Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite / Redmi 6 Pro Review: New Standard for Budget Phones

Xiaomi’s Redmi 6 Pro is exciting for two reasons. First, it’s the exact same phone as the Mi A2 Lite, which is interesting to users outside China for its Android One operating system and Google apps. And second, it’s a seriously good budget phone.

With change from £200 the Redmi 6 Pro boasts a 19:9 Full-HD+ display, dual rear cameras, an appealing design and decent performance. There’s loads of storage too, and space for more.

It bests the Honor 9 Lite – the current leader of our budget phones chart – in a number of ways, yet it comes in at a cheaper price. And that makes this Redmi 6 Pro well worth a second look.

The Redmi 6 series is Xiaomi’s current budget line, but things get a bit confusing. As well as this Redmi 6 Pro there’s the standard Redmi 6 and cheaper still Redmi 6A. The 6 Pro has very little in common with either of those phones, as we’ll outline below.

And then there’s the Redmi 6X, which is more of a mid-range phone than a budget model. As with the 6 Pro and Mi A2 Lite, the 6X is actually the same phone as the Mi A2, but running MIUI 9 rather than Android One.

(Xiaomi also sells budget phablets in its Redmi line, but we won’t confuse the situation any further here – see best Xiaomi phones for more details.)

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

What’s the difference between Mi A2 Lite and Redmi 6 Pro?

The Redmi 6 Pro is primed for users in Xiaomi’s home territory of China. It’s running MIUI 9, which is a custom version of Android Oreo. It doesn’t come preinstalled with Google services such as the Play store and related apps, though it is possible to install them via the Mi Store. We’ve done exactly that for the sake of this review.

The other thing it lacks is 800MHz 4G LTE connectivity, which is worth noting for UK users – especially those on O2’s network (or GiffGaff, Sky Mobile and any of the others that piggyback it), since those networks don’t support either of the other 4G LTE bands used in the UK and supported by the 6 Pro.

The Mi A2 Lite is arguably a better fit for UK users with its Android One (in essence plain Android with timely updates) operating system, Google apps and services, and support for 800MHz 4G LTE. 

On the Mi A2 Lite you won’t find any Chinese characters or preinstalled apps, and that will be especially appealing to users who aren’t especially tech-savvy. It’s going to be easier for an English-speaking user to pick up and get started with the Mi A2 Lite, but of course the reverse is true for the Redmi 6 Pro and Chinese users.

With a little bit of tech-savvy the Redmi 6 Pro is perfectly usable in the UK. Installing Google services takes only a few minutes, and it’s easy enough to uninstall the Chinese apps from the home screen and install a more familiar keyboard.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Where to buy the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro

Our Redmi 6 Pro was supplied by GearVita, which is a Chinese importer. When shipping to the UK from China you need to be prepared to pay import duty (20 percent of the value on the shipping paperwork), but GearVita does offer the option for delivery within the EU which negates that issue.

GearVita offers the 6 Pro in a range of colours (our sample is black) at $219.99 (roughly £171.53). Until the end of August it’s offering an extra $30 off the 6 Pro using coupon code RMI6PRO, which drops the price to an unbeatable level.

Shipping is not free, but neither is it extortionate. Your cheapest option here (at the time of writing) is $8.94 (£6.97) via Swedish Registered Air Mail.

Where to buy the Mi A2 Lite

GearVita also stocks the Mi A2 Lite at $185.99 (£144.56), which is actually a bit cheaper than the Redmi 6 Pro. So the Mi A2 Lite is starting to look a bit like a no-brainer, for UK users in any case.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro (Mi A2 Lite) Design & Build

The Redmi 6 Pro is almost unrecognisable from its cheaper Redmi 6 and 6A brothers, instead looking a lot more like the Redmi 6X – here the most notable difference is the lack of a screen notch on the 6X.

Even before you turn it on you’ll notice it has a metal body, whereas the cheaper models are plastic. It’s not a unibody design, and there’s a noticeable ridge between the screen’s plastic bezel and the metal frame. There are also plastic top and bottom end caps at the rear, which should improve cellular signal, but even despite this the overall feeling in the hand is much more premium.

At the back the Pro has the same centrally mounted fingerprint scanner as the Redmi 6 and 6X, and like the latter its dual-camera sits vertically with the LED flash in the middle of the arrangement. The Redmi 6’s flash instead sits to the side looking more like an afterthought.

You’ll also spot the speaker grille that is rear-facing on the 6 and 6A has been moved to the Pro’s bottom edge, with drilled holes sitting either side of the Micro-USB port – perhaps the biggest giveaway of this phone’s budget roots.

There is just one speaker here, with the other row of holes concealing one of the phone’s two mics – you’ll find the other on the top edge, where the 6 Pro also offers an IR blaster.

If we can’t have our phone’s speakers at the front then the next best place is at the bottom – on the rear as they appear on the two cheaper models they tend to fire sound directly into your palm. While we’re on the subject of audio, the three cheapest Redmi 6 phones offer a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top but the 6X does not.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Unique to the Pro in the Redmi 6 series is an enlarged slot-loading SIM tray that can accept both two SIMs (Nano) and a microSD card up to 256GB in capacity. Given that the Pro already offers 64GB internally storage is very generous, but we’re equally impressed that unlike the Pro doesn’t force us to choose between two SIMs and storage expansion.

The Redmi 6 Pro is a fraction taller than its cheaper siblings, but you wouldn’t expect Xiaomi to have been able to achieve so much with the extra room. Not only is there a 4,000mAh battery inside, which is 1,000mAh more than you get with the 6 or 6A, but Xiaomi has also been able to fit a larger screen – 5.84in up from 5.45in. The Redmi 6X is fractionally larger still at 5.99in, and without the notch.

