The Xiaomi Redmi 6A is the successor to the Redmi 5A, and has the same starting price of Rs 5,999.
The phone is powered by the MediaTek Helio A22 SoC, with 2GB of RAM.
While it's a budget phone at heart, Android 8.1 Oreo and an 18:9 screen add some value to the equation.
On one hand, there’s the Apple iPhone XS Max 512GB variant, priced at Rs 1,44,900. Whether you like it or not, you can’t argue with the fact that it commands the collective attention of everyone around. Not necessarily for what it is, but more for what it represents. The person holding the phone has spent a lot of money on it, and that’s more along the lines of what owning a top-end Apple smartphone is about.
But on the other hand, there’s the new Xiaomi Redmi 6A, priced from Rs 5,999 for the variant with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. For dramatic impact, here’s a fact: you could buy 24 Redmi 6A smartphones for the price of a top-end iPhone XS Max, and still have about Rs 1,000 left over to buy yourself some talktime and data. It’s phones like the Xiaomi Redmi 6A and its predecessor, the Redmi 5A, that sell in volumes, as much of the country looks for value-for-money, rather than flashy fruit logos at the back.
What does a Rs 6,000 smartphone do?
As it turns out, a lot. The Xiaomi Redmi 6A is a full-fledged Android smartphone, running Android 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 9.6 on top. While fancier features cost more money, you do get the basics at this price, including 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage a 5.45-inch HD+ resolution screen and 4G connectivity with dedicated slots for two SIM cards and a microSD card.
There’s also a 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, 3,000mAh battery and MediaTek Helio A22 chipset under the hood. The device covers the basics, offering additional value in a couple of departments: software and screen resolution. The rest of the package is ordinary, with the focus being on offering a phone that will get the job done rather than one that tries to offer too much and fails at achieving basic competence.
How is a Rs 6,000 smartphone built?
While it’s possible to get a glass-backed smartphone such as the Honor 9N for as little as Rs 11,999, that’s about as low as high-end build quality gets. Metal phones can be had for less than that, but Rs 7,000 and below is firmly plastic territory. As such, the Xiaomi Redmi 6A is exactly that: a plastic smartphone.
But while I might sound a bit negative saying it, plastic at this price isn’t a bad thing at all. And despite the plastic, the phone actually feels quite solid. It looks decent as well, particularly in black. The understated design looks appealing, the curved edges make for good hand-feel and grip, and the slightly raised screen gives the impression that the phone is slimmer and sleeker than it actually is.
There’s no fingerprint sensor, and there are thick borders around the screen as well. Despite the 18:9 aspect ratio full-HD screen, the phone still feels old-school in the design department because of this. Apart from separate slots for the SIM cards and the microSD card, there’s also a 3.5mm jack at the top and micro-USB port at the bottom, along with the power and volume buttons on the right.
How does a Rs 6,000 smartphone perform?
It took a few years to resolve the legal troubles that prevented Xiaomi from launching phones with MediaTek chipsets, but that’s history now. Of the three new Redmi 6-series phones launched recently, the two more-affordable options sport MediaTek chipsets. The Xiaomi Redmi 6A is powered by the MediaTek Helio A22, which is one of the Taiwanese chipset maker’s newest options. And while our earlier perceptions may have been different, these new MediaTek chipsets are promising. In fact, the A22 is far more promising than the now-ancient Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 chipset on the Xiaomi Redmi 5A and other phones in this price range.
The Helio A22 is fabricated on the 12nm process by TSMC, and sports four Cortex A53 2.0GHz cores. You also get 2GB of RAM as standard, with the possibility of either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage based on the variant. On paper this sounds good, although in practice, things are a bit, well, predictable. Provided you’re just running one or two things at a time, the Xiaomi Redmi 6A can cope well enough. If you’re sticking to the basics such as WhatsApp and Facebook, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
But the minute you push the phone a bit too hard, you’ll start seeing lag, stutter and general performance struggles on the Redmi 6A. Updating several apps on a fast Wi-Fi connection completely choked the phone, and I had to wait till the updates were done before I could do anything else. Therefore, using this phone will take some restraint to get acceptable performance, but it can be done.
Just for fun, I decided to run PUBG Mobile on the Xiaomi Redmi 6A. I’ll be honest, the experience was difficult to cope with. My colleagues told me it’s silly to even be running a high-end game on a phone like this, but that’s exactly what I’d expect users to want to do. The phone can’t handle a graphically intensive game like this even at the lowest settings, and there’s a lot of lag and stutter to work with.
I’m not going to judge the phone’s performance on this, but it does help in giving me some insight into what the phone is and isn’t capable of. With the Redmi 6A, you’re buying a phone that is made for the basics, and is best used for those basics. Casual games such as Candy Crush Saga work fine, but don’t expect much more from this device.
In terms of general software, MIUI 9.6 does well enough with Android 8.1 Oreo underneath. Although it isn’t the lightest overlay, it’s fairly well optimized for a budget smartphone such as this, and offers most of the benefits that you’d see on a more expensive Xiaomi phone. Interestingly, MIUI 10 is coming to the Redmi 6A, which should hopefully further improve software and UI performance.
How is the camera and battery life on a Rs 6,000 smartphone?
The Xiaomi Redmi 6A sports a 3,000mAh battery, and comes with a 5W charger in the box. Battery life is decent, given that the screen isn’t large and has a reasonable amount of pixels to power. It’s also helped along by the fact that the chipset has just four efficient A53 12nm cores. As such you can easily expect a day or more of heavy usage. Intensive usage that goes beyond the reasonable capabilities of the phone will drain the battery faster; that 20-minute PUBG session took 20 percent off the battery.
The 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera on the Xiaomi Redmi 6A don’t sound particularly fancy, but then again it wouldn’t be reasonably to expect too much from a budget smartphone. As such, you get capable levels of photography from the Redmi 6A for the price. In good light, you’ll get decent enough pictures, but don’t expect the phone to perform too well in low-light conditions. You also get full-HD video recording at both the front and back, which again suits most core requirements.
WATCH: Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro First Look
As the successor to the very popular Xiaomi Redmi 5A, the Redmi 6A is the subject of huge expectations. For the most part, it fulfills those expectations, offering a competent budget smartphone experience. It’s smooth enough with the basics, and provided you don’t run too many apps on the phone simultaneously or push the phone too hard, you’ll find it serving you well, with the MediaTek chipset also ensuring decent battery life.
But like the Xiaomi Redmi 5A, the Redmi 6A is going to be hard to get. You’ll have to wait for flash sales, and be quick to purchase when one comes around. But if you do manage to pick one up, you’ll find it’s perfectly pleasant for keeping in touch with your friends and family, surfing the web and even the occasional casual games. It’s definitely among our top recommendations for a phone priced at under Rs 7,000, along with the 10.or D2.