Xiaomi launched the POCO F1 under the sub ₹25,000 price bracket with specs that even a high-end flagship device would struggle to compete with. This took the entire mobile phone world by storm mainly because it was powered by Snapdragon 845, a top-of-the-line chipset with 6GB RAM and a flagship-grade camera, all under the ₹25,000 price bracket. This was something unheard of previously which is the reason that POCO F1 amassed a whopping sale of 700,000 units in just around three months.
With this phone, Xiaomi aimed to tackle the fanbase of OnePlus because it portrayed POCO as a brand that was cool and millennial-ish. It also served a geeks appetite due to the readily available resources for developers.
So, here is our take on the POCO F1 after using it for about a month and with our unit now running on Android 9.0 Pie under MIUI 10.
The Xiaomi POCO F1 is a relatively lightweight phone considering the massive 4,000mAH battery onboard. It is available in two built qualities - a plastic body that comes in Graphite Black, Steel Blue, Rosso Red colors and an Armoured Edition with carbon fiber finish. We were able to use a Graphite Black and Armoured Edition POCO F1 and in the due course of the review, you'll notice how different both the variants are since they're priced at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
Starting off, if you put both the plastic and armored edition POCO F1 side by side, there's little visual similarity, if any. The Armoured Edition of the phone looks like a different phone altogether due to the presence of intricate carbon fiber patterns on the rear panel. This also gives the phone a sturdy profile that feels good in the hand. However, the same cannot be said for the POCO F1 Graphite Black. This one though, built out of plastic feels a bit durable.
The back also houses a dual camera setup, the fingerprint scanner. On the side, there's the usual button placement of volume rockers above the power button which are as clicky and responsive as they come.
At the bottom of the device is a USB type C charging port and a single speaker. Though there is another cutout for the grille, it's purely to maintain a symmetrical design. The POCO F1 is able to provide a stereo effect with its dual speakers.
you can see that Xiaomi has cut corners when it comes to body language and overall finesse of the product.
Let's face it. When you buy a phone, the time you're gonna spend staring at that screen is the most when you look at the phone and you want it to be good. The phone has a notch display which is an FHD+ 6.18-inch display, and IPS LCD panel which gets pretty bright in outdoor situations and has a good color range for an LCD panel. The phone gives deep blacks and crisp details along with some pretty wide viewing angles. Considering the price point, it does a good job in that department.
The front is also home to a rather large chin, which to be honest, could have been smaller. Something that I wasn't a fan of was the extremely rounded edges of the screen which made the phone lose out on some serious screen real estate.
Apart from that, the device does a good job of keeping apps and games color accurate and immersive. The display lacks the punch and the vibrancy of the AMOLED screens but is a step above other LCD panel displays. Something that you'll have to miss out on is the ambient display feature available on most phones these days. The phone does have an LED notification light but the ambient display feature just feels right.
This is where the POCO F1 really makes a mark for itself. It is powered by the flagship range Snapdragon 845 processor clocked at 2.8GHz and a 6GB RAM which makes the device perform well in any situation. Multitasking is a breeze and the RAM management seems smooth and nonsense free. You can run a plethora of apps in the background and the phone will run smoothly as ever. The apps load very fast and apps from the recents menu are responsive in loading times as well.
In terms of everyday usage, the phone faces no problems in handling over 10 apps at a time. This is due to the prowess of the 6GB RAM and some great optimizations by Xiaomi. If you switch from a Snapdragon 600 series based device on to this, one you can actually feel the difference.
The SD 845 chip makes for really fast fingerprint unlock- like instant fast. Unlock speed is comparable to OnePlus' range of smartphones. POCO F1 outdoes itself in the face unlock department as the phone has an infrared sensor for enhanced security. The feature is quick and responsive and doesn't fail even in pitch dark situations which is quite impressive.
Gaming performance on this smartphone is very smooth and power intensive games like Asphalt and PUBG Mobile don't lag at all as long as you have a stable internet connection. Pair that with the large battery size and you've got a portable gaming monster. Switching between apps while gaming also doesn't put the phone to any stress and keeps the lag-free experience alive.
However, I noticed that it does heat up a bit after about 40-45 minutes of gaming but not enough to be a problem to the functionality of the phone. The gaming performance, however, is not as good as the OnePlus 5T and 6. The phone fares well against other phones in the same price point. In fact, it even outdoes phones like the Nokia 7 Plus, a device more expensive than the F1, in general responsiveness, speed and gaming performance.
In a word, the POCO F1's camera is above average. The pictures aren't all that color accurate or vivid or punchy but it manages to capture the essence of the subject. Images are sharp and the depth of field effect is also well executed. Under the right conditions and settings, you could manage to get a decent colorful image, but if the lighting is even a little wonky, it won't fare well.
The dual lens set up which has a 12-megapixel sensor with a f/1.9 aperture and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor at f/2.0 aperture is good at providing a decent portrait mode. The working is a hit or a miss as the focus keeps shifting if the lighting is even a bit far from perfect. The edges in portrait mode are not sharp and blend in well with the background. On the subject of focus, it has fast auto focus and does a good job of capturing moving objects. The low light performance is laughable but with the right editing tools, images can be made Instagram worthy.
Coming to the front of the phone, the front camera has a 20-megapixel sensor which does a better job than the rear cameras. The selfies are sharp and crisp and have a good color range. Since I am not much of a selfie clicker, I only used the front camera a couple of times.
The camera excels in image processing time and is well equipped to click a series of shots in succession. Camera launch times and focus speed is also quite good due to the SD 845 chip.
For me, this was the biggest hurdle to get past. The performance was great, design grew on me, the camera just average. The MIUI experience wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, it was just a bit... overwhelming. There are a bunch of great tweaks hidden in the settings menu that I made use of. The POCO launcher based around Android 9.0 Pie does make MIUI a more usable experience.
I was lucky enough to update the device to MIUI 10, which provided a better interface and was an improvement in many ways. The apps seemed more responsive and overall, the phone seemed a tad faster than previously. The new recents layout was something that I really enjoyed and its functionality actually got me hooked to it. Sadly, the MIUI 10 doesn't incorporate gestures into the phone as we have seen from OnePlus's Oxygen OS.
The software, however, did not affect the performance of the device in any negative way. In the software department, it all boils down to what a user prefers. The familiarity of vanilla Android experience or a more complex software with added functionality. You can be the judge of that.
The POCO F1 has a massive 4000mAH battery which lasts a full day's usage and then some. In my heavy usage days of using Twitter, Instagram, YouTube (a lot of it), Reddit and games like PUBG and Asphalt,and browsing the web I was able to juice out about 5-6 hours of screen on time.
The battery also supports fast charging via the USB type C port located at the bottom. The phone goes from zero to a full charge in just about 2 hours, which is not much considering the size of the battery. In about fifteen minutes of charge, you can get around an hour of screen on time easily.
On days that the phone is not extensively used, one can just pick up the phone and get going without worrying about battery issues.
The Xiaomi POCO F1 is a very handy and reliable device that can handle any situation that is placed ahead of it. It packs in a great punch and eases through other smartphones in its price bracket. The phone is a solid all rounded phone that can easily become your daily driver if you're willing to look over the software and the plastic built. Speaking of plastic built of the POCO F1, Xiaomi now offers a bunch of skins, hard cases and an armored case starting from Rs 299 all the way up to Rs 799.
POCO F1 brings the best of a high-end flagship device- the performance and speed to the cheap affordable price of a mid-range phone.This phone checks all the boxes for being a great phone at the price and has perhaps the best value for money you can get.
The POCO F1 is available to purchase from Flipkart starting at Rs 19,999 for the variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.