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.
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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.
Here is everything you need to know about the brand new #POCOF2Pro. It is versatile and powerful. It is #PowerfullyCool. pic.twitter.com/wVgPt6Im3EMay 12, 2020
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.