We love MIUI, but this custom Android interface that is preinstalled on Xiaomi phones can be offputting for users in the UK and Europe who are either not familiar with it or prefer a less-bloated vanilla implementation of Android, and who want access to all their favourite Google apps and services out of the box.
Xiaomi has previously addressed this issue with last summer’s release of the Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite, budget- and mid-range phones running Android One. Now it could be about to announce their successors.
We’ve learned from our Spanish colleagues that Xiaomi is holding a press event in Madrid on Wednesday 17 July, and though it has not confirmed what new device will headline it’s interesting to note that we’re almost exactly a year on from the launch of the Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite.
Add to that the fact there are some rumours popping up on the web concerning the next iteration, and we’re hopeful that the Mi A3 will launch globally next week.
(Also see: Best Xiaomi phones)
What’s new in Mi A3?
The Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite are similar in name and operating system only, since they actually look quite different to one another. The cheaper Mi A2 Lite has a chunky screen notch, for example, while the mid-range Mi A2 is now looking decidedly old given Xiaomi’s decision to keep all the sensors and so forth above the 18:9 screen. Both phones have metal rears – the Lite with the addition of plastic end caps – and only the cheaper model has a headphone jack.
With Mi A3 and Mi A3 Lite we’d expect Xiaomi to move away from this design, implementing the new full-screen display with ‘waterdrop’ notch that we’ve seen with more recent Xiaomi phones, as well as a holographic – or at least glass – rear panel.
History tells us that these will not be entirely new devices, but rebadged versions of previously announced Xiaomi phones with a different operating system. The Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite were Android One versions of the Mi 6X and Redmi 6 Pro, and there are rumours that the Mi A3 will be a rebadged Mi CC9e, which was announced earlier in June.
The Mi CC9e is a Snapdragon 665 phone with a large 6.08in AMOLED display. Its HD+ resolution is actually a step down on the Full-HD+ Mi A2, with Xiaomi specifying 720×1520 pixels, which suggests to us it might actually be the Mi A3 Lite.
The specs look good elsewhere, however, with a choice of 4GB/6GB RAM and 64GB/128GB storage, along with a 4,030mAh battery and some impressive cameras – 32Mp at the front and a triple-lens array at the rear that headlines with a 48Mp lens.
Supporting the theory that this could be a Mi A3-series phone is an FCC filing that shows the rear panel of a phone with the model number M1906F9SH sporting both Android One branding and a 48Mp AI camera. Missing is a fingerprint sensor, which suggests that just like the Mi CC9e it could be using an in-display variant.
Meanwhile Mishaal Rahman, a fairly reliable tipster, has tweeted that new Xiaomi phones codenamed Bamboo_sprout and Cosmos_sprout (similar to the codenames for the Mi A2 series) will in fact run either the Snapdragon 710 or 712, the latter previously seen in the Mi 9 SE.
How much will Mi A3 cost?
Typically speaking Xiaomi keeps its phone pricing relatively constant, so we’d expect a Mi A3 to launch at the same price as Mi A2.
The Mi A2 debuted at €279/£259 and €349/£319 for the 64- and 128GB models, while Mi A2 Lite is priced at €179/£179 for 3GB/32GB and €229/£199 for 4GB/64GB. You will find them cheaper elsewhere – see our round-up of the best Xiaomi deals.
Android One was first introduced in 2014, intended to be of interest primarily to first-time users of Android or those running budget devices. But its stripped-back pure Android experience quickly turned the heads of even flagship users, who also wanted to enjoy the operating system as it was intended.
In essence Android One is the closest you’ll get to standard Android, with none of the bells and whistles often preinstalled by phone manufacturers and mobile network operators. This means there is zero bloatware, no third-party app launchers, and no fancy themes, keyboards or other customisations. It is a clean slate on to which you can install only the stuff you want.
Moreover, since Android One offers such a pure experience, security patches and new features are able to be rolled out almost immediately. Android One devices are always first on the list for new operating system updates, too.
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