[First cut] Redmi 8A: Them A+ Looks!

Adding more to the budget segment

by: - Last updated on: September 27th, 2019

Fact: Xiaomi is the number one brand in the country.

Mentioned to death. Everyone knows. It is out there. Yes. We know.

Many attribute this success of the brand to the popular Note series but while the Note is the star performer, there is a relatively less-hyped series from the brand that also brings in the big numbers. The Redmi A series, where “A” is suffixed to the name of the phone. A, as seen in the Redmi 6A, which is already one of the top five selling phones of the year globally.

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These phones are normally in the vicinity of Rs 7,000, basically ”transitioning” phones for people moving on from feature phones to smartphones. Redmi now has added another phone to the A-series, the Redmi 8A. And while the price of it, at Rs. 6,499 says “transitioning phone,” the looks of it bring more classy, mid-segment vibes to the table than budget ones. Take the phone out of the box and they will hit you straight away. Following the trend of tall displays, with thin bezels, the Redmi 8A has a 6.2-inch HD+ display (720 x 1520) that channels the same design pattern. The display is surrounded by relatively thin bezels on the three sides while the chin is slightly thicker and carries Redmi branding. The phone also has a dot notch above the display that is home to the front camera.

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Phones in this price range are generally unapologetically plastic and while the 8A also has a polycarbonate back, Redmi has done a very good job in making polycarbonate appear almost metal-like. The textured back comes with a color gradient, and design pattern that Xiaomi calls the Aura Wave Grip. We received the red variant of the phone where the red of the upper half transitioned into a yellow-orange color as it flowed down. And well, it did look good!

The upper half of the phone carries a small vertical (although with rounded edges) camera unit which is nestled flat in the back. There is a single primary camera and flash inside this black unit with the camera accented by a silver ring. Below the camera unit is the Redmi logo which is followed by a “designed by Xiaomi” marking on the lower half of the back. All of these elements are aligned vertically in an elongated capsule-shaped stripe in the center. This stripe is plain in texture which is different from the rest of the textured back, making the back look very striking and very distinct (we cannot stress how different this phone looks from routine budget offerings often enough). The textured back of the 8A also makes is smudge-proof and less prone to scratches, which is the reason Xiaomi has not bundled a cover with the phone. The texture on the back also adds to the grip (living up to the design name) and makes the phone less slippery than its glass or basic polycarbonate counterparts.

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The back of the phone curves out on the sides and meets the front of the phone. The left side holds the dual SIM card and dedicated microSD card slot while the right side carries the volume rockers and the power/lock button. The head and the base of the phone are both flat, unlike the two sides which slightly rounded. The top misses out on the infrared port which is a Xiaomi staple and is plain while the base holds the 3.5 mm audio jack, USB Type C port (yes!) and speaker grille. We were surprised to see a USB Type-C port on the device because it is not very common in this price bracket!

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The smartphone measures 156.48 x 75.41 x 9.4 mm and weighs 188 grams, which is surprisingly lightweight when you consider the size of the battery inside it (we are coming to that shortly). As we mentioned above, the phone may be budget but has a very mid-segment feel to it, and we mean that in the best way possible. It is definitely one of the best looking phones available in the market for the price. It might not turn heads in elite company, but you will definitely not shy away from putting it on the table.

The specs do not harm its cause either. The smartphone comes with a massive 6.2-inch HD+ display, a size which is not too mainstream in this range. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor, which is definitely a step ahead of the Snapdragon 435, an extremely popular chip in this segment. This is supported by 3 GB RAM with 32 GB storage in the unit we received. There is also a 2 GB/ 32 GB version of the phone available. Storage can be expanded up to 512 GB with the help of microSD card and because the phone has a dedicated slot for it, you can do so without compromising a network option.

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The phone comes with a 12-megapixel sensor with f/1.8 aperture and AI support on the back. This primary sensor is the same that is used in the Google Pixel 3. Yes, the performance and results of the two cameras will obviously be different (thanks to the different levels of hardware and software elements surrounding them), but its very presence at this price point definitely works up our camera appetite. On the front sits an 8-megapixel shooter with f/2.0 aperture, and support for face unlock, which is handy considering there is no fingerprint scanner on this device.

The device is kept running by a massive 5,000 mAh battery which Xiaomi claims will comfortably last more than two days, given the relatively low-resolution display and better power management resources of the chip. The phone comes with support for fast charging (that USB Type-C port effect!) but Xiaomi being Xiaomi has only bundled a 10W charger inside the box. So, if you want fast charging you would have to buy the charger separately, which is about another Rs 500 to the bill.

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The Redmi 8A comes with Android 9 (Pie) out of the box with a layer of MIUI 10. In the world of customized Android interfaces, MIUI has proven itself to be worthy time and again. Yes, some might have issues with ads on the interface, but they can be turned off and if you can look past it, the experience on MIUI is generally quite rich yet uncomplicated. We do not foresee too many in the target segment complaining about the software side. Xiaomi also claims to have boosted the loudspeaker output on the 8A, which means one can expect better and louder audio output from the Redmi 8A, a big plus in this segment. The connectivity options on the device include Wi-Fi, 4G dual SIM VoLTE, GPS, Bluetooth, and wireless FM radio.

The Redmi 8A draws a pleasant picture at first glance but whether the phone is going to be as big a hit as its predecessors is something you will have to find out in our detailed review. As of now, the eyes definitely have it.

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