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Business News/ Technology / Tech Reviews/  Poco F6 review: New benchmark for smartphones under 30,000
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Poco F6 review: New benchmark for smartphones under ₹30,000

Poco F6 promises flagship-level performance in the mid-range price segment but can it live up to that pledge? Let's find that out in this in-depth review.

Poco F6 is the first phone in India to be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chipset. (Aman Gupta/ Mint)Premium
Poco F6 is the first phone in India to be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chipset. (Aman Gupta/ Mint)

As a brand, Poco gained traction with its very first smartphone, the Poco F1, which helped the company make a name for itself and popularised the 'flagship killer' segment. Nearly six years on, and after launching several smartphones, Poco finally seems to have regained its lost touch with the Poco F6, which is currently making the buzz thanks to its flagship-level specifications.

I've been using the Poco F6 for over a month now, and here's my detailed take on how the device has fared in real-world usage. So, without further ado, let's dive right in and find out whether the new Poco F6 is worth your hard-earned money.

Poco F6 unboxing and design:

Inside the Poco F6's black and yellow cardboard box, you will find the device itself, a Type A to Type C USB cable, a charging brick, some paperwork, a SIM ejector tool and a black plastic case. There is also a pre-applied plastic coating on the screen to protect the device from scratches.

The Poco F6 is available in two colourways: Titanium and Black. I received the latter, and in terms of design, the phone is nothing to brag about. It comes with a plain polycarbonate back with a slightly shiny finish, which gives the device a minimalist look. The plastic back means that the Poco F6 is susceptible to fingerprints and smudges, but the black colour makes them harder to notice.

There are two coin-shaped cutouts on the back for the primary and ultra-wide-angle cameras, followed by the flash and the Poco branding in the top right-hand corner. The circular camera layouts mean that the Poco F6 does tend to wobble when placed on a flat surface, but this problem becomes slightly manageable when using the bundled case.

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On the front is a flat AMOLED panel with a small circular cut-out that houses the selfie camera. The volume keys and power button are nicely stacked on the phone's right side, while the other side is completely empty.

Poco F6 has a thickness of just 7.8 mm.
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Poco F6 has a thickness of just 7.8 mm. (Aman Gupta/Mint)
Poco F6 comes in Black and Titanium color variants.
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Poco F6 comes in Black and Titanium color variants. (Aman Gupta/ Mint)
There are two coin-shaped cutouts on Poco F6 for housing camera sensors.
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There are two coin-shaped cutouts on Poco F6 for housing camera sensors. (Aman Gupta/ Mint)

Weighing just 179g, the Poco F6 feels quite lightweight and comfortable to grip. I had no problems taking long phone calls or carrying the device in my pocket for long periods of time. Speaking of calls, the Poco F6 comes with the MIUI dialer pre-installed, so you won't hear the 'this call is now being recorded' when you turn on the recording option.

The Poco F6 has an IP64 rating, which means it is fully protected from dust and can withstand light splashes or little rain, but not full immersion under water. In terms of connectivity, the phone has an IR blaster (no 3.5mm jack, unfortunately), a USB 2.0 port, support for 15 5G bands, Bluetooth version 5.4, Wi-Fi 6 and NFC.

Display and software:

The F6 boasts a vibrant 6.67-inch 1.5K AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 2400 nits (1200 nits global brightness). This is a sharp and punchy screen, and combined with the stereo speaker setup, it makes for a pleasant binge-watching experience. I also had no problems using the phone outdoors in harsh lighting conditions.

On the software side, the Poco F6 runs on the new HyperOS based on Android 14. Xiaomi's new HyperOS feels lighter and has a number of nifty features but it also has its drawbacks. Apart from the pre-installed Xiaomi and Google apps, the F6 comes with at least 19 bloatware apps, including Facebook, Amazon, Spotify, Snapchat, Rummy Circle, Dream11 and Bubble Shooter. There are also ads all over the interface, including the start page (right next to the home page), the app drawer search and within the built-in Xiaomi apps like Music and File Manager.

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In terms of new features, the Poco F6 comes with support for contactless gestures, allowing you to answer calls, switch tracks, adjust volume, and play and pause content using hand gestures. However, these gestures are only supported on Netflix and the Xiaomi Music app for now.

What's really interesting are the new AI features that Poco has added to the standard camera app. There is a new AI eraser, which makes it easy to remove those unwanted people or objects. For example, after clicking on a picture, users can simply select the 'Remove people' option in the eraser and the phone will immediately recognise all the people in the picture and give you a one-tap option to remove them.

