Honor 9i vs Xiaomi Mi A1 : Can the budget king be defeated?

Xiaomi Mi A1

The Xiaomi Mi A1 running stock android has made its name known as one of the best smartphones, if not the best in the budget sector. However, Huawei has released a new device in their sub-brand, Honor, that aims to dethrone it from the position it holds. So how does it stack up against Xiaomi’s budget beast?


The Honor 9i and Xiaomi Mi A1 both feature metallic designs that provide a premium, close to flagship quality look. While the Mi A1 is a beautiful device on its own, it cannot compete with the Honor 9i’s more futuristic approach with its thin bezels, rounded corners, and matte texture of its back. The Mi A1 is still not to be faulted in the design department with its slim chassis and solid build quality. The overall simple, refined look the smartphone helps it stand its ground against competitors such as the Honor 9i.


The Xiaomi Mi A1 features a 5.5 inch 1080 x 1920 pixels display with a pixel density of 403 PPI. The Honor 9i, on the other hand, features a 5.9 inch 1080 x 2160 pixels display which has an 18:9 aspect ratio and a slightly higher pixel density of 409 PPI. Both devices utilize IPS LCD screen technology and the Mi A1 unlike the Honor has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for extra screen protection. Both devices have excellent displays which are both punchy and vibrant. The screen of the Honor 9i will ultimately be the one to watch with its futuristic design.


The Mi A1 has a 3080 mAh battery that should provide excellent battery backup when paired with such a power efficient chip as the Snapdragon 625. There is also fast charging on board through the Type C connector which the Honor 9i does not feature with its micro USB 2.0 connector to charge up its own 3340 mAh battery. As far as battery life is concerned, we can expect a good battery performance from both devices.


The Xiaomi Mi A1 is the safest bet when it comes to performance with an octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor, clocked at 2.0 GHz that is backed up by 4 GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the Honor 9i has a HiSilicon Kirin 659, one of Huawei’s in-house processors which is an octa-core chip with 4 Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2.36 GHz and another 4 at 1.7GHz and backed up by 4 GB of RAM. On paper the Honor 9i processor looks the best of the two, but there can be many lags and frame drops expected from general day to day use and graphic-intensive games due to its Mali – T830 MP2 GPU which does not provide as much graphic power as the Adreno 506 GPU in the Mi A1 that will be able to handle most graphic-intensive apps without too many frame drops and stutters, although this is expected from such a device.

Xiaomi Mi A1


Generally, a comparison between Xiaomi and Huawei will feature their custom UI’s, namely MIUI and EMUI. This is where the Xiaomi Mi A1 has one of its greatest advantages over the Honor 9i as it is part of the Android One program and ships with a stock Android software with the promise of timely updates. The user experience is also better as it is not a clunky, bloated software and this helps the device be quicker with very little lag. The Honor 9i’s EMUI software is a mixed bag as it is a heavy, bloated software that can be frustrating at times. There are many extra features that Huawei has been able to integrate that make the user experience that small bit better but it is no match for the timely updates and more efficient power efficiency that stock android on the Mi A1 provides.


The Mi A1 features dual 12 MP back cameras. One is a wide angled f/2.2 sensor and the other being a telephoto sensor with a slower f/2.6 aperture. This set up is similar to what we saw on the iPhone 7 plus, but being a budget smartphone, we can’t expect rivaling quality. This setup allows for 2x optical zoom and the popular new trend, depth of field effects (bokeh shots). The Honor 9i is also capable of such bokeh shots with its impressive camera hardware. It features 4 cameras, a 16 MP and 2 MP duo on the back of the device and 13 MP and 2 MP on the front. Both the back and front back cameras feature depth of field effects. The Mi A1 has been proven to take sharp, crisp images and it does not falter, successfully exceeding the picture quality the Honor 9i can capture. Bokeh shots on the Mi A1 are of a better quality than those of the Honor 9i. The selfie camera of the Honor 9i will be of a better quality than those of the Mi A1’s 5 MP sensor, however, the Mi A1 is still a capable selfie shooter.

Conclusion: Which is the better option?

Taking all factors into consideration, the Mi A1 is the clear winner between the two with its stock software and better all-around performance. The Honor 9i does have a more futuristic design and has four cameras, but they underperform and let down the device as a whole. The Mi A1 is also more affordable at INR 14,999 compared to the Honor 9i’s INR 17,999 price tag and provides a better user experience. The Xiaomi Mi A1 retains its position at the top of the budget sector.

Was my verdict correct according to you? Do you think that the Honor 9i is a better phone than Xiaomi Mi A1? Let me know your views. 

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​16 year old A-Level Student in the Seychelles. Huge fan of all things tech and a football player in the Seychelles First Division in the under 21 age group