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Home >Technology >Apps >Review: Gionee A1 Lite clashes with Xiaomi Mi A1 in a battle it can’t win

Chinese phonemaker Gionee has come up with stripped down version of the big screen A1 Plus ( 26,999) which was launched in July. The new smartphone will be called the A1 Lite and it will cost 14,999. It is likely to compete with the Xiaomi Mi A1, which is selling at the same price.

The smartphone has the same design language as the A1 Plus, but a smaller form factor.
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The smartphone has the same design language as the A1 Plus, but a smaller form factor.

Design: Full metal jacket

The smartphone has the same design language as the A1 Plus, but a smaller form factor. The lustreless metal cover offers firm grip, even though the phone felt a little hefty for its size. It weighs 161g which is a bit on the higher side for a 5.3-inch screen smartphone. The Xiaomi Mi A1 weighs 165g, but offers a bigger 5.5-inch screen. At 7.3mm, it is thinner than the A1 Lite (8mm).

The speaker in the A1 Lite is placed at the back and the micro USB at the base. The finger print sensor is placed right below the back camera. Its circular shape falls in symmetry with the camera above and the Gionee Logo underneath. The fingerprint sensor is easily accessible, accurate to use, but a bit slow in terms of response. The navigation keys are placed outside the screen on the lower bezel, but they are not backlit.

Both smartphones look and feel good in hand. It is the subtle differences which gives the Mi A1 an upper hand. For example, its navigation keys are backlit, the speaker is placed at the base and it offers USB Type-C for faster charging.

The A1 Lite has a 5.3-inch screen with resolution of 1,280x720p.
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The A1 Lite has a 5.3-inch screen with resolution of 1,280x720p.

Display: Low resolution

The A1 Lite has a 5.3-inch screen with resolution of 1,280x720p. The Mi A1 offers a sharper and bigger 5.5-inch display with resolution of 1,920x1,080p. Gionee has tweaked the display well. Colours look rich, which makes watching movies still enjoyable. The A1 Lite also comes with the option of modifying colour temperature and switch between cool and warm colour.

Software: Custom UI with plenty to play with

The Gionee smartphone runs Android 7.0 (Nougat) with Gionee’s Amigo user interface (UI) on top. Gionee has tried to organise it more than a typical custom UI. For example, the drop-down notifications panel is kept separate from quick settings. The former shows at the top and the latter from the lower edge of the screen. Gionee has preloaded a lot of third-party apps and games. You can also apply new themes and wallpapers.

The Mi A1 runs Android 7.1.2 with the stock Android interface. It is an Android One smartphone and will receive all Google updates including the Android Oreo (8.1) before others. It also offers unlimited storage for high resolution photos on Google Drive.

Performance: Not as powerful as rival

To power the A1 Lite, Gionee has used Mediatek’s MT6753 octa-core processor which has a clock speed of 1.3GHz. It is paired with 3GB RAM. The smartphone was able to handle day-to-day apps without any snags. Switching between apps was smooth even with 8 to 10 apps running in the background. However, it is not cut out for heavy games as it is not as powerful as the Mi A1 which runs on 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor paired with 4GB RAM.

The A1 Lite offers 32GB internal storage, while with Mi A1 you get 64GB storage. Both have a micro SD slot in case you want to expand it further.

The A1 Lite packs in a 4,000mAh battery which lasts just about a day on a single charge. The Mi A1 has a smaller 3,000mAh battery but on account of the 14nm chipset and clean Android interface, it was able to deliver almost similar amount of battery backup.

A1 Lite’s camera is fast and locks focus quickly too.
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A1 Lite’s camera is fast and locks focus quickly too.

Camera: Works well in most conditions

The A1 Lite offers a single 13-megapixel camera with aperture f/2.0 and phase detection auto focus. The camera is fast and locks focus quickly too. Picture quality looks impressive in daytime. Image looks crisp and colours brighter than shots taken with the Mi A1’s camera. In low-light shots, it automatically lights up darker areas, and the results look good but a little blurry. The Mi A1 offers a dual 12-megapixel cameras with aperture of f/2.2 and 2x optical zoom. The Mi A1 has an edge over the A1 Lite when it comes to detailing, especially in landscape shots.

What gives the A1 Lite an edge is the 20-megapixel front camera for selfie fans. It can capture more detail and colours look richer than the 5-megapixel front camera on the Mi A1.

Verdict

Gionee A1 Lite’s charm lies in its premium looks, impressive front camera, and software customisation options which are very popular with mainstream users. In terms of overall value for money, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is a much better option. It has an uncluttered interface, will get all Google updates on time, is driven by a more powerful processor and has more RAM.

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