There are also a few other useful AI features, including Bokeh (adjusting the amount of background blur after the picture is taken), Sky (adjusting and even changing the colour of the sky) and Stickers (adding different stickers to a picture). However, I noticed that these AI features don't work without an internet connection, which is odd since the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 does offer on-device AI capabilities.

Poco has promised three years of OS updates and four years of security patches with the Poco F6, which means the phone should get updates until at least Android 17.

Performance and battery:

The combination of the latest Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chipset, Xiaomi's new HyperOS, LPDDR5x RAM and UFS 4.0 means the Poco F6 can handle almost anything you throw at it with ease. The latest storage and RAM standards also result in blazing-fast transfer speeds and reduced app launch times.

For years, MIUI users have suffered from Xiaomi's aggressive RAM management, which meant that apps and games would frequently reload even though they were in the apps tray. However, with the HyperOS implementation, Xiaomi/Poco seems to have taken care of this problem. Apps now stay in memory for longer periods without having to be reloaded for a while.

Speaking of benchmarks, the Poco F6 scored 14,02,779 on Antutu. On Geekbench 6, it had a single-core score of 1,882 and a multi-core score of 1,882. While these scores are quite impressive and justify the Poco F6's 'flagship killer' moniker, I noticed that the phone got extremely hot while running the benchmarks and during charging.

Strangely enough, Poco's Iceloop cooling technology seems to kick in during gaming sessions, as the Poco F6 managed to keep the thermals at bay during extended gaming sessions at maximum graphics settings.

The Poco F6 comes with a 5,000mAh battery that supports 90W fast charging, which takes the phone from 0-100 in around 35-40 minutes. The battery life isn't the best in this segment, but it should still last most users a full day with medium usage, although power users may need to plug it in at least once.

I do feel that Poco missed a trick here by not packing the F6 with a larger 5,500 mAh battery, which is becoming the norm in the 30,000-40,000 price segment.

Camera:

The Poco F6 features a 50MP Sony IMX 882 primary sensor with 2x in-sensor zoom and up to 10x digital zoom. It also has an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens with a 119-degree field of view.

Daylight shots are good, with images showing accurate colour recognition, excellent detail, sharpness and dynamic range. Even in low light, the Poco F6 largely holds its own, although I did notice that night shots tend to have slightly brighter colours and there is also a noticeable increase in noise levels.

Thankfully, there isn't much of a colour shift when you switch to the 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens, but there is a significant loss of detail compared to the primary sensor, which is understandable given the low megapixel count. The 20-megapixel selfie shooter is pretty decent for the price and takes some good-looking shots, with images that are closer to the natural skin tones.

The primary sensor can shoot video at up to 4K 60fps, while stabilisation kicks in at 1080p 30fps. The ultra-wide-angle lens, however, is limited to 1080p 30fps and the selfie camera is capable of 1080p 60fps video.

Overall, the Poco F6's cameras may not impress photography enthusiasts, but they should do the job for most average users. I have also included a Google Drive link with the RAW images from the Poco F6 to help the reader make up their own mind about the cameras on this device

Price and Verdict:

The Poco F6 starts at a price of 29,999 for the 8GB RAM/256GB storage variant, but with bank discounts, you can probably get the phone for around 27,000. So should you buy the F6 at that price? Well, its complicated. The Poco F6 is undoubtedly the most powerful handset in the 30,000 price range. The addition of LPDDR5x RAM and UFS 4.0 storage also sets it apart from its peers, ensuring blazing-fast transfer speeds and a smooth user experience. However, the overheating issues when running benchmarks and charging the device make me a little sceptical about its long-term performance.

If you can live with a few pre-installed apps and ads in the interface, HyperOS is one of the most feature-rich custom skins on the market right now. The new AI features within the camera app are particularly interesting and help in considerably streamlining the image editing process. Xiaomi seems to have toned down its aggressive RAM management strategy, and HyperOS now allows apps to run in the background for long periods of time.

All in all, I think the Poco F6 is specifically designed for power users who want flagship-level performance without breaking the bank. While mediocre camera performance and a lack of IP68 protection mean it won't replace your flagship device just yet, the Poco F6 certainly sets the benchmark for performance-focused devices under 30,000.

 

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Published: 20 Jun 2024, 10:53 PM IST
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