The Pocophone F1 is without a doubt the best value on an Android smartphone with the latest Snapdragon 845 processor, retailing at just $300 USD. There are even reports that Xiaomi is selling this smartphone at a loss. In this review, I am going to cover the good and the bad about the Pocophone F1.
What’s good with the Pocophone F1?
First, the Pocophone F1 has the latest Snapdragon 845 processor. I’ve played hours of PubG on my Pocophone and the Snapdragon 845 never lagged in any way and the phone even has cooling mechanism to keep the phone cool. In fact, my brand, new Pixel 3 XL heats up more than the Pocophone while playing PubG, I can really notice it on the Pixel 3 XL while the Pocophone keeps its cool. If you want a fast smartphone with the latest Snapdragon processor without spending more than $300, this is it!
Second, it’s got a whopping 4,000mAh battery life, that is more than most flagships and the Galaxy Note 9 has 4,000mAh battery. In my daily driving the Pocophone F1, I have never had any issues with battery life.
Third, it’s got a killer camera, the same camera sensor as the Pixel 3. Although it has no OIS, if you do install the latest Pixel 3 camera, you can get low-light performance as good as phone that have OIS. The photos keep up quite well with the flagships especially in daylight, it has very good HDR camera that really brings out your photos. And in my testing with flagships like the Galaxy S9, LG G7, and the Mi 8, the Pocophone had better Portrait shots than both the Galaxy S9 and LG G7. Now since there is no OIS, your 4K videos will be a little shaky but with the money you save, you can grab a gimbal for $120(I recommend DJI Osmo Mobile 2 by the way), and take some excellent 4K videos. In fact, I took some 4K videos with my Pocophone on my tripod and camera gear and it did terrific job. Overall, at $300, you won’t find a better camera nevermind keeping up close to the flagship phones out today.
4K Video Test w/ Pocophone F1:
Fourth, it’s also got 3D IR face recognition along with a fast back fingerprint sensor. While OnePlus 6T is launching with front in-display fingerprint sensor, I feel all of that is really gimmicky and will cause your screen to smudge more. I rather have a simple rear fingerprint sensor that works fast and the 3D IR Face recognition is a bonus that also works fast and more secure than phone without it. Best of all, IR face recognition works fast in complete darkness, which means you can use it everywhere. Bottom line, you can unlock this phone fast whether using fingerprint of your face.
Fifth, you can a decent 1080P LCD display. It’s not the brightest out there but Xiaomi didn’t put a low-grade 720P screen like most phone at this price would. It doesn’t have the best viewing angles nor is it bright but it is definitely usable and a decent screen that I wouldn’t call cheap or budget.
Sixth, it’s got a pretty decent speaker and microphone. Not the best but you will have plenty of sound and microphone works well, nothing to complain about.
Seventh, while most Xiaomi phones come with iPhone-style MIUI launcher, the Pocophone has its own launcher that is more like Android. I actually didn’t feel the need to change the launcher and that is a small feature of this phone that will allow you to use it without installing a 3rd party launcher.
Lastly but not least, you can also unlock bootloader after 15 days, and install a custom ROM. If you don’t like the software on it, you can install the latest LineageOS and even run the latest Android 9.0 Pie already. And it is definitely quite-well compatible with many other phones.
What’s bad about the Pocophone F1?
Bad 4G LTE coverage on the Pocophone F1
If you live in the U.S., 4G LTE support is lackluster. While it does support some 4G LTE bands of AT&T & T-Mobile, I find that the phone drops to edge in many places, making it unusable unless I am in areas where the 4G LTE works. In comparison to the Mi8, the Pocophone F1 is simply not usable as if you absolutely need 4G LTE whereever you go. Now, this is only for the U.S., if you are in Asia or Europe, your 4G LTE should work fine.
Pocophone has Decent screen but not great.
Now, I said the screen was decent but I never said it was great. The screen has not the best viewing angles and with LCD, you don’t get the battery efficiency of OLED screens. While Xiaomi Mi8, the slightly more expensive model has great OLED screen, the Pocophone F1 obviously has a watered-down screen. While it’s not a problem for daily usage, I find viewing on my Mi8 a ton better and things just look crisper. Also the screen is not bright as OLED so if you tend to use your phone in bright sun often, you may want to consider opting for a more expensive phone.
The Notch & NO Notifications
The Notch is TOO BIG on the Pocophone F1. And you will not see any notifications in the notification bar. Although you can hide the notch, unlike the Pixel 3, you will still get no notifications at the top. I got used swiping more to see my notifications but this could be a deal breaker for some. However, you can install a custom ROM and fix the issue.
Pocophone design isn’t going to win any awards. With a polycarbonate back and bricky design, it doesn’t feel thin in your hands but if you don’t mind slightly thicker phone with plastic feel, I don’t think it’s a huge problem.
Overall, the Pocophone F1 is cheap in terms of how much money you pay for a smartphone. In fact, it is incredibly priced low, I mean it’s hard to believe it’s true. At this price, I would expect a 720P screen with yesteryear’s processor, shitty camera, and a lackluster touchscreen. But for the money you pay, you get pretty decent 1080P screen, latest Snapdragon 845 processor, a great camera that keeps up to the latest flagships which gets even better when you install the Pixel 3 camera app, and a decent touchscreen you won’t complain about. If you wanted to spend the least on a smartphone, the Pocophone F1 is definitely your first choice.
Pocophone F1 has a lot of things that other flagships don’t, a whopping 4,000mAh battery, dual-SIM support with dual 4G connectivity for both SIM slots, 3D IR face recognition(although you have to set the region to India to get it working), and even a microSD card slot, which is missing from most other Xiaomi phones. The Pocophone F1 is built for all-day use including all-gaming and daily driving.
Now the big question, is this the best $300 smartphone I have ever used? Although there are things that I don’t like about it, if you consider that it only costs $300, the Pocophone F1 is definitely a great smartphone and I actually love using it.
I recommend buying on eBay here.
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