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Poco F1 review: Can this Xiaomi sub-brand challenge OnePlus 6?

Poco F1 gets it right with performance, camera and battery life

Poco F1 creates a lot of hype in the performance department, and so far in the course of my review it has managed to live up to most of the claim.

Poco by Xiaomi is the company’s new sub-brand that wants to launch a global flagship. The first product is the Poco F1, a phone with flagship-level specifications and a price (`20,999 starting) that makes you wonder just exactly how Poco arrived at this. The device has caused a lot of hype in India, where specifications often dominate the conversation. But price aside, does Poco F1 live up to the hype? After all, an affordable flagship is no guarantee of great performance? Here’s what we thought after reviewing the Poco F1.

Design and display

Poco F1 has an interesting proposition in terms of design. There’s no metal unibody, there’s no glass at the back like the OnePlus 6, which looks very premium and polished. Instead Xiaomi’s sub-brand Poco has gone with a plastic polycarbonate body. The review unit we got is the premium Kevlar Armoured Edition. This particular variant has Kevlar fibre at the back which gives it a very different touch and feel, without the slipperiness and fragility that a glass or metal body often brings.

Coming to the display, Poco F1 has a 6-inch display with full HD+ resolution. Poco is sticking with the LCD display like we have seen on other Xiaomi branded phones. It also comes with a notch on top, and the aspect ratio is 19.5:9. This is may not be an AMOLED display like on Samsung phones in this price range, but for videos and games, the screen is good value for money.

Performance, software, camera

Poco F1 creates a lot of hype in the performance department, and so far in the course of my review it has managed to live up to most of the claim. Now, keep in mind that I have the premium variant for review which has 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Still the Snapdragon 845 processor means that performance is not a problem on this device. Switching between apps, opening multiple apps, running games like Asphalt 9, Nova Legacy, etc., —all of it works without any problems.

Poco F1 is on Android Oreo 8.1 with MIUI 9.6. For one, it brings an app drawer to the MIUI phone, which has so far been missing on Xiaomi phones. The apps are grouped according to categories, though it doesn’t quite get all the categories right. The device also has Face Unlock with Infrared feature to ensure it works in total darkness.

Poco F1 has a 12MP+5MP camera and 20MP front camera. The big question for many: Is this better than the OnePlus 6 camera? I would say it comes close in some scenarios, though in Portrait mode, Poco F1 is not my favourite. Nonetheless, the camera did surprise me. It is capable of capturing some stunning shots in outdoor lighting, and compared to other Xiaomi flagships I have tried in the past, this is certainly ahead of them.

Verdict

In my opinion, Poco is trying to carve a niche in the `20,000-30,000 price range, where the options can often vary in terms of performance, camera and battery life. This is not to say Poco F1 will be a bestseller by end of 2018. After all, it took OnePlus years to establish itself in the Indian market. Still I would say that for those who want a flagship under `30,000 right now, Poco F1 is certainly a favourable option.

Estimated street price: Rs 29,999 (Kevlar edition)

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