Pocophone F1 First Look: Xiaomi’s new baby is fast and very affordable

Key Features

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • 6GB or 8GB RAM
  • 12/5-megapixel primary camera
  • 4000mAh battery
  • Liquid cooling system
  • Face unlock
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Pocophone F1 First Look: Xiaomi’s new baby is fast and hopefully very affordable

The premium mid-range market is fast becoming one of the most aggressive in mobile. Companies such as OnePlus with its OnePlus 6 highlight the appeal of high-end specs at a lower price – but now, new player Pocophone is taking things to extremes with the new Pocophone F1.

If you haven’t encountered Pocophone before, you’re likely not alone. The new fledgling company from Chinese tech giant Xiaomi is looking to shake things up with its first device, the Pocophone F1, the new “master of speed” (Pocophone’s words, not mine).

Pocophone F1 – Release date and price

Following the phone’s initial launch event in Dehli, Poco (as it’s branded locally) revealed that the base 6GB RAM/64GB storage option will cost just ₹20,999 (approximately £230/€260/$300), the 6GB/128GB option will cost ₹23,999 (approximately £265/€295/$345), the 8GB/256GB option will go for ₹28,999 (approximately £320/€360/$415) and the special Kevlar-backed version with 8GB/256GB will cost ₹29,999(approximately £330/€370/$430). That said, in India specifically, Poco is also partnering with HDFC Bank to offer a ₹1000 reduction on all of these prices for initial sales. This makes the Pocophone F1 the most affordable Snapdragon 845-powered handset yet.

The phone will be made available in India via Mi.com and Flipkart from August 29.

Xiaomi Pocophone F1 dutch angle

The Pocophone F1 is initially launching in India, which is Xiaomi’s largest market outside of China. It’s so big in fact that it features its own manufacturing infrastructure, which handles all Xiaomi-branded devices sold in the country.

There’s also talk of bringing the phone to more international markets soon after with additional launch events in Jakarta, Hong Kong and Paris scheduled or August 27, with further availability information likely to follow.

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Xiaomi Pocophone F1 top down

Pocophone F1 – Specs and Features

The headline feature here is the use of Qualcomm’s best mobile platform, the Snapdragon 845. It’s the same unit you’ll find inside every flagship from the Sony Xperia XZ2 to the Samsung Galaxy S9 (at least in the US).

What’s more, Pocophone has managed to squeeze in a liquid cooling system – unheard of in the affordable smartphone space. Depending on where you pick up the F1, it also packs generous amounts of RAM in either a 6GB or  8GB configuration.

Screen size 6.18-inches
Screen resolution Full HD+ (2246 x 1080)
Aspect ratio 18.7:9
Brightness Up to 500nits
Dimensions 155.5mm x 75.3mm x 8.8mm
Weight 180 grams
OS Android 8.1 Oreo w/ MIUI 9.6 ‘For Poco’
Front cameras 20-megapixels (f/2.0)
Rear cameras 12-megapixels (f/1.9) + 5-megapixels
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 w/ LiquidCool Technology
Memory 6GB/8GB RAM
Storage 64GB/128GB/256GB + microSD up to 256GB
Battery 4000mAh w/ Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
Colours Graphite Black, Steel Blue, Rosso Red, Armoured Edition (Kevlar® aramid fibre)
Extras IR face unlock, hybrid dual SIM

On paper, it’s almost as though this phone has been specifically designed to subvert the likes of the OnePlus 6. It matches the former in terms of processor and memory allocation, as well as running on a foundation of Android 8.1 Oreo with an upgrade to Android 9.0 Pie promised within three months of launch (along with an upgrade of MIUI 9.6 to MIUI 10).

Xiaomi Pocophone F1 handheld

The Pocophone F1 boasts a bigger battery than the OnePlus 6 too. If the whopping 4000mAh cell is anything like the one found inside the Huawei P20 Pro, it should serve up a solid day and a half of use for even demanding users.

Such power also makes this device a solid option for mobile gamers, who will also appreciate the large (notched) 6.18-inch 1080 x 2246 LCD screen and the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack.

In this sense, the Pocophone also squares up to the Asus’ ROG Phone, the Razer Phone and the newly unveiled affordable Honor Play.

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Xiaomi Pocophone F1 headphone jack

It is in the area of design that you’ll find most cost-savings have been made – but that’s not to say the Pocophone F1 is a bad-looking handset. On the contrary, time and care have clearly been placed on ensuring it remains an attractive phone, despite its affordable nature.

The body is polycarbonate in place of glass or metal. The company’s logic being that, so long as it’s solidly built, the outer material of your phone shouldn’t matter all that much. Besides, most people throw a case on their handset anyway.

With that in mind, Pocophone includes a transparent case in the box with each F1; the device comes in with black, blue or red polycarbonate bodywork options. If the outer material is of a higher priority for you though, then take note of the ‘Armoured Edition’ option that I’ve chosen to test here, which boasts a Kevlar weave.

Xiaomi Pocophone F1 colours

This version might not be available in every market at launch, but it adds interest to the F1’s otherwise minimal aesthetic, which only really shows any real flair by way of a red surround on each of its rear dual cameras.

Speaking of cameras, Pocophone’s unique position as an extension of the Xiaomi behemoth comes into its own on the F1, which has been fitted with the exact same 20-megapixel front camera and 12-megapixel rear (Sony IMX363 sensor) camera as found on the company’s flagship Xiaomi Mi 8. The latter is accompanied by a 5-megapixel secondary sensor to gauge depth and the software supports AI-based scene recognition to take the guesswork out of shooting. You can also shoot in manual if you’d rather.

Xiaomi Pocophone F1 camera

The rear camera even totes OIS, whilst the front camera’s face unlock reliability is bolstered by the inclusion of a secondary IR sensor for low-light situations – in Pocophone’s artificial testing it was able to get a confirmed unlock in 0.4 seconds. You can always just unlock the phone using your fingerprint if you prefer since there’s a sensor that sits just under the F1’s main camera too.

First impressions

As a brand Pocophone appears to be a more aggressive push from Xiaomi to take a greater hold on the global smartphone market, with the Pocophone F1 being as disruptive as they come.

The phone will no doubt go down a treat in its launch market of India. However, its numerous appealing qualities might even be enough to see it find success wherever its creators decide to launch it thereafter.

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