In smartphones, Xiaomi is widely recognized as the most affordable market leader, particularly in countries such as India.
It turned out that the Redmi 5A, which was released at the end of the previous year, was the gadget that the Chinese company sold the most of, so its successor, the Redmi 6A, which was released in India just one month ago, had a reputation to uphold.
The Redmi 6A makes a bold move towards 2018, sporting a taller 18:9 display, a thinner chassis, and a dual-camera-like lens configuration on the back of the device, albeit with a flash in place of the actual camera sensor.
The processor will be the most significant differentiating factor between the Redmi 5A and the Redmi 6A. This year’s Redmi 6A, which has a starting price of Rs. 5,999, is powered by a MediaTek CPU rather than the typical Snapdragon one.
As you will see in a bit, this could be the deciding factor in whether or not you choose to purchase the device.
If you’re considering purchasing this low-cost gadget, well, here’s everything you should know about my experiences before you make that decision:
What’s in The Box –
As was the case with its forerunner, the Redmi 6A is packaged in a diminutive red box that bears the Xiaomi logo and the name of the product prominently displayed on the front of the box.
The actual packaging does not come with many extra accessories, especially the see-through case that Xiaomi typically gives away free of charge with their devices. The following items are included in the package:
- Redmi 6A (black variant)
- Micro-USB cable
- Charging adapter
- SIM ejector tool
- User Guides
Redmi 6A: Specs –
Before we dive in and talk about my experience with the Redmi 6A, here’s a quick look at the key specifications of the device:
- Dimensions1 : 47.5 x 71.5 x 8.3 mm
- Weight: 145 g (5.11 oz)
- Display: 5.45-inch HD+ display
- Processor – MediaTek Helio A22
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 16GB/32GB, expandable via microSD
- Rear Camera – 13MP
- Front Camera – 5MP
- Battery – 3,000mAh
- Operating System – Android 8.1 Oreo-based MIUI 9.6
- Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual 4G, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, micro USB port
- Sensors – Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Design and Build –
The Redmi 6A has a plastic build, which is appropriate given the price range it competes. In contrast, the majority of smartphones on the market today have either a metallic or glass structure.
It is identical to its sibling, the Redmi 6, in terms of both the design and the aesthetics of the gadget, but it has the distinct impression of being an improvement over the model it replaces.
You will have the delight of being able to handle and utilise the device comfortably with just one hand because it is rather streamlined, and its updated design makes it look pretty beautiful.
The buttons on this gadget have a satisfying click to them, but it can be tough to see the difference between the power slider and the volume slider. This probably won’t be an issue for the typical user.
The Redmi 6A ditches the tactile navigation buttons that were present on its predecessor in favour of a cutting-edge display panel that is both larger and more modern.
You now have minimum bezels on the sides, with somewhat wider bezels at the top and bottom, which I don’t mind because you’re getting a larger screen in an almost identically sized body. This change was made possible by the elimination of some of the side bezels.
The form of the camera module would lead anyone to believe that the Redmi 6A provides you with a twin rear-camera system in the sub-6000 pricing range;
however, it is abundantly clear that this is not the case. You only get one camera on the back, along with an LED flash, which is housed in a module that looks very much like it houses two cameras.
Even though the Redmi 6A does not have a fingerprint scanner on either the back or the front, I couldn’t help but go for it repeatedly out of sheer habit.
Also, while we’re discussing the back, I’d like to point out that the Redmi 6A does not have a camera on the rear. The micro USB port is on the bottom of the rear panel, while the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top of the panel.
The speaker is located at the bottom of the back panel. On the other hand, there is not an IR blaster located at the top of the device this time.
A 5.45-inch HD+ IPS LCD can be found on the Redmi 6A, which is only a tad larger than the display seen on the Redmi 6A’s predecessor. It has a display resolution of 720 by 1440 pixels and a ratio of 18:9 for the aspect ratio of the screen.
The display of the Redmi 6A is more than enough for a smartphone in this price range. It does get pretty bright, even when you take it out into direct sunlight; however, the brightness lowers too low while you are inside, and it needs to be changed extremely often.
