Xiaomi has been one recommended brand when we talk about phones in the budget range. The reason for that has been a wide range of smartphones available in a single price range and catering to user’s needs even when the budget is strictly low. One of these phones had great battery life, while the other focused on offering a good camera. This time though, we are looking at a phone that we’d recommend for everything it has. It’s the Xiaomi Redmi 8A, which we would call the best budget smartphone for someone with a budget of Rs. 7000. Let’s discuss why.
Now, the first look at the specifications would tell you that you are looking at a phone that would easily cost around Rs. 10000. But the company has actually gone for a price segment that possibly kills every competitor here. And let’s not even compare this phone with its predecessor Redmi 7A as this is quite a big upgrade.
- Redmi 8A Specifications
- Redmi 8A Design and Display
- Redmi 8A UI and Performance
- Redmi 8A Camera
- Redmi 8A Battery Life
- Final Verdict
Before we had into the deeper look, let’s check out the major specs of the phone.
- 6.22-inch HD+ display, 720×1520 pixels screen resolution, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 octa-core processor, ARM Cortex-A53 cores at 2.0GHz.
- 2GB and 3GB RAM variants, 32GB internal storage, dedicated MicroSD card slot for storage expansion
- 12MP rear camera, IMX363 sensor, f/1.8 aperture, a 1.4-micron pixel size, dual-pixel autofocus
- 8MP front camera, f/2.0 aperture, 1.12-micron pixel size
- 4G VoLTE on both SIM cards, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
- Wireless FM Radio, no need to plug in earphones
- 5000 mAh battery, 18W fast charging support
We might excuse the front look of the device because of how the back is made. Though it’s clearly a plastic back plate, the phone looks great as the wavy pattern in the back makes it look attractive and the Blue option that we got for review was much better than the glass-like plastic backs on the other phones that have a fingerprint magnet finish that makes the phone look ugly even within the first few minutes of usage. With the back panel like the one on the Redmi 8A, there won’t be a need for any case or cover here. There might be some dust residing here and there on the back of the phone but that shouldn’t be a reason for you to use a case unnecessarily to make the phone thicker.
The Redmi 8A has flat top and bottom and there are all the needed connectivity ports and slots, with the speaker grill, microphone, USB Type-C port, and the 3.5mm headset jack towards the bottom panel, and the top has a secondary microphone for the noise cancellation. The right side houses the necessary buttons while the left side has the SIM tray that can be pulled out to place two Nano SIM cards and a MicroSD card.
The back panel has the camera area for housing the sensor and the LED flash and it just is a little raised but isn’t that much noticeable and it doesn’t rock the phone much when you have the phone on a flat surface. Just like a few other Redmi phones recently, the Redmi 8A has a P2i coating that would keep the phone internals safe when some water is spilled on the phone accidentally. While it looks like a phone made for a long battery life, it does become heavy enough if you are considering to have one as a secondary phone, as the device weighs 188 grams. Might not really be comfortable for everyone, but it isn’t heavy without a reason.
To keep up with the trend of offering large displays no matter whatever the price range is, Xiaomi has offered a 6.22-inch display and has offered an HD+ IPS LCD panel and to make sure the scratches are away and the display should survive accidental falls, there is the Gorilla Glass 5 protection offered here. Though, this adds more to the psychology factor of keeping the phone safer, and there are a lot more factors involved for a screen cracking or breakage. The display has a dot notch on the top to house the front camera, while there are visible bezels on the sides and a thick chin towards the bottom with enough space to have the company’s branding there. Mind you, Redmi is now trying to be an independent name here in India and thus, the branding below the display would say “Redmi” and not the parent company Xiaomi.
To add more about the display, while the company has offered 400 nits brightness and there is 70.8% of NTSC color gamut, and overall, the display does w job good enough to view content in most of the conditions.
The software on every Xiaomi smartphone except on the Mi A series with Android One has the MIUI software that is based on Android but is largely customized to give a different user experience, but it has its own caveats. Some might argue that for the price being paid, there shouldn’t be a lot of complain about the ads that appear in the UI, but it’s still something not everyone would want to see on a phone they purchased and the only way they can make sure they don’t see them is by disabling those recommendation ads or completely remove the apps that show the ads. This requires a little effort but it’s worth it if you want a cleaner interface without any unnecessary disturbance.
The pre-loaded apps are a lot, but we find many users installing some of them later if they purchase a new phone, and some of these third-party apps can also be easily removed.
Now, what’s important in the interface is not the apps but the additional features that are available to the users. We usually compare the available features and settings with the basic Android and one can then understand what is offered to make the experience better. Here in MIUI, there are things like Dual Apps, Second Space, App Lock, Quick Ball, and the quick gesture features as well. Since MIUI has a lot of common features among most of its phones, the budget phone users don’t miss out of anything to get a good usage experience. There’s also the App Vault and other navigation settings and features making it easy to use the device with one hand.
