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There's no secret as to how Poco’s first phone — the F1 — rose to immense popularity in a short period: It gave its users a taste of flagship-class performance on a tight budget. The F1 hasn’t seen a proper follow-up since it was launched about two years back, though, and all we got in the meantime was a mid-ranger. The Xiaomi sub-brand will likely change that come May 12, when Poco is expected to unveil a new high-end phone.
Xiaomi's Poco F1 has had an Android 10 beta in testing for more than a month already, and it looks like the company is finally ready to take the software to stable. In a forum post, it has announced that it will start rolling out the latest version of the OS globally, and the first owners report that they are indeed receiving the update.
Xiaomi’s spin-off brand Poco made a splash with its first phone by bringing a Snapdragon 845 chip to the $300 price bracket, reminding many of OnePlus’s early days. A year and a half after the Poco F1 was unveiled, the company is finally coming out with a follow-up called the Poco X2, initially only for the Indian market. The handset is basically a relabeled Redmi K30, which was announced in China alongside the $284 K30 5G in December 2019.
Last month, a tweet by Poco's global head Alvin Tse led to speculation that the Pocophone F2 might launch sometime in 2020. Now, we have concrete evidence that the device is on its way, thanks to a recently discovered trademark application.
Xiaomi is starting to look like a car manufacturer with how many sub-brands it has: Redmi, Poco, Mito, CC, Black Shark, the list goes on. Only one phone was ever released under the Poco name, the wildly-successful Poco F1, which was developed by Xiaomi. Poco is now being spun off as Xiaomi's new sub-brand, with a (somewhat) independent team.
$1,000 flagship phones are an unfortunate reality in today's market, but there are plenty of options out there with most of the performance at a fraction of the price. One of the newest entrants to this game has been Xiaomi's Pocophone F1, which offers flagship-level specs at just $300. In case the low, low price wasn't incentive enough to pick one up, the Poco team will be adding a bunch of features and fixes in the coming weeks.
Popular custom ROM maker Paranoid Android came back from the dead in 2017 and has just announced its long-awaited first Android 9 Pie beta builds, with initial availability for a handful of Xiaomi devices. PA is also changing the way it develops its ROM to include Generic System Images (GSI) which should allow support for a greater number of devices.
In the smartphone world, Xiaomi is the epitome of value for money. Now ranked fourth worldwide, it sells nearly one of every ten smartphones. But when companies start operating at such a large scale, the start-up mentality takes a backseat to more important considerations, and innovation can be stifled.
Oppo circumvented it with the "independent" OnePlus, Huawei spun off Honor for Western markets, and Xiaomi is taking an approach somewhere in the middle. Its Poco sub-brand is still under its umbrella and benefits from its resources, but has the advantage of an easily pronounceable name, some creative freedom, and room to fail without hurting Xiaomi's reputation.
We don't often discuss Xiaomi's software layer here on Android Police, but it isn't for lack of desire to. Most of our team lives in the US where Xiaomi doesn't officially operate and, even if we were to import units there, they wouldn't be compatible with most carriers' LTE bands. I'm based in Lebanon, and the first limitation applies here as well, but imported devices do work (we have LTE band 3), so I've been trying to get my hands on some of the companies' phones to test them out.