Xiaomi has had a dream run in the last couple of years especially in India. You can gauge its popularity from the fact that in Q2,2018, top 4 out 5 highest selling smartphones in India were from Xiaomi (as per IDC). However, even with so much popularity, Xiaomi couldn’t attain the same success with its flagships in India and that’s the reason why in last few years Xiaomi has only launched two phones above Rs 20,000 in India and both didn’t do very well for the company. (Xiaomi Poco F1 review हिंदी में पढ़े)
Meanwhile, another Chinese startup, OnePlus, took a similar online route as Xiaomi and surprisingly established a firm footing in the premium smartphone segment. With its new sub-brand Poco, Xiaomi aims to challenge OnePlus in its turf, eventually.
Poco F1, the first phone the new Xiaomi brand Pocophone, too comes with a really really aggressive price. It’s the cheapest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 phone in the world that too by a wide margin (come to think of it, OnePlus also started off at nearly the same price in India a few years back).
- Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Review: Specification
- Pocophone F1 Review: Design and Build Quality
- Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Review: Display
- Pocophone F1 Review: Performance and Software
- Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Camera Review and Samples
- Pocophone F1 Review: Battery and Audio
- Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Review: Verdict with Pros & Cons
Xiaomi Poco F1 Specifications
|Model||Xiaomi Poco F1|
|Display||6.18-inch full-HD+ (1080×2280 pixels) display, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3 protection, 19:9 aspect ratio.|
|Processor||Octa-core Snapdragon 845 SoC|
|Internal Storage||64GB /128GB expandable via microSD (400GB)|
|Software||Android 8.1 Oreo-based MIUI 9.5|
|Primary Camera||12MP f/1.8,1.4µm, 4-axis OIS, dual pixel PDAF;
5 MP, depth sensor, Dual-LED dual-tone flashlight
|Secondary Camera||20MP, AI features|
|Battery||4000mAh + 18W charger (Quick Charge 3.0)|
|Connectivity||4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS/ A-GPS, USB Type-C port|
|Sensors||Infrared face recognition, Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, digital compass, gyroscope, proximity sensor, fingerprint, barometer,|
|Dimensions||156 x 75.5 x 9 mm; weight 186.5 grams|
|India Price||Rs. 20,999 / 23,999 / 28,999
Kevlar back: 29,999/-
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Review: Design and Build Quality
Xiaomi has managed to pack surprisingly awesome specs for the price but it’s once again cutting corners with the design. The Poco F1’s body is entirely made of plastic and the handset simply doesn’t inspire that premium look and feel as you’d get from most contemporary glass or metal body phone.
The soft-touch kevlar back option feels relatively better in hands but the feel is exclusive to the highest-priced model.
Xiaomi’s logic behind using polycarbonate is that all-glass body phones are more fragile therefore people slap a case which hides their aesthetic appeal anyway. Metal body, on the other hand, means they have to compromise on either battery size or weight of the phone. However, with polycarbonate, they don’t have to deal with those problems and of course, it is cheaper which helps them keep the cost of the phone within budget.
For someone whose job involves cycling through numerous phones, we’d respectfully disagree. We are all in for a well-designed polycarbonate body phone [Like, say, Vivo V9 (review) and LG Q6 (review)], but the design and how your phone looks and feels naked plays an important role in distinguishing it and has an impact on the daily experience. Even when you slap a case on it.
Chunky bezels on both chin and forehead of the screen don’t help Poco F1’s case either. Xiaomi also did some saving by not opting for oleophobic coating and the screen of the phone is a smudge magnet. Like iPhone X, the Poco F1 has a fairly big notch but all that space hasn’t been put to waste. Xiaomi has utilized it well by including an earpiece, selfie camera, IR emitter and receiver for facial recognition.
Apart from that, there’s a SIM tray on the left, customary volume rocker and power on/off key on the right, a speaker grills and USB type C port at the bottom and a 3.5 mm audio jack on top. The Poco F1 feels slightly heavy and weighs 186 grams with about 9mm waistline.
What all this means is that the Poco F1 phone is clearly not a head turner when it comes to design. In fact, competitors like the Asus Zenfone 5Z and OnePlus 6 would better fit the bill in that category. Even Nokia 7 Plus (review) and Xiaomi’s Mi A2 (review) feel more premium than Poco F1. Having said that, you can’t have it all. The extraordinary value that the base variants offers makes the design more than forgivable.
Xiaomi Poco F1 Review: Display
The Xiaomi Poco F1 sports a 6.18-inch screen with 18.7:9 aspect ratio. It’s an IPS LCD panel which has 1080×2246 pixels resolution, a contrast ratio of 1500:1 and can achieve 500nits brightness. Xiaomi is using Gorilla Glass 3 protection to protect your display from accidental scratches.
At default settings, the Poco F1 screen offers decent colors and contrast. However, we found the Poco F1 screen looks much better when we switched to increased contrast and fiddled a little with colors. Sunlight legibility wasn’t a concerned for us with this device.
Xiaomi Poco F1 Review: Performance and Software
Performance is one area where the Pocophone F1 glitters. The phone is driven by Qualcomm’s 2018 star attraction, Snapdragon 845 chipset, which gets a wingman in Andreno 630 GPU. For sustained performance, the F1 also houses a 6GB / 8GB RAM option and up to 256GB UFS 2.1 storage.
