The original Xiaomi-developed Pocophone was a surprise hit when it launched in 2018, offering almost everything you would expect from a flagship phone at a ~$300 price point (though it didn't really work in the United States). More phones have been released under the Poco brand since then, but there hasn't been a direct sequel to the original F1. Rumors about a possible Poco F2 have been circulating for a while, and now Xiaomi has confirmed it's on the way.
Xiaomi spin-off Poco has been intensely engaged with Oppo spin-off Realme in a budget smartphone pricing war in India. Its latest salvo comes in the form of a Rs. 10,000 device called the Poco C3 featuring formidable core specs to enable quality gaming at a new price tier. There are, though, a few trade-offs to have made this product possible.
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.
Like most Chinese manufacturers, Xiaomi's Android phones come with heavy UI customizations and many pre-installed apps featuring advertisements no one asked for — in fact, this release model is part of the reason why Xiaomi is routinely able to undercut its competition in price. However, the company might be too thirsty about collecting personal data to show individualized ads, as its Quick apps application has been blocked by Google Play Protect because of potential tracking issues.
Chinese Android phone makers have it rough when it comes to bringing on software updates to their customers. There's a totally different expectation as to how long these devices get supported there and the issue gets compounded when taking into account the proprietary UIs and services for each OEM's spin on the OS. In Xiaomi's case, it has taken up the challenge of bringing at least 13 devices up to Android Q over the next year.
$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.