The brightness settings are not clearly defined, and even with the brightness set to fifty per cent, the screen might appear to be rather dark at times.
When I had both the Redmi 5A and the Redmi 6A in my hands at the same time, I had the impression that the display on Xiaomi’s older model, the Redmi 5A, was significantly more vibrant and true in terms of colour.
It is also possible that it is a little bit on the warmer side in comparison to 6A, whose display looks to be cooler; nonetheless, you won’t need to give it much concern because it doesn’t affect the overall experience.
Even though Xiaomi has recently made a lot of progress in the camera field, particularly with the release of the Mi A2 and the Poco F1, the set of shooters on its budget phones is still a bit deficient but performs okay considering the price tag.
This latest handset from Xiaomi that costs less than 6,000 dollars features a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 5-megapixel camera that is used for taking selfies; both of these cameras have an aperture of f/2.2.
It may sound like the cameras on the Redmi 6A aren’t very stunning, but their performance is rather decent considering the budget.
You can take clear pictures with accurate colour reproduction, a reasonable dynamic range, and occasional photographs that are worthy of sharing on social media when the lighting conditions are appropriate.
The images will have clear shadows and highlights and will look good enough to share with friends. However, they will not be particularly remarkable. So, have a look at some examples of cameras right here:
When it comes to the currently popular portrait mode, the Redmi 6A does not provide you with the opportunity to take photographs with a bokeh effect using the rear camera.
However, the selfie camera does come with a toggle that allows you to convert to portrait mode. This mode allows you to take pictures with adequate edge detection (although it may be overly aggressive at times) and okayish background blur, which I don’t mind at all.
Portrait photographs taken in low-light conditions or under artificial lighting are more likely to suffer from poor edge detection or overexposure.
The Redmi 6A, just like any other Xiaomi phone, is supported by the company’s immensely popular MIUI custom skin, which is built atop Android 8.1 Oreo and operates in tandem with the operating system.
On every Xiaomi smartphone, you get access to the same user experience and collection of features.
Users adore it for the obvious reasons that it is convenient, simple to operate, and packed to the brim with a multitude of features such as an app vault, features that are unique to India, dual apps, and a great deal more.
The aesthetics, smoothness, and optimization of MIUI 9.6 are all things that appeal to me, which is why I feel that it offers an experience that is pretty comparable to the one I adore provided by stock Android.
The Redmi 6A also provides you with Xiaomi’s gestures, and they are fairly intuitive. The only exception to this would be the back gesture from the side bezel, which interferes with an app’s hamburger menu as well as apps that have swipeable tabs.
If you have been following our website, our YouTube channel, or news about Xiaomi, then you are aware that MIUI is afflicted by a large stream of advertisements across all of its system apps.
Not only will you see advertisements interspersed throughout the content (or, more lately, the settings menu), but you will also find full-page advertisements serving as the splash screen for applications. And it’s damn aggravating!
There was a time when all of Xiaomi’s phones that were released in India were powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips.
However, the Chinese technology giant has recently resolved a dispute with a competitor chipmaker known as MediaTek, and the Redmi 6A is now equipped with a processor known as the Helio A22 rather than a Snapdragon chip. This particular gadget has a memory capacity of 16GB or 32GB, as well as 2GB of Random Access Memory (RAM).
My experience with the Redmi 6A model which has a smaller storage capacity has been, in a single word, dreadful. I have been testing out the Redmi 6A model with a smaller storage capacity.
Although MIUI is well-known for its software optimization, it appears that Xiaomi has not yet mastered the software experience of its custom ROM for MediaTek chipsets. This is even though MIUI is well-known for its software optimization.
My colleague Varun Mirchandani had mentioned during the review of the Redmi 5A that his device worked perfectly even with 2GB of RAM, but its much-awaited successor (and possibly best-seller) appears to have a bottleneck, and our 2GB RAM variant here was unable to handle heavy workloads. This is why I am making this statement. Let me explain:
When all you use it for is calls, communicating with friends via Whatsapp, or other minor tasks that don’t require you to use a whole lot of memory, the Redmi 6A works perfectly. However, when you flip this scenario on its head, you get an experience that would discourage users from picking up the device.
