Xiaomi (pronounced “shh-OW-mee” funny isn’t it?) might not be a household
name in the UK, but the popularity of the brand in Asia makes it the fourth most popular smartphone manufacturer in the world. Now it’s aiming to make in roads hereby launching its powerful but affordable Android phones.
Specs, build and pricing
The Pocophone F1 is a slightly cheaper alternative to Xiaomi’s flashy flagship, the Mi 8Pro, which is also new to the UK. However, we think the Pocophone is the more interesting of the two, particularly because Xiaomi hasn’t scrimped on the specs.
By some feat of technical wizardry, the Pocophone is fitted with Qualcomm’s fastest-ever mobile processor, the Snapdragon 845 –the same chip thatpowers phones costing at least twice the price.
RAM and Pricing
Pair that with 6GB of memory,and a choice of either 64GB or 128GB of storage,and you’re looking at amid-range tour de force.
At £324 (Approx $417), it’s incredibly good value –roughly £170 cheaper than the excellent OnePlus 6T. However, there’s a chink in the Pocophone’s armour.
Battery and Top Mount
Screen and camera
The Pocophone F1 follows the trend fortall, thin displays with ascreen that’s 6.18in, with an 18:9 ratio and a resolution of 2,246 x1,080 pixels. Its pixel density of 403ppi (pixels per inch) makes for ample sharpness, but you have to put up with awide notch jutting into the top ofthe screen (unless you opt to hide it by reducing the screen space).
The superb IPS display is capable of producing 91.7% of the sRGB standard’s colours. The contrast ratio of 1,371:1 also does justicetoimages captured with the Pocophone’sdual rear camera.
Its maximum screen brightness of 446cd/m2 (candles per square metre) is good enough for outdoor use,though it may not be quite bright enough for using in direct sunlight.
Rather than offering a secondary wide-angle lens or a 2x telephoto zoom sensor, the Pocophone’s secondary rear-mounted camera senses the depth of ascene to create effects such as background blurring around portraits.
The main camera takes photos up to 12 megapixels.Thep hone captured some truly stunning images. Shots of London’s bustling skyline were bursting with crisp detail and accurate colours, with the HDR mode successfully lighting up shadowy areas.
Still images hold up very well under scrutiny, especially in low-light conditions, with minimal graininess.
Video capabilities arejust as good, even if the recording modes arelimited –for instance, 4K footage can only be captured at 30fps (frames per second) and there’sno built-in stabilisation.
There are plenty of alternativeshooting modes on offer,including 120fps super-slow-motion and time-lapse capture.
Performance, battery, and interface
The Qualcomm octa-core 2.8GHz Snapdragon 845 is the same chip used in most of 2018’s pricey top-end phones and, with its 6GB of memory, you can expect very similar benchmark results.
It stormed through Geekbench 4’s duo of single and multi-core processor benchmarks, achieving near-identical scores to the OnePlus 6T and Pixel 3, and blazing past similarly priced competitors such as the Vivo V11 and Nokia 7.1.
Graphics performanceis equally potent. The Pocophone reachedaperfect score of 59 in the GFX Bench GL Manhattan 3.0 on-screen gaming test,and will effortlessly run any Android game you can think of.
Typically, such power comes at a cost to the phone’s overall battery life. Thankfully, the Pocophone has taken no such hit and was capable of playing for15 hours and 29 minutes in our continuous video-playback test,though that isn’t as long-lasting as the OnePlus 6T or Vivo V11.
There are couple of downsides. Pocophone F1 isn’t certified for dust or water resistance, so you’ll have to be careful to avoid any bathroom or kitchen mishaps, and keep it out of the rain.
Then again, the OnePlus 6T isn’t protected from the elements, either, and that phone costs considerably more. The lack of NFC is a bigger problem.
You won’t be able to use the Pocophone F1 for your contactless payments via Google Pay, for instance, which is abit of a pain if you’re used to tapping your phone to make purchases.
Finally, although the phone runs Android 8.1, Xiaomi has been heavy-handed with additional software. For the most part, it functions as you’d expect but the app icons are childlike and unsophisticated, and the Settings menu behaves differently, making it harder to use.
App notifications don’t always show up at the topof the screen, either.However, these are minor issues and can be remedied with your preferred launcher.
Conclusion on Pocophone F1
Xiaomi has planted its flag firmly in UK soil with the Pocophone F1, entering the field of mid-priced phones with high-end specs previously dominated by the likes of OnePlus.
This particular model focuses on hard-hitting internal components, only cutting corners in the build and presentation.
More expensive phones may use more robust materials with a classier design, but it’s asacrifice we think is worth making to get a phone that performs just as well but for a lot less money.