On March 8, 1971, a boxing match that many call The Fight of the Century took place. It featured perhaps the biggest name in boxing, against perhaps his greatest ever rival. It was not just a clash of individuals but also of styles. Of philosophies. On one side was nimbleness and style, on the other good old-fashioned solidity and amazing stamina. On both sides were a lot of skill and strength, and each fighter had his own fanatical fan following. We are of course referring to Muhammad Ali’s first bout with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden, a fight that started off perhaps one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport. Not just for the high amount of skill involved. But because of the contrasts between the participants.
Now, replace Ali with OnePlus and Frazier with the Poco F1, and you will realize why we think the clash between these two devices has the potential to be on par with those two sporting legends.
On the one hand, you have the very settled Never Settler, the OnePlus, which has made a name for itself by providing not just very good hardware and software but also some eye-catching design, and just like Ali had earned himself the tag of People’s Champion, OnePlus has pretty much made itself the prime option when it comes to budget flagships. Going up against it is the Poco F1, which is rather Joe Frazier like in its approach. Yes, it does pack in some very powerful hardware, but instead of turning on the style, like its rival, it focuses on the basics – good old speed and stamina. And it does so with telling effect.
Ali and Frazier fought out one of the great boxing battles in 1971. How do their phone-y counterparts fare in what promises to be a similarly epic confrontation? Here we go:
Round 1: Looks
Style, meet substance
This has got to be one of the very few lopsided rounds in what is otherwise a very intense contest. No, we are not saying that the Poco F1 is a bad looking device (we think the red one is actually very easy on the eye) but it definitely gets outclassed by the classy, glassy array of OnePlus 6 variants, especially the Silk White and Avengers’ edition. The difference here is pretty much that between the smart and the handsome – the F1 is not a plug-ugly, and we love the red outlines on the rear camera lenses, but the OnePlus 6 with its curved glass build is a head turner, and at 7.8 mm against 8.9 mm of the carbonate (and Kevlar in one case) laden F1, significantly slimmer too. We can see those who love a solidly built device preferring the sturdier F1 (even though the display of the OnePlus 6 comes with Gorilla Glass 5 and compared to Gorilla Glass 3 on the F1), but in the beauty stakes, there is only one winner here.
Carbonate gets outclassed by glass.
Winner: OnePlus 6
Round 2: Hardware
Giga business – bytes or hertz
The OnePlus 6 might have got off to a flier, but comes the little (well, big actually) matter of hardware and suddenly we have a real battle on our hands. Both phones come with large, tall full HD+, notched displays – the OnePlus 6 has a slightly larger one at 6.28 inches as compared to the 6.18-inch one of the Poco F1. And both devices are also powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, backed up by RAM that stands at 6 GB and 8 GB and storage that comes in variants of 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB, although the F1 sneaks a little advantage here by accommodating expandable memory. In cameras, the OnePlus 6 definitely scores on megapixels with a rear camera set up comprising 16 and 20-megapixel rear cameras as compared to the relatively modest sounding 12 and 5-megapixel ones on the F1, although the 20-megapixel selfie camera on the F1 sounds more impressive than the 16-megapixel one on the OnePlus 6. While the rear cameras on the OnePlus 6 have optical image stabilization, the selfie camera on the F1 comes with an infrared sensor for better facial recognition, even in the dark. In connectivity terms, both phones come with 4G, Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi, but the OnePlus 6 also has NFC up its sleeve. But in battery, the F1 pulls ahead – 4000 mAh against 3300 mAh. It is really a close call – the slightly larger display, more megapixel laden cameras, and NFC might tilt the odds towards the OnePlus 6, but the F1 pulls it back by scoring on basics like expandable storage and battery size. We are going to call this an even one.
Level on displays, chips and memories.
Round 3: Software
Oxygen, Poco Launcher?
This is a round that is every bit as competitive as the previous one. Both phones with Android 8.1 out of the box, but there the similarities end. While OnePlus has opted to go with its minimalistic Oxygen OS (which is very much like stock Android), Xiaomi has opted to use MIUI 9.6 with a Poco Launcher over it. Which one is better really depends on your preference – Oxygen OS seems the cleaner option, but the Poco Launcher comes with far more features. Both brands also have a formidable reputation when it comes to delivering updates for their UI, and both have promised updates to Android Pie soon. So which one does one choose? It is way too subjective a choice for judges to make. We love the uncluttered look of Oxygen OS, but MIUI has a special place in our hearts as perhaps the best Android skin out there, and Poco Launcher has a clean look to it as well. Another drawn round.
Skin in the game matches minimal intrusion.
