Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which has made deep inroads into the low and mid-price Indian market, is now targeting a bigger share in the premium segment -- redefining it with the launch of its sub-brand POCO F1 that comes with high-end specifications at a lower price.
POCO F1, that is now available in India, packs features that were unheard of in the Rs 20,000-Rs 30,000 price segment.
The three variants -- 6GB RAM+64GB ROM, 6GB RAM+128GB ROM and 8GB RAM+256GB ROM -- are available for Rs 20,999, Rs 23,999 and Rs 28,999, respectively.
Xiaomi, despite having its roots in China, decided to release this smartphone first in India.
As soon as the prices were revealed, the tech world took a note. While some experts thought the company has unnecessarily disrupted the premium market, others speculated the onset of a new price war.
What made everyone stand up and take a look at the new offering from Xiaomi were its superb specifications.
Before POCO F1, expecting the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip in a phone at nearly Rs 20,000 appeared like asking for the Moon.
OnePlus 6 and ASUS ZenFone 5Z are also powered by the same processor but they come at a higher cost. The 8GB RAM+128GB variant of OnePlus 6 costs Rs 39,999 while the 8GB RAM+256GB storage variant of ASUS ZenFone 5Z costs Rs 36,999.
Moreover, POCO F1 houses a massive 4000mAh battery -- as powerful as that of Galaxy Note 9 which costs three times as much as POCO F1 -- and runs the Android 8.1 Oreo operating system.
Does it live up to the expectations? Let's have a look.
In terms of performance, it surely does. What works in its favour is the "LiquidCool Technology" which helps the device dissipate heat when put to heavy use. We also found no problem in downloading and playing the heavy "Asphalt 9: Legends" game.
At moderate usage, the battery was enough to last a whole day after being charged 100 per cent.
The audio quality of the phone is not very great but is loud so you will find it easy to hear recordings, songs or videos.
The 12MP+5MP dual rear camera with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities captured good quality images, bringing out colours that were very close to natural tones, even in low-light conditions.
The 20MP front shooter is exceptionally good, especially in comparison to ASUS ZenFone 5Z.
It has some other interesting features like the infra-red Face Unlock feature that helps users unlock the phone even in pitch-dark condition, simply by looking at the screen.
The app unlock feature gives an extra level of security to protect your privacy.
What does not work?
The premium features are not backed by a premium look and feel. It has the notch but the bezels cannot be called ultra-thin as is the case with ASUS ZenFone 5Z. Moreover, it is not a glass-bodied phone; it has a polycarbonate back with a metal frame.
It features a 6.18-inch LCD screen which is no match to the vibrancy of the AMOLED display in the OnePlus 6.
The device also lack the optimal image stabilisation (OIS) feature. It means that when your hands are a little shaky, the picture could easily get blurred.
Conclusion: We believe POCO F1 offers what most Indian consumers want -- good value for money. In departments that can really enhance the experience of a smartphone user like processor, battery and cameras, the phone shines owing to its relatively lower price.