And here’s where we get to the major aesthetic difference within the Redmi 6 family. Whereas the 6 and 6A are fitted with HD panels, the 6 Pro has a 19:9 full-HD+ display. There’s a notch at the top, as seen on the Mi 8, which includes the front-facing camera, earpiece and sensors. 

The screen is fantastic quality for a budget phone, with its IPS display tech offering realistic colours, excellent clarity, and a maximum brightness of 456cd/m2 in our tests. More than anything else, though, its 19:9 aspect ratio and notch just make it look a lot more special.

The Redmi 6 Pro still has a fairly chunky bottom bezel, despite the fact its navigational buttons are onscreen (or not, if you opt for full-screen gestures within MIUI 9). But it’s smaller than you see on the Redmi 6 and 6A, and the side- and top bezels are pleasingly slim.

Overall the Pro looks and feels great in the hand – not like a flagship, but also nothing like a budget phone.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro (Mi A2 Lite) Core Hardware & Performance

We’ve already touched on the Redmi 6 Pro’s increased battery capacity, but numbers on a spec sheet don’t mean much when you also consider the fact this phone has a larger, higher-resolution screen and a faster Qualcomm processor than the 6 and 6A, which are both fitted with MediaTek chips.

We’ve not yet had a chance to benchmark the Redmi 6X, and while it should prove faster than the Redmi 6 Pro with its Snapdragon 660 CPU and Adreno 512 GPU it’s unlikely to match its battery performance with a smaller 3010mAh pack. (Our review of the 6X should be online within the next couple of weeks.)

We ran Geekbench 4’s battery test, in which the 6 Pro bested the Redmi 6 by a full 2 hours with a 10 hour 36 minute result. That’s a very good score in this test, and in the real world it’s not going to stumble getting you through dusk till dawn. Xiaomi claims this is a two-day battery, but in reality that’s going to depend on how much you use your phone.

None of the Redmi 6 models support wireless charging, but the 6 Pro is supplied with a fast (not Quick Charge-fast) 10W adaptor in the box while the Redmi 6X has Quick Charge support. If you’re buying in the UK note that you’ll need an adaptor for our three-pin sockets, or you can just use your existing phone charger.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

Xiaomi has fitted the Redmi 6 with a MediaTek Helio P22, and the Redmi 6 with a MediaTek A22. This 6 Pro comes with a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, clocked at 2GHz and integrated with 650MHz Adreno 506 graphics. There’s 4GB of RAM, too, but 3GB of memory in the 6 and just 2GB in the 6A.

(In fact, the Redmi 6A’s core hardware really isn’t anything to get excited about with a meagre 16GB of storage. The 6 Pro’s 64GB looks colossal by comparison.)

So we probably don’t need to tell you that the Redmi 6 Pro outclasses the 6 and 6A in our benchmarks. The others got a lot closer in GFXBench, with the Redmi 6 actually taking the lead by a few frames, but that’s only because the 6 Pro has a higher-resolution screen and therefore more pixels to push. We’d much rather play games and watch movies on its larger, Full-HD+ screen.

The benchmarks also reveal much higher performance scores than those achieved by the Honor 9 Lite, which is really the 6 Pro’s main competition. Whereas the Honor scored 3668 points in Geekbench 4, for example, the 6 Pro stomped all over that with 4294.

Both those scores point to phones that may not keep up with the flagships, but offer decent, usable performance for daily tasks.

You can compare all our test results in the chart below.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro (Mi A2 Lite) Cameras & Photography

If photography is a priority for you then we’d advise looking closer at the Redmi 6X, which features a 20Mp + 12Mp dual-camera at the rear and a 20Mp selfie camera at the front. The Redmi 6 Pro is pretty well specced for a budget phone camera, however – and, again, better specced than either the Redmi 6 or 6A.

Xiaomi has fitted the 6 Pro with a 12Mp + 5Mp dual-camera with 1.25um pixels, PDAF and a single LED flash at the rear, and a 5Mp selfie camera at the front. It supports some intelligent AI features, such as smart selection of preset filters and settings, and a bokeh-effect (blurred background) portrait mode. It can also shoot 1080p video at 30fps, or 720p slow-mo at 120fps.

Our tests shots (some of which are pictured below) revealed a camera that offers decent quality at this price. Viewed at full-size noise is noticeable, and there’s not as much detail as we’d like, but colours and exposure are good.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite Auto

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite HDR

In low light the Redmi 6 Pro did a reasonable job, and we were impressed with how it picked out the different shades of black and how well it reproduced text. The overall result is not as pin-sharp as we’d like, but we can hardly complain at this price.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite Low Light

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro Software

If you do opt for the Chinese version of the Mi A2 Lite, there are a number of benefits to running MIUI. Right now that’s MIUI 9, but soon we’ll see an update to MIUI 10.

MIUI is quite a departure from standard Android, and the first thing you’ll notice is there’s no app tray. The Settings menu is also rearranged, and everything just looks a bit different and unfamiliar.

You won’t find any Google apps preinstalled (you must install these yourselves if you wish to use them), but Xiaomi offers its own alternatives for most things.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro / Mi A2 Lite

There’s also rather a lot of what seems to be bloatware on this phone, but we couldn’t tell you what half of it is because it’s in Chinese. Fortunately you can uninstall most of it, just drag the app icons toward the top of the screen and you’ll get an Uninstall option if it’s possible.

There are some features within MIUI that you don’t see in standard Android, for example Dual Apps (which lets you run two instances of individual apps) and Second Space (which lets you create a separate environment on your phone and is handy if someone else is using it). You can also access features designed for ease of use, such as Quick Ball and One-handed mode.

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