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Xiaomi Poco F1 Review

This is a phone you would be comfortable to use without a case and holds up to daily wear and tear better than phones with glass backs

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There has to be a catch, there just has to be." These were the murmurs in the crowd when Xiaomi unveiled its new Poco sub-brand and the all-new Poco F1 at a shocker of a price in Delhi. Think about it – the Poco F1, packing a flagship grade Snapdragon 845 chip and fast RAM and storage, is sold in three variants, and all three – from the base 6GB/64GB to the top-end 8GB/256GB – retail for under Rs 30,000, with the base spec starting at Rs 20,999. To put that in context, the OnePlus 6, a phone mentioned one time too many at the launch, starts at Rs 34,999, making the hitherto ‘affordable flagship’ almost seem expensive by comparison! The value proposition of the Poco F1 is… well, insane!

About that catch, though. Some would say it is the choice of a polycarbonate rear panel, a material that was quite the toast of town several years ago but one that has made way for metal and glass. And to be fair, the Poco isn’t the most premium looking phone around, but what it lacks in flair, it more than makes up in durability.

This is a phone you would be comfortable to use without a case and holds up to daily wear and tear better than phones with glass backs. The colour options are interesting, but if you want something distinctive, look at the Kevlar-back Armored Edition (Rs. 29,999).

Now, for a phone gunning for the competition well north of its own price point, the phone is a revelation of what can be delivered with a little help from parent Xiaomi’s scale. The phone has a 6.18 19:9 notched display, a pretty decent IPS LCD panel at that, which delivers vibrant colours and good brightness levels even outdoors. The notch houses an iPhone X-style infrared facial recognition feature which is incredibly fast, even in the dark (plus there’s an equally snappy fingerprint scanner on the rear). The emphasis on speed is a recurring theme across the device – aside from the speedy internals, Poco has incorporated liquid cooling in the device, which prevents the phone from overheating during prolonged gaming sessions. There’s a 4000mAh battery with QuickCharge support (plus a 18W fast charger in the box), which not only goes the distance but juices up plenty fast as well. Keeping things snappy on the software side of things is MIUI 9.6, which not only is optimised well for the chip but also offers a bunch of customsation options to satisfy even the most ardent tinkerer. A rollout to Android 9 Pie is expected later this year.

It comes down the camera, then. For its price, the F1’s camera is pretty decent, with images offering bags of detail and high dynamic range. The AI modes can auto-identify scenes, and the portrait mode nails it time and again with the edge detection. In low or tricky light, the results can be a bit of a hit and miss, with the camera’s noise reduction algorithm going to town and softening details, particularly in the background. Overall, the cameras fare well, leaning towards solid, if not exceptional, performance.

So, when you look at the F1 and pit it against phones above and below its price point, it cuts none of the corners you would normally associate with delivering this much of a phone at this price point. No missing headphone jack, a second SIM slot for expandable storage, a good dual speaker setup. Shut up and take my money, Poco. You have damn well earned it. Should you buy it? Absolutely, if you can get your hands on one.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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magazine 1 september 2018 Xiaomi Poco F1

Tushar Kanwar

The author is Technology Columnist and Program Manager in Bengaluru, India

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