The Poco F2 Pro shows Poco starting to set its own path through the smartphone market, after being spun off as a separate company from parent Xiaomi at the start of 2020. A lot of the characteristics you'll find in Xiaomi phones are still noticeable in the F2 Pro, however.
In fact the Poco F2 Pro is everything that we've come to expect from Chinese phone makers as they continue to push into western markets – high levels of build quality, some impressive specs, a competitive price point, and at least one or two unusual quirks.
In the case of the Poco F2 Pro, the most obvious unusual quirk is the front-facing selfie camera, which rises up from the chassis of the phone when you need it. We've seen this before on a few other phones, but it still takes some getting used to to begin with.
Otherwise this is a phone that comes across as a very decent mid-ranger that just might have the combination of features and price that you're looking for. Read on for our full Poco F2 Pro review, covering how well the handset performs in all the areas that matter.
Poco F2 Pro review: design and screen
The Poco F2 Pro immediately grabs your attention with its bright 6.67-inch, 1080 x 2400 pixel, Super AMOLED display with HDR10+ support – the bezels are pleasingly thin around the sides of the display and of course the benefit of having a hidden selfie camera is that the screen doesn't have any sort of notch or punch hole for a lens. From webpages to movies, it's a display that really stands out in terms of colour and brightness, though the refresh rate sticks with the standard 60Hz.
Other than that, the phone is a reasonably well designed handset that sits comfortably in the hand. The shiny back cover is nice to look at but attracts fingerprint smudges very easily – our model was the neon blue, but you can also get it in white, grey and purple – and it's thin and light enough to trick you into thinking that this is a phone that actually costs a lot more than it does.
We have to admit to not being huge fans of the big, circular camera array design on the back – an approach other manufacturers have taken too, rather than a long strip of lenses – but you can make your own mind up on that. Data and charging are handled via a USB-C port, and there is a headphone jack here as well. There's a single speaker that actually does a decent job for music and podcasts, and an in-screen fingerprint sensor that seemed to us to be a little on the sluggish side.
The display is great then, while the rest of the phone is fairly standard in terms of its design, its fit, and its finish. While the Poco F2 Pro is hardly breaking new ground when it comes to smartphone aesthetics, it can certainly hold its own against the competition, and isn't going to embarrass you when you pull it out in front of family and friends.
Poco F2 Pro review: camera and battery
Remember that it's not just the number of cameras that a phone packs that's important, but also the quality of those cameras. The Poco F2 Pro comes with a quad-lens 64MP wide, 13MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, and 2MP depth-sensing camera setup, so again we're firmly in mid-range territory here – there's no telephoto zoom available to you, for example, or any optical image stabilisation. The pop-up selfie camera is a standard 20MP wide affair.
Image quality is just about what you would expect with a phone at this price point: it's going to get you good snaps, especially in decent light, but it doesn't hit the heights of the flagships of the moment. The shutter speed is nice and fast, colour reproduction and brightness are good, as is the handling of light and dark areas (especially if you remember to turn the HDR processing on).
We were pretty impressed with the night mode of the Poco F2 Pro camera as well, though you need to hold the camera steady for a couple of seconds. As we mentioned, you're not going to get iPhone or Pixel levels of clarity – noise and blur do creep in when there's little light available – but you do at least get a usable photo out the other end, which is a credit to both the hardware components and the software processing on board the Poco F2 Pro. It's a decent camera setup, on the whole.
As for the 4,700 mAh battery, we were impressed here as well (not least by the 30W fast charging on offer). In our one hour video streaming test, the battery dropped from 100 percent to only 93 percent, which equates to around 14 hours of movie watching. In more general use, we had plenty left in the tank at the end of the day, and we reckon the Poco F2 Pro could stretch to two days of use if you were careful with it (though bear in mind that all our reviews are of brand new phones with brand new batteries, before any degrading starts happening).
Poco F2 Pro review: other specs and features
One area where the Poco F2 Pro does have parity with the flagship phones of 2020 is in terms of its processor – the Snapdragon 865 is the best CPU for Android phones you'll find this year, if you ignore the slightly enhanced Plus variant. Combined with either 6GB of RAM (and 128GB of storage) or 8GB of RAM (and 256GB of storage), it means the phone absolutely flies through tasks and games. Note however that there's no memory card slot for expanding on the built-in storage.
There is support for (UK) 5G here, which we're pleased to see: that and Wi-Fi 6 support means you are comfortably futureproofed when it comes to connection speeds and technologies. In terms of power and performance this is a phone that's going to last you a good few years with not much trouble at all – the question is, with that in mind, why would you want to pay any extra for a flagship.
Well, the camera is one consideration, as we've already mentioned. Some of the other corners that Poco has cut here include giving wireless charging a miss, and not applying any kind of waterproofing or dustproofing to the device. Those might well be compromises that you're prepared to put up with in return for spending less, and these are the same compromises that a lot of phones at these sorts of price points are making.
The Xiaomi influence can be seen in the software running on the device, which is MIUI 11 on top of Android 11. We're not all that enamoured with MIUI, which is a bit inconsistent and garish for our tastes – like a lot of Android skins from Chinese manufacturers, it does seem to overdo the visuals a bit, and you've got a bunch of extra native tools that aren't really all that useful. You can at least make use of all the Google apps and the Play Store.
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Poco F2 Pro review: price and verdict
The top-end Poco F2 Pro, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, is available direct for £549 at the time of writing – though check the widgets on this page for the very latest pricing. We'd say that's a very good price for what you're getting, though you can still go lower and come away with a decent handset too (especially if you're prepared to go for a phone that's been out a while).
This is a segment of the market that gets more competitive almost every week, with the likes of Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus, Nokia, Motorola and even Apple and Samsung offering handset options around this price. All of Google's 2020 Pixel phones are expected to target the mid-range too, and that makes it difficult for a phone like the Poco F2 Pro to stand out – there are just so many options to pick from.
It's definitely worth considering if you value a good-quality screen, 5G, long battery life, and top-end performance – that Snapdragon 865 is going to be just about the best on the market for the rest of the year. The camera is fine too, though it doesn't quite offer the 'wow factor' that you're likely to get from the cameras on more expensive phones.
Just be aware of the limitations of the handset before buying – the screen doesn't offer a super-fast refresh rate, there's no wireless charging or waterproofing, and the software is a long way from being the best available at the moment. Considering the price that the Poco F2 Pro is available at, we'd say that it's a really good deal overall.