Comparison: Xiaomi Mi A1 vs Honor 9i vs Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

By Hardik Singh | Published on 23 Oct 2017
Comparison: Xiaomi Mi A1 vs Honor 9i vs Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro
HIGHLIGHTS

Huawei’s Honor 9i has four cameras and an 18:9 display. Does that mean it’s the best phone to buy for all purposes? Here, we find out by comparing the phone to the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro.

The competition in the sub-20k segment has grown fierce in the past couple of months. We not only have dual camera phones in the mix, but phones with 18:9 displays as well. Then last month, Huawei launched the Honor 9i, which basically combined the two main trending features on one phone. We recently reviewed the Honor 9i and it turned out to be a decent phone. However, we have been inundated with people asking whether the Xiaomi Mi A1 is a better buy. So, to answer all your questions and more, here is a full fledged comparison between the two phones. To cover a wider audience, we have added the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro as well, which competes in the same price bracket.

Build and Design
All three phone offer a metal unibody design. This however, does not mean that all three phones feature the same build quality. From what we have observed, the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro and the Honor 9i are at par in terms of build quality. Even the button tactility on the Xiaomi Mi A1 is inferior to the other two. That being said, the positioning of the two physical buttons on the Mi A1 is better than the other phones.

While the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Galaxy J7 Pro feature 5.5-inch displays, Samsung’s phone is distinctly more ergonomic. On the other hand, the Honor 9i is as big as the Mi A1, although it manages to incorporate a larger 5.9-inch display in that form factor. The FHD+ display also makes it the best looking phone in its category, although some might find the Galaxy J7 Pro to be better looking. We should also mention that we don’t not like the camera bump on the Xiaomi Mi A1 and Honor 9i, but that’s not really a con.

All things considered, the Honor 9i emerges as the winner in the design and build section. It is well built and quite simply is the best looking phone among the three.

Winner: Honor 9i

Display
On the display front, there is no denying the fact that the Super AMOLED panel on the J7 Pro is superior compared to either of the others. Its display is bright, colour saturation is good and viewing angles are superb. On the other end, both the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Honor 9i use LCD panels, which are not as vibrant as J7 Pro’s AMOLED. All three displays are plenty sharp, but compared side-by-side, the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro takes pole position. The Honor 9i is a distant second, while the Xiaomi Mi A1 comes last.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

UI
While UI is often considered to be more a of a subjective aspect in phone reviews, it is still a very important aspect, since it can literally make or break the user experience. Among the three, Xiaomi’s A1 takes the lead, offering stock Android user interface, thanks to its association with Google for Android One. It has Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and a reworked MIUI camera app for the dual cameras. It also comes with the promise to update to Android P, which the others may or may not offer. 

Samsung has improved its UI over the years and the one on the J7 Pro is easy to use. Honor’s EMUI on the other hand comes with a bit of learning curve, but once you get acquainted, it is as simple to use as the J7 Pro. Still, this round goes to the Xiaomi Mi A1 for dropping MiUI and choosing Google’s version of Android instead.

Winner: Xiaomi Mi A1

Performance
At a chipset level, the phones are powered by three different SoCs. The Xiaomi Mi A1 is using the popular Snapdragon 625 from Qualcomm. Then we have the Honor 9i and the J7 Pro, which are powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 659 and the Exynos 7870 SoCs, respectively. While Honor and Xiaomi offer 4GB of RAM, Samsung has gone ahead with 3GB of RAM only, but you do get 64GB of storage on all three.

Out of the three, the J7 Pro seems like an average performer in day-to-day performance. It is not what one would call snappy, which shows in synthetic benchmarks. As for the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Honor 9i, both produce similar results on synthetic benchmarks. They allow decent gaming performance and equally smooth day-to-day functionality. However, we observed that the Xiaomi Mi A1 does heat up more while gaming, compared to the Honor 9i. Hence, this round goes to the Honor 9i

Winner: Honor 9i

Camera
We took multiple images from all three phones in varying light conditions and comparing the images made it quite clear that the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro has the edge here, at least in normal day time images. The phone captures decent amount of details and offers very nice colour reproduction. It is quite consistent as long as there’s ample light and the subject is not too close. However, once the lights start to get dim, the camera starts to struggle. The user is required to hold his/her position for longer and be very patient with the focus. 

L-R: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro, Honor 9i, Xiaomi Mi A1

Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

Honor 9i

Xiaomi Mi A1

The Honor 9i on the other hand does a decent job overall, but when we dive into details, exposure levels and contrast, both the Xiaomi Mi A1 and Galaxy J7 Pro seem better, at least in the comparison shots we clicked. The problem with the Honor 9i's camera is that it is inconsistent. It sometimes takes mesmerising images in odd lighting conditions, and sometimes it overexposes the subject even in controlled ample lighting.

 

Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

Honor 9i

Xiaomi Mi A1

L-R: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro, Honor 9i, Xiaomi Mi A1

The Xiaomi Mi A1, on the other hand, is more consistent with its images. The phone balanced contrast and exposures quite well throughout this shootout, although it offered similar level of detail as the Honor 9i. Images taken in low light by the camera are more grainy than the other two contenders here, but the images are not outright unusable.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

Honor 9i

Xiaomi Mi A1

L-R: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro, Honor 9i, Xiaomi Mi A1

Both the Xiaomi Mi A1 and the Honor 9i offer a bokeh mode and the two Honor 9i does a better job with this. You even get a dual camera at the front with the 9i and our tests suggest that the selfie camera is slightly better than the one on the J7 Pro, and exponentially better than the Mi A1. Overall, it is quite clear that none of the phones is a clear winner here, but if we had a gun to our head, we would favour the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro. That’s because it’s far more consistent than either of the two phones and if you have patience and enough time to shoot, it can take much better photos.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

Battery life
The Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro is the clear winner here as it has the most impressive battery life out of the three. The phone lasted for 14 hours and 39 minutes on the Geekbench battery test. On regular usage you can easily get 16-18 hours of battery life from the phone, which is quite good. The Xiaomi Mi A1 is also a decent performer and lasts more than 10 hours on the Geekbench battery test. We easily got more than a work day of battery life from the device. The Honor 9i on the other hand did not do so well on synthetic benchmarks. However, using the phone as a daily driver, we observed that the phone consumes more battery only when gaming or using the camera. Otherwise, the octa-core Kirin 659 is quite frugal and should last you almost a day. Still, it is not as good as the Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro in battery life and nor does it support quick charging 1.0 like the Xiaomi Mi A1.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro

Bottomline
The Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro is clearly the superior smartphone here, but it’s also expensive. Which is why the Honor 9i comes out to be the most value for money phone to buy in the sub-20k price ranges right now. The Xiaomi Mi A1 is a decent option too, but it can’t really hold its own against the other two devices. The choice here comes down to personal preference. If you’re willing to compromise some performance points, the Galaxy J7 Pro has a much better camera and looks good too. The Honor 9i is a functional smartphone with the newest technologies and four cameras.

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Hardik Singh

Light at the top, this odd looking creature lives under the heavy medication of video games.

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