After its unveiling in India, France, Indonesia, and Hong Kong, Pocophone — the new smartphone brand under Xiaomi — has finally launched the Pocophone F1 (aka POCO F1) in the Philippines. It comes with flagship specs such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 6GB RAM but priced starting at just PHP 17,990. Is this the new bang-for-the-buck device for 2018? Find out in our review.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
The F1 comes in three colors – Graphite Black, Steel Blue, and Rosso Red. There’s also an Armoured Edition with Kevlar Aramid fiber. For this hands-on, we’re taking a look at the Steel Blue model.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the F1 is its large screen. It’s a 6.18-inch display with a thick notch at the top. This notch houses the 20MP front camera, earpiece, proximity sensor, infrared lens, and infrared lighting. Down below at the center of the chin is the notification LED.
Found on the left side of the device are the volume and power/lock buttons. They’re plastic but firm, clicky, and easy to reach.
Up top are the 3.5mm audio port and the secondary microphone, while down below are the loudspeaker, main microphone, and the USB Type-C port.
Flip it on its back and you will see the dual rear cameras, fingerprint scanner, and the LED flash.
Quality-wise, the F1 feels far from the premium glass and metal I’m accustomed to, but it looks and feels really good for something that is made of plastic. The hard-coated polycarbonate unibody is solid, it doesn’t creak when squeezed or sound hollow when tapped. The finish is also able to resist fingerprints and smudges well.
At 182g it’s already hefty so I’m starting to appreciate the use of polycarbonate to keep the weight in check. It’s tall and a bit wide so navigation of the UI would often require both hands. And if you’re worried about scratches and bumps, don’t worry as Pocophone included a jelly case in the package.
Display and Multimedia
The 6.18-inch screen which Pocophone calls the edge-to-edge display has an 18.8:9 aspect ratio and Full HD+ (2246 x 1080) resolution or equal to 403ppi, which is a decent resolution for a screen of this size.
The display is nice as it is sharp with good viewing angles and accurate colors. However, it’s prone to glare but the bright screen was able to keep things legible. As for its screen protection, it uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass so it should be able to withstand minor scratches and bumps.
There’s nothing fancy about the down-firing speaker. Like with most smartphones, it’s lacking in bass but it is loud and crisp enough for hands-free voice-calls, watching videos on YouTube and Netflix, or listening to tunes on Spotify. If you have a good pair of wired headphones, I’m glad to report that the F1 still sports a 3.5mm audio port.
When it comes to imaging, the F1 sports a 12MP main rear shooter with the Sony IMX363 sensor, which is the same sensor found on the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S which got a score of 97 at DxOMark Mobile. The secondary camera, on the other hand, is handled by a 5MP Samsung sensor. For selfies, it has a 20MP camera.
As expected, images produced are good as they’re sharp with punchy colors and great dynamic range. Low-light performance is also good and was able to preserve details while keeping the noise down. We can attribute the performance to the camera’s built-in AI capabilities and image stabilization. Selfies are good as well, especially in bright conditions. It’s sharp as it has plenty of resolution to go around and comes with bokeh and beauty effects.
As for video recording, the F1 maxes out at 4K resolution at 30fps. There’s no 60fps option here, even at 1080p. Quality is as good as stills with dynamic range and colors. There’s EIS, although works best when recording at 1080p. For slow motion, there’s the Video HFR (High Frame Rate) which can record up to 1080p at 240fps. Watch the sample clip below:
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software is MIUI for POCO (MIUI 184.108.40.206 Stable) based on Android 8.1 Oreo which is basically a slightly customized version of Xiaomi’s MIUI. It has multiple home screens but also has an app drawer that you can bring out by swiping up. The apps are pre-arranged by category but you can add your own tab.
Other features include the ability to hide the notch, Second Space which allows you to make your own private home screen, Button and Gesture navigation, Dual Apps, a Security app, and App Lock. Since it’s based on Xiaomi’s MIUI, we can expect new features to be developed for it as well.
Speaking of apps, we have the usual Google suite of apps, as well as pre-installed ones from Microsoft, Facebook, and Lazada. Overall, I’m getting 52.6GB of usable space out of the 64GB. Good thing Pocophone decided to make this expandable and has support for a microSD card but in a hybrid setup.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the F1 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Adreno 630 GPU, 6GB or 8GB RAM, and a 4,000mAh battery with QC 3.0. As expected, performance is great and it was able to keep things running smoothly. The fingerprint scanner and face unlock feature are very fast and responsive. Even games like PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends, and NBA 2K18 are easily playable in high settings.
When it comes to thermals, there’s a slight warming felt beside the cameras when running games and benchmarking apps but it’s very minimal. I checked the temperature using an IR thermometer after playing PUBG Mobile and I got a maximum read of 37.5-C which is tolerable, so I can say that the LiquidCooling technology works.
Check out the benchmark scores below:
• AnTuTu – 264,977
• Geekbench –2,475 (Single-Core), 9,004 (Multi-Core), 14,415 (RenderScript)
• 3DMark – 3,252 (SSE – OpenGL ES 3.1), 2,706 (SSE – Vulkan)
• PCMark – 7,427 (Work 2.0)
• AndroBench – 700.88 MB/s (Read), 146.69 MB/s (Write)
Connectivity and Battery Life
The Pocophone F1 has your usual connectivity features like dual-SIM with 4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and GPS. The said features work as advertised as calls are loud and clear, mobile data connects right away, it had no problems connecting to BT devices like speakers, earphones and wearables, while GPS-based apps like Google Maps, Waze, and Grab was able to pinpoint our location right away.
Since this is a performance-oriented smartphone which is designed to be used heavily, I’m glad that Pocophone equipped the F1 with a 4,000mAh battery. It sure was able to last a whole day and into the night on light to moderate usage and sporadic gaming. Our video loop test got us 19 hours of video playback which is good. Charging, on the other hand, using a QC 3.0 charger takes 2 hours.
The Pocophone F1 became a wakeup call not just for consumers but for other smartphone brands as well. Here is a device that delivers flagship performance, feels good, doesn’t have a lot of fancy features or tech, but is offered at a price that we normally see in mid-range devices. For plenty of users, this is a big win, and definitely not overpriced. For some smartphone brands, it kind of ruined a lot of things.
To end this review, I can absolutely say that this device is a big hit. It has proven that we don’t need to pay ridiculous amounts just to get the best performance possible. I just hope that they have enough supply to meet the demand. So to answer our question, is the Pocophone F1 the best bang-for-the-buck device in the market? Yes, it is.
The Pocophone F1 is priced at PHP 17,990 for the 6GB + 64GB model and PHP 19,990 for the 6GB + 128GB.
Pocophone F1 specifications:
|6.18-inch Full HD+ edge-to-edge display @ 2160 x 1080px
|Corning Gorilla Glass (version not specified)
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 2.8GHz octa-core
|expandable via MicroSD up to 256GB
|12MP Sony IMX363 + 5MP Samsung sensor rear cameras, LED flash
|20MP front camera
|4G+ VoLTE (India)
|WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
|GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
|MIUI for POCO (Android 8.1 Oreo)
|4,000mAh battery w/ QC 3.0
What we liked:
* Good build
* Great performance
* Good cameras
* IR face unlock
* Very competitive price
What we didn’t:
* Non-premium build (but we could be nitpicking)