Xiaomi’s first phone running stock Android looks impressive and costs less than $250

Xiaomi’s newest flagship smartphone will launch the day before the next iPhone, but Chinese firm has offered another new arrival before that date — and it marks a departure from the usual. That’s because Xiaomi has unveiled its first device running Google’s Android One software, and it’s called the Mi A1.

The device was launched at a press event in India today and it is the first to go to market with the revamped Android One software, the program designed to bring a high-end experience to affordable smartphones. It’s also the first device to go on sale without running Xiaomi’s own MIUI software — and it is in line to get Android Oreo before the end of 2017.

That should already be enough to get your attention… and then there’s the price.

The Mi A1 is priced around the $230 mark and a wide global release is planned. Xiaomi said the phone is slated for sale in 40 countries worldwide, some of which include Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, Poland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ukraine and Mexico. Notably, though, the U.S. and UK are not on the list.

First up, the phone will be available in India from September 12. Timing for other launches has not been communicated yet.

Beyond the Android One selling point, the 5.5-inch Mi A1 sports a dual-lens 12 megapixel rear camera and five megapixel front camera. That rear camera arrangement includes wide angle and telephoto lenses to give more advanced photography options — and, yes, the bokeh effect. It’s something we’ve seen in high-end devices like the iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Xiaomi’s own Mi 6 flagship, and that makes its inclusion pretty unique for a phone in the sub-$300 range.

He’s an interesting tidbit [hat tip Mashable], Xiaomi is for once not being shy in inviting comparisons to the iPhone. One big difference is obviously the price, with the iPhone 7 Plus costing upwards of $649.

It’s worth noting that despite being Android One, Xiaomi has opted for its own camera app over the Google alternative. A small detail, but one that prospective customers may have strong opinions on — or not.

The device is basically an international version of the Mi 5X which launched in China earlier this month. Elsewhere, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor running the show, with 4 GB RAM, 64 GB of internal storage and a 3080 mAh battery.

There’s supports for USB-C, there’s a fingerprint scanner on the reverse and it will be available in a choice of Black, Gold and Rose Gold.

All in all, this looks like an impressive Android One device.

Google has put a focus on making Android One more appealing than before — phones released since 2014 have been stuck with a ‘budget’ label — and getting Xiaomi’s brand to be a part is bound to help.

Google certainly seems pleased at the collaboration. It called the device “great example” of what the Android One program can produce.

Proof is in the pudding, of course, and we are yet to get our hands on the Mi A1 to give you some insight into how it performs in the real world. If nothing else, it will be novel to see a Xiaomi phone that doesn’t run the company’s MIUI software, which is used by over 200 million people.