If you wanted a premium Xiaomi phone, you got it. Well, sort of. Poco by Xiaomi is a new sub-brand from the company that focuses on delivering faster performance and a premium phone-like experience. As expected from Xiaomi, the company is building its own army of flagship killers with the best of processors and lots of under-the-hood optimisation - all at an affordable price.
The debutant is the Poco F1, which features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 8GB of RAM - a combination long considered exclusive to expensive premium phones. Except for Asus (Zenfone 5Z), barely any smartphone brand has been able to deliver the same under ₹30,000 in India. It's not just the specifications game that Poco F1 wants to win, but the overall experience as well.
Aimed at niche and power users who like to push their phones to the limit with longer sessions of gaming, downloading and high-resolution multimedia streaming, Poco F1 brings unique technology like liquid cooling to the table. This means you can play games for a longer period of time without worrying about the phone heating up. During our time spent with the phone, Poco F1 stayed true to claim. It acted like a good sport through everything from graphic intensive games like Real Racing to basic running games like Subway Surfer.
But it's not just the gaming bit you'd like about the Poco F1 - the software experience is pretty impressive as well. The phone has a unique launcher exclusive to Poco phones. The UI makes it easier to search for apps by categorising them. Certainly not a new concept, but it gels well with the onboard MIUI ROM. Poco F1 is also in line to receive future MIUI and most probably Android Pie updates. There's also a search bar at the bottom of the phone.
So, where does Xiaomi cut corners? Well, the design is a bit off of the new Poco phone. In an era of phones with glossy glass panels and glass panels, Poco F1 stays ahead with a polycarbonate body bearing metallic edges - a combination quite popular in 2016 phones. Looks-wise, there's not much to talk about as you can easily confuse the phone with any other device currently in the market. The front has an unapologetic notch that's a tad wider than what you'd expect on a phone.
However, Xiaomi justifies the wider notch by putting a bunch of sensors into it. You can hide the notch (essentially add black strips at the top to merge the cutout), but we are not sure if that would work in the long term. We didn't like the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the back either. It's way too close to the rear camera sensor and you may end up smudging the lenses frequently. The display is pretty good indoors, but you cannot expect much from the phone at full HD resolution.
Summing up, Poco F1 with Snapdragon 845 SoC, 8GB RAM and 256GB built-in storage looks like a good deal for the price. Poco has an edge over the competition with the Xiaomi brand tag and a price that the competition doesn't even come close to. OnePlus 6, the most popular affordable premium phone, also offers a similar specifications sheet but the top-end model costs a lot more than that of the Poco F1. We will dive deeper into the performance and overall camera quality of Poco F1 in our detailed review. Until then, stay tuned.