In the past one year or so, the lower mid-range segment has possibly seen the most amount of action from a number of phone manufacturers, especially from Xiaomi and Huawei. There’s not a shadow of doubt that these two companies are literally flooding this particular category with as many smartphones as possible. It makes sense, while Apple and Samsung generally rule the high-end segment, Xiaomi and Huawei find better opportunities to spread their reach in the lower segments.
Recently, Xiaomi launched the Redmi 6 Pro in China which became the Mi A2 Lite for the rest of the world. And while we were expecting this phone to be launched in India on August 8, we were presented the Mi A2 only. The Mi A2 Lite’s launch remains awaited.
But that didn’t stop us from acquiring the Mi A2 Lite (or more appropriately the Redmi 6 Pro) and prepare an intensive comparison between itself, Redmi Note 5 Pro and the recently launched Honor 9N.
Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
Redmi Note 5 Pro
|Snapdragon 625, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB storage, Adreno 506||Snapdragon 636, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, Adreno 509||HiSilicon Kirin 659, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, Mali-T830 MP2|
|5.84-inch, IPS LCD, 1080p x 2280p, 19:9, 432 ppi||5.99-inch, IPS LCD, 1080p x 2160p, 18:9, 403 ppi||5.84-inch, IPS LCD, 1080p x 2280p, 19:9, 432 ppi|
|Android Oreo 8.1, MIUI 9.6||Android Oreo 8.1, MIUI 9.5||Android Oreo 8.0, EMUI 8.0.0|
|Dual camera, 12 MP (f2.2) + 5 MP (f2.2), PDAF, EIS for video recording. Front 5 MP||Dual camera, 12 MP (f2.2) + 5 MP (f2.0), PDAF, EIS for video recording. Front 20 MP with f2.2||Dual camera, 13 MP + 2 MP, PDAF. Front 16 MP|
|4,000 mAh||4,000 mAh with QC 2.0||3,000 mAh|
|Indian launch awaited||Starts at Rs 14,999||Starts at Rs 11,999 (phone in review is Rs 13,999)|
The three phones here follow the two latest trends when it comes to display – the Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with 18:9 aspect ratio while the Mi A2 Lite and the Honor 9N carry the absolute latest 19:9 aspect ratio. It would be interesting to see what difference do they make in the overall viewing experience.
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
First of all, let’s talk about the two phones from Xiaomi – the Mi A2 Lite and the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Mi A2 Lite and the Redmi Note 5 Pro have maximum similarities in terms of design, the build quality and the fit-n-finish. Especially from the back, the two phones are quite indistinguishable. Luckily for us, the Mi A2 Lite is a smaller handset overall and it’s in the Rose Gold/Pink color. Comparatively, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is larger and it is in Gold color. So it is easy for us to know which is one what even from the backside.
From the front, the differences are there and are clearer. The biggest and the most noticeable difference is the presence of the notch display on the Mi A2 Lite while the Redmi Note 5 Pro carries the more typical rectangular, but still modern, display with 18:9 aspect ratio. The Pro looks modern enough, but the Lite is trendier (not necessarily better) because of the notch and the overall compact bodywork. However, both phones are equally well-built and in that regard, there’s nothing to choose between the two.
The Honor 9N is quite unique in the company of the Mi A2 Lite and the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Sure, it has the notch which isn’t quite a unique feature in itself anymore, and the A2 Lite also has one, but the 9N is different in all other aspects. Compared to the metal back (aluminium, more specifically) of the two Xiaomi phones, the Honor 9N has glass back giving it a reflective finish. Also, it makes the phone more vulnerable as well.
DISPLAY, SOFTWARE & USER INTERFACE
All three phones use the IPS LCD displays and deliver Full HD+ resolution. Dive in a little deeper, you’d realize that the Mi A2 Lite and the Honor 9N are absolutely same in terms of the resolution, aspect ratio and the ppi – which is 1080p x 2280p, 19:9 and 432 ppi respectively. However, the Honor 9N’s display is visibly warmer but not by any huge margin.
When looking at the displays of the three phones from different angles, the two Xiaomi phones maintain the best consistency in terms of the white balance and the color shift. These two siblings only change in terms of brightness more or less while the white balance remains unchanged. The Honor 9N tends to transition between warm/cold ever so slightly when viewing angles are changed. It is not a big deal though as all three displays are overall quite good with good color saturation and vibrancy.
Coming to the software and the UI – All three provide something different. The Mi A2 Lite is an Android One phone which means pure Android Oreo with the guarantee of fast and regular updates. The Redmi Note 5 Pro also has Oreo but it is topped with MIUI 9.6 which Xiaomi’s custom skin over a standard OS. Lastly, there’s the Honor 9N whose Android Oreo is quite heavily sprinkled with Huawei’s EMUI 8.0.0 custom skin.
Suffice it to say that the Mi A2 Lite delivers the simplest and the purest Android experience while the other two offer a different visual as well as navigational experience. The differences, as a whole, are nothing too drastic but some things are instantly noticeable, for example, the icons in the Mi A2 Lite and the Redmi Note 5 Pro are rounded and in the Honor 9N, they are in square. The two Xiaomi siblings also get the App Drawer while the 9N doesn’t get one.
We have already done a thorough comparison between the Mi A2 Lite and the Redmi Note 5 Pro previously, and in our experience, both handsets have been quite evenly matched, although, the Redmi Note 5 Pro has always been a little smoother in operation. The Mi A2 Lite has more instances where it stutters or produces momentary lags especially while scrolling a page in an app (like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) or navigating between open apps. The Mi A2 Lite also has the tendency to refresh apps more often.
