A is its 19:9 aspect ratio 2.5D curved glass screen. It has a large 6.22-inch HD+‘Dot Notch’ display with a pixel resolution of 1520 × 720 pixels and a pixel density of about 270 PPI. The display is bright, thanks to 400 nits brightness and 1500:1 contrast ratio and the colors are decent since it has 70.8% of NTSC color gamut. Sunlight legibility is good, since it has a Sunlight display to adjust the contrast of each pixel in real time, so images are less affected by glare. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection that you rarely find in a smartphone in the price range.
Since this has a 19:9 aspect ratio screen, you can pinch to zoom to fill the screen when you use video apps, but the content is cropped. There is also an option to hide the notch that adds a black bar on the top. Under the display options there are different options to adjust colors and contrast based on your preference. There is also reading mode that lets you reduce the display’s blue light emission so it doesn’t cause eye strain when you are reading at night. There is Dark mode, similar to other MIUI phones.
Above the display there is an earpiece on the top edge. The usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors are present on the bezel, but these are hardly visible. Even though this a budget phone, Xiaomi doesn’t miss out gyroscope and magnetic sensors in this phone. There is also an 8-megapixel camera on the front with f/2.0 aperture.
There is a small bezel below the display with Redmi branding. This is almost similar to the Redmi 7 and Redmi Y3. The phone doesn’t have notification LED, which was present in the Redmi 7A.
Coming to the button placements and slots, the power button and the volume rockers are present on the rights side, SIM slot is present on the left side, 3.5mm audio jack, primary microphone, USB Type-C USB port and loudspeaker grill are present on the bottom, while the secondary microphone is present on the top. The phone doesn’t have an infrared sensor that is available in Redmi 7 and Redmi Y3. Wish Xiaomi had added it in its budget phones as well. Infrared sensor was useful in Redmi 5A, but the 6A and 7A did not have it. Similar to other budget Redmi series phones, it has a dedicated dual SIM and a micro SD slot that accepts cards up to 512GB.
The phone is 9.4mm thick, slightly less than 9.55mm Redmi 7A, even with a bigger battery, but it is 75.41mm wide and 156.48mm tall since it has a bigger display.
On the back there is a 12-megapixel camera with LED flash. This has slight camera bump, but it doesn’t show due to the design. Even though the phone has a large screen, it is compact to hold. It has about 81% screen-to-body ratio, better than 74% screen-to-body ratio in the predecessor. Unlike the predecessor, this has a new Aura Wave Grip Design that offers tiny patterns that offers a better grip and doesn’t get scratched easily. The plastic back attracts dust, but it is not prone to smudges easily.
The phone even has a P2i nano coating similar to the latest Redmi phones, making it splash proof and it can also withstand light rain, but can’t be immersed in water since it lacks IP ratings. It packs a 5000mAh built-in battery, which is 25% more than the 4000mAh battery in the predecessor. It is a bit heavy at 188 grams since it has a large battery.
The phone packs a 12-megapixel primary rear camera with single LED Flash, 1/2.55″ Sony IMX363 sensor with 1.4μm pixel size, f/1.8 aperture, 6P lens and Dual PD auto focus. It has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with 1/4″ OmniVision OV8856 sensor, 1.12μm pixel size and f/2.0 aperture.
The camera UI is familiar with other Xiaomi smartphones running MIUI 10 that includes flash toggle, HDR, AI, color modes (Normal, Vivid, Film, Amour, Latte, Sun, Cookie, Calm, Soda, Gourmet, Glow, Berries, B&W and Fade) on the top. Pressing the menu option shows timer, frame adjustment and camera frame. There is a front camera toggle on the bottom along with option to select modes such as Short Video, Video, Photo, Portrait and Pro mode (to adjust white balance, focus, shutter speed (1/1000s to 32 seconds) and ISO (0 to 3200)). You also find palm shutter for the selfies.
Since Xiaomi has enabled Cam2API by default on the phone, you can side-load ported Google Camera APK for advanced editing including RAW capture.
Coming to the image quality, daylight shots came well in bright conditions, for other conditions you can enable AI, and it gets better if you enable HDR since it improves the dynamic range. Thanks to Dual PD auto focus, it can focus an object quickly. Macro shots were good with good amount of details, and portrait shots were decent with average edge detection due to lack of secondary camera. For the price, this is the best camera. Low-light shots are decent, but there is noise. There is no separate low-light mode, so you have to enable AI and leave the phone to detect it. Images with flash are good, and it is not overpowering.
Coming to the front camera, the 8-megapixel camera is decent. Portrait for front camera uses software-based blur, and the edge detection is decent. There is also AI beautify option that enhances the image, and it focuses only on the face. It doesn’t have a selfie flash, and comes with screen flash, which is fine.
Check out the camera samples (Click the image to view the full resolution sample.)
It can record videos at 1080p resolution at 30 fps. The front camera also has 1080p 30 fps video recording. There is timelapse, but no slow motion option. Check out the video sample below.
Software, UI and Apps
It runs Android 9.0 (Pie) out of the box with MIUI 10.3 on top with Android security update for August, 2019. MIUI 10 that was introduced last year brings several features including full-screen hand gestures and improved recent menu that takes advantage of the full-screen displays, improved single-finger swipe down gesture to expand notifications, redesigned volume sliders and more. It should get MIUI 11 in the future. Xiaomi has been updating its App Vault with more cards and features. It has all the usual set of features such as Dual Apps, Second Space, App Lock, Quick Ball and more.
