Xiaomi POCOPHONE F1 Review 2 Months In – The Flagship Killer Everyone’s Afraid Of

The Pocophone F1 definitely came out of the blue when it was first announced in August 2018. As shocking it sounds, when the device first dropped, it equally shook the competition for how incredible it was for the price. Packing industry-leading internals, the Pocophone F1 set the sails to shake up its rivals.

Being a sub-brand of Xiaomi, Poco had the necessary tools and manufacturing facilities to make the Pocophone F1 a reality and they did. The Pocophone F1’s spec sheet shares its resemblance with the Xiaomi Mi 8, another phone that the Pocophone F1 is undercutting. Heck, the Pocophone F1 even features a 3.5mm headphone jack and even vapor-chamber liquid cooling. The folks over at Poco are betting a ton lot on the long-lasting performance and practicality of the device.

While many of the cut-downs in pricing are certainly noticeable, many may ask, how does the Pocophone F1 fair as a whole? Well, we’re here to gladly answer that in our full review here.

The Pocophone F1 we have is the base variant of the Graphite Black Pocophone F1 that features 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.

01 | Design & Build Quality

There’s no doubt that the Pocophone F1 isn’t the most attractive phone out there. With phones continuing to surge towards higher price tags with their premium design and glass-back bodies, the new sub-brand from Xiaomi, Poco, is looking towards taking a much more practical approach to smartphones when it comes to the design of the device.

Despite “clamshelling” everything into its plastic body, the Pocophone F1 manages to weigh in at 185g. A considerable amount of that weight could be credited to the use of a 4000mAh battery on the Pocophone F1. Both, the iPhone XS and Galaxy Note 9 weigh considerably higher than the Pocophone F1 at 201g and 208g, respectively.

The phone comes in four colors and also comes with a host of variants for your specific needs. The base variant, which is the variant we have here, comes with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. However, if you’re really willing to max out the Pocophone F1, you could expect to see up to 8GB RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage. Regarding the color options you have with the Pocophone F1, you could get the Pocophone F1 in black, blue and red as standard. However, if you’re really willing to take the back of the Pocophone F1 to the next level, the Pocophone F1 also comes with a plastic Kevlar back with carbon-fiber like patterns for those who want to upgrade the back of their Pocophone F1 to a much premium-feeling material.

On the front of the device, you’ll find the fairly large 6.18-inch display up front. In addition to that, you’ll find a fairly large chin and notch on the device.

During our testing phase of the device, we found that the design of the Pocophone F1 does feature some quirky elements. We definitely do not appreciate the curved corners of the display, especially on the bottom. Xiaomi definitely overdid the corners to the point where a few areas and partial elements throughout the display are hidden behind the corners of the display.

And if we personally do continue nitpicking, while not as aggressive, the display curves are not aligned with the outer body of the device. Since we’re nitpicking on the top two corners of the device, we’ll let it slide. However, the bottom two corners are simply bad decisions. Xiaomi would have easily done away by not going as aggressive with the corners on the Pocophone F1.

Moving forward, we’re sure that a ton of users would be happy to see the headphone jack making a re-entry into Xiaomi’s lineup ever since they ditched it with the Mi 6. On top of the device, you’ll find the holy grail of a headphone jack, on the bottom side of the device, you’ll find the USB Type-C port to charge the F1 with. On the right side, you’ll find the power button and volume rockers. Meanwhile, on the left side of the device, you’ll find the SIM tray.

On the back of the device, you’ll find the dual camera setup featuring a decent enough bump as well as a flash to aid in those low-light shots. Following towards the bottom rear of the device you’ll also find the Pocophone logo along with a hint of Xiaomi’s name followed by it.

Overall, the Pocophone F1 definitely seems like it could handle a light drop or two on the back or sides. Since the front is a full slab of so-called “glass” that spans across the entire front of the phone, the Pocophone F1 doesn’t seem to be a strong candidate when it comes to face drop tests. While the sides are plastic, we’d still highly recommend a ton of users to either get a skin or either get a case for the Pocophone F1. And if you’re feeling enthusiastic, you may even find Xiaomi’s lineup of actual $4 skins for the Pocophone F1 intriguing.

Wrapping up the overall design, while not a deal-breaker, the Pocophone F1 definitely doesn’t have the best design choices out there. Xiaomi definitely went the extra mile to imitate Apple’s trend here. However, with the curves being imitated this aggressively, we’d expect Xiaomi to pay a bit more attention to display on the Poco F2 if it launches next year.

02 | Display & Audio Quality

The Pocophone F1 features a 6.18-inch FHD+ IPS display featuring a 2246 x 1080 resolution an 18.7:9 ratio. The display virtually spans from the bottom of the device to the top utmost corners of the device to keep up with the 2018 trends.

Being a Full HD+ IPS display, we actually enjoyed using the Pocophone F1 during our two months worth of usage.

