Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Review


No one likes it when things become more expensive to purchase. In the smartphone world, increases in prices are all too familiar and it’s a trend that’s unlikely to stop – ever. And that’s partly why Pocophone, a sub-brand of Chinese tech company Xiaomi, was able to make such an impression when it announced the Pocophone F1 not too long ago. The phone stole the spotlight away from the mainstream competition with its flagship-grade hardware specs and irresistible starting cost of around $350 – besting even what OnePlus offers.

Before we proceed on, you should know that the Pocophone F1 is not available in the US – and importing one wouldn't be a good idea, mainly because it doesn’t support many of the LTE bands used by US carriers. Then again, we were curious to see what US consumers are missing on, so we spent some time with an F1 to find out.

In the box:

  • Pocophone F1
  • USB Power Adapter
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • SIM Eject Tool
  • Clear Soft Case
  • Users & Safety Guides

Design



The design of the Pocophone F1 instantly draws comparisons to the OnePlus 6. From its overall dimensions to the notch with its display, its curved edges, and even the arrangement of its rear camera with the fingerprint sensor below it, the Pocophone F1 looks eerily similar to the OnePlus 6. Our review unit is actually the Armoured edition of the phone, which flaunts DuPont Kevlar fiber for a more sophisticated look. Despite its back being made of this unique material, the phone’s overall design style is still a tame one – something that looks great for its price point, but it doesn’t match the premium look and feel of flagship phones.

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Dimensions

6.12 x 2.96 x 0.35 inches

155.5 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm

Weight

6.35 oz (180 g)

OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6

Dimensions

6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches

155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75 mm

Weight

6.24 oz (177 g)

Honor Play

Honor Play

Dimensions

6.22 x 2.92 x 0.29 inches

157.91 x 74.27 x 7.48 mm

Weight

6.21 oz (176 g)

Asus ZenFone 5z

Asus ZenFone 5z

Dimensions

6.02 x 2.98 x 0.3 inches

153 x 75.65 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.82 oz (165 g)

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Dimensions

6.12 x 2.96 x 0.35 inches

155.5 x 75.3 x 8.8 mm

Weight

6.35 oz (180 g)

OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6

Dimensions

6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches

155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75 mm

Weight

6.24 oz (177 g)

Honor Play

Honor Play

Dimensions

6.22 x 2.92 x 0.29 inches

157.91 x 74.27 x 7.48 mm

Weight

6.21 oz (176 g)

Asus ZenFone 5z

Asus ZenFone 5z

Dimensions

6.02 x 2.98 x 0.3 inches

153 x 75.65 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.82 oz (165 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Worth noting too is that the Pocophone F1's design doesn’t feature any sort of water-resistant characteristics. Then again, that shouldn’t come as a shock given the phone's price. Regardless of that, we will certainly give it credit for offering a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. We also appreciate the clear soft case that it comes packaged with.

Display



The Pocophone F1 features a 6.2-inch 1080 x 2246 edge-to-edge LCD display that’s more than suitable to use for all sorts of things with its 403 ppi pixel density, but the display just seems like a drab – to the effect that it looks subdued in tone, lacking the iridescence to command attention. Outdoor visibility is okay for the most part when it’s viewed straight on with its peak brightness output of 439 nits, but at wide angles, there is some visible distortion. And yes, the notch here is pretty wide, but it can at least be masked through the settings to hide it.

Interface and functionality


Being a Xiaomi-made smartphone, the Pocophone F1 runs a tweaked version of the company’s MIUI 9.6 interface on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. The experience covers the basics without being overly complicated by redundant features.

Favoring a minimalist styling, the US also has the option for a gesture-based interface, and functionally, it is very similar to what you'd find on an iPhone X. This alternative method of navigation frees up valuable screen space and feels all sorts of futuristic. Such a change it isn’t for everyone, of course, which is why we see classic on-screen buttons enabled by default.

The software is accompanied by bloatware from Xiaomi’s stable. Take for example the “Drop” app, a file transferring service, which can’t be uninstalled. But at least these additional apps are not as pervasive as some of the bloatware that US carriers typically package in with their phones.

