Poco is Xiaomi’s subbrand which recently released their first phone – Pocophone F1, and today we will have it tested! Just to put it out there immediately, not too much attention was paid to its design – it is made of plastic and it is not waterproof. There’s a version of this device which is made of Kevlar, but you’ll have to pay extra for it. This phone doesn’t focus on the looks, but rather on performances and hardware components. It is powered by the best available chipset with water cooling, infra-red face unlock sensor, huge battery, stereo speakers and so on, but more on that a bit later.
Inside the beautiful black box, next to the phone itself, we can find user manuals, SIM tray tool, protective TPU case, USB Type-C cable and a charging adapter.
A lot of money was saved due to the choice of display placed in this phone because Xiaomi didn’t choose to go with OLED technology in this device, and instead opted for an IPS LCD panel. We have a 6.18” display with the aspect ratio of 18.7:9 which can reproduce 1080p resolution. All views are amazing due to the pixel density of 403. On top of the display there is also a notch akin to the one found on new iPhones.
Still, on direct sunlight we are not too satisfied with how this phone performed. In shadows it’s good, but when directly exposed to sunlight, reflection makes it hard to see what’s on the screen. This is not crucial by any means, but we expected more due to the panel.
Hardware and OS
The most important part of this phone is the hardware – its internals. Xiaomi’s plan was to build the best possible phone with remarkable performances for the price of a mid-ranger, and Pocophone really exceeded the expectations. This phone, for example, can directly be compared to OnePlus devices. The chipset powering this phone is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 with AI capabilities, and it is paired with 6GB of RAM and either 64 or 128GB of internal storage. There is also a version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage memory. In practice we know that plastic phones are subject to thermal throttling because they have nowhere to dissipate the heat generated by the CPU, but this was solved with the implementation of water cooling technology.
There’s not much we can say about the performances of this phone. All tasks are executed momentarily and exactly as one flagship should do it. Gaming on this handset is a phenomenal experience with high framerate. AnTuTu Benchmark showed a score of more than 265000 points which is an incredible result.
Directly out of the box, Pocophone F1 comes with Android Oreo 8.1 OS over which there is the MIUI 9.6 user interface, and the new 10.0 version should soon come OTA. This skin is specifically built for the Pocophone, including a new theme and quicker transitions and animations.
As we’ve already said at the beginning, this phone is equipped with stereo speakers. This is the standard implementation of this type of sound where the bottom, main speaker reproduces deeper sounds and the top speaker reproduces high tones. Sound quality is crystal clear and the volume is also very satisfactory. Definitely one of the best results. To the left of the main speaker is a special, infra-red projector that serves for facial unlock. This system however doesn’t map out the face like Apple’s FaceID does, which means that using the fingerprint reader should still be the safer option. It is located on the back of the phone next to the camera sensor.
Pocophone F1 comes with a double camera setup on the back. The main sensor is 12 megapixel Sony IMX363 sensor which is equipped with dual pixel PDAF technology, while the secondary sensor has the resolution of 5 megapixels and it serves to gather depth of field information. On the front panel there is a 20 megapixel selfie camera that also supports portrait mode. As we’ve already said, the Snapdragon 845 is an AI enabled chipset that turns on in the camera interface, and due to machine learning this mode significantly enhances colors and brightness depending on what you’re taking the photo of.
Photos made by the primary camera have exceptionally nicely reproduced colors that we really liked because they are realistically reproduced in the AI mode. Oversaturation and unrealistic colors are not uncommon with most brands, but we honestly like the scenes as they really are and we think that’s the way they should turn out in photos as well. In daylight they have plenty of details and they’re maximally sharp, there is no noise in shadows and the HDR mode does an amazing job fixing overexposed parts of the photo. The portrait mode also works well because even when we zoom in, it’s hard to notice any manipulation around the edges of the subject. When it comes to night time photos, here the photos are only average. You can see what’s in the photo, but a lot of details get lost when zooming in.
Selfies are also very good thanks to a great sensor, but the lack of autofocus is its main disability. It is stated that this camera has big 1.8 nm pixels which should bring excellent results in low light conditions, but in reality we have 4 adjacent pixels combined into one, so in fact this is a huge marketing trick.
Videos are captured in maximum 4K resolution at 30fps, and electronic image stabilization is supported. 1080p videos are much better stabilized and, just as the 4K videos, they don’t lack details and nice colors. Poco really captures excellent videos.
All Pocophone F1 devices come with a hybrid SIM card slot that can store either two nanoSIM cards or one nanoSIM and one microSD storage expansion card. As opposed to the upcoming OnePlus 6T, the Poco F1 on top has a 3.5mm headphone port. All new connectivity standards are supported, including Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD support, FM radio, USB OTG etc. USB Type-C reversible port is used for charging and data transfer. The only downside in the connectivity segment may be the lack of NFC which is left out for reasons unknown to us.
Supported wireless connections:
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band with Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA and hotspot
- Bluetooth v5.0 with A2DP, LE and aptX HD
- GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS and BDS support
- USB On The Go
Supported network bands:
- 2G GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
- 3G WCDMA: 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz
- 4G LTE: 800, 850, 900, 1800, 2100, 2600 MHz
Huge batteries are Xiaomi’s signature, and we have one such monstrosity here as well. There is a 4000 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 support. In around 30 minutes the phone charges up to 37%, while a full charge takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes.
These are very good results taking into account this device’s autonomy. Low screen resolution and a 10nm chipset perform amazingly together. Pocophone F1 can last a whole day of medium to high demanding use – gaming, recording videos and photos or watching YouTube videos – with around 7 hours and 40 minutes of screen on time.
If you’re thinking about giving this phone a go, think no more. Every user who choses this device will have their expectations met no matter what they ask for, whether it be excellent performance, battery, cameras or display. The price of the F1 is once again a bargain compared to what you get for it. The cheapest phone that sports a Snapdragon 845 chipset will set you back around 300 euros or even less. Definitely one of the best phones this year. Kudos to Xiaomi, once again!
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