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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Xiaomi Pocophone F1 Review

From all the phones that came out in 2018, the Pocophone F1 may be considered the most disruptive. Xiaomi’s idea was simple. Make a phone with flagship internals at the lowest price possible. For a starting price of about US$330, you could get a “flagship” grade phone. I took advantage of Lazada’s 11.11 sale, and together with a credit card promo, I was able to get the 6GB/128GB variant for only Php14,000 or about US$260. A fantastic deal! Now, after using it for about two weeks let’s see if this phone is the real deal.

The Good:

Flagship Performance
All day battery life
IR Face Unlock

The Bad:

Notch Screen
No camera OIS
No wireless charging


6.18” 18.7:9 display (2246 x 1080) FHD+
MIUI 10, Android Oreo
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845
8x Qualcomm® Kryo™ 385 cores, Up to 2.8 GHz
6GB RAM, 64/128/256GB ROM
12+5MP dual pixel AI dual camera, Main Camera Sony IMX363 12MP, 1.4μm, 20MP front camera
Rear fingerprint sensor
Battery: 4000mAh


The Pocophone is one of those anomalies in the smartphone world. While almost every manufacturer is moving away from plastic by using shiny glass and metal as their casing material, Xiaomi gave simple marching orders to their engineers. Make a phone with top internals and forget how it looks outside. In other words, make a phone for phone nerds. And they did.

SnapDragon 845 processor with liquid cooling, up to 8GB RAM, up to 256GB Storage, Dual SIM, SD Card expansion,  USB C, headphone jack, good camera and big ass 4000mAh battery. It’s like they asked me what I wanted in a phone and then they built it.

Naturally, they had to do some cost-cutting. The phone is made out of plastic (actually they call it polycarbonate), they used an LCD screen instead of AMOLED, no wireless charging, no waterproofing and no OIS in the camera. All of which are reasonable compromises to get it down to this price point.

Look, a lot of you might say that plastic is so 2015. It may very well be since my last plastic phone was my Samsung S4. But in reality, the first thing you do with a new phone is slap a rubber or plastic case on it anyway. The LCD screen may not be a nice as an AMOLED but it’s still very good and usable even under bright sunlight. You might think that this phone is all about compromise but it even beats some flagship phones from the likes of Samsung, LG, and even the so-called flagship killer OnePlus. Things like liquid cooling, SD expansion, headphone jack, and even the big battery are just some examples of features the others don’t have.

I also have to point out some negatives. Aside from the plastic build (which doesn’t bother me), the notch on the LCD annoys me. It cuts out notifications that you normally would see on the top of the screen. Hopefully, Xiaomi can address it in future software updates. MIUI 10, Xiaomi’s skin on top of Android may turn off some users. Like I said in previous reviews, I was prepared to hate it, but after using it, it has grown on me. 

I have discovered a lot of useful features like the Fullscreen gestures, Dual SIM support, built-in spam blocker, MI Cloud and even MiMessage which is like iMessage on IOS. I also need to mention that the Pocophone has its own launcher which adds some additional features on top of MIUI like having an App Drawer. And as an icing on the nerd cake, those that like to unlock and install custom ROMs, Xiaomi has made it very easy and you can find a lot of tutorials on YouTube. I was also able to install the Google Pixel 3 camera, and it has blown me away with its Night Sight feature. I also need to mention that the fingerprint scanner is lightning fast, IR face unlock works even in complete darkness, and the 4000mAh battery lasts the whole day which makes up for not having wireless charging.

Stock camera app

Using the Google Pixel Camera APK

It may seem that this review is all positive, and to be honest, I have a hard time finding faults with this phone, especially when I think of how much I paid for it. The closest competitor I can think of is the Honor Play, but even that will have a pretty hard time competing. I’m sure by now other manufacturers have taken notice which makes me excited to see what phones will be coming out next year. But for now, the Pocophone F1 is without a doubt the ultimate bang for your buck phone.