Processor and Performance


One of the most amazing things about the Pocophone F1 is that it leverages the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, which is rather surprising given its cost. This is the very same chip powering much more expensive phones, including the Galaxy Note 9 and the LG V40. Combined with 8GB of RAM, it’s no surprise that the Pocophone F1 screams ferociously with its snappy performance. There’s definitely a sense of speediness here with its response, which rivals even newer Android phones like the Pixel 3/3 XL. Over on the graphics processing side, it’s more than capable of delivering steady frame rates – thanks to its LiquidCool Technology that keeps the phone relatively cool while gaming.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 241634
OnePlus 6 260353.5
Honor Play 204779
Asus ZenFone 5z 268722
JetStream Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 67.251
OnePlus 6 88.123
Honor Play 56.253
Asus ZenFone 5z 86.417
GFXBench Car Chase on-screen Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 27
OnePlus 6 30
Honor Play 22
Asus ZenFone 5z 33
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 45
OnePlus 6 50
Honor Play 38
Asus ZenFone 5z 59
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 1750
OnePlus 6 2413.66
Honor Play 1897
Asus ZenFone 5z 2459
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 5056
OnePlus 6 8929
Honor Play 6618
Asus ZenFone 5z 8789

The Armoured edition of the Pocophone F1 which we're reviewing is accompanied by 128GB of internal storage, which is significantly more ample than what’s offered with other budget phones, but unlike OnePlus, Xiaomi does offer expansion via the microSD card slot in the Pocophone. The base version is paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Camera



On the back of the phone, we’re presented with an "AI” dual-camera configuration that breaks down to a 12MP f/1.9 and 5MP f/2.0 combo featuring dual-pixel autofocus, large 1.4μm pixels in the primary camera, portrait mode, EIS for shooting 1080p video, and an LED flash. Naturally, this dual-camera configuration allows for portrait effects that blur out the backgrounds to make the subject stand out. As for the front, it’s packing a beefy 20MP camera with autofocus.

Similar to other “AI” implementations we’ve seen, the AI camera will intelligently detect the scene and try to deliver “optimal” results. The camera interface covers all the basics, covering modes such as panoramic, portrait, and even a manual mode. For most users, the camera interface suffices with its mixture of modes.

Image Quality



Typically, phones at this price point don’t stand out for the performance of their cameras, but the Pocophone F1 is an exception – as long as it has enough light to work with. Photos shot in favorable lighting conditions are clear and detailed, with good dynamics range. But as you would expect, image quality drops noticeably in low light, with details suffering due to aggressive noise filtering. Overall, most of our low-light photos were usable, though not exceptional.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 1.4
1.8
No data
No data
OnePlus 6 1.8
2
No data
No data
Honor Play 2
2.1
563
463
Asus ZenFone 5z 1.57
1.47
751
356

Video Quality


Wow! Again, we weren’t expecting results this good, but that’s reality. With 4K 3840 x 2160 capture, videos are accompanied by sharp details, but colors tend to be a bit more saturated in tone. Lacking OIS, the camera stabilizes 1080p videos electronically, but 4K videos lack stabilization – even though the confusing camera settings menu may lead you to believe otherwise. Low-light videos are much noisier, as expected, but are usable.

Battery life


Impressively enough, Xiaomi is somehow able to pack in a high-capacity, 4000 mAh battery into the Pocophone F1, which is remarkable because its dimensions match very closely those of the OnePlus 6. And not surprisingly, the phone delivers outstanding battery life, achieving a time of 10 hours in our custom battery benchmark test. Real-world usage is also impressive, typically leaving us around the 40% mark by the end of the night. Equally satisfying is its speedy 115 minutes recharge time, which is pretty quick given the capacity we’re dealing with here, but don’t expect to find wireless charging.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 10h (Excellent)
OnePlus 6 8h 10 min (Excellent)
Asus ZenFone 5z 8h 21 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 115
OnePlus 6 80
Asus ZenFone 5z 97

Call Quality


Volume is no problem through the earpiece when it comes to handling phone conversations, just as long as you smoosh your ear directly over the earpiece, because if not, it can be tough to discern voices. Speaking of that, they tend to have a slightly shrill tone at the loudest setting. On the other end of the line, there’s a little bit of distortion, but it’s again acceptable enough for our callers to make us out. However, you’ll want to refrain from using the speakerphone because of its heavy distortion and subdued output.

Conclusion



Xiaomi’s Pocophone F1 is one of those sleeping giants hiding in the shadows, just waiting for that opportunity to strike down the competition. Seriously, there’s a lot going for this phone that overseas can be had for the equivalent of about $350, which is bonkers for a phone featuring a Snapdragon 845. Adding to that is how it performs very well in a variety of areas. From its speedy processing performance to the better-than-expected snapshots its cameras capture and long-lasting battery life, the Pocophone F1 is a remarkably well-rounded budget smartphone.

From a US buyer's perspective, however, things don't look as rosy. The Pocophone F1 is not officially sold in the US, and even if you import one and manage to get it working on your carrier, you won't be getting good – if any – LTE coverage. But in markets where it's officially sold, this is one value-rich smartphone. Needless to say, it’s a valiant first effort and we’re already eager to see what its successor will be able to deliver.

Pros

  • Incredible value
  • Better-than-average battery life
  • Snappy processing performance

Cons

  • Lacks support for US LTE bands
  • Dull-looking display
  • Underpowered speaker

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

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26 Comments

1. jellmoo

Posts: 2562; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

The lack of NFC is a deal breaker. I'd rather get a device with a mid-tier chipset that has NFC than a device without it.

