- Insanely Affordable
- Raw Performance
- Good Thermals
- Impressive Battery Life
- Decent Display
- Decent camera
- Lack Of OIS On Camera
- No Water Or Dust Resistance
- Lack Of Aesthetics
The Pocophone F1 brings two different category together that we thought that it can never happen - that is affordability and flagship performance. It offers best in class performance, impressive thermals and amazing battery life at a price point we have never imagined. It is indeed the Master of Speed. For the price, we at The Adventures of Vesper strongly recommend it and looks like we have a new Winner for the Vesper Choice Awards. :)
Earlier in August, Pocophone, a sub brand from the infamous Smartphone company Xiaomi made their debut. In fact, they unveiled their first phone – the Pocophone F1. This phone offered flagship grade specification under the hood at an affordable price tag. We were given the opportunity to use the Pocophone F1 for a bit of time. It’s time for us to give our final verdict – in this Pocophone F1 Review.
Design & Build Quality
The Pocophone F1 is a no frills smartphone, and has a very basic design which won’t win any design awards. It comes with a plastic back, or a polycarbonate back if you prefer the more fancy synonym to plastic. There’s also one with a Kevlar back though we didn’t manage to get our hands on such a unit. This rear panel is accompanied by smooth curves which I must say aids in gripping the device. Also, the dual-camera setup, dual-LED flash, as well as a fingerprint scanner are also present on the back. Moving down, the “POCOPHONE by Xiaomi” inscription is engraved, along with other product details. Meanwhile, on the right-hand side of the smartphone, the power button and volume keys can be found. The SIM card / SD card tray is present on the left-hand side.
Now, on the front, a large 6.18-inch IPS LCD panel with a rather large notch which houses the selfie camera, earpiece, and infrared scanner is there. The screen itself comes with rather curvy edges which does take up a bit of screen real estate though not much. On to the bottom, it houses the mono speaker, and also the USB Type-C port. At the top, the endangered and prized 3.5mm headphone jack is still present thankfully.
As for build quality, I must commend Poco / Xiaomi for building it really well while keeping the price down. It feels solid in my hand, and I believe it should hold up to a few drops with its plastic backing. Also, fingerprint smudges won’t be left behind on this device, save for the fingerprint scanner. On top of that, the ports feel secure, and buttons are responsive yet sturdy. The only thing the design of the Pocophone lacks is water and dust resistance. However, at this price, it is totally understandable.
Specification & Benchmark
The Pocophone F1 is available in two configuration for the Malaysian Market. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 clocked in at 2.8GHz coupled with 6GB RAM under the hood. As for the storage, it comes with two different configuration – the base variant starts at 64GB and a higher variant with 128GB storage.
Below here, you’ll find the benchmark scores. We tested on Antutu, Geekbench and the usual CPU-Z to verify the hardware inside the phones. Take note that the benchmark scores only show the maximum performance a phone could give under maximum load. Other than that, do not expect the scores to reflect exactly to your day-to-day usage – as it varies.
In order to keep the cost down, Xiaomi had to opt for a IPS LCD panel, instead of an OLED one that is found on the Mi 8. However, the company did a good job with the IPS LCD screen, but more on that later. The screen on the Pocophone F1 is 6.18-inch and sports a resolution of 1080p. It has a rather weird aspect ratio of 18.7 : 9 with a pixel density of 403ppi. Now, why do I say that Xiaomi did a good job with the screen? Well for starters, it has a rather broad range of brightness, making it great for use outdoors and indoors. I had no issues at all with brightness, though if the display is intentionally faced directly towards the sun, content may be illegible.
Content viewing was a joy on this large display, and it’s one of the best LCD displays I’ve used in recent times. Colour reproduction is surprisingly accurate, and also blacks are deep but don’t expect the kind of blacks found on an AMOLED display. During my time with it, I’m glad to report that I didn’t find any issues with the display.
Performance is something the Pocophone has been heavily advertised for, and the ads don’t lie! The “Master of Speed” is a beast when it comes to performance, likely thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 6GB of RAM packed into it. Also, a high-end cooling system has been included in the device, consisting of a copper pipe running along the surface of important components. Now, when the components heat up, the liquid in the pipe evaporates and moves to the other end of the pipe to recondense. Thus, the heat is dissipated and the device is kept cool.
Everyday usage was fun, and I didn’t experience any let downs when scrolling through social media or gaming. However, the camera app does lag occasionally especially when using portrait mode. Nonetheless, I believe this issue is to do with the camera app itself, which a software update should be able to fix. Now, if you’re into gaming, then this is the smartphone for you. I played graphically intensive games such as PUBG: Mobile and Asphalt 9 on the highest graphics. During gaming, the device didn’t experience any stutters or lag, and I managed to get multiple Chicken Dinners with it! Also, the Pocophone F1 managed to stay cool throughout prolong gaming periods which lasted upwards of 2 hours. Honestly, I’ve never found a smartphone which stays so cool during gaming, and I give props to Xiaomi for achieving such.
Battery Life & Charging
The Pocophone F1 happens to pack a 4,000mAh battery and this was a good move by Xiaomi to include such a high capacity one. On average, a full charge would last me at least 24 hours, and even then I would be left with about 25% or so. Also, I managed to squeeze in about 6 hours of Screen-on-Time on a daily basis without fail. My day-to-day usage of the device consisted of social media browsing, lots of YouTube, and also a couple of hours of gaming. Of course, my usage may vary from yours, so battery life will also depend on that.