The hardware is incapable of managing substantial amounts of work, and as a result, the application eventually freezes up and becomes unresponsive.
It became most obvious to me while I was viewing videos on YouTube, where my red 6A frequently had lag and frequent frame drops.
Due to the sluggish performance of the device, I found it extremely uncomfortable whenever I attempted to browse through my suggestions or minimize the video player to the bottom of the screen. This was the case regardless of whether I was using the iOS or Android operating system.
Connectivity has been one of Xiaomi’s strong suits throughout the Redmi series, and the Redmi 6A is not an exception to this rule.
Instead of the more common hybrid SIM card trays that are seen in most smartphones these days, the gadget has two SIM card slots that are dedicated only to SIM cards.
One of these slots also contains a dedicated slot for a microSD card, which is fantastic news given that the storage space on both my and your 16GB models will be depleted in a short amount of time.
Aside from that, you get the standard selections of connectivity, such as Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, FM Radio, A-GPS, and GLONASS, amongst others.
There is also a charging port for micro-USB at the bottom of the device, which is acceptable given the price range and the widespread acceptance of USB-C.
However, the elimination of the infrared blaster is a letdown for me because I think it is a really useful tool to have in a mobile device like a phone.
Audio and Telephony –
The Redmi 6A has a single speaker grill located at the bottom rear of the device, and despite its diminutive size, it is capable of producing audio that is both loud and clear.
This is an impressive feature for a smartphone. Imagine Dragons and Greta Van Fleet, for example, had good sound, but the highs were way too tinny and at times unpleasant.
The sound may be easily amplified by placing the phone on a flat surface (or by cupping the lower half of the device with your hand) thanks to the fact that the speaker is located on the back of the device.
I’m even happier that the device has a respectable number of volume steps—15, to be exact—which can be adjusted.
The Redmi 6A has a big 3,000mAh battery pack, which I found to be sufficient to comfortably last me the whole day on a single charge. The battery pack is one of the phone’s selling points.
I was able to carve out close to five to six hours of screen-on time in low to medium usage, during which time I participated in a large number of phone conversations, watched videos on YouTube, and spent time on social media.
It took more than 2 hours and 20 odd minutes to go from 10% to 100% using the 5V/1A charger that was included in the box.
While I am satisfied with the overall battery life, the lengthy charging time was a pain because you’d need to plug in the device at night. After all, it took that long to go from 10% to 100%.
Although there is indeed no quick charging support on board, I am willing to overlook this given that the Redmi 6A is a more affordable smartphone.
Xiaomi Redmi 6A: Still the Best Entry-Level Phone?
The most recent iteration of Xiaomi’s mobile operating system, MIUI, is a smartphone that, once again, stays true to the company’s mission of producing low-cost hardware that has a solid design and an extensive set of capabilities.
The Redmi 6A, which has a starting price of Rs. 5,999, is not an exception to the same, and it checks a bunch of the right boxes to match the crop of modern gadgets that are available in 2018.
The Redmi 6A, on the other hand, had the responsibility of demonstrating that it was still the top choice among budget smartphones, just like its predecessor.
However, this is the point at which things start to go a little bit awry. It’s possible that Xiaomi sought to restore its relations with MediaTek in India, and the Redmi 6A, which was powered by MediaTek’s Helio A22 processor, became the bait. However, the device’s performance did not live up to the mark, and it failed to live up to our expectations.
In the current sub-6000 price range, you have very few to no options to choose from, which is unfortunate given how important performance and the entire user experience are for a smartphone.
The Nokia 2.1, which is powered by a Snapdragon 425 and costs Rs 6,930, is a member of the Android One programme and might provide you with a wonderful vanilla experience if you are willing to spend a little bit more money.
This phone is my top pick. You might also opt for Amazon’s 10. or E, which comes with comparable specifications and is powered by the Snapdragon 430. This device costs Rs 5,699 and appears to be a good choice.
- Appealing build (especially the black variant).
- Decent cameras.
- Good battery life.
- Clear audio quality.
- Value for money.
- Sluggish performance.
- Ad-backed software UI.
- Lack of IR blaster