Round 4: Cameras
One two, One two
And the neck and neck battle continues. Only this time, it is a surprise. On paper, the Poco F1 really should have been outclassed in this round – as mentioned in the hardware section; the OnePlus rear cameras come with more megapixels and with optical image stabilization besides. That should have enabled them logically to wipe the floor with the Poco F1. Well, guess what? That does not happen. If anything, in good daylight conditions, the Poco F1 holds its own very comfortably, and we would even say delivers better colors, although the Never Settler equals it in detail comfortably and frequently betters it in that department (we felt that the F1 sometimes got too aggressive in smoothing out noise, a la the S9+). The Poco F1 also surprisingly scores in portrait mode, spotting edges better than the OnePlus 6. And well, while its AI mode is not as spectacular as that on the Huawei P20 Pro, it makes a subtle difference. That said, the OnePlus 6 scores in low light conditions and videos, thanks (we suspect) to the presence of OIS and its slightly larger apertures (f/1.7 to f/1.9). The F1 wins the selfie round comfortably, though, with much better color and detail and of course, it scores on portrait mode again. We also feel the camera app on the F1 is easier to use than the one on the OnePlus 6, although the latter has incorporated Google Lens into it. Honestly, this is a frighteningly close round – and we have seen images by both cameras being liked by people. Yes, OIS does give OnePlus 6 the edge in low light and on videos, but the Poco F1 does pick up points for its selfie muscle and clever use of AI. It is an incredibly close round, but we think the OnePlus 6 just about nicks it with its low light and video prowess. But this is an insanely close round, and we can see some people prefer the better color handling on the Poco F1.
Megapixels fail to make a mega difference
Winner: OnePlus 6
Round 5: Gaming
The fast and the cool
Both phones come with stacks of RAM and powerful processors, so everything from PUBG to Asphalt to Hitman is a doddle on them. The OnePlus’ AMOLED display does seem to handle colors slightly better if one really peers at the display, but then the sound quality on the F1 seems markedly better because the speaker in the notch comes into play with telling effect. Also while the OnePlus 6 does get very slightly warm, the Poco F1 stays pretty much cool, perhaps due to the LiquidCool technology that Xiaomi has talked about. Most critically, however, that bigger battery on the F1 allows you to get in more gaming time, and believe you us, on these devices, you just feel like playing lots! You are unlikely to be disappointed with either device, but the sound and the battery make this one for the Poco F1. It is an incredibly close call because it is not as if the OnePlus 6 does badly here – it is just that the F1 does better. And opens its account!
Keeping cool when the heat is on
Winner: Poco F1
Round 6: Multitasking
Throwing them combinations
If there ever was a round that had “draw” written all over it, it was this; it was this, it was this. And sure enough, this round sees both phones pretty much go hammer and tongs at each other with no clear winner emerging. With all that RAM and processing muscle on board, running multiple apps is a total cinch for both devices. You can have multiple browser windows open, run Photoshop Express and edit some images, speed along Asphalt, and pretty much do whatever you wish, but the chance of either device slowing down is remote. There is nothing to choose here.
Breaking no sweat over multiple apps
Round 7: General tasks
Rope a Dope
This gets interesting. On paper, you would have thought that both phones are more than equal to each other in this department, given their rather similar specifications. However, there are differences. For one, apps still seem to have a rather odd penchant for crashing on the OnePlus 6 (notwithstanding a flood of updates, one of which turned up even as this comparison was being made), while they run relatively more smoothly on the Poco F1. That said, call quality seemed marginally better on the OnePlus 6 as compared to the F1. Some might find the slightly larger display of the OnePlus 6 better for watching videos and web browsing, but honestly, we could not find a major difference. While both devices went toe to toe in fingerprint unlocking, we felt the infrared sensor on the notch in the Poco F1 did make a difference when it came to face unlock, especially in the dark. And well, while the OnePlus 6 has a decent speaker but the Poco F1 matches it and even brings the speaker in the earpiece (in the notch) into the game, for much better sound. The volume on the OnePlus 6 is impressive, but the quality on the Poco F1 seems marginally better. And the same is the case over headphones (unless one is using the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, in which case OnePlus seems to score). While there is no doubting that the alert slider on the OnePlus 6 (a feature that OnePlus has made its own) does add the option to switch modes from Silent, Vibrate and Ring without going anywhere near a settings menu, we are still handing this one to the Poco F1, on grounds of greater stability at the time of writing and its sound edge (it is a slight edge, we insist). Which also means, that after seven rounds, the two contestants are level at 2-2.
