The Pocophone F1 was a smartphone that truly focused on value for money. It included the important features and excluded the unimportant ones. We liked it because of its fantastic optimization of features, specs, and value.
Fast forward almost two years, the Poco brand has had more than just a name change. This time around, the latest device is looking and feeling very different. Can Xiaomi’s Poco F2 Pro match the hype and value of its predecessor?
Find out in Android Authority’s Poco F2 Pro review.
Poco F2 Pro review: Here’s the deal
Xiaomi’s Poco brand sells budget-friendly smartphones. The company put its name on the map after its pilot device launch — the Pocophone F1. The F1 was released at a crucial time when many of the top devices were starting to breach the four-figure mark in terms of cost. The F1 came in and woke up the market and showed consumers that you didn’t need to spend big bucks to get big specs.
The F2 Pro carries this idea forward. It’s a smartphone that costs half that of a true flagship, and yet it offers flagship specs. Can it deliver in the speed department given its top-to-bottom redesign?
- 163.3 x 75.4 x 8.9mm
- Glass and metal build
- In-display fingerprint scanner
- Pop-up selfie camera
- USB-C port, headphone port
If you’re wondering if you’ve seen this design before, it’s because you have. The Redmi K30 Pro and the Poco F2 Pro share the same chassis. On both front and back, we’re treated to Gorilla Glass 5 with metal framing the device. This is a huge change from the predominantly polycarbonate construction of the original F1. The F2 Pro feels like a more premium phone in the hand than its predecessor, helping it fit into a smartphone market that skews toward the high end.
Up front there’s an uninterrupted display. The bezels surrounding said display are fairly thin, adding to the Poco F2 Pro’s good looks. The selfie camera is housed in a pop-up mechanism, which also houses the notification LED — a welcomed feature, as many smartphones lack it. The pop-up camera seems smooth and fairly quick to jump out of its slot. There’s also an IR blaster and headphone port on the top. The left side is bare, but on the right there is a volume rocker and a red power button. The buttons feel relatively clicky and tactile. I didn’t experience any creaks or rattles during my time with the device, either. On the bottom, there’s a USB-C port running at USB 2.0, a dual SIM tray, a mono speaker, and a microphone.
The quad-camera circle is positioned around back close to the top edge. It looks rather like the circular module of last year’s OnePlus 7T. The flash sits just below it, and the Poco logo is right at the bottom.
The optical in-display fingerprint scanner was finicky, sluggish, and unresponsive at times. The original F1’s traditional scanner was rapid, so this is a shame. Xiaomi did not make the phone to be water-resistant, but you wouldn’t expect that in a device at this price. The healthy array of colors means there’s an option to suit most people’s tastes.
The Poco F2 Pro's build quality is far superior to its predecessor's.
The phone as a whole feels well put together. I was impressed with just how much better the F2 Pro felt to use than the F1.
- 6.68-in. Full HD+ display
- 2,400 x 1,080 resolution
- 20:9 aspect ratio
- AMOLED panel
- 60Hz refresh rate
- Gorilla Glass 5
The Pocophone F1’s display was pretty good, and so you’d expect the F2 Pro’s to be just as good. It is. In fact, thanks to its larger size, uninterrupted panel, and higher screen-to-body ratio, it’s far more immersive than the previous model. It’s even been upgraded from an IPS LCD to a Super AMOLED for better contrast, deeper blacks, and punchier colors.
The Poco F2 Pro’s refresh rate is just 60Hz. Many flagships are running 90Hz and even 120Hz panels. That said, I’m not sure Xiaomi would have been able to pack a 120Hz panel into the F2 at this price point. I think the omission is justified.
The display itself looks great. Holding it side by side with the F1, the difference in fidelity is easily spotted. I ended up watching a few episodes of The Simpsons on the F2 Pro one evening and I was impressed with how bright the display got. I was sitting in my garden at the time and the viewing experience was great. Netflix HD is enabled on the F2 Pro, so if you’re a mobile movie buff, this device should be a contender for your next phone.
- Snapdragon 865
- 1 x 2.84GHz + 3 x 2.42GHz + 4 x 1.8GHz
- Adreno 650
- 6/8GB RAM
- 128/256GB storage
- No microSD card
Was there ever a question that the Poco F2 Pro was going to be quick? It’s got top-shelf hardware inside and good software. It doesn’t matter whether you scroll through the same three social media apps every day or play heaps of high-end 3D titles, the Poco F2 Pro has you covered. It’s pretty hard to mess up performance when you have the 865 purring under the hood.
