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From F1 to F4: Here’s how the Poco(phone) has evolved


poco f4 and its three colors, silver, black and green (from left to right) Source: Pocketnow

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In 2018, when brands like OnePlus began drifting into making more expensive and mainstream flagships, a gap was again opening up in the budget smartphone market, creating space for a new set of devices to offer that enthusiast-grade experience to customers. And Xiaomi, a Chinese OEM known for its value-for-money hardware, decided to attempt to fill this gap with a sub-brand, a strategy previously executed by Huawei.

Thus came about Poco, who rattled the world of smartphones with the Pocophone 1 — a device that offered a combination of specifications with the sole focus of delivering on the motto, ‘Everything you need and nothing you don’t.’

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Four years on, Poco has moved out of its sub-brand positioning, calling itself an independent entity, and still producing devices offering some of the best value for money. For 2022, its lineup has seen the addition of the Poco C40 and, more recently, the X4 GT and F4.

In this article, we will focus on the Poco F4, the latest in the OEM’s flagship lineup, and look at how the F Series has evolved over the years and whether it remains true to the ideology behind the original.

Poco F1

In 2018, the Poco F1 found itself in a market where flagship devices from OnePlus touched prices around the $600 range; this meant the budget flagship market, which enthusiasts ran around, was again open for a new competitor. The Poco F1 fit right into this slot with its attention-grabbing inclusion of Snapdragon 845 and $300 price tag.

Next, the raging design choice around this time was to have a notch on your smartphone, and the Poco F1 did just that. The first smartphone from the brand featured a 6.18-inch FHD+ display with an iPhone X-like notch and thick bezels. Encasing this display was a metal chassis with a polycarbonate back panel.

For those who were ready to spend more, the brand did offer a Kevlar-bound option, but when pit against the smartphones it was trying to compete with, the Poco F1 didn’t look as good. Nevertheless, for its price, the device did a lot of things right.

The display was more than bright enough and had decent sharpness. Plus, the Snapdragon 845 was so good that it showed why consumers didn’t need to spend top dollar to get a well-performing smartphone. Plus, the 4000 mAh battery held its own.

Also, while not stellar, the cameras on this smartphone were good enough — Poco F1 featured a dual-camera setup, with a 12MP Wide and 5MP Depth Sensor, with a 20MP shooter on the front.

The smartphone made a case for itself as a stronger performer, with its price tag doing most of the heavy lifting. This meant that when its successor would come about, the device would need to check all of the boxes the Poco F1 did and more.

Poco F2 Pro

poco f2 pro

Then a little under two years later came about the Poco F2 Pro. There was no standard F2 model alongside this, meaning the F Series now featured a more expensive device than before and was quite different. At €499, the F2 Pro showed a steep increase from its predecessor’s €330 head-turning price, but it also did a lot of things differently. Especially its design, as gone was the cheap polycarbonate and thick bezel aesthetic.

The F2 Pro featured a significantly better-looking display than the one on POCO F1. It featured a 6.68-inch FHD+ display with no notch and no hole punch. The front camera here was of the pop-up kind. A Super AMOLED unit also replaced the IPS LCD. So, the colors and viewing experience showed a significant upgrade.

Handling the performance on this device was the Snapdragon 865. With RAM options including 6GB and 8GB SKUs, which came in tow were either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Like on the F1, the processor provided an experience that’s hard to argue against, as the chipset was a flagship product. And to ensure your sessions were never cut short, the F2 Pro came with a 4700 mAh battery that supported 30W charging.

The cameras also saw an improved approach, with three of the four rear sensors capable of capturing decent images — the rear system included a 64MP Wide, 13MP Ultrawide, and 5MP macro sensor. And in front was a 20MP shooter, which was okay at best but did add pizzaz with its pop-up mechanism.

So, although the POCO F2 Pro brought a steep price increase, in a market where OnePlus had crossed into the premium territory, the €499 POCO F2 Pro was an option that made its mark.

Poco F3

POCO F3 back

While there was a longer than usual gap between the launch of Poco F1 and Poco F2 Pro, Poco F3 made its way to the market within a year of its predecessor and brought with it a more toned-down approach and cleaner design. But here, the headline-raising price aspect had come back.

The €499 made its way back to €349, with a few cuts here and there, though these were changes that one couldn’t argue against, as the core experience remained the same.

The decisions that resulted in the price cut are more than likely due to the return to a display with a hole punch cutout, the transformation of the chassis to plastic (though the glass back has stuck around), and possibly the smaller battery — 4700 mAh coming down to 4520 mAh.

But speaking of the upgrades, the Poco F3 shipped with the more modern 870, featuring better clock speeds and efficiency. The display, which took a step back in design, made a jump in other aspects. Its 6.67-inch FHD+ OLED Display that refreshed at 120Hz brought it in line with flagships. A high refresh rate display was missing in the F2 Pro, and the addition was a welcome one.

Poco F4

all colors of the Poco F4 Source: Poco

Now, nearly four years after the launch of the Poco F1 arrives, the Poco F4. The device comes with a new price tag but shares specifications with its predecessor, most notably the Snapdragon 870 SoC that’s packaged inside. So, while some changes with this generation make it worth considering over the last, it’s probably the most iterative upgrade the F Series has ever seen.

Poco F4 starts at €399, a €50 increment over its predecessor

The most significant difference here is the design, which has gone from one that flaunted curves to a boxier one. Whether this is a positive change is up to the subjectivity of a buyer. Personally, the decision is something I welcome. There’s just something more attractive about such a look.

The frame on the F4 also remains to be of polycarbonate, a change made with the F3 last year, but this time around, Poco does deem IP rating a necessity as it offers IP53 protection for the smartphone.

The camera shows improvement with the inclusion of OIS on the primary 64MP sensor, but the rest of the hardware remains par for the course. Poco F4 bundles an 8MP Ultrawide and 2MP Macro along with the primary. And rounding off the setup is a 20MP shooter found on the F3.

The battery sees a haircut coming down to 4500 mAh from 4520 mAh, but Poco did up the ante on charging speeds. The F4 — which still comes with a charging brick in the box — now supports 67W fast charging, which can boost the phone from 0 to 100 in less than 40 minutes.

But if you ask me to sum up the changes, there are only a few, the design, the charging speed, a minor change in the cameras, and the support for Dolby Vision on display. While these changes are likely to improve the user experience, I’d define them as iterative at best.

For new buyers, the Poco F4 continues to stay true to the brand’s ideology, but if you’re looking to upgrade, it isn’t a necessity.

Is it a story of iterations for Poco from here on?

The Poco F1 was a phone with a lot of positive press surrounding it, and a major reason behind this was the value-for-money proposition on offer. With the F4, the brand’s motto, ‘Everything you need and nothing you don’t,’ remains true.

So, as a phone, the Poco F4 impresses me. I don’t mind the reused Snapdragon 870, as using the proven hardware is better than including components that can change the principle behind a device. Yes, there is a price increase this time, but the additions like support for Dolby Vision, an IP Rating, and faster charging seem worth the increment.

But the bigger question is whether the F Series will become a story of iterations from here on? The changes between Poco F3 and Poco F4 are so marginal that while they’re for the better, I wonder what the F5 will bring to the table.

If you ask me, I don’t mind the iterative changes, as I’d rather see Poco change their focus towards improving the experience their software provides and making better use of the independence they claim to have from Xiaomi.

What are your thoughts on Poco’s evolution? Let us know with a comment below.



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