Xiaomi has got all price points covered from ₹6,000 to up to ₹25,000. While its entry level phones have lived up to many expectations, they missed out on many of the trendy new features like the thin bezel design. The Redmi 8A, starting at ₹6,499, introduced those features in the entry level segment.
Glass back design is the new fad in the smartphone industry and almost every second device launched these days has got the same finish. Interestingly, the Redmi 8A has this wave like matte finish that feels a lot more reassuring in the hands. Unlike some of its glossy counterparts, it doesn't feel slippery at any point. It does feel a bit hefty for its size, but that is because it packs in a massive 5,000 mAh battery. However, even at 190g, it weighs less than many of the other big battery phones with similar battery capacity like the Moto One Power (205g), for instance.
The Redmi phone's other USP is the thin bezel design with a teardrop shaped cut out on top for the selfie camera. The lower bezel is slightly bigger compared to the ones we have seen in Samsung's M-series smartphones. Also, Xiaomi has added a Redmi logo on the lower bezel and that just feels an overkill when there is Redmi already engraved on the back.
The 6.22-inch display isn't the biggest we have seen. The thin bezel design concept has allowed OEMs to offer screens as big as 6.8-inch without overshooting the size.
It feels big enough to type away long messages and emails comfortably and also to watch movies. But the 1,520x720p resolution is on the lower side, so you get just 295 pixels per inch, which means the videos and games are just not going to look as crisp as slightly more expensive counterparts like Redmi Note 7 Pro that start at ₹13,999. However, at this price point, most phones have got the same resolution. The good news is that despite the low resolution, the screen doesn't feel bland as colours look quite vivid for a budget phone. Watching movies was quite enjoyable. Xiaomi claims to have used Gorilla glass 5 on the screen to minimize scratches and that is a huge bonus.
With Redmi k series, Xiaomi used the Poco Launcher as the default interface. With Redmi 8A, it is clear that Xiaomi has retained the older MIUI interface that doesn't have the customisable app drawer, but has got all the other cool features that millennials dig in, such as dual apps, second space, in-built call recording and the option to tweak the app icons. All this runs on top of Android 9, so you don't miss out on new features of the Google OS either. For someone coming from a stock Android interface or feature phone, the MIUI can be confusing and a bit overwhelming.
Although powered by a very dependable Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 octa core processor, the smartphone feels a bit in shaky grounds due to lower memory. The entry level variant has just 2GB RAM and that makes it struggle time and again if you try to do multitasking and switch quickly between one app to another. Also, you get up to 32GB internal storage, but you can expand it with microSD card. Fortunately, the phone doesn't use a hybrid SIM tray, so you get to access both SIM cards and make cri SD card at the same time. The phone also struggles with graphical games. So if you plan to play PUBG Mobile, you should look for more powerful options. Battery backup is top notch and even after a whole day of moderate to heavy use, it didn't completely drain out.
Like in most entry level phones there isn't much to talk about the camera. The 12MP camera has an AI mode, HDR and portrait mode, but picture quality even in daylight is abysmal and marred with too much noise. So if you are a social media buff, it's better to look for something higher up in the Redmi hierarchy or one of the new Realme or Samsung M series smartphones.
Xiaomi's new smartphone addresses some key pain points for users. With the big battery, users won't have to worry about charging it frequently or keeping brightness levels low to keep the battery from draining. The big and bright screen is another bonus that makes it ideal for students or people with limited requirements. Among rivals, Realme C1 (starting at ₹7,499) is a notable option. But don't expect a major difference in terms of performance, barring the battery.