During my time with the device, I experienced very few hiccups. The user experience was smooth, even when switching between power-hungry apps like the camera app and Real Racing 3. Image processing seemed to complete quickly, and opening multiple apps in quick succession was no problem.
Gaming itself proved to be no issue for the device. I played Fortnite, Real Racing 3, and a host of other 3D titles and my gaming experience was almost flawless. I say almost because loading in certain maps there was the odd short stutter, but nothing that would really affect your ability or performance in-game.
It’s pretty hard to mess up performance when you have the Snapdragon 865.
I ran Geekbench 4 to compare the raw horsepower of the Pocophone F1 with the Snapdragon 845, the Poco F2 Pro with the Snapdragon 865, and the similarly-priced OnePlus 7T with last year’s Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset. Here’s how they compare.
The F2 Pro sports a large, 4,700mAh battery and fast 30W charging. Charging from 0-100% takes just 64 minutes, and the gap between charges stretches two days. This kind of battery life is likely thanks to the large cell, aggressive RAM management within MIUI, and the lack of a high-refresh-rate display.
That said, I’m not super heavy on my phone. My typical day consists of social media scrolling with a bit of Spotify. I’m also connected to 4G on the O2 UK network and to my home network over Wi-Fi 5. I connected some true wireless earphones and used those for about 30 minutes every day during exercise.
Continue reading: The phones with the best battery life in 2020
- Android 10
- MIUI 11
MIUI 11, based on Android 10, looks and feels rather different from stock Android. Some will love it, and some will hate it. I personally love MIUI’s aesthetic, with its bubbly, minimal approach to the design language. There’s a healthy use of background blur for screens like the notification dropdown and recents. The default app-drawer layout with tabs for automatically-sorted application types is clean and helpful.
By default, there are a fair number of bloat applications installed. It’s annoying to have these automatically come loaded on the phone, but at least you can remove them without much hassle.
As far as software updates go, the original F1 came with Android 8.1 and has received Android 10 this year. This should indicate that the Poco F2 is likely to get at least two platform upgrades in its lifetime. That said, Xiaomi hasn’t made a public statement on its commitment to software updates for the F2.
- Main: 64MP, f/1.89 (IMX686)
- Ultra-wide: 13MP, f/2.4
- Macro: 5MP, f/2.2
- Depth: 2MP, f/2.4
- Selfie: 20MP
- Video: 1080p at 30fps
- 8K at 30fps
- 4K at 60fps
- 1080p at 960fps
The main camera on this phone has a big sensor with a high pixel-count. Flanking it are ultra-wide, depth, and macro cameras. The omission of a telephoto camera is one that I find reasonable. Most 2x telephoto cameras don’t add much value for the user and most of the time it’s better to just crop-in on a high-quality main sensor. Overall, the hardware is pretty good — it doesn’t stand out in either a positive or negative way.
Image quality is rather inconsistent. The main sensor does manage to pick up a fair amount of detail, and the colors are well-balanced in my opinion. There’s no over-saturation here, which is nice considering similarly-priced Realme phones tend to over-process the colors. However, there is a bit too much contrast for my liking and it can make scenes look overly moody. HDR isn’t enabled by default, so you have to toggle it on to lift the shadows to a reasonable level.
Portrait mode produces some good photos thanks in part to the depth sensor. Edge detection seems to be decent, even with my lockdown hair. There is some minor haloing around the subject where the focus rolls off, though that’s more of a processing artifact than a styling thing.
There is a significant drop in quality when switching to the ultra-wide camera, which isn’t surprising. The colors don’t change massively, but there is a drop in dynamic range with deep shadows becoming gloomier than real life.
I noticed some noise-reduction artifacts. As you can see in these images, the dark portions where the vegetation sits on the cliff has a weird smoothing effect. It’s as if the camera is picking it up as noise and trying to smooth it over while the rest of the image is processed normally. Hopefully, Xiaomi fixes this in a software update.
The macro mode was fun to play with. It’s a gimmick if anything, and I’d have preferred a telephoto lens, but the quality isn’t bad as far as cheap macro cameras go.
Flipping around to the front, the F2 Pro’s selfies are a bit soft, but have some solid dynamic range and accurate colors. I’m glad that there’s less noise reduction here because it could have potentially led to artifacts in selfies. There is a fair amount of noise in the selfie images, but it’s not overpowering.
