(Pocket-lint) - With many flagship phones costing almost a grand - £1000 - it's no wonder more and more people are looking to affordable phones to buy outright. Besides, the quality offered by these devices is on the up.
Following the Xiaomi Mi A2 global announcement (on 24 July 2018 in Madrid, Spain), we pieced together this four-way versus to help you decide which phone is most suitable for you: Xiaomi, Samsung, Moto or Nokia?
Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Samsung A8 vs Moto G6 vs Nokia 7 Plus: Design
- Xiaomi Mi A2: 158.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm; 168g
- Samsung A8: 149.2 x 70.6 x 8.4mm; 172g
- Motorola G6: 153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3mm; 167g
- Nokia 7 Plus: 158.4 x 75.6 x 8mm; 183g
- All: Fingerprint scanner to rear (to front for Moto)
- All: Aluminium frame (full body for Xiaomi; 6000 series extra strength for Nokia)
To look at it's anyone's game, really. All four devices have notable top and bottom bezel (forehead and chin), yet all adopt a super-trim bezel to the sides. Of the four, however, it's the Moto that somehow looks less pristine and dated by comparison.
The Xiaomi also has the upper hand when it comes to size: it's a little more slender than its competitors, but weighs roughly the same given the more generous use of a full aluminium body, not just frame like the others. The Nokia is the weightiest of the lot, but also has a super-strong 6000 aluminium body.
Fingerprint scanners feature for each model, too, with the Moto opting for a front-facing "home" key, the other three opting for rear positions. There's no fancy under-the-screen scanners or anything like that, thus the functionality of each is much the same.
What might tempt you above all is the colour options. With the Nokia going safe with black or white on copper, the Moto offering deep blue or black, and the Samsung not loads more exciting with black, blue, grey or gold, it's the Xiaomi's standout sky blue that ticks the "unusual" box.
Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Samsung A8 vs Moto G6 vs Nokia 7 Plus: Display
- Xiaomi Mi A2: 5.99in, 1080 x 2160, 18:9 aspect ratio, IPS LCD
- Samsung A8: 5.6in, 1080 x 2220, 18.5:9 aspect ratio, AMOLED
- Motorola G6: 5.7in, 1080 x 2160, 18:9 aspect ratio, IPS LCD
- Nokia 7 Plus: 6in, 1080 x 2160, 18:9 aspect ratio, IPS LCD
In terms of display size the Samsung A8 is the smallest of all four phones, both on account of its screen and respective size. The Moto is a little larger, while the Nokia dwarfs the lot.
However, the Samsung is the only one to offer an AMOLED display, which ought to mean deeper blacks and richer colours overall. The rest are all IPS LCD panels, while resolution is approximately the same for all, so there's not a lot between them.
Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Samsung A8 vs Moto G6 vs Nokia 7 Plus: Hardware and software
- Xiaomi Mi A2 and Nokia 7 Plus: Android One
- Samsung A8 & Moto G6: Android 8.0 Oreo
- Xiaomi Mi A2 & Nokia 7 Plus: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, 4GB RAM (6GB in some regions)
- Samsung A8: Exynos 7885 Octa-core processor, 4GB RAM
- Motorola G6: Snapdragon Snapdragon 450, 3 or 4GB RAM
Here's where things get interesting: Xiaomi is typically known for using its MIUI operating system, but hasn't done so with the Mi A2. Instead, it runs Android One, which is Google's own untouched version of its operating system, designed for mid-level phones such as this. That puts the Xiaomi onto a fairly level playing field with its competition, including Nokia, which is also Android One - that means no bloat and should lead to fast updates.
Samsung and Motorola go for the more traditional full Android 8.0 with minimal additions for Moto and the Samsung Experience UX on the A8.
On the hardware front the Xiaomi and Nokia are both top of the stack with the excellent Snapdragon 660, but given how much cheaper the Xiaomi is to buy (more on that later), it's the pound-for-pound most powerful of the lot.
The Samsung is a step behind, while the Moto is the weakest offering with a step down in hardware so it might be worth considering a G6 Plus instead.
Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Samsung A8 vs Moto G6 vs Nokia 7 Plus: Battery
- Xiaomi Mi A2: 3010mAh, USB-C
- Samsung A8: 3000mAh, USB-C
- Motorola G6: 3000mAh, USB-C
- Nokia 7 Plus: 3800mAh, USB-C
To fit its bigger frame, it's the Nokia which has the most capacious battery of all four, which should mean a longer-lasting innings. The rest all fall in and around the same one-day battery life, even if each of them will argue that each is better than the other for whatever reason.
All offer USB-C for quick recharging, too, which is handy for rapid top-ups at the plug.
Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Samsung A8 vs Moto G6 vs Nokia 7 Plus: Cameras
- Xiaomi Mi A2: Dual cameras, 12+20MP, f/1.75 aperture, 1.25µm pixel size (12MP only)
- Samsung A8: Single camera, 16MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.12µm pixel size
- Motorola G6: Dual cameras, 12MP+5MP, f/1.8 and f/2.2 respective apertures
- Nokia 7 Plus: Dual cameras, 12MP+13MP, f/1.8 and f/2.6 apertures respectively, 2x zoom (13MP only), 1.4µm pixel size (12MP only)
The odd one out in the cameras department is the Samsung, which opts for a single lens, rather than the now more common dual cameras of the other three devices. Now, we wouldn't necessarily call that a problem, as a good quality camera doesn't need to rely on depth mapping and software smearing to create good looking photos. It's also the Samsung which has the widest aperture, allowing the most light to reach the sensor for greater control in low-light handheld situations.
Of the other three, it's the Nokia which offers the largest pixel size, which ought to offer decent quality. The Xiaomi offering isn't far behind on that front, while offering the most resolute output of all four devices too.
That doesn't necessarily point to any out-and-out winner in this department, however, as the way that the various apps function, are laid-out and autofocus will differ depending on various scenarios. The Nokia is slow to load, for example, while the Moto could be speedier to snap away.
Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Samsung A8 vs Moto G6 vs Nokia 7 Plus: Price and Conclusion
- Xiaomi Mi A2: from €249 (around £220)
- Samsung A8: £399
- Motorola G6: £220
- Nokia 7 Plus: £349
Price can often be the make or break point for anyone considering buying a phone. And the Xiaomi holds massive appeal here: it's the cheapest of the lot, even matching the Moto G6, despite offering more power and features.
Out of the four the Samsung is banking most heavily on its established brand, as its £399 price tag is on the steep side. The Nokia seems like slightly better value, until you realise the Xiaomi will likely be £100 less than that!
In conclusion: software doesn't come into this four-way battle like you might expect, which is good news for Xiaomi. And if price is really what leads your buying decision then, well, it's the Chinese brand that's hard to argue with.