This is the Pocophone F1, one of the most talked-about phones around right now. At a starting price of 449 Singapore dollars, it’s the cheapest phone you can buy now with a Snapdragon 845 chipset. But as you would expect, there are some compromises made to get the phone to this price point. So let’s take a closer look at the phone, and see if it’s actually worth buying.
Once you pick up the phone, you immediately find the first telltale sign that this is a cheaper phone. Instead of metal or glass, it’s just using good ol’ plastic. I actually don’t mind it that much since I’ll use a case anyway, and it still feels pretty solid. There’s no creaking or flex, and the buttons feels really nice too. The plastic body will probably hold up better when it comes to accidental drops. It lacks water resistance so try not to drop it in water, but at this price it’s not a deal breaker.
The Pocophone F1 also lacks NFC, which is a little disappointing since I use Google Pay quite frequently. On the bright side, we still get a headphone jack here. There isn’t really much to say about the display other than it’s okay looking. It gets bright enough outdoors, the colours looks decent, and the contrast is good. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the bottom corners are a little too rounded. When watching a video, the lopsided corners looks a little weird, and in some games, it partially blocks some UI elements. I also noticed that if you pay close attention, the curvature of the corner, doesn’t quite match the curvature of the bezels. I’m really just nitpicking though, since most people probably won’t notice this. I’m normally okay with having a display notch, but the one on the Pocophone is a little wider than most other Android phones. So there is no room at all for any notification icons which is a little annoying.
The reason for that wider notch is the infrared scanner for face unlock, so it works even while in the dark. If you’re not a fan of that, there is still a regular fingerprint sensor at the rear which is lightning fast. Talking about speed, this is where the Pocophone F1 really shines. It’s packing the Snapdragon 845 chipset, with a decent amount of storage and RAM even for the base model. So if you play a lot of games, you’re going to really enjoy using this phone. Gaming performance is excellent, and it even comes with some sort of liquid cooling system to ensure good sustained performance. Battery life has been really good too since it has a sizeable 4,000mAh battery. So even with quite a bit of gaming, I could still get through a day of use. Another nice bonus is the dual speaker setup which I was totally not expecting for a phone at this price point. Most of the volume is still coming from the bottom speaker, but the call speaker provides just enough sound to add to the overall experience. Camera performance is also better than I was expecting for a phone at this price. I’ve been able to get some pretty good looking shots from the phone. The images looks sharp with nice details and colours. It does struggle a little in low light due to the lack of hardware stabilisation, but it’s still not that bad. Because of the lack of hardware stabilisation, 4K video recording can look a bit shaky, but there is electronic stabilisation at 1080p which looks pretty smooth.
The secondary camera on the Pocophone F1 is mainly used for portrait shots, and those works well enough for the most part with decent edge detection. The 20MP front camera performs decently too when it comes to portrait shots, and regular selfies looks good enough. So while it may not have the best camera experience by a long shot, I think it’s more than good enough considering the price of the phone. By the way, everything I took with the phone can be found in a link below. This is where I want to talk about the software, which to me is probably my least favourite part of the phone. It’s running a slightly tweaked version of MIUI, so it has a lot of the same additional features, tweaks, and apps. I do like that it now has an app drawer, but I still think it’s a little too heavy for my taste. In day to day use, I can definitely tell that it’s not as smooth compared to the OnePlus 6 despite having the same chipset. So is the Pocophone F1 still worth buying despite its shortcomings? I think it depends. I have no doubt that the Pocophone F1 is good value for money. But personally, I would rather pay a little bit more and look for a used OnePlus 6 or Sony Xperia XZ2 for a more well-rounded experience. I also think that those devices will be more reliable for long term usage.
However, if you’re looking for a brand new phone with the most amount of performance you get can for as little money as possible, and you are willing to look past its shortcomings, the Pocophone F1 is definitely still a great option.