Android has become the lion share of the smartphone market. The operating system is literally the biggest software project in the world and is installed on over 2.5 billion devices globally. With that, there always seems to be new competition from numerous companies. One such company is Poco, and its latest is the flagship F2 Pro.
With the F2 Pro, Poco wants to find a balance between market price and premium experience. This is not an unfamiliar story previously portrayed by OnePlus, Nokia, and Motorola in the past. Even so, let’s take a deep dive into the F2 Pro to see how well it finds that middle ground for consumers.
The industrial build of the Poco F2 Pro is strikingly good. If you stripped the branding, you could easily convince me this was built by Samsung or LG. Honestly, the overall design to me is like the OnePlus 7T and 7 Pro from last year had a baby. You have the slide up camera (more on this later) and similar lines of the 7 Pro and the back circular camera and flat screen of the 7T. – neither of which is a bad thing.
A quick Google search will also show more similarities to OnePlus in that the Poco brand is a direct competitor to OnePlus and is actually a sub-brand of Redmi. OnePlus is a sub-brand of Oppo in China. The F2 Pro is heavily based on the Redmi K30 Pro.
The right side of the F2 Pro is flanked by the volume rocker and a metallic red power button. As a Pixel owner, I’m always fond of a colored power button. The left side is completely void of any buttons.
Atop the F2 Pro, you have the motorized camera housing and an almost retro 3.5mm headphone jack. Flip the phone upside down and you see one down-firing speaker, the SIM tray, and the USB-C power port.
Internally, the Poco F2 Pro is well-powered without overkill. It has a Qualcomm 865 processor, Adreno 650 GPU, and 6GB of RAM. Pair that with 128GB of onboard storage and you are ready for almost any mobile task.
The screen is a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with 2,400 x 1,080 resolution. Both the front and back glass are Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and should be able to take a normal regimen of punishment. The refresh rate of the screen is sadly only 60Hz. In the new age of 90Hz-120Hz it’s worth a mention, but not a deal-breaker.
I should also note that the Poco F2 Pro does have 5G support, but due to the lack of local options, I was unable to test this feature. Verizon was not an option with the internal radios, but T-Mobile performed well in my time with the phone.
What’s omitted? There’s not an official IP rating for water and dust resistance. This is most likely done to lower expenses as the certification process is a paid license.
The other missing feature is wireless charging. I’m in the camp that almost any phone above $500 should have this feature.
Software and Performance
The software on the F2 Pro is a mixed bag for me. While at first glance it looks crisp and colorful, it slowly started to frustrate me. It comes installed with MIUI and adds layers and layers of menus, swipes, and system options that just don’t need to be there. The overlay reminds me of Samsung from a few years back in that it’s just overkill.
I get that other people love Samsung, but it hurts the end-users experience when they can’t pick up two phones running Android and have them act the same way. I long for a world where changing phones due to a multitude of reasons such as money, availability, or carriers doesn’t lead users to being lost for weeks in a new UI.
I had very few issues in performance while using the Poco F2 Pro, however. The phone is snappy and performed very well in normal tasks. I saw no lag or stutter in multi-view or switching between apps.
The only hiccups I have are that I struggled to find any way to interact with a notification from the lock screen and the notification shade didn’t always want slide down on the first try when using the swipe down gesture on the home screen.
My final issue would be the embedded fingerprint sensor on the display. It’s not good. Yes, it will open the phone… eventually. And only most of the time on the first try.
This tech still needs to be further brewed on most phones I’ve used with this option, but the Poco is behind in most regards to its peers here.
Let’s start with the rock star of this section: the motorized selfie camera. While it’s the camera I will use the least, it’s the more impressive one. The mechanical engineering around hiding the camera is something that just makes me smile.
Being able to tuck away and save screen real estate without notches or pinholes is amazing. And then you throw in the “whoa” factor of having it pop up like submarine periscope is just nerd candy.
How does it work? It’s fine. It takes self-absorbed pictures just waiting to be shared on social media. It’s perfectly serviceable.
On the flip side, you see a blacked-out circular camera housing four sensors. The main camera lens is a 64-megapixel shooter. This Sony sensor takes pretty good photos. I’d put the standard shots above say a Moto phone but still behind Samsung, Apple, and Google.
Portrait mode is also better than average. This mainly due to the fourth sensor being dedicated specifically to depth with 2-megapixels. Images result in a good, sharp photo with nice edge detection and blurring.
The macro camera on the Poco is much like most macro cameras in that it works. None that I’ve used have been great and many just… frankly seem like a gimmick. You can take super zoomed-in photos, but most are not great and don’t add much value.
The ultra-wide 13-megapixel camera, on the other hand, gave great results that made me wish it were on more phones. Being able to shift from normal to a much wider focus was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The resulting photos also didn’t seem to be washed out or over-processed.
This is one place the Poco F2 Pro excels. With a 4,700mAh power pack, the F2 Pro gave me a full day’s battery life without fail. Some days of less heavy usage, I could get almost two full days before needing to top off the tank.
When you do need to reach for a cable there’s a 33-watt charger included in the box. This is great news as the F2 Pro supports fast-charging up to 30-watts. Smart power delivery has seen a nice evolution in recent years, and having quick charging options is a must-have feature in today’s top phones.
I really like most things about the Poco F2 Pro. It has good hardware, better than average cameras, and a great screen.
Unfortunately, I think smartphone users fall under two camps: hardware people and software people. There are shades in between and I fall under the latter of needing software to be a much larger proportion of my experience pie.
Despite my reservations, I think many people will find the $529 price tag to be about right. It’s a good alternative to what OnePlus and Moto provide.