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If you’re a gadget geek worth your salt – as we know many of you are, and just as we ourselves are! – then you’ve been awaiting the Philippine debut of the Pocophone F1 with bated breath.

Pocophone is of course the new-kid brand on the block, but one with the formidable might of Xiaomi behind it, and it seems set to offer a superb value-for-money value proposition just like Xiaomi itself does. Perhaps an even better one: the F1 has itself been quite highly touted for showcasing great features like its 6GB of RAM and octa-core Snapdragon 845 processor at extremely reasonable prices.

Stick with us as we take the Pocophone F1 for a spin and get to know it a little better, just for you! Xiaomi and Pocophone are touting this phone as the “King of Speed” – let’s find out if it’s worthy of that particular moniker and crown!

An honest phone

The first thing to know about the Pocophone F1 is that it isn’t super special to look at. Styling-wise, Pocophone appears to be perfectly happy to keep its light under a bushel, so to speak.

The F1 is nothing if not simple and cleanly styled. It might even seem a bit dull to those of us who’ve been spoiled by the likes of Huawei and Honor, and, at much higher price points, Apple – those firms whose phones boast swoopy styling, sexy glass or aluminum bodies, and gorgeous colors. The F1 is decidedly different; it’s unabashedly made of polycarbonate (although the highest-echelon Armored Edition does boast a Kevlar aramid fiber coating on its rear panel) and comes in three muted but attractive color choices, Steel Blue, Graphite Black, and Rosso Red.

We like to refer to the F1 as an ‘honest phone’ – made of simple, durable materials that may not be as captivating to the eye or the fingers as more premium materials, but which can be relied upon to last for a long time and look decent even after having been used for quite a while.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the F1 is a run-of-the-mill smartphone based solely on its styling and plastic body. Because it most decidedly is not!

A spec monster

Take a peek under the F1’s hood and you’ll see exactly how much of a spec monster this phone really is – belying its sedate appearance.

The F1’s screen is a 6.18-inch full HD IPS display (2246 x 1080, ~403 ppi), an appreciably bright, sharp and clear unit with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. It’s made of Corning Gorilla Glass to help make sure it can take some damage without cracking. The bezels of the F1 are a tad thick, especially the ‘chin;’ the notch up top is rather large; and the display lacks an oleophobic coating, meaning you’ll be able to smudge it rather easily – but these are hardly deal breakers.

There’s a fingerprint sensor out back, although it’s positioned a bit too close to the dual-lens camera for our liking. The powerful front camera, more on which later, allows for a Face Unlock feature for those of you who think that fingerprint unlocking is a thing of the past.

The F1 rocks Qualcomm’s vaunted Snapdragon 845 processor – yes, this is a flagship-level processor! – as well as an Adreno 640 GPU. You can pick from two variants – the base model, with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, and a higher-specced model, also with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. (6GB of RAM is really nothing to sneeze at even for phones twice the price of the F1.)

Given the F1’s processor and RAM combination, it’s no surprise that we found this phone to be a pretty snappy performer. It handled even the most processor-taxing games we tried with ease, with nary a stutter nor any lag whatsoever.

And just in case you’re the kind of mobile gamer who does like to run his or her phone pretty hard, you’ll also appreciate the F1’s pretty cool – both literally and figuratively – liquid-cooling solution to help make sure your F1 doesn’t overheat during intense gaming sessions. This novel solution proved quite efficient; never once did our test unit heat up too much during our test, even when we pushed it very hard.

And we also really appreciate the fact that Pocophone gifted the F1 with a pretty generous 4000mAh battery that in our tests averaged a day and a half with moderate use and two days with light use. A Quick Charge feature helps ensure that users don’t have to wait too long to top up.

We also really like the fact that the F1 comes with a set of stereo speakers (at the top, the earpiece does dual duty in this regard; at the bottom, the dedicated speakers take pride of place).

OS-wise, the F1 is powered by a specially tweaked version of Xiaomi’s MIUI 9.6 that’s based on Android 8.1 Oreo. We hear that an update to MIUI 10 that’s based instead on Android Pie is being readied, and we hope that will be released soon.

Camera-wise, the F1 boasts a decent 20MP front-facing snapper with an f/2.0 aperture to help you take good selfies and wefies, as well as a 12MP (f/1.9) + 5MP (f/2.0) dual rear camera that’s powered by a Sony IMX363 sensor. We’re happy to report that these cameras proved pretty decent, and like most other smartphone cameras nowadays, were able to do quite well in good lighting and were increasingly less capable in dimmer lighting.

Lastly, in case it matters, the F1 still does come with a headphone jack!

The verdict

What more can we say? The Pocophone F1 is a keeper, even though it competes in a segment as viciously competitive as the “budget flagship” smartphone segment. It’s a fabulous performer that, thanks to its unmatched spec package, offers no less than shocking value for money. Not only is it the “King of Speed”, we also think it might just be the “King of Value”, too. Enough said!

 

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