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POCOPHONE F1 Review - #Numbawan for the price!

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A month after it was introduced in Indonesia, here's our full review of the POCOPHONE F1.
POCOPHONE F1 Review - #Numbawan for the price!
The best for the price?

For our review part 1: POCOPHONE F1 Unboxing and First Impressions

Display Quality

Big screen!
Big screen!

The POCO F1 has a 6.18-inch panel with 18:7:9 screen aspect ratio. It has an FHD+ 2246 x 1080 resolution with 403 ppi. We like that it has slim bezels on the sides, not that thick chin bezel, and far from huge notch on the top of the display.

It has a good color accuracy which doesn't produce oversaturated images. Contrast and black are fine for an LCD screen. Just do not expect it to compete with flagship IPS and AMOLED screens found on higher-end smartphones.

For the price, its screen is more than good enough. It can let you enjoy crisp and highly detailed images, videos, and other types of contents.


It also has decent viewing angles and strong enough brightness for outdoor use. However, it is a more prone to glaring competed with other mid-range phones we tested.

On the software part, it has automatic contrast mode. It also has the default, warm, and cool color settings. Adaptive brightness is also accurate.

If you want to hide the notch, you can turn it on and off as well.

Like most modern mid-range and high-end phones, it has 10 points of touch for easy typing and swiping experience.

Audio Quality

One speaker in front on the earpiece, one speaker at the bottom
One speaker in front on the earpiece, one speaker at the bottom

The POCO F1 is one of the few with a stereo speakers in the under PHP 20K price range. It is also one of the rare Xiaomi phones with two speakers in total. It has a single speaker below and another speaker found on the earpiece.

Loud stereo speaker output!

In our test, it produced rich and clean output even on max loudness. Distortion is hardly noticeable to be fair. Mids and highs are well separated. Lows and bass are not that strong, like nearly all speakers found on phones. Soundstage is obviously better than the Mi 8 due to its stereo setup.

Overall, its speaker quality is just a step below the likes of the Galaxy Note9, iPhone X, and the P20 Pro. However, those devices are available in the over PHP 40K price category. The POCO F1 is just price at PHP 18 to 20K.

One of the few minor weaknesses of the POCO F1 is its headphone audio output. Yes, let's be glad that it has the 3.5 mm headphone female slot and it has a close to flat/balanced audio output.

Sadly, its driving power is not that strong even if it has Dual Smart PA and Dirac HD audio.

You will need to crank the volume higher than your usual listening level at times. It can drive some of my IEMs with multi-driver setup, but it wasn't able to make them shine.

Microphone quality for calls is decent as expected. It is usable for video recording as well. We like that it can record in stereo quality.

However, there are few occasions where it made my voice a sound weaker. Fortunately, audio recording quality is respectable most of the time.

Battery Life

Over 16 hours!
Over 16 hours!

On the battery, the F1 has a LARGE 4,000mAh battery. It is simply bigger than most batteries found on other similarly priced and even higher priced devices. The POCO also has the Snapdragon 845 AIE processor with better battery optimizations with the help of AI.

The highest battery score we got from a device with flagship grade specs!

The result? It got a total of 16 hours and 12 minutes at the PC Mark work battery life test. It one of the highest battery score we ever got from a device with flagship worthy specs.

In our actual usage, it can easily last for 1.5 days to 2 days on a single charge under light to moderate usage. Heavy users who plays a lot games with 4G data all the time can still enjoy a day of use.

To extend the battery life of the POCO further, it has a battery saving feature in battery settings.

For charging, it has Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 tech. It can fully charge the device in just 1 hour and 30 minutes.

That's impressive for a phone with 4,000mAh juice!

Camera

Dual-camera goodness!

At the back, the POCO F1 has a dual camera setup. It has the 12MP f/1.9 Sony IMX363 sensor + 5MP f/2.0 Samsung sensor. It also has Dual Pixel AF, EIS, AI, and dual-tone LED flash.
The camera UI
The camera UI

We like that the POCO F1 has a clean camera UI. You can easily reach for most of the modes and camera settings. It has auto HDR, AI, color filters, portrait, and manual camera modes.


You can easily turn the AI on or off. The AI is there to help users take "better" photos automatically. It is for scene detection. It will adjust the camera settings automatically like exposure, saturation, and etc. based on the condition.

The F1 can detect a total of 206 scenes like food, plant, pets, and more.

For the pro mode, it has WB, focus, shutter (1/1000s to 32s), and ISO (100 to 3200). Sadly, there's no EV and metering though.

You can even add a watermark if you want.

Shutter speed is respectable. Just do not expect it to be as fast as the iPhone X. Focus speed is super fast and accurate. It can go toe-to-toe with the Mi 8 for me. Taking macro shots (around 2-3 inches near) in broad daylight is possible as well.

Shooting with the F1 is SUPERB for the price!

In daylight and well-lit scenarios, it can shoot images with excellent quality. It is mostly crisp and detailed. Noise is hardly noticeable unless you will zoom. Zoom is pretty good up to 3x. Colors are accurate yet far from undersaturated. Obviously, it isn't oversaturated as well.

The portrait mode is also nice. It can deliver images with natural looking background blur. Its edge detection is pretty impressive. Not perfect, but again, impressive.

Its auto HDR works. Most of the shots we got has plenty of details and good dyanmic range. Contrast is also superb at times.

