We unbox the new Pocophone F1!
Many moons ago OnePlus was THE undisputed flagship killer. Their mantra of flagship specs at half the price of the competition propelled the little-known company to stardom, quickly acquiring legions of devoted fans in the process. But little by little the price of the company’s “flagship killer” has been steadily increasing, to the point that other companies like ASUS and Xiaomi have managed to release even cheaper flagships in comparison.
It’ hard not to compare Xiaomi’s new sub-brand, Pocophone, to the early days of OnePlus, especially when you consider the value proposition that their first phone, the F1, offers. The device is the top dog when it comes to sheer value, and with a price of just around 16K, it’s THE most affordable budget flagship currently in the market.
What is it?
The F1 is the first device from Xiaomi’s new sub-brand, Pocophone. The sub-brand is headed by Jai Mani, Xiaomi’s Lead Product Manager for India. From the looks of things Pocophone certainly has a lot of leeway when it comes to designing and producing products in their lineup, and since they have access to Xiaomi’s supply chain, operations and service infrastructure, they can price their devices as low or even lower than the offerings of their mother brand.
Packaging and contents
The phone comes in a yellow and black box, with the brand’s name prominently displayed along with the words “by Xiaomi” on the bottom.
Accessory-wise, you’re getting the same amount of accessories from Pocophone that you would if you bought a Xiaomi device: a USB fast charger, USB Type-C cable, silicone case and documentation. Just like their mother brand, Pocophone doesn’t include headphones with their phone.
How does the phone look and feel?
We’re not going to lie, the Pocophone F1 looks and feels rather generic. Pocophone’s focus on delivering raw performance at the price point that the device plays in meant that they had to ruthlessly cut out unneeded luxuries, and the phone’s exterior is one such casualty.
It’s not that the Pocophone is built shoddily – it’s not – it’s just that the phone feels rather cheap in the hands. The phone’s polycarbonate body feels cheap and certainly looks worse than its closest competitor, the Honor Play. Granted the plastic body is tougher compared to glass when it comes to wear and tear, but it doesn’t beat the aesthetics of an aluminum or glass-backed phone.
To be fair the top-tier 8GB RAM/256GB Armored Edition variant of the Pocophone F1 comes with a Kevlar fabric that 1000% better but as of press time, it’s unclear if that variant will be offered in the Philippines.
Aside from material choice, the phone’s design is solid and is ergonomically sound. The body has curved sides and rounded corners which makes for easy one-handed use, even if it’s a little on a large side. The fingerprint scanner is easily accessible with either hand and is extremely quick to unlock the phone.
The power and volume buttons are on the right side, while the hybrid SIM slot is on the left. The speaker grill and USB Type-C port are on the bottom. There’s also a 3.5mm jack on the top of the phone.
Up front is the notched, 6.18-inch full HD+ (1080 x 2246) resolution display. To keep costs down the panel isn’t anything fancy, just a regular LCD but for the price, it’s not really that bad. What is annoying though is the fact that the display doesn’t have an oleophobic coating, which means it smudges like crazy.
The F1 has impressive cameras: the rear shooters are composed of a 12-megapixel f/1.8 Sony IMX363 and a 5-megapixel Samsung shooter with 1.4um pixels, Dual Pixel Autofocus, dual-tone flash, AI scene detection and AI portrait features. The front camera is a 20-megapixel f/2.0 unit with 1.8um pixels, AI Portrait, AI Beauty features. You can check out our first shots article for the phone here that has images lifted directly from the phone’s camera.
The Pocophone is all about speed and performance, and in that regard, it certainly does deliver. It’s packed with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB, and either 64GB/128GB of storage, which is further expandable to 256GB via microSD.
It’s already been mentioned, but it bears repeating: the Pocophone F1 is the cheapest phone in the market that is armed with what is a flagship processor from Qualcomm. If that wasn’t enough, the processor also has a liquid cooling solution to keep it nice and cool which in turn prevents thermal throttling during extended gaming sessions.
To keep a powerful flagship like the F1 running for extended periods, Pocophone added a large 4000mAh battery. We haven’t had the phone long enough to do extended battery life tests, but we’re confident that the phone will have around two day’s worth of juice in actual use. If you do manage to drain the F1’s battery, the bundled 9V/2A charger and Quick Charge 3 should get you back in the fight quickly.
The Pocophone F1 certainly is a game-changing device. While the official Philippine pricing for the device isn’t available yet as of press time, we expect it to be along the same lines as the device’s SRP in India, which comes out at around 16K for the base variant. While the phone does compromise on some things to get to its amazing price point, you certainly can’t deny the appeal of a flagship device for cheap.
Pocophone F1 specs
- AI-Powered Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor
- Adreno 630 GPU
- 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 6.18-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD display with 2.5D Gorilla Glass
- 64GB/128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, expandable up to 256GB via MicroSD
- 12-megapixel f/1.8 Sony IMX363 and 5-megapixel Samsung rear cameras with 1.4um pixels, Dual Pixel Autofocus, dual-tone flash, AI scene detection and AI portrait
- 20-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with 1.8um pixels, AI Portrait, AI Beauty
- Dual SIM, with 4G LTE, LTE-A, Dual VoLTE
- Dual Frequency GPS, GLONASS
- WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
- Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C port, LiquidCool system, IR face unlock, Dirac HD stereo audio, Dual Smart PA amplifier
- 4000mAh battery with QuickCharge 3.0
- Android Oreo with MIUI for POCO overlay