When Xiaomi teased the Poco F1 (Pocophone F1, to give it its full name) in India, we had a fair idea that the phone was going to feature industry-leading hardware at a competitive price.
That's because Xiaomi has a track record of disrupting the smartphone market with solid hardware at the lowest possible price.
We're not doubtful that Xiaomi has cracked the code to sustain in the Indian market, but of late we have seen many competitors like Asus, Nokia and even Honor following a Xiaomi-like strategy with their latest phones.
With an extensive product portfolio in India, Xiaomi is the current leader in smartphone sales, which doesn't seem to change anytime soon, thanks to their newly-entered sub-brand Poco.
Recently, Huawei launched the gaming-focused Honor Play with its flagship Kirin 970 chipset in India for Rs 19,999. In response, Pocophone has stunned the market with a price that seems both unbelievable and unbeatable.
Quite naturally, we had just one question - "how did it get the price so low?" That's what we're going to find out in our review.
The Pocophone F1 lands in four variants— 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, 6GB/128, 8GB/256GB and 8GB/256GB (Armoured edition). We have been hands on with the top-end Armoured Edition model.
Poco F1 release date and price
The Pocophone F1 pice starts at at Rs 20,999, and rises to Rs 23,999 and then Rs 28,999 for the 6GB+64GB, 6GB+128GB, and 8GB+256GB respectively.
The Armoured Edition comes in a single 8GB+256GB configuration and will retail at Rs 29,999. Pocophone F1 release date on mi.com and Flipkart is August 29, which means you can get hold of the handset right now.
It also brings a first sale offer with HDFC Bank which extends Rs 1000 instant cashback to all HDFC credit and debit cardholders. Also, there is a JIO offer with up to INR 8000 worth of benefits and 6TB of high-speed data.
Minimalistic but durable design
Xiaomi, despite being one of the most popular brands in India, isn't known for making the best-looking budget phones. It's not that the design is ugly, but it's not as fancy as Honor's premium glass body finish.
Rather, it's opted for a more practical approach by using aluminum on the body, which of course is more durable. With the Poco F1, the firm chose a similar approach.
That said, the Pocophone F1 is not the best-looking devices in its price range, but it surely is among the most durable ones.
The front of the phone isn't very distinct compared to most phones with 19:9 aspect ratio, except for a broader notch on top that resides an IR blaster to enhance facial recognition on the phone.
There's also a thick chin at the bottom, which means it doesn't really emphasize on an extremely high screen to body ratio like most OEMs these days.
While we have got the Armoured Edition that comes with a Kevlar back, the original phones have a good-quality polycarbonate. So if you want to get your hands on the best one, you will need to shed Rs 29,999 and not the base price of Rs 20,999.
Well, if you are fond of flashy-looking phones build out of glass or metal, this one isn't even close. However, the polycarbonate body does ensure longevity whereas metal phones dissipate heat better.
The Armoured edition that we have of course feels better than the polycarbonate variants. The good thing about it is that it's not slippery, neither fragile, so you don't need to put a case on the back like glass phones like OnePlus 6, Honor 10 or the Asus Zenfone 5Z.
Its look isn't the most intriguing part of the phone, but in practice, it is a pretty wise design and build for the price. In fact, if you are a fan of Moto's older design with textured back then the Armoured Edition will feel just like home to you.
What I liked about the design is that it stands out from the crowd that mimics Apple's iPhone X design. It looks nowhere close to the iPhone X except for the notch at the front.
Also, unlike recent Xiaomi phones, it ditches the iPhone X like camera bump and puts it in the center with an all-new design having red circles around the camera lens. That's a small but aesthetically pleasing touch to the design.
It's tightly packed, feels like a pebble because of its weight and thickness. It's 180g heavy and 8.8mm thick, which some might find slightly bulky.
As mentioned above, it's a sensibly designed phone that doesn't need a case and has a better chance of lasting longer than glass and metal phones.
The Poco F1 features a 6.18-inch FHD+ (2248 x 1080 pixels) display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. It also gets Gorilla Glass 3 protection on top, which is not the latest of the series but does save it from mild scratches and drops.
Xiaomi is quite consistent with their IPS LCD panels for some time now, and the same goes for the Pocophone F1. The screen looks identical to the one on Mi 8, which is a sub-par panel for a phone of this range.
Obviously, it is not as good as an AMOLED but does the job pretty good. Had it been an AMOLED panel, the black borders next to the notch would have looked evenly-merged, but that's not the case here.
Like most Xiaomi displays, this one also has muted colors and a bluish tint over white, which can be adjusted using the increased contrast mode to have punchier output. Color reproduction is average, it's not highly saturated or vibrant, but just par with most mid-range phones in the segment.