You got bugs, I got sound
Winner: Poco F1
Round 8: Battery
Quick, Dash, Charge!
The curious thing about the Frazier vs. Ali fight was the way in which the momentum shifted Frazier’s away after Ali had called the shots early on. And just as Frazier mounted a late assault, so does the Poco F1. After trailing the OnePlus 6 early, it slowly turns the tide by edging a few rounds, and now turns the heat on (pun unintended) when it comes to battery life. Yes, the OnePlus 6 does come with the much-hyped Dash Charge and its 3300 mAh battery is not exactly small, but it does not really stand a chance against the much bigger 4000 mAh battery on the Poco F1, which also supports QuickCharge 3.0. The difference tells – the OnePlus 6 will get through a day of normal use and will need a bit of nursing if you push it (we stressed that we were disappointed with its battery life in our review). But the Poco F1 will generally hand you a day of heavy usage, a day and a half of normal usage and even two days of usage with some nursing. For the first time in the contest, the Poco F1 is ahead.
Winner: Poco F1
Round 9: Price
The battle for the purse
What shifted the momentum of the Fight of the Century entirely in favor of Frazier was a battering hook that floored Ali right at the end, to the shock of everyone. And just like Frazier saved his best punch for the last round, so does the Poco F1 too – the little matter of price. This is where the Poco F1 really unsettles the Never Settler. The Poco F1 comes with a beginning price tag of Rs 20,999 for a 6 GB/ 64 GB variant, Rs 23,999 for a 6 GB/ 128 variant and Rs 28,999 for a 8 GB/ 256 GB variant. There is also a special Armored, Kevlar-ed, Edition, which also sports 8 GB/ 256 GB, but is priced at Rs 29,999. Now, the base model of the OnePlus 6 – the 6 GB/ 64 GB one – starts at Rs 34,999. That should pretty much settle matters, but just for the record, the 8 GB / 128 GB variant costs Rs 39,999, and the 8 GB/ 256 GB variant is priced at Rs 44,999. For those interested in math stunts – you could buy two base Poco F1 variants for the price of the highest OnePlus 6 variant. Only one winner here.
Never Settler unsettled
Winner: Poco F1
Ladies and gentlemen, after nine rounds, we have a winner…
In terms of phone battles, this one is every bit as epic as the original Fight of the Century. And just as in that battle, a relative newcomer has managed to upstage the reigning champion on the scorecards. In nine rounds of bitter battle, the Poco F1 wins four, loses two, and draws three. What, however, is crucial is that the three rounds where the two contenders finish level, are ones that are basic hygiene factors for most smartphone purchasers – hardware, software, and multitasking. So on most basic factors, the two devices are very evenly matched. It is when one starts dipping into nuances that the differences start surfacing – those who like a flashy, premium looking design would prefer the OnePlus 6; on the other hand, those wanting lots of battery life and gaming without heat would go for the F1. But the OnePlus 6 holds an edge in the camera department, another crucial area even while the F1 scores over it in general usage and sound. Of course, just like Frazier’s last-minute hook floored Ali in the dying moments to pretty much decide the fight, so too does the F1’s massive price edge over the OnePlus 6.
But again, just like Ali vs. Frazier 1971, we do not expect this encounter to end the rivalry between what seem to be two phenomenal and very special brands. Come the winter, and OnePlus should unleash the OnePlus 6T, while Poco is unlikely to be content to rest on its laurels, although its road ahead is less predictable, being a newcomer. What we can be assured of, however, is that there will be other super fights.
Ali and Frazier, for the record, fought each other three times. And each fight was special. The last “the Thrilla in Manila” is considered by many to be the most brutal and bruising encounter in the history of heavyweight boxing.
So even as we raise the F1’s hand in victory for this particular encounter, this is by no means an overwhelming win, with the odds having been spectacularly tilted by one parameter (an important one through – price!). There will be many who will still feel that the OnePlus 6 is a better option and such is the prowess is the device that it would be foolish to dismiss their disagreement.
In fact, even that day at Madison Square Garden, the decision to give Frazier the win was hotly debated. Yes, Frazier had knocked Ali down for a while, but many felt that the Greatest had done more in the fight than his rival.
Which is why when the fight ended, a single voice shouted out a single word. And that word became a chant. A chant that reflected how close that fight had appeared to most bystanders. Just as this one has.
Read our Poco F1 review at: https://techpp.com/2018/08/22/xiaomi-poco-f1-review/
And our OnePlus 6 review at: https://techpp.com/2018/05/21/oneplus-6-review/
See Ali vs Frazier, Madison Square Garden, 1971