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The iPhone SE of Android phones delivers flagship features for a shockingly low price

poco f2 pro
(Image credit: Poco Group)

At the moment, the most interesting things happening in the smartphone world are happening with midtier phones, as device makers look to cram premium features into handsets that cost $500 or less. And a Chinese phone brand named Poco just set the tone for other phone makers with its newly unveiled Poco F2 Pro.

Poco is a sub-brand spun out from top Chinese phone maker Xioami, and the company made a splash a couple years back with the Poco F1. That device packed a fast processor and big battery into an inexpensive phone, and the Poco F2 Pro is its much anticipated follow-up.

So what did Poco do for an encore with its new €499 phone. For starters, the Poco F2 Pro runs on the Snapdragon 865 system-on-chip you'll find powering the leading Android smartphones. Those same Snapdragon 865-powered phones also cost hundreds more than the Poco F2 Pro, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20.

Poco appears to be taking a page out of Apple's playbook, with the $399 iPhone SE using the same pace-setting A13 Bionic chip found in the more expensive iPhone 11 models. However, unlike the iPhone SE, the Poco F2 Pro has 5G support and a much bigger screen.

The Poco F2 Pro impresses in other ways, at least on paper. The Snapdragon 865 chipset means that Poco's phone will work with 5G networks. There's also a big  4,700 mAh battery to keep the device running throughout the day.

And the Poco F2 Pro is going to need that extra juice, because it features a 6.67-inch AMOLED screen with Full HD+ resolution. (There's no mention of a fast refresh rate, so apparently there are some high-end features you need to sacrifice to keep the phone's price tag down.)

You'll get four rear cameras with the Poco F2 Pro, led by a 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor. Poco augments that with a 13MP ultra wide angle lens, 5MP macro sensor and 2MP depth sensor. You won't get a telephoto lens — a compromise a lot of budget phone makers are asking you to make these days — but you will be able to shoot 8K video with the Poco F2 Pro.

One of the potential would-be rivals to the Poco F2 Pro is the still unannounced OnePlus Z, a budget version of OnePlus' recent handsets that many people are expecting to land later this summer. The OnePlus Z isn't expected to feature a Snapdragon 865 chipset, but it could run on the Snapdragon 765G — a slightly less powerful mobile processing platform that still includes built-in 5G connectivity.

Rumors point to the OnePlus Z having a triple camera setup similar to the $699 OnePlus 8 (a 48MP main sensor with a 16MP ultra wide shooter and 2MP macro lens) and possibly adopting that phone's faster 90Hz refresh rate for its display.

Should the OnePlus Z arrive this summer as anticipated, we hope it can match the Poco F2 Pro's ambition for adopting premium features in a sub-$500 phone — especially since the Poco F2 Pro is unlikely to ship in the US, even though it's already available in Europe.