The Xiaomi Mi A3 is the third iteration of the company’s ‘A’ series of devices which come under Google’s Android One program. Being a device under Android One means that you get guaranteed 2 major Android upgrades, with regular security patches for 3 years which is very rare to find in Android OEMs. Xiaomi started rolling out the Android 11 update to the Mi A3, which is causing a hard-brick for units as reported by thousands of users. This is not the first time where Xiaomi has messed up with its Android One device, here’s where the fiasco starts!

Xiaomi’s Android One Series – The Start with the Mi A1

As a teenager, I was looking for a phone which was budget-friendly and provided solid specifications, and that’s when I purchased the Redmi Note 3, a game-changer of its era. As I used the device, I fell in love with Xiaomi as a brand as it truly unleashed solid performing devices at attractive prices. But I always wondered, what if Xiaomi releases a phone with stock android at some point? The thought in its first place was crazy and unrealistic as MIUI was one of the major USPs of Xiaomi devices. All the tables turned when Xiaomi announced the Mi A1, a device under Google’s Android One Program.

It was something that nobody was anticipating. The Android One branding allowed Xiaomi to enter certain markets where it did not have enough reach with its other devices, but the Mi A1 paved the way for the company in those regions building up brand value. The Mi A1 packed a well-performing chipset, great pair of dual-rear cameras, at a very affordable price. No doubt it became a very popular device and its sales were phenomenal. And just when the Mi A1 was dominating, it was time for its first cycle of software updates.

Mi A1 – Everything wrong with the Oreo Update

Android One devices get updates very fast, almost within weeks of Google announcing the newest Android version annually. The Oreo update, Android 8.0 to be precise was officially announced by Google in August 2017. So one would expect the same to reflect on the Mi A1 in a month. One month goes, two months, three months, and it’s already November but there are still no signs of an Android Oreo update on the Mi A1. Users started getting furious and reached out to Xiaomi asking for an update. For which Xiaomi replied – “December”.

Things were getting very wrong for the Mi A1 by now, with users running out of patience for the Android Oreo update, and there’s when Xiaomi said that the update will be delayed by another month, an extra month after December which was the ETA given by Xiaomi before. Users got angry at the company for this additional delay, to which Xiaomi responded that they will roll out the update before December. Xiaomi kept its word and started rolling out the Android Oreo update to the Mi A1 in December 2017.

Mi A1 users, who were waiting for the update for months started installing the Oreo update on their devices as soon as they received them. Little did they knew, the update was not fully-polished and Xiaomi had pushed a half-baked Oreo update to the Mi A1. The new update bricked some devices, had terrible battery life, and ruined the Mi A1 in many such aspects.

Xiaomi now had to answer to its enraged users. They stopped the rollout of the Android Oreo update for the Mi A1 and asked users to downgrade or reach out to the nearest service centers for help regarding the same. It was not a good move by Xiaomi to rush an update just to keep with their word, which in turn was causing a lot of issues to end-users. Xiaomi took another sweet time of over a month and released the Oreo update to the Mi A1 in around February, almost half-year later the announcement of Android Oreo by Google.

This raised a lot of questions for both Xiaomi and Google. Android One devices get updates directly from Google, so how does Xiaomi get to play the middle-man role here by delaying updates, and release unstable versions to its users? Some questions remain unanswered to date. What enraged Mi A1 users more was the Moto X4, which was launched way after the Mi A1, got the Android Oreo update before the Mi A1 that too without any issues. After delaying the update, rushing it later, stopping its rollout due to an unstable release, and again resuming it by rectifying the problems, things were good for the Mi A1 and it looked that it was a one-time by Xiaomi due to its lack of experience for handling Android One devices.

Mi A2 – The same mistake, again!

After the success in terms of sales of the Mi A1, Xiaomi launched the Mi A2 as a successor to it with improved specifications, under the same Android One program. The Mi A2 with its offerings and competitive pricing, sold in big numbers and again proved a success for the company. Ctrl C + Ctrl V of the Mi A1, the successor now had its first update cycle from Android Pie to Android 10.

The Android 10 update for the Mi A2 was delayed well over 6 months, and when it was rolled out was not up to the mark. The update was buggy, introduced glitches, and caused users many issues in common tasks like changing wallpapers. Xiaomi again pulled the update back, fixed it, and released it again after fixing it. Xiaomi had now made the same mistake, twice in a row which left the users frustrated for just updating software on their primary phone.

Mi A3 – Dear Xiaomi, please…

First with the MI A1, then with the Mi A2. Everyone was sure that Xiaomi will not make the same mistake again as they should have learned from the last two iterations. The Mi A3 comes in, follows the same aggressive pricing path of Xiaomi accounting for really impressive sales numbers. Initially launched with Android 10, the Mi A3 now was due to receive the Android 11 update.

Android 11 launch date – September, Android 11 for the Mi A3 – I don’t remember. That’s the case with the Mi A3 as well. None of the Android One devices by Xiaomi had received the latest Android update on time. When the Android 11 update started rolling out to the Mi A3, users were again eager to install the latest version of Android on their phones but Xiaomi choked, yet again!

The newer update is bricking phones! Yes, bricking – a term used by software developers where the device does not remain functional due to a glitch in the software of the system, while hardware remains completely intact. This issue is not just for one batch o devices, a particular area, or something like that but every single unit which was updated got bricked, leaving the device to nothing more than a brick (paperweight). Users trying to seek help at service centers are asked to pay for a full replacement of the motherboard, which is unfair!

It was a mistake from Xiaomi’s side, and that too they have repeated it for the third time. Asking users to pay for this is not something we feel Xiaomi should be doing here.

Xiaomi has now officially acknowledged the issues of the Android 11 update on the Mi A3, which is causing the device to brick. Their official statement is,

“It has come to our notice that few users of Mi A3 are facing issues with the recent OTA update of Android 11. While the rollout has been stopped already at our end, our teams are working towards resolving the issue at the earliest. Customer experience is our topmost priority and we regret the inconvenience caused. We will keep all users updated on the next steps.”

If you are a Mi A3 user or know someone who uses a Mi A3, we request you to please inform them NOT to update the device to Android 11.

NEW UPDATE FROM XIAOMI INDIA

“We are aware of the issue on some Mi A3 devices following a recent Android 11 update. We have since halted the rollout.

We kindly request users who experience this issue to visit any of the 2,000 plus service centers across the country nearer to you wherein a solution will be provided for free unconditionally (within or beyond warranty).

We regret the inconvenience this has brought about. As a brand committed to offering the best possible user experience, we will continuously improve our products and services.”

Our Request to Xiaomi

Dear Xiaomi, everyone who uses a Xiaomi device loves you, respects you as a brand for providing devices at great prices. But as being India’s #1 Smartphone brand, we feel that the software development team of the Mi A-Series needs to be more responsible when it comes to pushing out updates. Delays are something that we understand that happens when you have so many devices to look for, but releasing unstable updates is not what we would expect from a company like Xiaomi.

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Chinmay Dhumal is a passionate tech enthusiast who while is a student, but studies tech and gaming more than he is supposed to, but he enjoys what he does. Bio provided by Chetan Bhawani!