When we first unboxed the Pocophone F1, we found that the Pocophone F1 is actually running on MIUI 9. During our first week of usage, we had quite a few issues with the display on the Pocophone F1. Not only did we report about screen-bleeding issues, but we also made the touch latency issue with the Pocophone F1 much prominent over the past two months. We managed to get through to the folks over at Xiaomi in an interview and managed to get our issue across to them. Eventually, Xiaomi did issue a statement regarding the Pocophone F1’s screen bleeding issue claiming that it was actually a feature built into MIUI 9 and then proceeded to fix the touch latency issue on the Pocophone F1 with MIUI 10 Beta update 8.10.11. What’s worry some to note is the fact that the MIUI 10 Beta update that fixes the issue is only available for devices that have their bootloaders unlocked.

So far, both of our issues have been fixed since we updated to the latest MIUI 10 Beta. If you aren’t on the latest MIUI 10 Beta, consider unlocking the bootloader and flash MIUI 10 Beta 8.10.11 or higher.

Coming back to the display quality of the device. The IPS display on the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 is indeed incredible. While it is far from OLED, the company has clearly shown signs of dedication by choosing an excellent panel for the Pocophone F1. The display on the Pocophone F1 features excellent color reproduction, decent saturation, sharpness and contrast for a budget device.

Although, it would have been nice to see Xiaomi offer an extra hand at customizing the color output of the display. If you’re really looking to make a ton of colors pop, Xiaomi has a very vague range of color profiles to choose from under the Display Settings menu. Asus does a great job regarding this with their Zenfone lineup by featuring a color profiler tool called Splendid under their settings menu.

Binge-watching YouTube videos was indeed a pleasure for us. Not only did we enjoy them, but we found that thanks to the excellent stereo speaker setup, sounds produced by the Pocophone F1 are loud and clear enough for most users.

And for those who have been holding off their purchase of the Pocophone F1, Xiaomi has recently announced that support for Netflix HD is coming within a month or two.

The majority of the volume is produced by the speaker placed beside the Type-C charging connector. While speaker grills could be found on both sides of the Type-C charging port, it’s worth noting that only the one to the right of the Type-C port actually produces sound. While it is prone to be blocked, we definitely found that that wasn’t much of an issue given that the sound produced by the Pocophone F1 were loud enough to begin with.

During our testing, we found the sounds produced by the bottom firing speaker did have a ton of volume to them. Although, after the 75% mark, we did notice a slight amount of distortion start to creep in at times.

Audio produced by the Pocophone F1 is great too, just like any typical smartphone would. While headphones do vary, the Pocophone F1 does lack an AMP to drive the more premium lineup of headphones.

03 | Camera Quality

The Pocophone F1 features a dual rear camera setup as well as a single selfie camera up front. The Pocophone F1’s dual camera setup consists of a 12MP sensor as well as a 5MP sensor for those who care about zooming into their shots. What’s disappointing is the fact that the Pocophone F1 lacks any image stabilization and 4K/60FPS support. It is such a bummer to see Xiaomi lock the camera down as the Pocophone F1 is clearly capable of recording at 4K/60FPS. Perhaps, Xiaomi wants to lock the Pocophone F1 down just so that the Pocophone F1 doesn’t undercut the sales of the Mi 8. However, it’s not all doom yet as Xiaomi’s Jai Mani has promised to unlock 4k/60FPS at a later date if they gather enough requests.

What’s worth noting is that the Pocophone F1’s main rear camera sensor shares a ton in common with the Xiaomi Mi 8. However, for some reason, it seems like the camera on the Pocophone F1 is considerably weaker than the one present on the Pocophone F1. After digging a bit, we decided to have a look at the new Google Camera port featuring improvements from the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL. Not only did it prove the Stock MIUI Camera app is horrible, but the IMX 363 present in the Pocophone F1 definitely kept its head up in our camera battle against the Note 9 when paired with the Google Camera port.

Since the stock Mi camera isn’t doing justice and the fact that the Google Camera port is as easy as installing basic apk, the following samples were taken using the latest Google Camera port for the Mi 8 untouched.

Not only were the images taken with the Pocophone F1 incredible after we switched to the Google Camera mod, but we also had our first hint of Xiaomi trying to suppress the Pocophone F1 against the Mi 8. Not only did we see an immense improvement when it comes to details, but we also saw the Pocophone F1 dialing in reasonable parameters for taking a lot of shots.

However, for those willing to take some of that bokeh into their shots, the bokeh mode on the Pocophone F1 does work surprisingly well on the Pocophone F1. However, if you do wish to use bokeh, that only works with the stock MIUI camera app.

04 | Performance

The whole point of buying the Pocophone F1 is for those internals. There’s quite a range of options to choose from if you’re planning to get the Pocophone F1. The Pocophone F1 sports up to 8GB RAM along with 256GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage. In addition to that, the whole point of buying the Pocophone F1 is for that speedy, yet beastly Snapdragon 845 processor that allows the Pocophone F1 to keep up with phones that are twice or quadruple the price of the Pocophone F1. Pair that with a decent vapor-chamber liquid cooler as we have ourselves a phone that could keep up with the best of the best in terms of speed.

