Different brands have different strategies. While some with fruity flavours aim to squeeze every bit of that hard earned cash from you for their ‘latest’ and ‘greatest’, there are some companies who cherish brand value more. They keep costs low (don’t ask me how) and don’t spend money on marketing - their customers do it for them. We quite like the idea of providing the minimum flagship essentials like the cracking new Snapdragon 845 with a minimum 6GBs of RAM and 64GB storage.
But the question here is weather Xiaomi has cut too many corners in other aspects of the Poco F1 and if those corners are reason enough to shadow the fact that you get the flagship processor for very less money. Yes, it is given that corners will be cut, but there are a few other issues that plague the Poco that might just be a deal breaker for a few users. The fact that the Poco cannot play HD or Full HD content on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, some reports of screen bleeding and minor UI bugs all give out a dubious feel towards the F1. So, is it really worth it?
Design: Put your armor on
We’ve got the Armoured variant from Xiaomi and the build isn’t bad at all. The unit feels quite solid and the texture on this version feels slightly more premium than the regular plastic feel on the other variants. I have been using the Poco without any cover and it is that kind of a phone, you know. Meh, you don’t need a dedicated cover for it, because first of all there’s nothing fancy or glossy here and the unit feels like it can withstand the daily grind without added protection. I like the recessed fingerprint sensor and its location.
The Armoured variant I have, also features a tiny protector that the phone rests on. This is a nice touch and makes sure you don’t scratch that already rugged back even by accident. The chin on the Poco is slightly bigger and feels more edgy, but you get used to it within the first few days of usage. The buttons on the right hand side are fairly standard and don’t feature any texture for grip or anything like that, but the feedback is great and nothing feels low-rent here.
Display: On the bright side
You get a 6.18in 2246x1080 FHD+ resolution with a 403ppi count and when you look at it in isolation, you would say “Not Bad”. The colours appear pretty accurate and the saturation appears to be more on the natural side of the colour spectrum. But that’s all good until you put it next to the OnePlus 6 and that’s when you notice how colour and contrast could have been a tad better.
Compared to the OnePlus 6, the F1’s display appears a little less appealing, the 6 absolutely trumps it when it comes to colour depth almost making the F1 look a bit pale in comparison. Xiaomi does give you a full colour wheel to tinker with. Yes, you can even turn the display into a cringy green coloured mess, if you so wish to. Text however is as sharp as ever and it gets plenty bright too. Using it under direct sunlight is quite possible, if not the smartest thing to do, but you get the drift.
The lack of a Widevine L1 license limits the Poco’s ability to stream videos in HD or Full HD formats. Google Play Videos, Amazon Prime, Netflix and other services work, but what you get is a 520p resolution. The content that the Poco is capable of is still quite watchable and there’s not a major difference when compared to the others. Although there is news about Xiaomi fixing this issue in the coming months. We didn’t find any light bleeding issues or any other anomalies in our review unit.
The ‘dual channel’ audio is quite good and is well balanced. It gets adequately loud too and is great for watching movies, but gamers should stick to headphones.
Performance: Snappy tasking
The Snapdragon 845 with 8GBs of RAM makes the Poco a beast. It is quick on its feet and loads up apps and games like a proper flagship. There’s no stutter or any hint of it when you switch apps or play games, which at this price is amazing. You can download as many apps as you want and that option of having a memory card is just sweet. It handles PUBG without any issues (except the notchy kind, which also will be resolved soon) and the bigger battery allows longer play time.
Having multiple games open with a few other apps is handled quite well too as the Snapdragon 845 does its job. Other games like Altos’ Odyssey work flawlessly too. The ‘liquid-cooling’ tech doesn’t let the Poco get too hot either. But the processor isn’t the only draw of the Poco.
Camera: Warm memories
Xiaomi hasn’t skimped on the camera. The 16+5MP dual setup takes some great pictures if not the best. It handles highlights and shadows quite well, but is slightly on the warmer side. In outdoor shots the Poco sometimes fares better than the OnePlus 6, which tends to blow up the highlights more than required and underexposes at times.
The OnePlus still trumps it when it comes to finer detail and overall dynamic range, but the Poco isn’t far away to be honest. The Optical Image Stabilisation on the OnePlus helps it further and videos are better stabilised here than on the Poco. The 20MP front cam is pretty good and does a great job of portrait shots and has cool effects too which are similar to Apple’s Portrait Lighting.
Poco F1 Verdict
Yes, it has a decent camera and the Snapdragon 845 power all for ₹20,999, but there are still some issues that future updates will fix. MiUi 10 is still not as polished as it should be although much cleaner than before, we also like the fact that it segregates apps into categories, but the overall feel and experience is not as good as the slicker Oxygen OS on the OnePlus. But heck, it undercuts the competition by quite a margin and while not the best experience software-wise, proves to be value for money - specially for ‘power users’. Oh, don’t forget that almost two-day battery life. And with Xiaomi being transparent about the issues and fixing them, the Poco’s F1 button has finally showed up the ‘Help’ menu.