Xiaomi’s new Mi A1 smartphone faced its fair share of criticism before and after it was officially launched today. Not because it comes with an impeccable set of specifications or due to the fact that the price, like always, is well below what people were anticipating or because the company straight up put an iPhone 7 Plus next to it during the presentation. It was the reinvigoration of Android One that elicited all those thoughts and excitement.
Android One, if you had forgotten (and we don’t blame you if you did), is Google’s ambitious project for offering a clean bloat-free interface and regular updates to the masses. Of course, that also allows them to inch a tiny bit closer to the fragmentation-free Android user base they’ve always dreamt of. But back to the Mi A1, it’s quite difficult to perceive why the phone exists and how it will save Android One’s sinking boat.
That skepticism is sort of obvious considering that the A1, apart from flaunting a bold Android One branding on the rear and stock software, benefits from nada else. Heck, most users might prefer having those sweet MIUI features over this. However, despite that, I feel both the parties gain positively, if not equally, from this deal. Here’s why.
Xiaomi has been consistently blamed for following the same old good-specifications, great-price strategy for establishing an upper hand in the budget spectrum. And honestly, why wouldn’t they? The China-based OEM managed to reach the second position in this overly saturated and crowded Indian smartphone market. But with the A1, they can put those claims to rest and diversify the lineup without having to compromise the other factors involved.
The Mi A1 is basically a Mi 5X without any hardware alterations whatsoever. Therefore, the company didn’t have to take a step back merely for coming up with a unique experience for their customers. The Android One tag also promises consistent software updates as Xiaomi even went on to say the phone will be among the first ones to receive Android P whenever it arrives next year. The other substantial perk for teaming up with Google is the marketing reach. The search engine giant will be advertising the return of Android One across every corner of the web and guess which phone will be showcased on these puffs?
The Mi A1 is, however, significantly more important to Google than Xiaomi as it essentially breathes a new life into the dying venture and in a lot of ways, represents the beginning of its next chapter. For starters, the Mi A1 ushers the Android One name into the market Google failed to crack years ago. And given Xiaomi’s indomitable reputation in the budget smartphone sector, I have fewer doubts about the success of this alliance. Second, Google pulled this off without shedding any additional deals or complimentary offers.
This, I believe, will force other OEMs to sit up and take notice which brings us to the most salient reward here for Google and Android One. There’s no denying the fact that the smartphone space nowadays functions in a me-too manner. Following the A1 launch, I believe a range of manufacturers will also want to be a part of the profound Android One program especially when we consider that many of them have already begun to ship stock Android on their phones. Bundling regular software and security updates will be just icing on the cake for them. Leaving the software part of their new phone to Google will not only conserve resources for the company but also allow it to put an end to the constant flak they have to deal with from critics. Moreover, timely patches will ensure the phone’s performance doesn’t drop down to the brim after a couple of months.
This is what, I believe, will drive Android One’s potential triumph in the coming year. Google could have added a few minor benefits for buyers, but nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see manufacturers have begun to address one of the most critical concerns on budget smartphones – the software. Android One’s return might create a conundrum when Google starts to push its recently announced Android Go campaign. But there’s a good chance here that both of these will truly the redefine the entry-level Android segment and improve the operating system’s fragmented and vulnerable state.