POCO F1 Review – Top Notch Performance And Unmatched Price

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One of the most important aspects of a flagship smartphone is its performance. For a smartphone that lies in the midrange segment, but performs like a flagship sounds eye-popping for many. A new brand called POCO by Xiaomi has unveiled a device named F1 with a Snapdragon 845 chip that is usually found on high-end smartphones. What’s the catch? The price. The POCO F1 leaves everyone behind in terms of pricing, it retails at an unheard price of Rs 20,999.

The POCO F1 is primarily aimed at speed. At this price, it is capable of producing the fastest performance you have ever seen on any Android smartphone to date. A term ‘Flagship Killer’ seems redefined by Xiaomi disrupting the entire flagship rivalry, including well-known OnePlus 6 and the ASUS ZenFone 5Z. But let’s not just talk about speed but other aspects as well. Is POCO F1 the best Android smartphone overall in the market? Find out in our POCO F1 review.

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What’s in the box?

  • POCO F1 with built-in battery
  • USB Cable (Type-C)
  • Charger
  • Flexible Silicon Clear Case
  • SIM Tray Ejector Pin
  • User Manuals and Warranty Card

Here’s our unboxing video of the POCO F1 in Hindi.

POCO F1 Specifications

  • CPU: 2.8 GHz Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor
  • RAM: 6 GB OR 8 GB RAM
  • GPU: Adreno 630
  • Operating System: MIUI 9 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Display: 6.18-inch Full-HD+ (2246 x 1080 pixels) IPS display
  • Rear Camera: 12 MP + 5 MP with dual LED flash
  • Front Camera: 20 MP
  • Internal Storage: 64 GB (with 6 GB RAM), 128 GB (with 6 GB RAM), 256 GB (with 8 GB RAM)
  • External Storage: Expandable up to 128 GB via microSD card
  • SIM: Dual Hybrid, dual-VoLTE support
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 3.5 mm headphone jack, USB Type-C
  • Other: Fingerprint Scanner, IR Face Unlock, Liquid Cooling
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh with Quick Charge 3.0
  • Price: Rs 20,999 (6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage), Rs 23,999 (6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage), Rs 28,999 (8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage)
  • Availability: From 29th August 2018 exclusively on Flipkart and Mi.com as well
  • Offers: Rs 8,000 instant benefits on Jio, up to 6 TB Jio mobile data, variants, Rs 1,000 instant cashback to all HDFC credit and debit card holders on the first sale

Design, Build & Ergonomics

The POCO F1 isn’t a standout when it comes to the design. Yes, it has a notch at the top, it has no camera bump, the surface is clearly flat, but the overall feel is just plastic which some of you may not fancy. It doesn’t appear to be as good as the similar priced phones – the full metallic designed Honor Play and the glass designed HUAWEI Nova 3i.

It leaves a lot to be desired in the design area. If you don’t enjoy the polycarbonate body, then you might want to pick a premium designed phone. The build is, however, solid in our opinion especially the rugged kevlar variant i.e. Armoured Edition. You may not feel the difference between a metallic phone and a plastic phone when hooked up a case though.

The notch on the front looks big, taking a closer look reveals that it comes with dual selfie cameras, however, that’s what it actually looks like. Anyways, the back has a dual camera setup and a fingerprint scanner right below it. The POCO F1 also supports face unlock and it works fast.

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The good thing about the phone is it uses a USB Type-C port at the bottom, unlike the HUAWEI Nova 3i, Vivo V11 Pro, and other phones under the segment. It also offers you a 3.5 mm audio jack and an IR Blaster at the top.

On the left side, there is a hybrid SIM tray which gives you an option to put a microSD on the SIM2 slot if you want to expand the storage. The dual SIM slots support 4G LTE network with dual 4G standby and dual VoLTE support.

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USB Type-C At The Bottom
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3.5 mm Jack At The Top

Display

This is where the cost-cutting occurs, the display on the POCO F1 isn’t appealing, the colors and the contrast levels are nowhere near the OnePlus 6. The POCO F1 equips a 6.18-inch IPS display versus the Optic AMOLED screen on the OnePlus 6.