Xiaomi also claims to have used liquid cooling technology, which Samsung offers in its tops of the line Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy Note 9, to decimate heat and keep the phone temperature in control even with extensive high-end gaming.
Well, we did test the Poco F1 with back to back PUBG sessions in HD Graphics at a high frame rate. In this endurance test, the phone showed no signs of bumbling and the whole gaming session was a smooth affair. Though, it did get a little hot in the end. Multitasking experience is also right up there with the best out there.
The Poco F1 can be secured using fingerprint sensor and IR based face unlock. Whiling setting up Face ID, Xiaomi does warn you that it’s less secure than pin and fingerprint sensor.
Both the fingerprint sensor and face unlock are blazing fast. While the fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate, the face occasionally fails to recognize my face every now and them.
Now let’s jump to the software part. Like most Xiaomi phones, the Poco F1 also runs on its own custom skin i.e MIUI 9.6. However, for the Poco Sub-brand Xiaomi has made some additions and subtractions to its OS. One such addition is the Poco Launcher.
What’s good about Pocophone’s Poco Launcher?
Well, firstly it introduces an app drawer in MIUI which is what many of us have been asking from Xiaomi. The Poco F1’s app drawer seems inspired by Google’s Pixel launcher and supports similar swipe gesture and has a search bar at the bottom.
Apart from that, the Poco launcher also supports third-party icon packs. Rest of the software remains the same. Primary peeve point about the Poco F1 software is lack of DRM L1 certificate, which means you won’t be able to stream HD content via Netflix or Amazon Prime on your Poco phone. It must be mentioned that this is an issue with most of the affordable phones, even those that do have DRM L1 certificate. That’s because the phone also has to be whitelisted by Netflix and Amazon Prime before HD streaming actually works.
What else we didn’t like about the Poco F1 software is the number of pre-installed bloatware but thankfully they all are removable.
The MIUI on Poco phone does have its share of minor software bugs which we expect Xiaomi to fix it in upcoming updates.
Note: Xiaomi promised Android P and Android Q upgrade for the Poco F1. In fact, the Android P beta is already underway but many highlighted Android P features are missing in latest MIUI 10 beta build.
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Camera Review
The Poco F1 Camera seems to share most of its innards from Xiaomi’s recently launched in China – the Mi 8 which is expected to debut in India soon. The Poco phone is backed by a dual camera setup that includes a 12MP primary shooter with IMX363 Sony Sensor, large 1.4µm pixels, f/1.9 aperture and dual pixel phase detection. The second sensor on the rear is a Samsung made 5MP depth sensor. On the front, there is a 20MP selfie camera with support for pixel binning. Though, neither front nor back camera has optical image stabilization.
The camera app is the same as all other MIUI running phones. The layout is simple and clean. Sliding finger left or right changes the mode. There are a couple of toggles like flashlight, HDR and AI are given to the top.
The Poco F1 camera offers adequate results if you keep its price in mind. In daylight conditions, the images Poco F1 camera captures have good dynamic range, appear crisp and sharp on screen. At times though, the camera has the tendency to oversaturate some shots. In low light, the Poco F1 kicks in HDR almost every shot in auto HDR mode. The images it takes at the night are noisy and the software botches up lot of details.
The portrait mode is also present on the Poco F1 and actually, it works as you expect it. In most shots, it manages to detect edges of the subject and blur out backdrop. The 20MP selfie camera also performed very well in our test. It manages to take good selfies well lit out conditions. We also took some shots in portrait mode with selfie camera and results were impressive enough in daylight.
Note: These images have been resized for web. To view them in full size check out this Flickr album.
ALSO READ: Huawei Nova 3i Review – Surprisingly Good
Xiaomi Poco F1 Review: Battery and Audio
The Poco F1 comes with a massive 4000mAh battery which is better than its immediate rivals OnePlus 6 and Asus Zenfone 5Z. We have been using the phone for almost a week now and not for once the battery disappointed us. Even after heavy usage that includes gaming, web surfing, multiple social media apps, calling and music and video sessions it manages to last comfortably for a day with some left in the tank.
To refill this massive battery, Xiaomi includes Quick Charge 3.0 and bundles an 18W charger inside the box. When we put it to test it was able to recharge about 40 percent of exhausted battery in 30 mins.
As for sound, the Poco phone uses a loudspeaker placed at the bottom and earpiece to create a stereo effect. With Dirac HD Sound support it does gets decently loud compared to what we usually see at this price point. However, while making calls the audio coming from the earpiece isn’t as crisp as it should be.
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Review Verdict: Should You Buy It?
The Poco F1 offers extraordinary value for money. While it may not glamours as the OnePlus 6 or the Asus Zenfone 5Z, we can still wholeheartedly recommend it to power users looking for a mid-range phone. The Poco F1 offers great hardware, a reasonable set of cameras, and long-lasting battery. These are precisely attributed that mid-range buyers look for and they are also tough to score in this budget.
With such aggressive pricing, Xiaomi is certainly going to kill all competition ranging in the broad price bracket of Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000. Let’s see if Xiaomi’s production lines can match the high demands.
Xiaomi Poco F1 Pros and Cons
- Dependable Performance
- Feels solid
- Excellent Battery life
- Good cameras for the price
- Average Display
- Not so appealing design
- Camera lacks OIS
- No DRM certification for HD streaming