You have to go back to 2016 for a hugely successful Xiaomi device with a Rs 20,000 plus price tag. Two years is a long time in the smartphone space; that’s how long it’s been since the Mi 5 debuted in India. It’s why we think that Xiaomi’s game plan for a sub-brand is quite clever. The F1 is the first POCO device to hit Indian shores and this brand aims to play up an aspirational value or ‘cool quotient’ that cheaper Xiaomi phones don’t quite boast of. The F1 suffix is more than just a coincidence; it’s a clear message about the device’s calling card – ‘Speed’.
Whether you’re gaming or multi-tasking, speed is all-important for most users in 2018. It helps that data speeds have taken a quantum jump in India too. The POCO F1’s biggest weapon in its armoury is a Snapdragon Qualcomm 845 processor. It’s what the big boys and more pricey devices have under the hood. The F1 brings this processor to a device priced just above Rs 20,000 (for the base version) and that’s given this device some serious attention and traction. Xiaomi has just revealed that this new phone has set the online sales charts on fire not very different from the way the OnePlus 6 did a few months ago. The POCO F1 doesn’t just take a leaf out of the OnePlus book but has created a stir in the Rs 20,000 – 30,000 price band. That’s a significant price advantage over the OnePlus 6.
Flagship killers like the OnePlus 6 and Huawei Nova 3 didn’t just bring speed to the party. They added some serious oomph to the sub Rs 40,000 price band with their gorgeous all-glass form factor. The POCO opts for polycarbonate over glass, the top-end Armoured version that we checked out is finished with a Kevlar back. It lacks the chic appeal of glass but wins points for subtlety. It doesn’t just feel great in your hands but is also less likely to slip through your fingers. It’s also less prone to scratches. While the top-end Armoured version exudes a premium appeal, the bezels on the 6.18-inch screen are a tad thick and the notch is larger than the competition. The device retains a 3.5mm headphone jack that should come as a relief to most users.
We pushed this device to the extreme in terms of gaming and multi-tasking and it didn’t stutter. Aside from the zippy processor, there’s a choice of 6GB and 8GB of RAM and three internal memory options (The device also offers expandable memory up to 256GB). Xiaomi’s decision to augment this device with its proprietary LiquidCool technology ensures that the device doesn’t freeze or heat up when pushed hard. We were also impressed with the device’s battery performance (4000 mAh). It should comfortably last a day even with the occasional bouts of gaming and video catch ups. It’s not just gaming or downloads, the device is fast in every conceivable scenario whether it’s the responsiveness of the fingerprint sensor or the face unlock feature.
The camera is quick on the draw too. The 20MP selfie camera impressed us with its portrait mode while the dual rear cam (12MP + 5MP) shoots great images in ambient light. It’s not quite the OnePlus 6 or Huawei Nova 3 in low light though. But you do have to keep the device’s sticker price in perspective.
The F1 marks a great start for Xiaomi’s fledgeling sub-brand – POCO. Xiaomi has truly upped the stakes by offering a hardware package that until now belonged to pricier devices. It’s why we think Xiaomi has a winner on its hands. Of course, it’s not without its blemishes but for sheer speed and performance at a price that won’t break the bank, the POCO F1 looks set to shake things up.
The POCO F1 is available in four variants – Rs 20,999 (6GB RAM / 64 GB ROM), Rs 23,999 (6GB RAM / 128GB ROM), Rs 28,999 (8GB RAM / 256GB ROM) and the Armoured Edition at Rs 29,999 (8GB RAM / 256GB ROM)