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.’
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
First Galaxy Z Flip 4 Color Sells Out
The entire suite of new Galaxy products has been up for pre-order since Wednesday and we keep checking to see if any of it is selling out. So far, not much has outside of a single online exclusive color of the Galaxy Z Flip 4, while the Fold 4 and both Galaxy Watch 5 watches can still be had with August 26 launch day delivery.
The first color of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 to sellout is the “Navy” colorway. The pre-configured version with navy is listed now as “out of stock,” plus if you try and use the Bespoke tool to capture a Flip 4 entirely in navy, it’ll show there as soldout too. Interestingly, if you Bespoke tool a Flip 4 and only put navy as a single panel, you’ll get a 3-4 weeks estimate.
The only other item with even a slight delay is the goofy burgundy Fold 4, but it appears to be sticking to the advertised 3-4 week delivery. I wouldn’t actually consider it much of a delay.
Whatever the situation is here, I’ve got to admit that I’m surprised that more of the new Samsung devices aren’t soldout or with extended shipping times. As of right now, all four of the main Flip 4 colors will arrive on time (see here), as will the three main Fold 4 colors (see here) and the Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro in all configurations (see here).
Compare this launch to the Galaxy S22 from earlier in 2022 and they couldn’t have hit differently. Samsung’s dates for the exclusive online colors of the S22 Ultra started slipping almost immediately, which we know first hand because of Tim’s struggles to land one. Within a week, the dates further moved with estimates a full month out or even later.
We’ll keep an eye on shipping times over the next week or so to see how this launch changes. Will the situation start to match the Galaxy S22 launch or are the minor improvements in this year’s foldable line-up not enough to get people to bite? In my first couple of days with the Flip 4, I can tell you that the phone is very much like the Flip 3, but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the hell out of it.
Telegram’s Big Update is for the Emoji Lovers
A new update is rolling out to Telegram today and it is all about emoji. If you love emoji, custom emoji, animated emoji, or any other type of emoji, you are in for a special treat.
Telegram announced its new Emoji Platform “where anyone can upload custom packs with unique art styles and characters for Telegram Premium users.” Folks can use these uploaded custom emoji packs in messages or captions, plus premium users are getting access to another 10 emoji packs.
To make it more obvious that all of these new custom and animated emoji are available, you’ll see the sticker shortcut in the message box turn into an emoji shortcut as you type. That shortcut leads to a new emoji panel, where you’ll see suggestions and be able to browse your various packs. To make things (potentially) easier, typing shortcuts like :smile or :lol will give you all of the available options too.
And finally, custom emoji can be interactive in 1-on-1 chats, so “any user can tap to play synchronized, full-screen effects” from all of the emoji you spam off to friends.
For iOS users, there are new sticker, GIF, and emoji panels “with separate tabs for stickers, GIFs and emoji – just like on the Android, desktop and web apps.”
In other Telegram Premium feature news, users will find a setting that allows them to control who is able to send them voice and video messages. The options now are Everyone, My Contacts, or Nobody.
There are additional controls that will let you choose specific people or groups, and of course, you can always convert audio messages in to text. The settings for all of this are in Settings > Privacy and Security > Voice Messages.
The last new feature for Premium users is an option to “share the experience with friends, family and coworkers by sending them a prepaid subscription for 3, 6 or 12 months – at a discount.” To do so, you can tap on the profile image of someone in a chat, then the 3-dot menu to “Gift Premium.”
These updates appear to be rolling out right away, as I’ve already seen the update on Android.
First Early Galaxy Watch 5 Pro Review Arrived
Of the two new Galaxy Watch 5 models announced, the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the one we’re most interested in. Not only is Samsung marketing it as an “outdoors” watch for the active type, they also gave it “Pro” name, as if it packs a number of extra features over the regular model. We don’t have one in for review (we did order one) yet, so we’re doing that thing we often do with Samsung launches – looking elsewhere for early impressions.
Thanks to Ray from DC Rainmaker, one of the best at reviewing sports watches, we have a first early Galaxy Watch 5 Pro review to analyze. He took the watch for a run to test GPS and heartrate accuracy, as well as battery life. The video he posted also compares some features of the Watch 5 Pro to the Watch 5, in case we didn’t do a good enough job of that earlier in the week.
The takeaways from this early and not-at-all-final review, show that the new Compass feature might have some initial issues, GPS accuracy is not bad and performs far better than the Apple Watch Series 7, heartrate accuracy was quite good after a slowish start, and that GPS battery life is probably closer to half of what Samsung is advertising. Daily battery without GPS is likely closer to 2.5 days vs. the 3.5 days advertised. Again, these are all early, first look numbers that could change over the coming weeks with more testing.
The video also dives into “Pro” features here and laughs a bit at what that even means because there aren’t really any pro features when you compare to other outdoor-focused sports watches. And I would tend to agree with that. In fact, Tim and I were joking earlier in the week about Samsung’s forced “outdoors” push for this watch, when almost nothing about the watch makes it better for outdoors than other Samsung watches except for GPX support and backtracking when navigating. These are not “pro” features and the rest of the watch is just the same as the Watch 5. It’s just silly branding.
Anyways, we’ll have our Watch 5 Pro soon enough and will do out own testing. If you were trying to decide now to get in on this awesome pre-order promo ($50 credit, free Charger Duo, and $240 off trade-in) , give the video below a watch.
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