The whole smartphone market is now on fire. Simply because the sub – brand of a Chinese company launched a smartphone at $300 price tag but sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 & 6 Gigabytes of RAM. Say Hello to the Pocophone F1 ( Poco F1) Does this live up to its expectations?
Let’s find out – The whole phenomenon started in India, where pricing is an issue & consumers who really care about specs of the phone – ditching the so called brand consciousness. So much to the extent that Apple, which was trying hard to ground itself to the Indian tech soil – had itself uprooted by the consumers who literally want to cram every cm of space with worthy tech.
What’s Inside the Box
The Poco F1 comes in a black color box with a minimal design. There’s no representation image of the phone on the box. The box will have ‘Poco by Xiaomi’ or ‘Pocophone by Xiaomi’ depending on the region you are in (for India its Poco). Its little weird that Xiaomi choose to name the sub – brand differently in different regions.
You’ll find the sticker with the specs on the bottom. Opening the cover reveals the cardboard pouch which contains warranty & a back cover for the Pocophone. You have a USB-C type charger & a fast charging brick inside, a SIM Tray removal tool & the phone itself. NO Headphones included – the typical Xiaomi way. Now let’s take a look at the phone.
Display & Front Bezels
The Pocophone F1 features a 6.18 inches LCD Display with a screen resolution of 1080×2246 at 440ppi Pixel density. It isn’t very impressive – but nevermind for this price. A rather wide notch is present on this device as it houses the Front facing 20MP shooter, an IR illuminator with IR camera for face unlock (which works even in the dark) and an earpiece also doubling up as the stereo speaker. You don’t have an ambient display option on the Pocophone but there’s a notification LED on the bottom bezel, above the charging port & is always white.
(*IR Face Unlock in action during darkness)
The IR face unlock is exceedingly fast – better than the camera based alternatives available on competing devices of this price range but nothing compared to 3D face mapping technology found in the iPhone & Mi 8. We’re not complaining though. The most important part is that it manages to unlock the device even in pitch black darkness – which is great.
Here’s where the real competition starts though. In the current tech scenario, a smartphone’s competency to other peer devices is always ranked by the quality of images the camera can capture. The POCO F1 packs in a dual rear camera setup which is the norm these days, but sadly the second rear camera isn’t a telephoto one. It is a 5MP sensor which is just for gathering depth information – so no manual control unlike on the Mi A1.
Camera Samples (View Gallery) :
The photos taken are sharp, and turning on HDR mode does not have any noticeable difference in daylight. AI scene detection feature adjusts the White Balance according to the subject it detects. The Pocophone F1 is capable of shooting 4K at 30frames per sec. The recent MIUI 10.2.2.0 update enables super slow motion recording in 1080p at a staggering 960frames per second. The feature has been tested and the results are pretty impressive – although only 4 seconds of super slowmo recording is allowed. The stock gallery app suggests background music based on the subject & nature of slow motion using the AI capabilities & it seems to be a worthy addition.
The videos have stabilisation feature at 1080p and below resolutions & although the feature is not greyed out when 4K is selected, our tests did indicate that that 4K recordings were not being stabilised.
UI & Performance
The Xiaomi ecosystem is powered by its own customised android version – MIUI. While there is a fanboy vs haters war going on regarding the usefulness of MIUI over Android, the honest opinion of the TechBuzzIn Team is that while MIUI is feature packed, the company policy of delaying major Android version updates to its phones is dissatisfying.
The Poco F1 however features a customised version MIUI – now named MIUI for Poco & it comes with Android 8.1 Oreo (MIUI 9.6) from the box. We have received the MIUI 10 update which is based on Android Pie.
MIUI for Poco is less bloated compared to the regular Mi phones & the Operating system features an App drawer – something you never find on a regular MIUI ROM. App launches are smoother & fluid. Another thing for which MIUI was criticised was the crappy RAM management. Xiaomi seems to have fixed that on MIUI for Poco.
We tested with a YouTube video – it was paused midway through the playback & app was pushed to the background. The YouTube app was then opened two days later – we shockingly found out that the video paused was still there, on the same playhead position waiting for us to resume. A couple of games were also paused & tested & it managed to hold everything for more than a day in memory.
We ran AnTuTu Benchmark to find out the raw power of the device – remember that its running a Snapdragon 845 core.
Playing games like PUBG & Konami’s PES2019 at High Graphics was a breeze. Now that’s a very well built device for the price. Most games auto-detect the specs & configure to High Graphics options.
Liquid Cooling Technology
Xiaomi claims to have used Liquid Cooling Technology which is essentially a drop of water carrying the heat from the chipset away through a copper heatpipe. When it gets hot, the liquid in the chamber evaporates and moves to the cooler end of the pipe where it recondenses into liquid transferring the processor heat. For more information regarding this implementation watch the teardown on JerryRigEverything channel.
A word of caution – please don’t expect a metal or glass based build as there isn’t any clue of metal or glass in here. Display is protected by an unspecified version of Corning Gorilla Glass & the rest is all plastic with the exception of a Kevlar edition with specs of 8GB/256GB Internals – and it retails at $400 (28,000 INR) Xiaomi calls it as the Armoured Edition. Fingerprint Reader is well positioned below the dual cameras slightly inward & it helps to guide the fingers in. The glossy finish is smudgy but doesn’t scratch easily.
The 4000mAh battery provides enough juice to power this plastic-backed beast for 1 whole day under moderate heavy usage. To top it off, Android Pie update brought the Adaptive Battery feature seen in Pixel & Android One phones to MIUI & also the Digital Wellbeing (its hidden away in Accessibility). Presence of an extra powerful earpiece which doubles up as a stereo speaker is a welcome addition. And the headphone jack didn’t go anywhere, sweet!
Xiaomi has done too many things right in Poco F1. It has got probably everything you want, and nothing you don’t need – just like the Bio on their Instagram reads. This phone is a clear winner & a no-brainer buy for this price point. It reminds us of OnePlus – in its early days. The OnePlus no longer has the titles of flagship killer or budget flagship, it goes to Poco F1. The one thing that feels mediocre is the plastic build of the phone. When Xiaomi can afford metal on Redmi phones, why not use it in the Pocophone? It should’ve felt more premium to hold.
We’ll be doing the video review on our YouTube channel, so stay tuned for that!