Dubai: Xiaomi’s sub-brand Poco F1 is the most affordable smartphone with the same performance and speed as you’d find in a high-end premium device. The 6.18-inch with an 18.7:9 display aspect ratio has a resolution of 2248 x 1080 pixels and houses 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage capacity. The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s 2.8Ghz octa-core Snapdragon 845 chip set and runs on MIUI 9.6 skin, based on Android 8.1 Oreo.
It weighs 180 grams.
The firm has cut corners to make it affordable by having a polycarbonate back instead of metal or glass and I haven’t seen a polycarbonate back on even a budget smartphone for a long time. So, it doesn’t look premium but it is sturdy.
Poco hasn’t missed out any key features such as 3.5mm headphone jack (on top), hybrid SIM card tray and USB Type-C charging port but the focus is on speed.
The notch sports the earpiece and an IR module for facial recognition. The earpiece also doubles as a secondary speaker while the other speaker is on the bottom right side. The loudness of the speaker is excellent.
The facial unlock feature is fast and opens the device in just one second and, at the same time; it also has a fingerprint sensor on the back, PIN and pattern options.
To stand out from the crowd, it has used a “liquid cooling” technology to absorb the heat and prevent it from overheating when playing graphic-rich games.
The MIUI 9.6 has added a few extras in the form of the app drawer. With the new Poco launcher, F1 comes with an app drawer that can automatically categorise apps, helping users finds apps easily. By swiping up, you can access the full list of apps. The interface does not have bloatware.
Bottom of the screen houses a tiny white notification LED which also lights up when a cable is plugged in.
It supports gesture-based functions and shortcuts can be created to launch the camera, take a screenshot, launch Google Assistant, turn off screen, close current app, open split screen and show menu.
Coming to cameras, it sports a 12MP primary sensor (f/1.9 aperture) with Dual Pixel Autofocus and a 5MP secondary shooter (f/2.0 aperture) and there is electronic image stabilisation to stabilise videos.
Both the rear and front cameras are supported by artificial intelligence (AI) features for photos, such as AI Portrait, AI Beautify, and AI Scene Detection.
The AI scene detection feature can recognise more than 25 scenes in more than 1,000 scenarios and automatically adjust the shooting mode but it is not as dynamic as in Huawei phones.
With AI, it oversaturates colours and if you don’t like it, it can be switched off.
The camera takes excellent photos in daylight with bright colours and details but in lowlight conditions, the shots lose details and grainy. The camera app is simple and has a short video, portrait, square, panorama, and manual modes.
When taking photos in lowlight, HDR turns on automatically to capture more details.
It can record 4K videos and 1080p at 30fps and no 60fps facility. Due to the lack of video stabilisation, you have to hold the device steady.
The front has a 20MP f/2.0 camera with portrait mode. It takes decent selfies in well-light conditions while the portrait mode produced a good bokeh effect. In lowlight conditions, it struggles. The snaps are OK but not great.
It can record Full HD videos while it can record slow-motion videos at 240fps at 1080p.
Regarding connectivity, the F1 has Bluetooth 5.0, Dual LTE SIM cards and dual-band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac but no NFC.
The 4,000mAh battery gave more than 17 hours in video playback. For heavy use, the device lasted for more than a day and more than two days for moderate users.
The fast-charging technology charges the phone to about 35 per cent in 30 minutes and takes one hour and 45 minutes to charge from zero to 100 per cent.
The 6GB of RAM and 128GB version is priced at Dh1,349 while the 6GB of RAM and 64GB version is priced at Dh1,249.
• Faster processor
• Excellent battery life
• Value for money
• Solid build
• Stereo speakers
• Fast charging option
• MIUI 9.6 skin is good
• Mediocre camera
• No NFC
• No 4K and 1080p recording at 60fps
• No EIS for 4K videos
• Not water and dust resistance
• Polycarbonate back
• MIUI will take time to learn