As for charging, the Pocophone F1 is bundled with a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 charger, and charging is quite fast. In my test, the included charger managed to juice up the battery from 0% to 100% in about 2 hours.
Rear Camera Interface
It’s 2018 and it’s rare to find a phone with a single camera. The Pocophone F1 isn’t one of those rarities and sports a dual-camera setup on its rear. The main camera is a12MP Sony IMX363 sensor with large 1.4µm pixels and dual pixel phase detection autofocus. Coupled with the sensor is a rather large f/1.9 aperture and dual-LED flash. Meanwhile, the secondary camera is a 5MP sensor and it takes in depth information.
In true MIUI fashion, the camera modes are arranged side by side and can be switched by swiping left and right. Modes that are available include Photo, Short Video, Video, Portrait, Square, Panorama, and Manual. Above, toggles for flash, HDR, AI, filters, and options can be found. In the manual mode, aspects which can be adjusted are white balance, shutter speed, ISO, and focusing.
When it comes to image quality, the Pocophone F1 doesn’t disappoint, and delivers excellent images- at least in daylight. The images come out sharp, and fine details are kept intact. Colour reproduction is also accurate, with the right amount of contract. Dynamic range is good, though it could have been slightly better. The AI option on the smartphone works, but it won’t do any wonders. Unlike most other brands, it doesn’t oversaturate pictures to make it look more punchy, and only tweaks images ever so slightly. Anyway, I turned off the AI mode after awhile, as I find it more of a gimmick than a useful tool. Portrait mode works well, though the camera app failed a couple of times when using this mode.
Now, when it comes to low light shots, the Pocophone F1 fails to impress. Most images lack detail, and sometimes come out blurry. In dark conditions, if you leave the Auto HDR mode on, it will consistently implement HDR. This mode will reduce the noise in images though it will lose detail and sharpness. However, if you turn Auto HDR off, images will come out with more noise, though details and sharpness is preserved. Of course if you zoom into any of the images in any mode, they will be blurry. The f/1.9 aperture does help overall with the brightness, but if Optical Image Stabilisation was included, images would definitely be better.
Front Facing Camera
Sporting a 20MP camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and pixel binning technology, the Pocophone F1 delivers stunning selfies. Details and sharpness is great, with colour reproduction also on point. Even in low light, great selfies can still be shot with minimal lost of detail. Being typical MIUI, it comes with a beautify mode which I instantly turned off as shots look extremely fake with it.
Portrait mode is also available and it has been implemented quite well, with its edge-to-edge detection doing a great job. Shots taken on this mode come out with a nice blur, and keeps the main subject in focus.
If you would like to view all captured images in their full resolution, do take a look at this Flickr album.
Security & Speakers
On the security side of things, the Pocophone F1 comes with a host of ways to unlock, including a face unlock. This mode works well, depending on whether you wear any sort of apparel on your face. Being someone who wears glasses, I took them off to register my face, and it worked flawlessly. However, once I put my glasses back on, it became a hit or miss affair. More often than not the face unlock failed to detect my face with my glasses on. This feature worked extremely fast when I took off my glasses though, and I would accidentally unlock it when I try to view the time. It also has an IR scanner up top to work with the face unlock feature. Using it in dark conditions, I failed to see any slow down in unlocking times.
Xiaomi also included a fingerprint scanner on the rear, and it works extremely well. Registration is quick, and unlocking the device is near instant.
The Pocophone F1 gets a stereo speaker treatment as well. The primary driver is still located at the bottom and the earpiece acts more like a tweeter. The sound quality is decent and nice. At maximum volume, it didn’t have any sort of distortion. This may vary according to the format that you are listening to.
UI & OS
The Pocophone F1 rocks Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box with MIUI 9 on top of it. However, the MIUI on this device has been slightly modified and includes an app drawer. This customised version is called MIUI by Poco, and comes with a new Poco default theme. What sets it apart from the regular MIUI is faster animations and apps launch faster too. Also, if you open up the app drawer and swipe to the right, apps will be categorised. For example, Banking apps will on one page, while Games will be on another. Navigation can be done via the on-screen buttons though there is the option to switch to gesture mode which is rather smooth.
If you don’t like the new MIUI by Poco theme, you have the option to switch to countless of other themes available on the Theme Store. Other than that, all other MIUI features are maintained such as Mi Drop, Dual App, and all others. They even announced that unlocking the bootloader won’t void the warranty. They have even made the Kernel source for the public – to make Android Enthusiast use custom ROMs or AOSP on their phones. A move no one expected from a company. Impressive.
The Pocophone F1 brings two different category together that we thought that will never happen again – that is affordability and flagship performance. It offers best in class performance, impressive thermals and amazing battery life at a price point we have never imagined. It is an extremely great flagship phone from Poco. Granting it the title of flagship killer – killer is no brainer, and gives competitors such as the OnePlus a run for its money. I guess, the brand that boasted the “Never Settle” tagline has settled.
While there are some setbacks to keep the price low such as its plastic design and average camera, the Pocophone F1 is still one to look out for. If looks do matter to you, then you can consider the Xiaomi Mi 8 which we will be reviewing soon, the Mi Mix 2S and the Asus Zenfone 5Z which we reviewed earlier – that is also available under RM 2000. None the less, at this price point – the Pocophone F1 is a phone that you can get without thinking twice.
If you’re interested in picking up a Pocophone F1, you may pick one up from Lazada or a Mi Authorised Reseller for RM 1,299 while the top spec variant costs RM 1,499.