The A1 Pro is a fantastic device if you’re looking to save a few bucks.
Smartphones are more commonly becoming something that can have a plethora of features at lower costs, making it easier than ever for consumers to get their hands on a device that while still entry-level, can offer a decent user experience through features that interest them and a style that is visually pleasing. One of UMIDIGI’s latest phones, the A1 Pro, fits very nicely in this category of devices as it doesn’t cost a whole lot and comes with some decent specs. Is this the perfect phone for those wanting to get something that doesn’t break the bank? Let’s take a closer look at the UMIDIGI A1 Pro and see how it stacks up.
This isn’t a top-tier device but that doesn’t mean that it comes with specs that are from the bottom of the barrel. For starters it has a 5.5-inch display with a full screen design, which means minimal bezels on both the top and the bottom of the display, and all that is contained in a 5-inch phone body so you get plenty of screen real estate without actually taking up as much space as some other 5.5-inch phones. It has 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, a 3,150mAh-capacity battery, and it’s powered by the MTK6739 quad-core processor from MediaTek.
The A1 Pro also comes with a dual camera setup on the back, which includes a 5-megapixel main sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor, and then another 5-megapixel sensor on the front for selfies and video chat. It’s also got a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device located on the back of the phone, in case you prefer this method to typing in a PIN or password. Lastly it comes running on Android 8.1 Oreo for the software version, it uses USB Type-C for charging and data transfer, and it offers a Dual SIM slot with Dual Standby.
In The Box
What you get in the packaging is a pretty standard setup, complete with the phone, a manual, the USB Type-C charging cable and a wall adapter, and case for the phone you can use for protection if you like to use cases. The A1 Pro also has a screen protector that’s already applied to it before you open the box, so you don’t have to worry about putting it on yourself.
Hardware & Design
Low-cost products aren’t usually thought of as being high quality, or even looking like they’re high quality, but the UMIDIGI A1 Pro has a nice design that would make anyone give it a second look. It’s stylish and looks like a phone that should cost a lot more, but it doesn’t, and that’s a good thing for any consumer who tends to buy phones that won’t cost a lot as it means they don’t have to settle for phones which look like cheap products.
The body is designed with a 4D curved glass back so it feels comfortable to hold in the hand, and because it’s glass it looks more stylish than if it were using plastic. The phone also comes with a metal frame with curved corners and although it is possible to see the seams of where the glass and metal meet each other, it feels like the glass and metal meld together pretty well to complete a seamless design. You’ll find the power button and the volume buttons on the right side of the device, while the SIM tray is on the top, keeping the left edge of the frame free of any buttons or ports. On the bottom there’s one speaker along with the USB Type-C charging port, and a 3.5mm audio port for plugging in headphones if you want to keep your music private. Overall the A1 Pro looks like a nice solid phone and it feels just as solid as it looks. The build quality is pretty good, which is all the more impressive when you realize the phone costs just $130.
Entry-level phones aren’t always the best when it comes to performance and that will become a little bit noticeable here once you start to use it more. Part of this is due to the entry-level processor and part of it’s due to the amount of RAM which sits at 3GB. This is more than enough for most tasks but once you start to use multiple apps at a time and switch back and forth between them, you’ll find that the A1 Pro stutters just a little bit. I also noticed this hiccup when playing games, and for the purposes of the review we tested out Dragon Ball Legends because its graphics are stylish and fairly high-end. When playing, the A1 Pro handles the game just fine at most parts but there is a little bit of lag here and there. Some of the normal graphics for general phone activities also show a little stuttering, such as unlocking the phone after waking the display and typing in the PIN number. You’ll notice this when swiping up on the display to open the app drawer too if you have too many apps open at a time, so this is something you may want to pay attention to though it’s easily correctable by closing down a few apps. For the most part performance here is good, but not great. However this isn’t really a bad thing as the phone does cost under $150 and it has entry-level hardware, so you’re getting performance that is really indicative of a phone at this price range.
Surprisingly, for a phone that comes at a low price point the A1 Pro has a decent display. It’s only HD resolution and not Full HD, which is the only complaint about the display which says a lot. The experience with using the phone is certainly made better with it having a full screen experience, meaning the minimal bezels above and below the panel give you more room to enjoy whatever it is you’re consuming, be it games, apps, or video. It also helps with reading or browsing as you just get more content on screen, which means less scrolling for you so there’s less interaction required from you as a user, and that’s really great if you hate smudging up your display with fingerprints.
The screen looks and feels pretty bright even when the brightness level is only at half, and the colors are decent though not as vivid as on some other phones at this price range. In addition to looking decent the display functions well, with no issues having been seen in regards to the digitizer. Every tap was recognized with ease so there shouldn’t be any problems with it over the lifetime of the device.
Smartphones come with so many features these days it’s easy to forget about one of the most important factors of any smartphone - the battery. Battery life on the A1 Pro isn’t groundbreaking or earth shattering or anything like that, but it is good and it can hold a charge for the length of the day at the least which means you shouldn’t have to worry about plugging it in multiple times before the day is over. If you’re a heavy user of your devices, you might see yourself plugging it in once but this can be easily managed by adjusting a few things like brightness and turning on the battery saver. Overall we were able to get about 6 hours of screen-on time and didn’t need to plug it in until the end of the night.