Night mode is pretty disappointing. It’s exclusive to the main sensor and the processing isn’t great. It doesn’t seem to take as long to snap the photo as other devices, some of which take upwards of 10-second captures, so there’s naturally less data there for the phone to work with. The resulting images are too smooth and have too little detail. Moreover, weird blue/purple artifacts surround the images like a vignette.
Moving onto video, the UHD 4K 60fps is exclusive to the main shooter with the ultra-wide recording at 30fps. The footage is shaky and there’s a lot of contrast, which results in videos that look a bit cheap.
The Steady video mode uses electronic stabilization. It drops the frame rate from 60 to 30fps and the resolution from Ultra HD to Full HD. It does the job, but the crop and quality loss are significant trade-offs.
As for the 8K 30fps video, it records at 100Mbps and shares the 4K’s shaky and contrasty properties. It’s cool to have, but I don’t see anyone using this mode a lot. It takes up double the amount of storage space, isn’t as smooth as the 4K60, and can’t be played at native resolution anywhere but on 8K TVs, which are few and far between.
Xiaomi’s camera app is pretty good in my opinion. There are plenty of modes and features, and everything you need is there, but there is a strange layout. Whoever made the decision to put the macro mode button in the photo mode instead of on the carousel with the rest of the modes needs a stern talking to, and the default beauty modes are annoying and shouldn’t be on by default.
The full-sized versions of the camera samples shown here and more can be found in this Google Drive folder.
The speaker is unfortunately a mono job. The earpiece is not amplified to create a stereo effect — a popular technique in 2020. It gets loud enough, but the sound quality isn’t great thanks to a distinctly tinny sound signature. Xiaomi has thankfully decided to keep the headphone port present. It’s refreshing to see a device with such performance keep the headphone port.
The F2 Pro sports a sub-6GHz 5G radio, though I haven’t been able to test speeds due to the lack of local 5G coverage. There’s Wi-Fi 6 present for those with fancier home wireless networks, though I was still able to pull 250Mbps download and 115Mbps upload on my Wi-Fi 5 setup. We’re also treated to Bluetooth 5.1.
Poco F2 Pro specs
|Poco F2 Pro|
|Display||6.68-inch Super AMOLED|
2,400 x 1,080
20:9 aspect ratio
Gorilla Glass 5
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865|
|RAM||6GB (LPDDR4X), 8GB (LPDDR5)|
30W fast charging
Quick Charge 4+
|Cameras||64MP, f/1.9, 26mm, 1/1.72-inch sensor|
5MP, f/2.2, 50mm
13MP, f/2.4, 123-degrees
2MP depth sensor
8K 30p, 4K 60P, 1080P 240p, 1080p 960fps
20MP, 1/ 3.4 inch sensor
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner|
|Dimensions and weight||163.3 x 75.4 x 8.9mm|
|Colors||Neon Blue, Phantom White, Electric Purple, Cyber Grey|
Value for money
- Poco F2 Pro: 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM — $499
- Poco F2 Pro: 8GB RAM, 256GB ROM — $549
The Poco F2 Pro is definitely more expensive than its predecessor, but I believe the jump in price is justified when you consider the equally significant jump in build quality, spec sheet, and, most importantly, the new display. Moreover, with the competition charging upwards of $100 more for their devices, the F2 Pro starts to look like one heck of a deal.
The Poco F2 Pro looks like one heck of a deal.
At $499 for the 6/128GB version, this smartphone is comfortably cheaper than the Realme X50 Pro 5G which costs $720. That makes it one of the cheapest devices on the market with a Snapdragon 865, and if that’s something that you really want, then look no further than the F2 Pro.
Note: The Poco F2 Pro’s price in India has yet to be announced, but is expected to be around Rs. 30,000. Similarly, the Poco F2 Pro’s launch date in India has not yet been confirmed, but rumors point towards a mid-June release.
Poco F2 Pro review: The verdict
Xiaomi’s Poco F2 Pro is one of the best affordable flagship smartphones. A cracking spec sheet, good quality display, a decent camera, and great battery life are all wrapped up in an appealing metal and glass shell.
There are some obvious compromises, like the “normal” 60Hz refresh rate, the missing telephoto camera, and the lack of wireless charging. However, for the target market — and in the context of the competition — these things don’t matter as much on a $499 phone.
Xiaomi cut the correct corners to get the price-to-performance ratio just right with the F2 Pro.