Thursday , 2 April 2020

Pocophone F1 Review: The Undisputed King Of Value

We review the Pocophone F1!

Despite being a known market disruptor, Xiaomi felt the need to create a sub-brand to go to places where they can’t. Pocophone, headed by Jai Mani, was created out of a need to fulfill the wants of consumers that was being ignored by their competitors. Built with a lot of consultation with Android fans via social media and Reddit, their first phone, the F1, is THE best device you can buy today in terms of sheer value. Priced at Php 17,990, there are very few reasons not to buy one if you can, considering what you’re getting for the price.

What is it?

The Pocophone F1 is an incredibly powerful, incredibly fast and incredibly affordable phone from Xiaomi’s new sub-brand. The people behind the brand created a phone that’s stripped of what they feel are unnecessary features that raise the prices of flagships today.

Wait, the phone’s made out of plastic?

Yeah, it is. The F1 uses a unibody polycarbonate design. If there’s anything that we really dislike about the phone it’s the plastic body. The design isn’t surprising, considering Pocophone’s focus on stripping away everything non-essential to keep costs down.

The design is functional but isn’t pretty, giving the phone a slightly cheap-ish feel despite its matte finish. Ergonomics-wise the phone feels good in the hands and is easy to operate one-handed.

The fingerprint scanner is at the usual place at the back, below the dual cameras.

The power and volume buttons are on the right, while the hybrid microSD/SIM slot is on the left side. There’s a 3.5mm jack on the top, while the speaker grilles and the USB Type-C port is on the bottom.

The idea behind using a plastic body is that it’s more resistant to wear and tear compared to a glass-backed phone, so you can run it naked without a case. We haven’t had the phone long enough to attest to that fact but we will concede that there’s a big chance that the phone will escape a waist-high drop with just scratches on its plastic body (provided it doesn’t hit the ground screen first), better than a shattered back with a glass-backed phone. If it does get scratched, you can just put stickers and other stuff on it (Dbrand, anyone?) to cover it up.

There is an Armored Edition variant of the F1 that integrates kevlar into the body, though that’s not going to be available in the Philippines, at least not yet.

Yet another Xiaomi phone that has a bigger than average notch.

Yeah, that is true, but just like the Mi 8, the notch actually has a reason to be there since it holds the front camera, earpiece and sensor along with an IR camera that allows for face unlocks in the dark.

As for the actual display size, it’s a 6.18-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD display with 2.5D Gorilla Glass protection. Colors are punchy enough but don’t have the same impact as an OLED panel used by its contemporaries, and sunlight legibility is good, but not great. The display is nothing special, though that’s to be expected.

The bezels on the sides are a little on the thick side as well, especially when you compare it to a contemporary device.

What is annoying is that the display doesn’t come with an oleophobic coating, which means it becomes smudge city after a few uses.

Does it perform as advertised?

Oh yeah, it does. The Pocophone F1 comes armed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, along with 6GB of RAM for the versions coming to the Philippines. There’s 64GB of storage for the basic version and 128GB for the more expensive one, and both are able to take expandable storage.

As far as speed is concerned, the F1 certainly delivered the goods. The phone feels extremely quick and fluid, which is pretty much what you’d expect from a device with top-tier hardware.

The phone has a custom cooling solution which Pocophone says is able to keep the phone cooler for longer when you’re gaming. Is it effective? Well, kind of – even with extended sessions of Asphalt 9. The phone barely got warm with extended use, which isn’t the case with other phones that we tested using the game, including Xiaomi’s own Mi 8.

How’s the rest of the phone?

The Pocophone F1 has an IR camera that aids in facial recognition which also works in the dark. But like the Mi 8, the facial recognition feature is hidden if you select the Philippines as your region, though a workaround would be to select India or HK as your region.

As far as phone software goes, there’s a bit of Inception action going on: the phone runs Android 8.1 with Xiaomi’s MIUI layer on top of that. On top of THAT, you have the Poco Launcher, which tries to make the phone’s software look a little bit like stock Android, launcher and all.

Audio is OK, but not great, though it does have a 3.5mm jack which is fast becoming a rarity nowadays.

Are those cameras any good?

On paper, sure. The 12-megapixel f/1.8 Sony IMX363 main sensor is paired with a 5-megapixel secondary one. The camera sensor is the same one used on Xiaomi’s on Mi Mix 2S, and that particular phone had pretty good performance when we reviewed it a few months ago.

In practice, the phone’s camera was a little inconsistent. In bright, even light the phone managed to take excellent shots with great detail, though more complex scenes with a combination of bright and dim lighting the phone stumble a bit, with some photos looking a bit overexposed.

Don’t get us wrong, the camera of the Pocophone F1 is good, but not great. It’ll do for most people but for folks that want a better imaging experience, you’d need to look elsewhere.

How long does it last on a single charge?

Quite a long time honestly. The Pocophone F1 has a 4000mAh battery inside of it, along with QuickCharge 3.0 for quick top-ups once the phone runs dry.

PCMark Battery benchmark puts the phone’s overall endurance at 11 hours and 51 minutes, which is pretty good for a flagship phone. Realistically that’s around a day and a half worth of battery life.

Should you buy it?

Yes, absolutely yes. All of the issues we encountered with this phone are just minor nitpicks, and are completely understandable considering the Php 17,990 price that you’ll be paying for the phone. At the end of the day, the Pocophone F1 delivers flagship performance at literally a fraction of the price of top-tier manufacturers, and around these parts that’s the only thing that matters.

2 comments

  1. Avatar
    bulbulito_bayagbag

    Just shows you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good phone (flagships).

  2. Avatar

    Oppo and vivo phones are currently on sale globally as they need to remove their old stocks. As they still cling on their business model, by over pricing their phones and then slash it by almost 15-30 percent after 3 months. Tsk.. Tsk.. Well as long as there are people who are “technical handicap” and easily swayed by endorsers, who am i to complain.

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