With flagship-grade chip sets, large batteries, bright displays and tantalizingly capable cameras for a low price, the Pocophone F1 is an exciting new entry for the smartphone game. But for some niggles, this is almost the right budget phone.
|Big, bright displayClass-leading powerExcellent battery life||A few bugs and quirks Limited availability No OIS|
Xiaomi is a name that is not widely known in the Western world, at least well-versed in consumer techscape. The firm has built a reputation for making attractive, powerful tools at rock-bottom prices, earning a commanding position in the Indian and Chinese markets, particularly in the last five years.
It is now getting deeper on this path, because now Xiaomi has brought an even cheaper handset Pocophone F1.
No such specification has been seen at such a price since the original OnePlus One, the Pocophone 1 has a lot of handsets sold for £ 1000 / $ 1000 / AU $ 1,500, but for very little.
That specifically means a Snapdragon 845 chipset, a dual-lens camera with 64GB or 128GB storage, 6GB or 8GB RAM, and a 4,000mAh battery. Given that it is starting at £ 309 (about $ 390, AU $ 555) in the UK on Amazon, but is selling for £ 349 (about $ 440, AU $ 630) in the UK, the question remains Is how it can be made for such a low price.
Pocophone F1 release date and price
- Out now in the UK
- Starts at 309£ (roughly 390$, 555$AU)
Pocophone F1 prices start at £ 309 (about $ 390, AU $ 555) directly from Xiaomi, with prices going up depending on configuration and retailer.
There are four variants, three of which are main – 6 GB RAM with 64 GB storage, 6 GB RAM with 128 GB storage, 8 GB RAM with 256 GB storage.
An ‘armored version’ also exists, packing 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage but trades a polycarbonate build for solid Kevlar, but is not yet available to purchase in the UK. Nor, for this case, is the typical 8GB RAM model.
Xiaomi phones are not directly on sale in the US right now, and the firm is yet to officially expand to Australia.
Minimalist, durable design
- Plain but strong design
- Armored version provides greater durability
One thing is sure about the Pocophone F1 – it doesn’t feel like a piece of precision-engineering.
While the likes of Honor and Nokia are all for bringing glass and metal all-screen designs to the lower price bracket, Xiaomi is making a different route.
Pocophone is a plastic construction similar to the original Oneplus One. It is not fair to say that it looks cheap (in fact it feels durable and reliable), but it lacks a more premium design sense. It is almost utilitarian in its minimalism, so those who like to express themselves through their phones will want to invest in a skin or a case.
The front of the phone has a 6.18-inch, 18.7: 9 aspect ratio display, which is surrounded by an oversized notch at the top. It has an infrared face sensor (fast, but not secure) and a 20MP f / 2.0 selfie camera.
The bottom also has a thick chin, which means that the Pocophone F1 is not designed to compete with big flags at every point.
Our review model comes in matte polycarbonate painted navy blue, other models come in red or lar kevlar ‘, the latter providing extra durability.
In short, it’s not for the world’s fashionistas and glitterati, although for power users – or those who value longevity in their handsets – the design will be a breath of fresh air.
It is an annoying experience to see a beloved £ 1000 / $ 1000 glass sandwich in slow motion towards an ineffective pavement. Plastic handles these effects far better than these hard materials. Saying this, it does not conduct heat as well as metal devices, meaning that overheating may be an issue a few years down the line.
The armored version is undoubtedly superior to the polycarbonate variant. The good thing about it is that it is not slippery or fragile, so you do not need to put a case on the back such as the OnePlus 6, Honor 10 or Asus Zenfone 5Z.
Its look is not the most complicated part of the phone, but in practice it is a welcome balance between form and function. In fact, if you are a fan of the old Motorola design with a textured back then the armored version in particular will feel right at home.
This is a phone whose design is for everyone, is completely unique in the market at the moment, there are some trends and updating them for the modern era.
Pleasing, the camera bump at the rear is kept to a minimum, and the easy-to-find fingerprint reader works both quickly and reliably.
Weighing 182 grams and 8.8 mm thick, in combination with the larger screen, this is not a tool for easy one-handed use. But it is a design that includes a large battery and a headphone jack, so many are sure to please for that reason.
- 6.18-inch 1080 x 2246 screen
- Can get bright, although auto brightness is erratic
Pocophone F1 has a 6.18-inch FHD + (1080 x 2246) display, which is coated with Gorilla Glass 3. Although it is not the latest version, it does come with its own merits. Previous versions, such as the 3, were more resistant to scratches, meaning it would be slightly better in a pocket full of coins when less shatterproof.
This is another in the long trend of manufacturers giving up their 2K dreams of many years ago. Instead, Full HD + panels have appeared with a vengeance, offering lower pixel density, but with significant trade-offs in improved battery endurance and improved overall performance.
Needless to say, the screen can reach both very dim and very bright levels, although the auto brightness is quite irregular.
Color reproduction was a bit quiet for our tastes, but the MIUI software has substantial screen tuning capabilities. We switched to the ‘Warm’ preset, which improved things considerably.
The tall 18.7: 9 screen may no longer be the latest trend in the market, although it creates an immersive viewing experience on the Pocophone F1.
The only real improvement could be found by trading on OLED screens, but this would increase costs. This is not a screen that breaks boundaries for the price point, although it is certainly quite good.
One surprise, which was difficult to replicate, is a slightly awkward touch problem. Sometimes, and especially when using the home screen, taps started to register in the wrong place, often opening the wrong app. This was disturbing, and is expected to be resolved in future software updates.