Apart from the usual set of utility apps, Google apps and Xiaomi’s own set of apps, it comes pre-loaded with Amazon Shopping, Facebook, Dailyhunt, Gaana, Opera News, Opera Mini and ShareChat apps. It also asks for additional app installation during setup, so just skip this. You can easily uninstall these apps. Out of 2GB RAM, you get 1.8GB of usable RAM, and about 900MB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background. Out of 32GB, you get about 21GB of free storage. The built-in Cleaner inside the storage lets free up space by clearing cache and obsolete files.
Xiaomi is infamous for showing ads on its phones with MIUI, which the company says is done in order to support the development cost of its own apps. If you don’t want to see ads, you have to disable recommendations while setting the phone up, promoted apps and in Xiaomi’s own apps such as Music, Mi Video, File Manager, Mi Drop, App Vault, Cleaner, and others. You can also uninstall these apps by following the procedure here without rooting the phone.
The phone doesn’t have fingerprint sensor, so you have to rely on AI face unlock, which is not as secure as fingerprint. It doesn’t work if there is less light, but it worked most of the times unlocking the phone in a second.
Music Player, FM Radio and Multimedia
The Mi Music Player is the default music player. There is also equalizer. It also has wireless FM Radio with recording. Audio through the speaker is loud, thanks to new 0.82CC acoustic chamber, but it does gets distorted on full volume. Since the speaker is present on the bottom, audio doesn’t get muffled when the phone is on a flat surface. Audio through earphones is good. This doesn’t have Widevine L1 support and only has L3 support, which is not expected in this price range.
Dual SIM and Connectivity
It supports 4G VoLTE for Reliance Jio and Airtel as well as support Dual 4G VoLTE that offers 4G in both the SIM cards at a time. There is X6 LTE modem. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 LE and GPS. It also has USB OTG support that lets you connect USB drives. The dialer and messaging UI are similar to other Xiaomi smartphones running MIUI 10. Since this is a dual SIM phone, you get the option to select either SIMs when calling or sending a text message. Moving on, the call quality is good, and we did not face any call drops and the earpiece volume was loud.
We don’t really mention SAR values for phones in our reviews since most are below 1W/kg, even though the limit in India is 1.6 W/kg (over 1 g). Even though the Redmi 8A’s head SAR is 0.339W/Kg, body SAR is at 1.00W/Kg (Distance:15mm) which is slightly more compared to other phones Xiaomi sells in India currently. We would recommend not to keep the phone in the pocket for long.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Redmi 8A is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 12nm Octa-Core (Quad 1.95GHz Cortex A53 + Quad 1.45GHz Cortex A53) Mobile Platform with Adreno 505 GPU. Talking about the real world experience, the performance is smooth, but the gaming performance is just fine and not exceptional since this has an Adreno 505 GPU. 2GB RAM is fine, but I would recommend the 3GB RAM version, since it will offer better multi-tasking experience. Since I usually review phones with 4GB RAM or more, I don’t close apps before opening another app, so if there is 8 or 10 apps running in the background, 2GB RAM version starts slowing down a bit. Check out the synthetic benchmark scores below.
The 5000mAh (typical) battery offers brilliant battery life that lasts the more than a day even with heavy use. With average use it lasted for two days, which is good.
In our One Charge rating, the Redmi 8A scored 19 hours 13 minutes, which is good for a phone with a 5000mAh battery. It also has support for fast charging, and takes slightly over 2 hours to charge the phone from 0 to 100% with 18W charger, and 0 to 50% took about 55 minutes. With the bundled 10W charger it takes about 3 hours to charge from 0 to 100%, and 0 to 50% takes slightly over an hour.
In this price range, no other company offers camera this good, 5000mAh battery with support for 18W USB Type-C fast charging and a splash-resistant body. What more do you need for Rs. 6499? Of course, it could have added the infrared sensor and notification LED, and you have to manage the ads.
If you need a dual-camera setup, rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and hopefully the infrared sensor and notification LED, wait for the Redmi 8 launching next week.
Under Rs. 7000 price tag Infinix Hot 8 is another option if you are looking for more RAM and storage, multi-camera setup and a fingerprint sensor, but you have to manage the micro USB port and 10W charging. Lenovo A6 Note also has dual camera setup and a fingerprint sensor and is now selling at Rs. 6999, compared to the launch price of Rs. 7999.
Priced at Rs. 6499 for the 2GB RAM with 32GB storage version and Rs. 6999 3GB RAM with 32GB storage version, the Redmi 8A is available from Flipkart and mi.com, however there is demand for the phone, so it goes on sale once a week, and the 3GB RAM version is still not on sale at the time of writing the review. Hope we can expect open sale for the phone soon. Redmi 8A is also available at Mi Home stores, and will soon be available across all other offline stores. Xiaomi is still selling the Redmi 7A, which is available for Rs. 4999, if you are tight on the budget.
- Good camera in the price range
- Brilliant battery life
- USB Type-C with 18W fast charging, 10W charger in the box
- Smooth day-to-day performance (apart from gaming)
- Splash-resistant (P2i coating) body
- No infrared sensor
- No notification LED
- Bloatware and ads in UI
Photography by Siraj