Xiaomi has introduced its new sub-brand Pocophone aimed at providing the best-performing specifications at provoking prices, and the first phone POCO F1 has landed with a bang that will be heard around the globe. With the insane pricing of a mid-range smartphone, the Poco F1 puts all of its competitors to shame.
Poco F1 has the soul of a flagship, with most of its internals borrowed from the Xiaomi Mi 8 and sparkling features such as IR face unlock, a minimal version of MIUI, and dedicated liquid cooling technology. Xiaomi err… Pocophone has not wasted any effort in fancy traits and has kept everything as minimal as possible. But the smartphone has a lot of exciting things going for it.
In just a few minutes with the Poco F1, I was feeling mesmerized. And while team Beebom is already working hard to get you an in-depth review of the smartphone, here are the initial impressions I have about the phone.
Design and Build
Poco F1 is designed for users who prefer function over form and the easy-going design is ideal to showcase this trait. The front has an uncanny resemblance to the Mi 8 and the Mi 8 Explorer Edition while the back is somewhat reminiscent of the camera and fingerprint sensor placement on the Redmi Note 4 and Note 5. However, the red accent around the lenses give it a distinct appeal.
Pocophone’s choice of a polycarbonate back over a glass or metal one may have helped it save a lot of cost but I did not feel attracted towards it. Despite claims about a metal reinforcement and a seven-layer treatment, the Poco F1’s rear puts up the same experience as intended – that of plastic – and nowhere premium.
The buttons placed on the right edge of the device feel solid and tactile but they might trouble users with big fingers. The Poco F1 sports stereo speakers – with one speaker on the bottom edge of the device, which is easily blocked while playing games, and another within the earpiece.
The smartphone also puts the notch to a fruitful use by placing an infrared flood illuminator and an infrared camera for accurate face unlocking in low light. Overall, the Poco F1 does not have a premium aura in terms of design but its price eliminates any potential for complaints. For a more premium feel, you can opt for the armored version which comes with triple layer Kevlar and a textured design.
The Poco F1 features a 6.18-inch Full HD+ IPS display which is identical to the Mi 8 in terms of dimensions. However, unlike the Mi 8’s AMOLED display, Poco F1’s screen has a cooler color tone because of the differences in technology. It also leads to a significant increase in the thickness of the smartphone and results in chamfered edges compared to the more seamless build of the Mi 8.
In terms of color reproduction or the overall quality of the display, Poco F1 is not bad in any way – although I wish the chin and the surrounding bezels were smaller. Pocophone is not claiming specifics about the generation of Gorilla Glass which protects the device but that hints at the use of an older version instead of the latest Gorilla Glass 6.
The Poco F1 is equipped with a combo of 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel sensors on the back. Like all other manufacturers, the company is billing AI scene detection and enhancements.
The primary rear camera sensor on the F1 is the same as Mi 8, while the secondary sensor is different. However, that barely makes any difference to the quality of shots that this device is capable of.
While we have yet to spend a sufficient amount of time to pass a solid verdict, I feel that the camera is proficient and captures ample light without losing out on real colors. The secondary camera does a a good job at identifying edges and tracking them consistently even if you move the device.
The AI is capable of identifying 25 different scenes such as food, plants, flame, automobile, clouds etc. and automatically adjusts the setting accordingly.
On the front lies a 20-megapixel sensor which takes some stunning selfies. There is an AI beautification feature that should take care of the blemishes on your face and hopefully make you look more cheerful if not necessarily younger. There’s portrait mode here too, and I prefer its output over the rear camera’s portrait shots.
One of the key selling points of the Poco F1 is its Snapdragon 845 chipset which is not only unusual but also shocking looking at the price. To keep heat at bay, Xiaomi is using a dedicated thermal dissipation setup, which is also surprising looking at the price. The copper conduit used inside the Poco F1 is used to circumvent heat from the processor to the lower part of the phone which might be relatively cooler.
The processor is paired with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM while you get options between 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB for the storage. But if you still desire to extend the storage, you can insert a microSD card in the Hybrid SIM slot. You also get a massive 4,000mAh battery which should suffice for a day’s worth of heavy usage.
Pocophone has introduced a new Android skin called “MIUI for POCO” which is a midway experience between the traditional MIUI and stock Android. Noticeable changes include a cleaner panel for quick toggles and notifications, a customizable app drawer, and even support for third-party icon packs. Automatic categorization of apps and sorting inside the app drawer on the basis of icon colors are some of the delightful features of the POCO launcher.
Xiaomi has also optimized the background processing for effective management of available resources so that the device remains lag-free. The “Turbocharged engine” results in 28% faster loading of apps. We will be putting all these claims to the test soon, but I can guarantee you that the app launching speed is on par with the OnePlus 6 at the very least.
Pocophone also claims that UI optimizations result in faster response to swipes and that the AI will optimize the system over time to keep it as breezy as a new phone. However, I did find the animations to be slower than my expectations which were set high after using OnePlus 6 for a significant time.
Lastly, Xiaomi has also assured that the device will get Android Pie update before the end of this year as well as security updates at least every quarter and that it will strive to improve upon the delivery of updates.
Poco F1: Price and Availability
The Poco F1 undercut many contenders to the crown of aggressively-priced flagships by a huge margin. It starts at Rs 20,999 for the 6GB+64GB model and goes up to Rs 29,999 for the 8GB+256GB Armoured Edition. There is virtually no competitor that can challenge Xiaomi’s pricing for this phone, which is likely to drive most of its sales. The company has cut costs but makes up for it by strapping on the latest processor, great cameras, and IR facial authentication.
Xiaomi is expected to hold the first sale for the Poco F1 on August 29 and the device can be bought from Flipkart and Mi.com while there is no mention of offline availability. There was no mention of a flash sale either but given the great specifications and bargain pricing, there’s going be a huge demand for this phone.
Meanwhile, as I recover from the shock of the F1’s pricing, tell us about your expectations from the device in the comments below.