Xiaomi is undoubtedly winning the budget and mid-range segment in India right now, bringing value for money offerings this year like the Redmi 5A and Mi A1. The Mi A1, in particular, is arguably one of the best options under Rs 20,000, offering stock Android and impressive dual rear cameras. But there is one phone that has entered the picture now that seemingly gives the Mi A1 a run for its money — the iPhone SE.
Apple’s most affordable iPhone got even more affordable this week with a Rs 8,000 price cut. You can now find the iPhone SE at Rs 17,999 on e-commerce stores like Amazon India. At this price, the iPhone is just a few notches higher than the Mi A1, but still within competitive range. There are a few reasons that make the iPhone SE seem like a more attractive buy than the Mi A1, for those who are willing to step outside the Android platform. Here’s what both the phones have to offer.
The iPhone SE features a striking yet classic design that has been regarded one of Apple’s best so far. The rectangular-shaped block design and compact form-factor make it an attractive buy for anyone looking for a small smartphone. It is also a very premium-looking smartphone, if not the most premium-looking right now under Rs 20,000. The Mi A1, interestingly, has a very iPhone 7 Plus-like metal unibody design, which does make it quite attractive in this price range, but isn’t as inspiring or unique as the iPhone SE.
The one area where the iPhone SE understandably wins is with regards to the processor. Apple’s mid-range iPhone sports the same A9 chipset that powers the 2015 premium iPhone 6S. The processor continues to give a stellar performance even today, and quite easily overshadows the Snapdragon 625 processor inside the Mi A1. The iPhone SE will perform fluidly for at least a few months before Apple slows it down to save the phone’s battery. Not that the Mi A1 falls short on performance in any sense, but you’re still looking at a mid-range chipset going up against Apple’s premium processor.
Up till a few months ago, the iPhone SE on iOS 10 would have been easily comparable to the Mi A1 on Android Nougat as far as fluid software experience goes. But with iOS 11 now out and about, the iPhone SE is noticeably slower, and naturally falls behind the Mi A1 that runs stock Android 7.1.2 Nougat, and is soon to get Android 8.0 Oreo. Despite the optimisations, iOS 11 has been one of the buggiest updates to date, whereas the Mi A1 flies on the current Android OS, and is expected to run even faster once Oreo rolls out.
Both the Mi A1 and iPhone SE have excellent cameras, but their use-cases are very specific. The iPhone SE has a 12-megapixel sensor with 5-element lens and TrueTone flash. Reviews back in 2016 including our own hailed it as one of the best cameras in a smartphone. And while a lot has changed in the past two years, the camera has aged quite well. It is super fast at focusing and takes true-to-life images, which are well balanced in terms of contrast and colours even today.
Right now, both the Mi A1 and iPhone SE are stellar options in the mid-range section. The Mi A1 is a relatively newer smartphone, which means it is guaranteed to last a couple of years.