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iaomi‘s Pocophone F1 might be the worst kept secret right now, especially after we managed to actually buy the device earlier this month. Now, the company has officially launched the smartphone in India, so what else is there to know?

The smartphone, the first from Xiaomi’s Pocophone (or Poco in India) sub-brand, packs flagship-level horsepower. So that means a Snapdragon 845 chipset with LiquidCool technology (essentially vapor/liquid cooling), 6GB to 8GB of RAM, and 64GB/128GB/256GB of expandable storage. Toss in a notched Full HD+ screen (albeit LCD) and 4,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0, and you’ve got great core specs.

We’ve got plenty of power and a big battery then, so what should you expect from these two features? Well, Pocophone claimed an Antutu score of over 290,000 points, and up to 300 percent faster heat dissipation than rival flagship phones (due to the LiquidCool tech). The sub-brand also reckons that you can get a day of heavy usage, up to eight hours of gameplay, or five hours and 44 minutes of full HD video playback.

Cameras are usually one of the first casualties when it comes to cheaper phones, and the Pocophone F1 doesn’t quite stack up to flagships in this department. The 12MP+5MP rear setup isn’t really a match on paper for the Mi 8’s 12MP+12MP telephoto setup, but the 20MP selfie camera has been used by budget and flagship Xiaomi devices alike this year. Nevertheless, expect dual-pixel autofocus, AI-powered scene recognition, and multi-frame noise reduction for the rear shooters.

The Pocophone F1 is powered by MIUI 9.6 and Android 8.1, although Android Pie is expected to launch before the end of the year. Pocophone says you can also expect security updates at least once a quarter. This isn’t quite a standard MIUI release though, because the phone runs the new Poco Launcher for a look and feel that’s supposedly closer to stock Android. In fact, Xiaomi’s sub-brand is calling the entire package ‘MIUI for Poco,’ reflecting the changes.

MIUI for Poco differs from the standard MIUI release by offering an app drawer by default, along with an app search bar at the bottom of the app drawer for easy access (as opposed to at the top). The phone also lets you automatically group apps by purpose (e.g. social media, games) or color.

The Poco launcher is coming to the Play Store as a beta on August 29, Xiaomi’s sub-brand confirmed. So even if you don’t have the Pocophone F1, you can give it a go.

As for other features, we’ve got IR face unlock (coming via an update), USB Type-C connectivity, a 3.5mm headphone jack, Bluetooth 5.0, and hybrid-SIM support. One notable omission on the spec sheet is NFC support, which would be disappointing if confirmed.

The Pocophone F1 will be available in 6GB+64GB, 6GB+128GB, and 8GB+256GB options from 29 August. There are also three color variants to choose from (Steel Blue, Graphite Black, Rosso Red), and a special Armoured Edition with a Kevlar back. Flipkart will be the exclusive online partner for the device, but we’re also expecting the Pocophone to be available in physical retailers.

The entry-level 6GB+64GB model will be available for 20,999 rupees (~$300), while the 6GB+128GB model costs 23,999 rupees (~$343), and the top-end 8GB+256GB variant will be available for 28,999 rupees (~$415). The Pocophone F1 Armoured Edition, which has 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, is priced at 29,999 rupees (~$429).

Not in India? Well, the Pocophone F1 will also be coming to “50+” countries, the team confirmed. In fact, the sub-brand is holding launch events in France, Indonesia, and Hong Kong on August 27.

All eyes will be on the Pocophone brand as Xiaomi follows Huawei/Honor and BBK in offering a sub-brand. It seems like Huawei and BBK have managed to steer clear of cannibalization worries, but can Xiaomi and the Pocophone brand co-exist as well? We’ll just have to wait and see…

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