Just like with every device we put the A1 Pro through a few different benchmarks to test its capabilities. It did ok for a device in its range, and we used 3DMark for the graphics, in addition to both AnTuTu and Geekbench 4. Scores may look low if you’re only used to high-end phones, but the results are standard for entry-level devices.
While not necessarily the fastest fingerprint sensor on the market, it is accurate and that’s likely the more important factor here. There was only one hiccup with the sensor where it didn’t immediately recognize the press of a finger, but over the course of using it and having unlocked the display with the fingerprint sensor well over one hundred times, one miss isn’t too bad at all. The location of the sensor also feels comfortable as it’s placed on the back, though it could be a little bit bigger.
Phone Calls & Network
The A1 Pro boasts support for 15 LTE bands, making this a global device essentially, though it is worth noting that it will not get LTE in every country nor in every region of countries where it is supported. Normally most phones coming from China don’t support US LTE bands, but the UMIDIGI A1 Pro actually worked with a Project Fi SIM card and was able to get LTE data from T-Mobile’s network, so this is a phone you can use in the U.S. You may have to end up configuring the SIM you want to use for data, as this is what happened with our unit, but afterwards everything worked just fine and we were able to use things like the Play Store and browse the web just like any proper U.S. phone. Call clarity seemed decent too, though your experience isn’t necessarily going to be the same as it will depend on the network you use. In the end though, the phone works with U.S. carriers and it picks up LTE (for T-Mobile at least) so that’s a win.
No smartphone has perfect everything, and the same is true here with the audio on the A1 Pro. While okay, it definitely has limits and is one of the areas on the device where you can tell that it’s an entry-level product. Unfortunately the phone only has one speaker and because of its placement on the bottom it can be easy to cover up and cause the audio to sound muffled, which only makes things worse as the audio already left a little to be desired. If you prefer low-cost phones the A1 Pro is a decent device to consider, but if you also value audio and prefer good sound, you may want to stick with headphones and connected speakers when streaming music or playing games on this device.
The A1 Pro is a one in a million device in at least one respect, and that’s the fact that it comes with Android 8.1 Oreo. Now, there are quite a few phones with Oreo, but most Chinese smartphones, global models or not, tend to come with older software, such as Nougat or even Marshmallow. That isn’t the case here. UMIDIGI loaded the A1 Pro up with the newest Android software version available which means all the latest Android features and a fairly up to date security setup. That said the software is a mostly pure Android experience. There’s not a lot of extra features to contend with or enjoy, so that might be a letdown for some users. There are a couple of additions though. It has a Duraspeed feature in settings which helps to boost foreground apps by placing a restriction on apps running in the background, and it has a face unlock feature. Other than that everything else is basically what you’ll find on one of the Pixel or Nexus devices, including things like Google Assistant.
For a budget phone you’ll find a pretty decent camera on the A1 Pro. It won’t be winning any awards but it won’t disappoint most users either. Pictures come through nice and clear, with crisp details and vivid color reproduction that is nothing to scoff at. If there’s one thing to complain about it’s the speed at which the camera actually takes the picture. It feels a bit slow. Not by much, but just enough to notice it. That said it didn’t really give me any issues so unless your hands are extremely shaky during this process you should be fine.
In addition to producing some decent images, there are a handful of features in the camera software that make this an even better experience. For starters it has a few different modes. There’s the standard photo mode, a bokeh mode, a beauty mode, and a panorama mode, as well as a video mode for recording. There’s no pro mode here so you will still need to use apps like Snapseed or Lightroom if you want to tweak your images, but you will find a few adjustable settings like the filter that can be placed on the image before taking it, which you can get to by entering Photo mode, then tapping the arrow at the bottom of the UI. You’ll also be able to adjust the white balance, exposure, and a couple of other things from the settings button in the top left of the UI. That’s about it as far as camera features, but that’s more than many other phones at this price. Overall the camera experience was good and could easily be used for someone’s main camera.
Decent camera and camera experience
Works in the U.S. and connected to LTE
3.5mm audio port
Great looking design
Pretty good battery life
Big display in a small footprint
Android 8.1 Oreo software
A bit heavy in the hand
Sound quality wasn’t great
Fingerprint sensor was a tad slow
When a phone does everything it’s supposed to do and you have no really major complaints, you can’t go wrong with a device that meets those standards. The UMIDIGI A1 Pro certainly fits the bill and is a fantastic device if you’re looking to save a few bucks without having to compromise too much.
Should you buy the UMIDIGI A1 Pro?
Since it works in the U.S., gets LTE, has a decent camera and new software, and it won’t cost a lot, yes. If you’re looking for a high-end phone it may not meet your needs and wants, but if you just want a good phone that functions properly and performs well without having to spend a lot, the A1 Pro should definitely be a consideration.