18. pritkudale

Posts: 2; Member since: Feb 08, 2013

I have NFC in my 3 year old phone. Still never used it till date.

21. hansip87

Posts: 226; Member since: Nov 10, 2015

some online app can now add digital money to the electronic money card. Sure it was not used as much before. but now it begins to be a necessity. especially in Asia.

25. Loveneesh

Posts: 432; Member since: Jul 14, 2015

I also never used it.

19. ryugathewolf87

Posts: 28; Member since: Oct 07, 2018

The LG Optimus G in 2012 already had NFC.

2. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3097; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Best value for money flagship phone in 2018. Competition is tough.

4. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Yep, it's on my list too.

14. Loveneesh

Posts: 432; Member since: Jul 14, 2015

I purchased it recently but my armored edition comes with 256gb storage not with 128gb as mentioned in the review above.

3. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Thank you for giving this phone the attention it deserves :-)

5. notfair

Posts: 717; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

Sorry, but the battery is EXCELLENT.

6. TheOracle1

Posts: 2210; Member since: May 04, 2015

Here we go again with PA's battery tests. GSMArena rates the Pocophone at 94hrs and the iPhone XR at 78hrs but PA has the XR way ahead in battery life. The difference is so glaring I'm almost embarrassed for PA. Meanwhile the phone isn't sold officially in the US and lack of LTE is a negative? Wtf? The reviewer says the display is dull but fails to mention that miui allows you to adjust it to your own taste. In fact the way he basically ignores the features of miui tells me he didn't explore the software properly. Case in point is citing the Xiaomi file sharing app as bloat.

15. Loveneesh

Posts: 432; Member since: Jul 14, 2015

Absolutely right, why lack of us band is a negative when it's not available in us, Also it's face unlock works without lights also. And can't be fooled by a picture.

20. Victor.H

Posts: 1055; Member since: May 27, 2011

Their rating includes talk time which is directly dependent on battery size. We don't think there's a need to measure that, but feel free to disagree. For the browsing and video tests the correlation is similar, but of course, you can take 1 number and try to spin it the way you like.

7. aljosamitrovic

Posts: 16; Member since: Sep 28, 2018

As owner of Pocophone i can assure you that his battery performance is great, it is very snappy, coming from iPhone SE i am pleasantly surprised how fast this phone is, clean UI and solid feel in hand. Winner.

8. STRANG3R

Posts: 234; Member since: Sep 24, 2015

Us is not only country in the world and its already saturated market. So if its not sold here why mentioned in its cons lol.

13. polar2792

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 10, 2018

Their is no competition for this phone at this price point that works on most US LTE bands. Yes the market is saturated at this price point but nothing compares to this phone that is $350

9. Pureviewuser1

Posts: 150; Member since: Mar 28, 2016

My pocophone is exellent value for money and i will only change it when the pocophone2 arrives

10. coolrx

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 15, 2013

I have one and I don’t know how you only have 5k geekbench multicore, it should be at 8.9k+. Also the same miui version, my antutu is about 265k. After upgrading to miui10, the antutu becomes 285k. Not saying it would affect real life usage but why your tests results are way different.

11. worldpeace

Posts: 3127; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Probably defect, or they run it on low-power mode. But in most case it's 8k-9k https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=pocophone

12. OneLove123

Posts: 963; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

Their scores are always low for android. Look at t the pixel 3xl score.

16. drifter77

Posts: 400; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

Been rocking this phone for over two months. Overall pretty satisfied with speed, battery, camera and overall experience. A few minor bugs here and there but nothing serious at all. Waiting for the next gen Poco2.

17. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

Pros: "Better-than-average battery life" wth are you talking about ,, 10Hours is an excellent mark for battery life and you call it Better-than-average battery life in the pros ,, guys are you drunk ?

22. dimas

Posts: 3341; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Damn John V, you take good selfies like it's part of your system since birth! Great review of the pocophone.

23. cheetah2k

Posts: 2213; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Damn cheap phone with high end specs. Can't really complain about it. I reckon 8.5 is a great score for what it is. I would disagree that the lack of US LTE bands is a negative when iPA has forgotten that Xiaomi have marketed this phone towards the better part of Asian and India markets, and it was never really meant for US distribution. That being said, a modified global ROM would probably unlock the US LTE bands in the future, especially since its a Qualcomm driven handset.

24. Charlie2k

Posts: 120; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

So.. Iphone Xs performance at an 1/2 iPhone SE price tag. Chinese companies really know how to deliver.

26. maxdroid

Posts: 9; Member since: Dec 29, 2018

realme is also a new manufacturer. They can be on par with xiaomi
Pocophone F1
  • Display 6.2" 1080 x 2246 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 20 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 4000 mAh

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