The display is even inferior to the one we saw on the ASUS ZenFone 5Z which also uses an IPS panel. In terms of pixels, it has the same Full HD+ resolution (2246 x 1080 pixels) like the rest. It appears that Xiaomi has put a midrange display on the POCO F1 which can’t be matched to the rivals we just mentioned.

While it’s not a huge problem if you aren’t a media junkie because we would simply suggest a better quality display phone if you are watching movies and videos, browse gallery images, and game on the phone a lot.

You will find the usual MIUI display settings like color correction, eye protection, and text size. If you do not like the notch, hide it from the settings.

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Software & User Interface

The POCO F1 runs on MIUI 9.6 based on Android 8.1 Oreo with a POCO launcher on top. It’s different than the regular MIUI themes, the POCO launcher is designed for POCO F1, it adds a few things like app drawer, the categorization of the apps in the drawer, and some Xiaomi’s apps.

The navigation gestures work well, you might want to switch to it and forget the traditional navigation buttons. Also available are the MIUI perks that you have seen on the most Xiaomi phones, such as dual apps, app lock via fingerprints, second space, one-hand mode, and more.

Take a look at the top 11 tips and tricks and features of POCO F1 in the MIUI 9.6. To know more about the MIUI, visit our previous Xiaomi phones reviews.

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Navigation Gestures
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App Lock Via Fingerprints, Dual Apps

Hardware, Performance, & Gaming

The POCO F1 is the first smartphone from POCO highlighting the Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 SoC which powers a handful of smartphones that launched this year. Since it has the most powerful Qualcomm chip, the phone uses a LiquidCool Technology cooling system to keep away the heat when on load.

POCO F1 Key Specifications

  • Display: 6.18-inch IPS display, Full HD+ resolution (2246 x 1080 pixels), 2.5D curved glass
  • Software: MIUI 9.6 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
  • CPU: Up to 2.8 GHz octa-core Kryo 385 processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, 10nm FinFET, 64-bit
  • GPU: Adreno 630
  • Storage: Up to 256 GB UFS 2.1, microSD card support
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh
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CPU-Z

Moving to the benchmarks, the numbers speak everything. The POCO F1 comes in a list of top 5 smartphones in AnTuTu benchmark scoring 266,082 points. The Geekbench 4 also scores a whopping 2,472 points (single-core) and 8,435 points (multi-core) in CPU test and 13,549 points in GPU test.

Comparing it with the competition, the sub-20,000 segment is nowhere near the POCO F1. Rivals like Honor Play managed to come close to 200,000 points, but it’s still far behind. Surprisingly, the performance is comparable to the OnePlus 6, ASUS ZenFone 5Z, Samsung Galaxy S9, Vivo NEX, and other similar flagships.

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AnTuTu V7.1.0
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Geekbench 4 (CPU)

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Geekbench 4 (GPU)

Not only the benchmarks, you also get sheer gaming performance with its Adreno 630. We played high-end games like PUBG MOBILE and Asphalt 9: Legends and it turns out that the games are playable at full settings.

The POCO F1 does get warm a little bit on full load, but we haven’t felt the heat on the phone, thanks to the liquid cooling technology.

Games Tested on POCO F1

  • PUBG MOBILE
  • Asphalt 9: Legends
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PUBG MOBILE

Storage & Memory Performance

On the storage side, the POCO F1 comes in three variants, one of 64 GB and another of 128 GB both with 6 GB RAM and the top variant with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. It equips a UFS 2.1 internal storage which is as fast as the expensive flagships. In addition, the storage can be expanded via a microSD card which is great.

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Cameras

The cameras on the POCO F1 are not really a game changer, the specs sound to be very definite that you get on midrange phones. The rear side offers 12 MP + 5 MP dual cameras and a 20 MP selfie camera on the front. As per the Xiaomi, the dual camera is on the flagship Mi 8 level which seems impressive.

