Xiaomi is undoubtedly a household name when it comes to affordable smartphones. And yet the company has managed to raise the bar yet again in terms of pricing and performance with its new device — the Xiaomi Pocophone F1. Before we go on to the review in proper, we know a lot of Xiaomi fans would surely ask, is Xiaomi Pocophone F1: made by Xiaomi?
So far, Poco F1 gets it right with performance, camera and battery life, which is important on any phone
- Excellent performance
- Good camera
- Extremely competitive price
- Long battery life
- Kevlar version is eye-catching and unusual
- Software glitches ruin experience
- Currently import only
- Not all listed features active yet
The F1 comes in three colors – Graphite Black, Steel Blue, and Rosso Red. There’s also an Armoured Edition with Kevlar Aramid fiber. For this hands-on, we’re taking a look at the Steel Blue model. One of the first things you’ll notice about the F1 is its large screen. It’s a 6.18-inch display with a thick notch at the top. This notch houses the 20MP front camera, earpiece, proximity sensor, infrared lens, and infrared lighting. Down below at the center of the chin is the notification LED.
Found on the left side of the device are the volume and power/lock buttons. They’re plastic but firm, clicky, and easy to reach. Up top are the 3.5mm audio port and the secondary microphone, while down below are the loudspeaker, main microphone, and the USB Type-C port.
Flip it on its back and you will see the dual rear cameras, fingerprint scanner, and the LED flash. Quality-wise, the F1 feels far from the premium glass and metal I’m accustomed to, but it looks and feels really good for something that is made of plastic. The hard-coated polycarbonate unibody is solid, it doesn’t creak when squeezed or sound hollow when tapped. The finish is also able to resist fingerprints and smudges well.
At 182g it’s already hefty so I’m starting to appreciate the use of polycarbonate to keep the weight in check. It’s tall and a bit wide so navigation of the UI would often require both hands. And if you’re worried about scratches and bumps, don’t worry as Pocophone included a jelly case in the package.
The Pocophone F1 features a 5.99-inch IPS LCD display, featuring a resolution of 1080 x 2246 pixels (18:9). At 416dpi, the pixel density is high enough to make pixels unnoticeable. Colors are nice and punchy, though OLED would’ve obviously got you better contrast rates and viewing angles. The only minor issue worth noting is outdoors legibility – at full brightness, text can be a little smudgy.
While the screen itself is great, its oleophobic coating isn’t. The glass was covered in smudges as soon as we took the phone out of the box.
The Pocophone F1 does not have always-on display functionality. You can, however, double tap the screen to wake it up, which is always welcome.
Pocophone F1 specs and hardware features
The Pocophone F1 will be available in three memory-storage combinations: 6GB/64GB, 8GB/128GB, and 8GB/256GB. All three versions feature the Snapdragon 845 processor (10nm octa-core with Adreno 630 GPU). That’s quite impressive for a phone that sells for under $500.
Poco F1 creates a lot of hype in the performance department, and so far in the course of my review it has managed to live up to most of the claim. Now, keep in mind that I have the premium variant for review which has 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Still the Snapdragon 845 processor means that performance is not a problem on this device.
Switching between apps, opening multiple apps, running games like Asphalt 9, Nova Legacy, etc, all of it works without any problems. Does the device heat up significantly? After all liquid cooling is one of the big claims made by this phone. I did not notice that during the gaming sessions with Asphalt 9, though I have to admit I’m not playing PUGB, etc on this.
When it comes to imaging, the F1 sports a 12MP main rear shooter with the Sony IMX363 sensor, which is the same sensor found on the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S which got a score of 97 at DxOMark Mobile. The secondary camera, on the other hand, is handled by a 5MP Samsung sensor. For selfies, it has a 20MP camera.
As expected, images produced are good as they’re sharp with punchy colors and great dynamic range. Low-light performance is also good and was able to preserve details while keeping the noise down. We can attribute the performance to the camera’s built-in AI capabilities and image stabilization. Selfies are good as well, especially in bright conditions. It’s sharp as it has plenty of resolution to go around and comes with bokeh and beauty effects.
As for video recording, the F1 maxes out at 4K resolution at 30fps. There’s no 60fps option here, even at 1080p. Quality is as good as stills with dynamic range and colors. There’s EIS, although works best when recording at 1080p. For slow motion, there’s the Video HFR (High Frame Rate) which can record up to 1080p at 240fps.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software is MIUI for POCO (MIUI 184.108.40.206 Stable) based on Android 8.1 Oreo which is basically a slightly customized version of Xiaomi’s MIUI. It has multiple home screens but also has an app drawer that you can bring out by swiping up. The apps are pre-arranged by category but you can add your own tab.
Other features include the ability to hide the notch, Second Space which allows you to make your own private home screen, Button and Gesture navigation, Dual Apps, a Security app, and App Lock. Since it’s based on Xiaomi’s MIUI, we can expect new features to be developed for it as well.
Speaking of apps, we have the usual Google suite of apps, as well as pre-installed ones from Microsoft, Facebook, and Lazada. Overall, I’m getting 52.6GB of usable space out of the 64GB. Good thing Pocophone decided to make this expandable and has support for a microSD card but in a hybrid setup.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the F1 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Adreno 630 GPU, 6GB or 8GB RAM, and a 4,000mAh battery with QC 3.0. As expected, performance is great and it was able to keep things running smoothly. The fingerprint scanner and face unlock feature are very fast and responsive. Even games like PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends, and NBA 2K18 are easily playable in high settings.
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 OS & Battery
Poco F1 also comes with a 4000 mAh battery which is easily one of the biggest pros of the phone. It will easily last a day. I watched 2 movies on this (around 2 plus for each) along with YouTube, WhatsApp messages buzzing in, etc and the phone dropped to only under 50 per cent. One thing is clear, with Poco F1, one does not have to worry about charging this every day. Still charging the phone does take longer than two hours.
The Pocophone F1 became a wakeup call not just for consumers but for other smartphone brands as well. Here is a device that delivers flagship performance, feels good, doesn’t have a lot of fancy features or tech, but is offered at a price that we normally see in mid-range devices. For plenty of users, this is a big win, and definitely not overpriced. For some smartphone brands, it kind of ruined a lot of things.