The Honor 9N comes with the Kirin 659 processor along with 4 GB of RAM. This combination is like the Snapdragon 636 with 4 GB of RAM in the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Compared to the Mi A2 Lite, both these handsets feel snappier in regular operations. At the same time, we would like to mention that the Mi A2 Lite is not terrible by any chance, it’s just inconsistent with its smoothness against the other two.
One particular observation about the Honor 9N – for instance, if a heavy app like a graphic-heavy game is left open in the background (for over 30 minutes or so), there have been instances that the 9N takes a second or two extra when we close the app.
Coming to Gaming – Here, things are mostly on par between the three handsets, but since we are comparing, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is ever so slightly ahead. The thing is, while the gameplay doesn’t produce any discernible differences between the Mi A2 Lite, the Note 5 Pro and Honor 9N, because all three of them can equally cope up with the framerate requirement and also equally matched in terms of graphic reproduction as well. however, we feel that the Honor 9N has slightly higher color saturation, but it is only noticeable to the keen eyes when looking at these handsets side by side.
Also, we have been playing a highly popular car racing game, Asphalt 9 (the successor to the highly successful Asphalt 8), and we found out that the Redmi Note 5 Pro is quicker to load a level by around 3 seconds or so. At the same time, the Mi A2 Lite and the Honor 9N have been absolutely equal in terms of level loading times.
These are lower mid-range devices, hence, their overall prowess in terms of graphic generation is questionable – for example, different kinds of objects can be seen with broken edges especially the ones that are far away from the player. But in general, they are decent in gaming.
About the images taken in Daytime, including their respective HDR versions, we found out that the Mi A2 Lite and the Redmi Note 5 Pro are very close and slighty ahead of the Honor 9N. In terms of detail on the glass wall of the building, all three handsets are close but we believe that the Redmi Note 5 Pro has a tiny advantage here which is closely followed by the Mi A2 Lite. At the same time, when it comes to detail on the concrete section of the building (below the glass wall), it seems that the Mi A2 Lite does a finer job than the other two. Also, when it comes to the dynamic range (in the non-HDR images), it would seem that the Mi A2 Lite and the 9N have the smallest against the Note 5 Pro which tends to keep the shadowy areas darker.
When it comes to the HDR versions, the Mi A2 Lite maintains its advantage with respect to the overall dynamic range over the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Honor 9N. Once again, all three handsets are close in terms of detail, color saturation and sharpness. However, the Redmi Note 5 Pro reproduces a touch higher detail on the glass wall.
Coming to the Lowlight images, things get interesting as differences are bigger. The Honor 9N produces images with the most amount of grain while the Mi A2 Lite has the smoothest image. In the middle, lies the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Also, it seems that the Redmi Note 5 Pro has the slightest advantage in terms detail here. This observation is about the non-HDR images.
Coming to the HDR versions, the Redmi Note 5 Pro surprisingly produces the grainiest image that we have seen among the three phones while the Mi A2 Lite continues with its smoothness and keeps the image looking impressive overall. The Honor 9N lands somewhere in the middle. Here, the Mi A2 Lite is the most impressive of all. Overall, all three cameras struggle with the sharpness in lowlight conditions.
All three handsets do a decent job of creating the depth-of-field effect with their respective Portrait modes, however, we believe that the Redmi Note 5 Pro manages to isolate the subject better than the other two. The difference is very small but it’s there. Also, the Honor 9N produces the sharpest colors followed by the Note 5 Pro and then the Mi A2 Lite who appears slightly washed out in comparison. Detail wise, we would say that there’s nothing literally to choose between the three.
Lastly, the selfies. The front camera is important for many people and it does comes in handy in certain situations. We believe that all three handsets are closest to each other in this section and all three of them suffer more or less equally with overexposure. But we think we would like to go with the Redmi Note 5 Pro here.
Similarity between the Mi A2 Lite and the Redmi Note 5 Pro continues in this department as well. Both phones come with 4,000 mAh battery while the Honor 9N appears to be considerably down with 3,000 mAh unit.
In terms of usage, the two Xiaomi siblings deliver up to 1 and a half days of runtime with a full charge, but it seems to us that the Redmi Note 5 Pro manages its battery slightly better when it comes to heavy use. The Mi A2 Lite makes us work a bit harder to extract similar level of runtime. The Honor 9N, on the other hand, falls short as it varies between 24 to 36 hours of runtime. But the 36 hours is usually a stretch.
Also, while playing a game like the Asphalt 9 on all three phones for 45 minutes, we noticed that the Honor 9N consumed most amount of battery with 17% drain, the Mi A2 Lite was the second best with 12% drain and the Redmi Note 5 Pro sucked least amount of battery with 11% drain. Clearly, the Honor 9N is most power hungry here.
Both the Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite and the Honor 9N are vying for the trendiest phone in the lower mid-range category with their sizeable notch. Go past these, and you’ll have to spend Rs 20,000 to get a phone with a notch display (Huawei P20 Lite and the Honor Play). However, since the Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite is still to be launched in India, the Honor 9N holds the advantage as the first mover. We would like to believe that Xiaomi will price the Mi A2 Lite accordingly (around Rs 11,000).
Having said that, the Redmi Note 5 Pro remains the best overall handset among in this trio of smartphones. Its 18:9 aspect ratio display is still in trend and it doesn’t mess up the proportions of an app since there’s no notch. The build quality and the design is as good as the Mi A2 Lite and it appears to be the smoothest overall even if it is by the tiniest margin. And with similar specs (4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage), the Redmi Note 5 Pro at Rs 14,999 is only Rs 1,000 more expensive than the Honor 9N. So, we still choose the Redmi Note 5 Pro from these three.