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At first, we thought that the cameras won’t be surprising at this price. Both the cameras are unexpectedly performing well in our opinion. In good daylight, the certainly delivers very good results, the dual cameras take portraits quite good and on top, you get the AI which detects the scenes automatically.

When comparing with the competition, the Honor Play emerges with its camera features and a better overall camera. The daylight captures more details, in low light situations, the camera weakens, Honor Play takes the crown in low-light scenarios.

The POCO F1 can stand against the OnePlus 6, we made a comparison video of both the phones to see which one has better camera quality. It turns out that the POCO F1 is, if not better, as good as, OnePlus 6. The OnePlus obviously captures slightly more details, but at this price the camera quality is commendable.

Things that you don’t get on POCO F1 but OnePlus 6 and ZenFone 5Z are the 4K at 60 fps as well as the 480 fps slow motion of the OnePlus 6. The OIS is perhaps missing on the POCO F1 due to the low-price. For video capabilities, you should pick other alternatives than POCO F1.

Take a look at the camera samples we took from the POCO F1.

POCO F1 Camera Samples

Battery Runtime & Charging

The huge 4,000 mAh battery means you actually can do a lot with the phone like hours of gaming and watching videos and you still get through the day out of it on a single charge. It does last up to 2 days on average use, our test suggests that the POCO F1 has almost 50% battery left after 18 hours of usage.

Assuming that it lasts around 1.5 to 2 days battery life for general users, it’s still good for a phone with a Snapdragon 845 chip because several flagships with the same Snapdragon chip aren’t able to get such amazing battery life. Vivo NEX is also another contender with its 4,000 mAh battery that matches the POCO F1 in terms of battery life.

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Lasts More Than A Day
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Average Usage
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Moderate Usage, ~6 Hours Of Screen-On-Time

Charging

Speaking of the charging time, the POCO F1 takes about 2 hours to charge the battery fully i.e. from 0% to 100%. So, it takes ~120 mins to charge the POCO F1 with 4,000 mAh battery as compared to the 80 minutes charging on OnePlus 6 carrying a 3,300 mAh battery. In terms of charing, the OnePlus is quicker, however, you get a longer battery life on the POCO F1.

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Takes About 2 Hours To Charge Fully

POCO F1 Battery Test Results

Apps/GamesBattery usedRuntimeBrightnessWireless
1080p Video2%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
4K Video3%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
YouTube (1080p) - Wi-Fi2%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
YouTube (1080p) - 4G3%20 minutesAutoOn (4G Data)
PUBG MOBILE7%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
Asphalt 9: Legends5%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
Music (Offline)1%1 HourScreen OffOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
Music (Online) -
SoundCloud
2%30 minutesScreen OffOn (Wi-Fi)
Facebook3%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Instagram3%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)

Verdict

Finally coming to the verdict, the pricing is where POCO F1 grabs the attention of many. The POCO F1 may not get the perfect phone tagline, but overall is the best value for money phone till date, no matter what. The price of the POCO F1 starts at Rs 20,999 for 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage variant.

If you are on a budget and want a phone with high-end performance, if you do gaming and heavy tasks on the phone, go ahead with the POCO F1, you certainly won’t get this deal anywhere as of now.

For camera users, the POCO F1 doesn’t disappoint at any point, however, you might want to switch to a phone that offers a lot of camera features like the Honor Play or the HUAWEI Nova 3i or spend more for getting an OIS and 4K video at 60fps in the camera.

Rivals

Strength

  • Sturdy Design | Sports Kevlar Back
  • High-End Performance | 8 GB RAM
  • Impressive Battery Life
  • Decent Cameras – AI Powered
  • MicroSD Support
  • Excellent Value For Money

Weakness

  • Mediocre Display
  • No OIS in Camera & 4K@60fps Video Recording

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Seems I received a defective one. Mine Hangs/Freezes on whatsapp(fresh install), touch fails at times, touch reads 1cm away often, ringer speaker makes weird sound sometimes.