Tech

Meet the Xiaomi Mi A2—even low-end phones are now losing the 3.5mm jack

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  • The Xiaomi Mi A2, next to what I guess are some Mint Lifesavers. Xiaomi
  • The front and back of the Mi A2. (This whole gallery is the Mi A2, we'll do the A2 Lite later.) Xiaomi
  • A clear view of the front. Pretty slim bezels. Xiaomi
  • A clearer view of the back. Xiaomi
  • At any angle that looks like a sizable camera bump. Xiaomi
  • This slide should handle most of the "What's new from the Mi A1?" questions. Xiaomi
  • Let's check out the sides. On the bottom we have a USB-C port and no headphone jack. Xiaomi
  • SIM slot on this side. Xiaomi
  • A microphone and an IR blaster up top. Xiaomi
  • The usual buttons live on this side. Xiaomi

Xiaomi is launching a followup device (actually, two followup devices) to the well-received Xiaomi Mi A1: the €249 ($290) Mi A2 and €179 ($209) Mi A2 Lite. Just like the Mi A1, these are stock Android devices under Google's Android One brand, and they're getting a wider release than Xiaomi devices normally get. Xiaomi's blog says the phones are headed to "40 markets around the world, with availability starting late July." The A1 had a similar "40 market" release, and while none of those countries was officially the United States, it was very easy to grab one on a site like Amazon.

Let's start with a big spec sheet:

Xiaomi Mi A2 Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
STARTING PRICE €249 ($290) €179 ($209)
OS Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo
DISPLAY 5.99-inch 2160×1080 LCD (18:9) 5.84-inch 2160×1080 LCD (19:9)
SOC Qualcomm Snapdragon 660

Adreno 512 GPU

Qualcomm Snapdragon 625

Adreno 506 GPU

RAM 4GB or 6GB 3GB or 4GB
STORAGE 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB 32GB or 64GB, + MicroSD
CAMERAS Rear: Dual 12MP + 20MP

Front: 20MP

Rear: Dual 12MP + 5MP

Front: 5MP

BATTERY 3000mAh 4000mAh
USB USB-C Micro USB
HEADPHONE JACK Nope Yep
NOTCH DESIGN Nope Yep
EXTRAS Fingerprint reader Fingerprint reader

The specs and design are kind of all over the place with these two devices. The more expensive Xiaomi Mi A2 has a traditional rectangular screen, a smaller battery, USB-C, no headphone jack, and no MicroSD slot. The cheaper phone has a bigger battery, a MicroSD slot, a headphone jack, old-school MicroUSB, and a notched display. Both have pros and cons, and regardless of the price it's honestly hard to pick a favorite here. It would probably make more sense to have a phone that follows all the controversial 2018 smartphone design trends (a notched display without a headphone jack) than one with a more traditional design.

Typically, the headphone jack snatchers have stayed away from non-flagship devices, but the Mi A2 is one of the rare lower-end devices that doesn't come with a 3.5mm port. I've seen some in the industry claim that removing the headphone jack makes room for as much as 500mAh of battery, but Xiaomi isn't offering any benefits over last year's jack-equipped Mi A1. The two phones are similar in size, but the M2 actually has a slightly smaller battery (3000mAh versus 3080mAh). Removing the headphone jack seems to be a pure downgrade.

  • The Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite. Xiaomi
  • The front. Get a load of that notch and chin combo. Xiaomi
  • The back. It's aluminum, but it doesn't look like it's an aluminum unibody. Xiaomi
  • The back still has a fingerprint reader and dual camera setup. Xiaomi
  • You get a MicroSD slot and two SIM cards. Xiaomi
  • This side has the usual button combo. Xiaomi
  • Yikes. MicroUSB? In 2018? Xiaomi
  • Behold the rare top-mounted headphone jack. There's also an IR blaster and microphone up here. Xiaomi

Both devices have aluminum bodies, rear fingerprint readers, IR blasters, and on-screen navigation buttons. Both of these devices are based on skinned Xiaomi devices—the A2 is a Mi 6X, while the A2 Lite is a Redmi 6 Pro—and neither one has NFC, which is not very popular in China. As members of the Android One program, both phones ship with stock Android and an up-to-date build of Android 8.1 Oreo. They should also have the typical Android One update lifecycle, which is two years of major updates and monthly security updates for three years.

If you're looking to spend more than the base price, there are also lots of storage and memory upgrades. The A2 starts at €249 (~$290) for the base model with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, or you can double the storage for the €279 (~$325) 64GB model. The highest-end A2 is €349 (~$408) for 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Remember, the A2 storage isn't expandable, so plan for the future. The A2 Lite starts at €179 (~$209) for 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, with a single higher-end 4GB/64GB model for €229 (~$267).

Listing image by Xiaomi

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