Xiaomi Pocophone, Pocophone F1 by Xiaomi & Poco F1. Multiple names one outcome – phone, that can compete performance-wise with the latest generation flagship smartphones, such as Samsung Galaxy S9, while having a price tag that’s 3 times lower. Seems too good to be true, but that’s what Pocophone F1 has done. What corners have been cut and have Pocophone F1 manufacturers gone too far to achieve such a low price point I’ll try to uncover in this review.
Though I bought this smartphone with my own money, it is not intended for my personal use, so I don’t see a reason why I’d put it above any other phone and will try to review it objectively. This post is a bit more of a first-look as I haven’t used it long enough to tell that everything is perfect just yet. If I change my thoughts about something, then this post will be updated.
Let’s dig deeper…
|Dimensions||155.5 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm|
|OS||Android 8.1, MIUI 9.6|
CPU: 8 cores (4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
GPU: Adreno 630
|Memory||256GB, 8GB RAM or 64/128GB, 6GB RAM
+ microSD card up to 256GB, that fits into SIM2 slot
|Display||IPS LCD, 6.18″, 1080 x 2246 (~403 ppi)|
|Main camera||12 MP, f/1.9, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF
5 MP, f/2.0, 1.12µm, depth sensor
Video: 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps (gyro-EIS), 1080p@240fps
|Front camera||20 MP, f/2.0, 0.9µm
One could say, that this is just another iPhone X clone. Is that bad? This is where Pocophone manufacturers have saved some money, so it’s not bad for the consumer and I’m certain that there’s a group of people who thoroughly enjoy this look. Personally I dislike “the notch” and prefer classic strip that Samsung is still using in their latest and greatest. Even Oppo Find X with its floating camera seems like a lot more elegant solution.
I’d also like to point out the large bezels which shows that some compromises where made and screen-to-body ratio was not among the highest priorities developing this phone. Then there are large round borders which seems like a waste of screen-estate. Obviously it’s not something that one needs to worry about, but the design is not as sleek as true flagship phones.
Then there’s the plastic back which someone will disprove of as it tries to mimic metal with a graphite coating. For those people Pocophone has an alternative – Armoured Edition. It uses kevlar fiber composite and looks pretty great, though I doubt that it’s bulletproof.
This is where Pocophone F1 shines and can easily compete with Samsung Galaxy S9, OnePlus 6, Xiaomi Mi 8 and other manufacturer flagship phones. The difference with other Snapdragon 845 devices is well within margin of error and correspond to 64GB/6GB RAM variant.
Display colors are good. Obviously, when it comes to contrast, OLED screens have the upper hand, but this high resolution IPS screen is more than capable and can be easily used in a direct sunlight.
Android performs as Android does – everything is perfectly fine. However MIUI is a different matter and just as with any other Android Launcher/Skin – to each his own. Personally I’ve always liked it and with MIUI 9 situation has not changed. I’d like to put an emphasis on the availability of app drawer as it’s a welcome addition to MIUI.
Phones size requires doing some finger gymnastics, however I’m not worried about it and I do enjoy big screens. Also MIUI has one-handed mode, which allows resizing screen to more ergonomic size on demand.
It’s too early to make conclusions about battery performance, but it works fine for ~2 days with average use.
Future observations will be added to this post.
The whole front is made out of Corning Gorilla Glass, which means that scratching won’t be an issue and it’ll be as fragile as most other phones made in the past couple of years. The rest of the body is made out of plastic, though I’d like to add that the strength and durability is more than satisfactory nowadays, so the only issues caused by plastic is thickness or disapproval of the design.
An issue to some will be the lack of waterproofing. Despite receiving no IP rating some have still chosen to test how Pocophone F1 will react to water. The results are actually surprising and show that this phone is likely to have received a hydrophobic coating, however I would not take Pocophone F1 on a kayaking/rafting trip.
Then there’s JerryRigEverything, also known as “The phone torturer of YouTube (in the name of science)”, who gave positive result after thoroughly torturing Pocophone F1.
One of Pocophone F1’s Achilles heel is its main camera. Although picture quality is perfectly fine, will work just fine for Instagram and selfies, and is on par with the flagships of yesteryear, it’s simply outperformed by the latest flagship smartphones.
As you can see during daylight they are decent, but once we’re into low-light we’re starting to see severe degradation, blurring, noise and exposure issues.
Another weird quirk with this phone is that Pocophone chose to put on a watermark for all pictures by default. This watermark can be removed in camera settings, but I wouldn’t call it grandma friendly UX.
I’d say this is probably one of the most significant phones for Xiaomi lately as it has brought back the good “Made in China” charm, that was present in first generations of Xiaomi, OnePlus and Google Nexus series products – great low-cost device.
I doubt that Pocophone F1 will affect brand flagship phone (Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XS & Google Pixel 3) sales, but Huawei, Lenovo, Asus and especially OnePlus will feel some pressure. Also I’d like to add that with Pocophone F1 Xiaomi is cannibalizing their own flagship phone – Mi 8.
If you need a high-end performance smartphone but don’t care about waterproofing, are contempt with average camera and don’t need NFC and Qi charging, then Phonephone F1 should be among your top picks in late 2018. Snapdragon 845 device for $300 says everything..