In an age where Apple and Samsung are focused on making $1,000 models full of dubiously useful features, it’s refreshing to see one company that actually listened to real-world users who don’t give a damn about silly facial AR puppets.
That company is Xiaomi, which has just launched the $300 Pocophone F1, the flagship of a new line of low-cost phones that will first launch in India but eventually will get to other parts of the world.
According to the Verge's interview with Jai Mani, the company’s lead product manager for Pocophone, the first thing they did to build the F1 was to follow Android users on Reddit to learn what they really wanted on their next phone.
Reddit users wanted a fast processor, great battery life, durable body, a good camera, and a good price. That’s it. And the Poco F1 seems to deliver all that, with a Snapdragon 845 chip and a big 4,000mAh battery.
The top-of-the-line Armoured Edition model (just $429) is not made of glass and instead uses Kevlar because, hey, what’s so good about an all-glass body that looks amazing in carefully staged publicity shots but then needs to be covered with an bulky case at all times? Exactly.
In addition, the phone has a 6.18-inch 1080p display, a 20-megapixel selfie cam, and dual 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras. And, again, the price is just $300.
While the Pocophone F1 cuts corners on things like using Corning Gorilla 3 glass instead of the current 6th generation, it's a great example of a handset that makes sense.
The Pocophone F1 is not the phone to end all phones, but it shows that there’s a way to make a phone that is not the product of a marketing race. We need phones that really last for a full day under heavy use until it’s time to replace the battery, with fast processors and fast graphics. Durable phones—front and back—that don’t need a big case the same way your grandma uses a plastic cover to protect her living room sofa.
And you can thank Reddit users for lighting the way. Want to see this phone in action? Be sure to check out Engadget's Poco F1 hands-on.
Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the phone does not have an oleophobic coating on its display. We have updated it accordingly.