Some of the competitor budget phones have a fingerprint sensor included for the security but the Redmi 8A misses out on this one, and users will have to rely on the Face Unlock or the other basic options such as pattern, PIN, or password. But, even the face unlock isn’t satisfactorily helpful all the time as the front camera needs decent light to help recognise the face and unlock the phone. The exclusion of the fingerprint security is one of the compromises done by the company to make it up with some good inclusions in the important aspects such as camera and battery, which we talk about below.
For a budget smartphone, most of us don’t expect the phones to offer a great performance. Even with this phone, that’s the case. We would warn you not to take this phone as something useful for a heavy performance. It’s just good for a regular usage and not for someone who keeps using multiple large apps. The gaming performance as well can just be called decent as the phone won’t be able to handle heavy games with ease, irrespective of which RAM variant you are choosing. The Redmi 8A is not a great performer but it isn’t priced so much to offer a chipset that can handle anything thrown at it with ease. It’s just good for the basic usage and the fact that there were no hiccups while recording videos makes it still a good choice when compared to the other phones that mostly have the MediaTek Helio P22 processor.
The Redmi 8A is possibly the best camera phone for its price. It has got the Sony IMX 363 sensor with the 12-megapixel resolution and a f/1.8 aperture. Truth be told, only the sensor wouldn’t represent a camera as the lens, the ISP, and the software optimization too add to the factors, but the sensor is still a large factor. The Sony sensor that is given here had its place in some of the budget flagship phones including the POCO F1 that had received accolades for its photography prowess, and one of the best camera phones in the market, the Pixel 3 as well had the same sensor. While it was the Snapdragon 845 back then for the processing of those pictures, here the Snapdragon 439 won’t be able to offer similar results, but whatever is offered here is still superior to most of the phones in this price range. There are phones with multiple cameras as well, and except for the wide-angle lens in them, nothing else makes sense as the edge detection in them as well makes you wonder if the depth sensing camera is being used at all. Here in the case of Redmi 8A, there is a single camera so forget about good portraits but the regular captures are great. If you are looking for a basic phone offering a good camera, that’s when you look at this one without a doubt.
Now, let’s talk about the capture quality. The daylight captures were appreciable with a good reproduction of the colors, and sometimes when the HDR kicked in, the captured pictures seemed close to the real view that is seen from the naked eye. Thanks to the Dual Pixel Autofocus, the focusing was fast enough even when the phone was not stable enough but this needed some good light around, as the focusing struggled when the light conditions weren’t good. The camera work seemed impressive when we tried some landscape photos with clouds and skies in the frame and the AI Scene detection worked pretty well in those situations.
A good example of HDR and software optimization was the dynamic range improvement in the pictures when some shots of clouds were taken. The details in most of the pictures seemed great until you zoom in to see things closer, and that loss in detail is well expected. After the focus struggle, if the low light captures are to be judged, they seemed good with the details but also had noise.
The selfie camera on the Redmi 8A is an 8MP shooter that does a decent job of taking selfies, as well as the same when doing video calls. Our taste were restricted to WhatsApp video calling and there, the camera quality seemed fine, and the assistance from the secondary microphone for noise cancellation added to the good experience. Unlike how the rear camera did an unsatisfactory job in edge detection while taking portrait shots, the work to be done with selfie portraits is different as the software and AI work in better edge detection and thus the portrait selfies seemed much better.
As for the video, expect the cameras to not do an overwhelming work as it’s just the basic videos that they are capture with the 1080p resolution and 30fps frame rate. The same with the front camera, and since the phone doesn’t have any hardware or software support for stabilization of the videos, you can expect shakes if you attempt taking a video while walking and even minute shakes will be evidently visible.
The 5000 mAh battery in the Redmi 8A is one of the highlights of the phone. In the current market though, this isn’t new, but the end user being able to get over a day’s usage easily on a single charge is what makes the phone a great choice. The display being HD+ won’t drain the battery much easily and even if it does, the screen-on time of over 8 hours on average and battery life of over 32 hours on average is something that would keep you worry free if you aren’t a heavy user. The battery results could be even better if you aren’t using the phone for hours every day and if it is a secondary phone with only active connectivity and not active usage.
Add to it the support for fast charging. Just as we mentioned that the phone doesn’t have anything new with that 5000 mAh battery, it surely has the fast charging support that most of the budget devices fail to offer. They struggle to even get 10W charging support but here, the Redmi 8A has 18W charging available if you have a quick charge adapter handy as the box package has a 5V/2A charger, which isn’t bad either. Personally, we don’t mind having the 10W charger in the box until the phone still has the support for faster charging.
Mind you, if you are deciding to buy the Redmi 8A, go with the 3GB RAM variant and not the 2GB one. But, let’s also talk about why we are suggesting you this phone over the several other options available in the market. The Redmi 8A is an absolute budget beast, with the great battery life, the well-performing camera, and the design that attracts the eyeballs, not the fingerprints and smudges. That’s something we want to see in budget phones – the core performance to be good enough to handle regular tasks, the camera to take some decent shots, and the battery to last enough for you to not keep charging it every day. The Xiaomi Redmi 8A is all of it, and thus, we could easily call this the best budget smartphone of the year, and that, if you are having a tight budget and cannot spend over Rs. 7000 for a smartphone.