ModelPocophone F1
Size155.5 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm (6.12 x 2.96 x 0.35 in)
Display6.18"-inch
(1080 x 2246)
IPS LCD 60 Hz refresh rate
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAMLPDDR4 6GB/8GB RAM
Storage64GB/128GB/256GB
(expandable via microSD up to 256GB)
Cameras12 MP, f/1.9, 1/2.55", 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF
5 MP, f/2.0, 1.12µm, depth sensor
Charging TechQuick Charge
Bluetooth5.0
Battery4000 mAh

The Pocophone F1 runs on MIUI 9 out of the box. Since Xiaomi fixed a number of touch issues with MIUI 10 Beta 8.10.11, we specifically had to upgrade to it by unlocking the bootloader.

We found MIUI 10 8.10.11 fairly stable as we haven’t experienced any. Performance was just as zippy as any other flagship would be. Zipping through all of the apps was simply an issue that the Pocophone F1 handles with ease. Some lighter apps manage to stick with it for a day after it was last used and playing games on the Pocophone F1 was equally as enjoyable.

We played Real Racing 3 on the Pocophone F1 for a few days and we were more than happy to find that the Pocophone F1 was an absolute beast at handling Real Racing 3. We barely noticed any stutters. However, at times, the Pocophone F1 did stop responding to touches, especially at the lock screen which is why the IR Face Unlock became a much-appreciated feature for us.

Regarding extra features available on the Pocophone F1, there isn’t a ton lot of gimmicks going on over here. However, there is a ton to be appreciated apart for its internals. Not only is the Pocophone F1 incredible for its battery life, but the fact that the phone comes with a headphone jack, a huge 4000mAh battery, as well as a number of deep system optimizations with their stable builds simply tells us that Xiaomi definitely paid attention towards MIUI’s system improvements.

05 | Battery Life & Charging Times

Battery life on the Pocophone F1 is certainly incredible. The 4000mAh battery inside of the Pocophone F1 easily hits a full day worth medium of usage. However, ever since we installed the MIUI 10 Beta, battery life on the Pocophone F1 has become a roller coaster. In simple terms, considerably worse battery life than when the Pocophone F1 was running MIUI 9.

However, given that this is more of a software issue and that the average Joe is unlikely to go geeky on the phone, the battery life on the Pocophone F1 could be classified as excellent.

While running MIUI 9, a day from 8 am to 6 pm dropped the phone’s percentage from 100% to 35-40% and dropped it even further to 5-10% by 10 pm. Since we aren’t really hardcore performance runners, our run contained traces of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Twitter and hey, the occasional general web browsing too.

To juice up the battery on the Pocophone F1, Xiaomi has included an incredible 18W (9V/2A) Quick Charge 3.0 charger out of the box with the Pocophone F1. Being the device that has the potential to support Quick Charge 4.0, Pocophone Global’s head, Jai Mani announced that the Pocophone F1 does indeed support Quick Charge 4.0 but comes with a Quick Charge 3.0 adapter out of the box.

To top of the phone from a dead state, it took us about 2 hours to fully juice up the phone to 100% with the QC 3.0 charger included with the Pocophone F1. While it’s certainly far from OnePlus’s 20W Dash Charge or Oppo’s 40W Supervooc, it’s at least nice to have Quick Charge 4.0 on the Pocophone F1.

06 | Pricing and Conclusion

The Pocophone F1 is an absolute marvel for the mid-range market. Price at just $299 for the base variant, Xiaomi has a ton of stuff to brag about with the Pocophone F1. Despite being slightly undercut by the folks over at Xiaomi to save the undercutting of the Mi 8, the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 is a top-recommendation from us given that it is within your reach and the fact that your budget is around the $300 mark.

In Malaysia, the pricing remains fairly consistent. The base variant of the Pocophone F1 retails at RM1299. While the 128GB variant featuring 6GB RAM retails at RM1499.

I mean, what isn’t being thrown at you with the Pocophone F1. With the Pocophone F1, compared to glass, you’re getting a much durable body, a great display, a great set of rear cameras, incredible battery life and flagship grade specs coupled with an excellent price tag.

As great it seems, the Pocophone F1 has its fair share of gripes too. From the polycarbonate body to the aggressive curves on the display, Xiaomi definitely needs to work on those. Furthermore, seeing Xiaomi disable 4K/60FPS on the Pocophone F1 is absolutely horrendous. While they have promised to enable it in the near future, it’s horrid to hear that Xiaomi is waiting for requests to pour in begging for 4K/60FPS on the Pocophone F1.

If Xiaomi would have just improved on stuff that they could’ve easily avoided in the first place, the Pocophone F1 would have been an even better phone regardless of that plastic body and the lack of OIS.

There’s no doubt that the Pocophone F1 definitely shook the likes of Samsung, LG and especially OnePlus with this launch. We’re definitely impressed with the Pocophone F1 and are looking forward to seeing what Xiaomi has in store with the Poco F2 when it launches next year.

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Usman Abdul Jabbar

19, Tech Enthusiast, Founder/Managing Editor at GeeksULTD and a Competitive Counter Strike Global Offensive player with aims of learning about web servers, web designing and computer hardware. Believes console exclusives are incredible and is still a strong follower of the PC Master Race. To contact me, follow me, or even constructively criticize me, contact me however you feel is right!
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