The AI is also quite impressive. It will adjust the exposure and colors properly depending on the situation. It is mostly hit than miss. It won't oversaturate your shots as well.

For indoor shots, it still has accurate white balance. We even had a shot against the iPhone XS where the POCO F1 won in the color accuracy department. Details would be lesser versus the daylight shots though.

In lowlight, shots are decent for the price. But do not expect it to beat the likes of Mi 8 and other higher-end devices. Shots in lowlight are noticeably softer with more noise and less dynamic range. 

Fortunately, it has less artifacting compared with other AI-assisted camera phones. It has great exposure in lowlight too.

You can try the pro mode or flash to improve your lowlight shots better.

Overall, it can compete with the likes of Nova 3 and Mi 8 in the camera department despite its much lower price tag. It can even give most of the 2017 flagships a hard time.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight 1
Daylight 1
Daylight 2
Daylight 2
 AI HDR
AI HDR
Normal
Normal
3x zoom
3x zoom
Indoor close-up 1
Indoor close-up 1
Indoor close-up 2
Indoor close-up 2
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 1
Lowlight portrait mode
Lowlight portrait mode
Outdoor lowlight
Outdoor lowlight
Outdoor lowlight 2
Outdoor lowlight 2

For selfies, this handset has a 20MP f/2.0 front camera. It has HDR, face beauty, and portrait mode. It also has the 4-in-1 light fusion technology and AI.
A really good selfie camera
A really good selfie camera

To my eyes, it is one of the better selfie cameras right now. It can take highly detailed selfies with good color reproduction and accuracy. Surprisingly, the bokeh/portrait mode is also good even if it has a single sensor only.

Lowlight selfies are good. But, make sure that you have steady hands to avoid blurry shots. It has more noise than the lowlight shots from the main camera.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie bokeh
Daylight selfie bokeh
Indoor selfie with face beauty
Indoor selfie with face beauty
Indoor selfie with bokeh
Indoor selfie with bokeh
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie

POCOPHONE F1: First Camera Samples

For videos, it can shoot with 1080p and 4K at the back with EIS. The video on 4K has the sharper details, but I prefer to shoot on 1080p mode as its focus and stabilization is better. Exposure is good on both 1080p and 4K modes. For me this is one of the best video shooters in its class.

In front, it can take up to 1080p selfie videos. It has good colors and fine details with acceptable stabilization. However, there are times where it'll overexpose your background. Make sure to avoid against the light video selfies.

Video Samples


Performance

Monster scores!
Monster scores!

No JOKE, the POCOPHONE F1 is just as fast and as good as most flagship phones found in the over PHP 40K price range.


It is a BEAST for the price!

It has Qualcomm's top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 AIE octa-core SoC clocked at 2.8GHz with Adreno 540 GPU. It is coupled with at least 4GB RAM for steady multitasking and 64GB storage to store a lot of apps and files as well.



It can load all the apps we know with ease, open multiple apps, do multitasking properly, and play the heavy games at high frame rates always. For example, it was able to load PUBG Mobile and NBA 2K18 at max settings.

The LiquidCool tech is real too. The thermal management of this device is amazing even if you are on 4G LTE while playing games.

Overall, it has the performance which can go toe-to-toe with most high-end phones in the market.
MIUI for POCO
MIUI for POCO

Like what we said in our live video last month, I like MIUI version on the POCO F1 versus all the other Xiaomi phones I had in the past. Currently, it is at MIUI 9.6 for POCO based on Android 8.1 Oreo.

It has an app drawer with cleaner looking overall look. It plenty of bloats, but most of them are non-removable. Maybe, this it one of its minor trade-offs.


The POCO also has the security app which scan, boost the speed, battery usage, and clean your the software of your phone. You can use it to keep the performance the device fresh always.
Other features of the phone

It has one problem though. It doesn't have full DRM (Digital Rights Management) support for apps like the Netflix though. Hopefully, they can seed an update to fix that minor issue soon.

For security, this handset has the both the fingerprint scanner and IR face unlock. However, if you are not based in India, only the fingerprint scanner will work.

You will need to set the region of your device to India first before you can use the IR face unlock. Again, we hope that POCOPHONE will seed an update to fix this issue.

The rest of the telephony experience is GREAT as expected. WiFi, 4G LTE, Bluetooth, and GPS signal are accurate, strong, and stable. It has a gyroscope sensor for VR and AR apps, NFC (if you need it), and dual SIM card slots. GSM signal is pretty strong too.

Pros - Nearly everything from durability, performance, battery life, cameras, connectivity, and affordability
Cons - Build is not premium, IR face unlock only works when you set the region to India, 

Verdict

The POCOPHONE F1 is the talk of the town for many reasons! It did a LOT of things right for MUCH less than the competition!

They didn't skimp on quality despite its crazy low starting price of PHP 17,990 for the specs.

Imagine, you can now get a phone with top-of-the-line performance and battery life for a price of a mid-range smartphone. They even added a pretty good cameras in it!

POCOPHONE proved that a handset this good is possible at this price point.

To us, this is the very best for the price!

Remember, the F1 is just the start for POCOPHONE. We can expect them to make more value-packed devices in the near future.

Let's hope that other manufacturers will follow their path. 

Build/Design - 4.25
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.75
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 5
Average - 4.5/5
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