You have to hand it to Xiaomi’s new sub-brand, Poco. We have no concrete information on how well its first device, the F1, is doing in the marketplace, but it has certainly managed to grab a fair deal of attention and is perhaps the first phone to seriously lay siege to the OnePlus. It had a massive tussle with the OnePlus 6 (read our boxing laden comparison here) and now is mixing it up with its successor, the OnePlus 6T – not just in the marketplace but also on the communications front. But does the F1 hold up as well against the OnePlus 6T as it did against the OnePlus 6? Well, let’s find out by comparing the two devices, both of which claim to be the best when it comes to speed (Note: yes, we know that parts of this might sound similar to the OnePlus 6 vs. Poco F1 comparison, but judging by the queries we have been receiving, there are differences enough to warrant a comparison. Incidentally, you can read our review of the Poco F1 here, and the OnePlus 6T here)

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Appearance – Plus One to the 6T

The Poco F1 has many virtues, but a dazzling design is not one of them. Similarly, the OnePlus has its share of eccentricities, but a boring design is not one of them. On the one hand, you have the F1, which is not an eyesore (the red one even looks good), but has been built for function rather than fantasy; and on the other is the OnePlus 6T which is a sight for sore eyes. It is not really a matter of dimensions (the 6T is slightly taller and less wide, and a shade slimmer), but of the overall design. The curved glass back of the OnePlus 6T, the severely shaved off bezels, the drop notch and the under display fingerprint scanner all scream “premium” at you, while the Poco F1 with its carbonate back (and even the Kevlar one), larger notch, and slightly pronounced “chin” has a more routine look to it. Let’s be brutally honest; if looks matter most to you, this contest ends right here.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Hardware – Neck and neck

This is where it gets really interesting. Poco has been going to town about how it has the same processor as the OnePlus 6T, and it is correct – both devices are powered by the same flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. And the base models of both have 6 GB RAM. However, whereas the storage options of the Poco F1 are 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB, the OnePlus 6T sticks to 128 GB and 256 GB. It is, however, the differences between the two that make this perhaps the most fascinating round in the contest.

On the face of it, the OnePlus 6T seems to have the edge. It has a larger display – 6.41″ as against 6.18″ on the Poco F1. Both displays have full HD+ resolutions, but the OnePlus 6T has an AMOLED display, while the F1 has an LCD one. Similarly, when it comes to the cameras, the OnePlus 6T has a clear edge, with a 16-megapixel main rear sensor with f/1.7 aperture, supported by a 20-megapixel secondary camera, while the Poco F1 has a 12-megapixel main sensor with f/1.9 aperture supported by a 5-megapixel secondary camera. What’s more, the OnePlus 6T’s camera has OIS, but the F1 does not. Add to this the fact that the OnePlus 6T has a snazzy under display fingerprint scanner and NFC, both of which the F1 does not, and you would think that the Never Settler has this round stitched up.

Far from it.

For, the Poco F1 has a few aces up its sleeve too. And while they might not sound as impressive, they are every bit as important for many users. To begin, the F1 has expandable memory (one of its dual SIM card slots is a hybrid one). Then it comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack, something which is conspicuous by its absence on the newest OnePlus. It has two speakers as well, even though the second one kicks in when you are in watching a video or playing a game in landscape mode. And while the notch on the F1 might seem larger than the drop notch on the 6T, it comes with an infrared sensor that makes its face unlock feature work better in the dark. Finally, the F1 has a larger 4000 mAh battery, as compared to the 3700 mAh one on the 6T – both devices support fast charging.

All of which makes it a very difficult round to call. We are going to go with the OnePlus 6T, but mainly because of that display and the higher megapixel count on cameras – we can see some people being swayed by the audio jack, expandable memory, and bigger battery!

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Software – Oh Mi, beaten by a Pie chart!

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Another close battle. But unlike in the case of the OnePlus 6 and the F1, where both devices ran on Android 8.1, here the Android force is with the OnePlus 6T, which comes with Android 9 out of the box, while at the time of writing, the Poco F1 was still on Android 8.1. There is a slight twist in the tale here, though, as the Poco F1 actually has been since updated to the latest version of MIUI, Xiaomi’s elaborated and very popular Android overlay – MIUI 10. The result is a clash between two cultures – the very minimalistic Oxygen UI of the OnePlus 6T which almost mimics stock Android and the feature-rich MIUI 10 with a Poco Launcher over it. We have to concede that MIUI 10 gives the F1 more features out of the box than we get on Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 6T, but the newer version of Android wins this round for us. The F1 is due for an Android Pie update soon, though. And both companies have a great track record of constantly updating their software.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Cameras – edging it as the lights dim!

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The battle between the OnePlus 6 and the F1 on the camera front had been surprisingly close, even though the former had better numbers. The cameras on the OnePlus 6T are very similar to those on the OnePlus 6, so once again the battle here is a close one. OnePlus has thrown in a special night mode into the mix, which further leverages the OIS edge its camera enjoys over the F1. The F1 still scores in terms of selfies and holds its own in normal lighting conditions. But yes, all said and done, the OnePlus 6T does seem to have slightly better cameras, especially in low light conditions. The difference is not staggeringly significant, though – you can check sample shots from both devices in their detailed reviews on our site (we have given the link in the opening paragraph)

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Gaming and multimedia – staying cool and just going on…and on

After winning four rounds on the trot, the OnePlus 6T receives its first setback. With both devices boasting largely similar specs, it is hardly surprising that they are equally matched when it comes to handling high-end games, multitasking and the like. Yes, the larger display of the OnePlus 6T and the far less intrusive drop notch does make for a better viewing experience, but the Poco F1 hits back – hard – with that 3.5 audio jack, which lets you use regular earphones with it. There is also the fact that its second speaker (in the notch) coming into play when in landscape mode. The larger battery on the Poco F1 also means that you can keep playing or watching videos for a longer period on it. Top that off with the fact that the F1 stays relatively cool while gaming, and you see why we think that multimedia and gaming fans will prefer it over the OnePlus 6T.

Winner: Poco F1

General performance – good old basic instincts win

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In routine everyday tasks, we once again felt the F1 had a slight edge over the OnePlus 6T. Neither phone is a slowpoke and breeze through tasks like web browsing, messaging, emails and social networks, and you are pretty assured a flagship level performance here. But there are differences nevertheless. Perhaps the most significant is in those two features – face unlock and fingerprint scanning. The under display fingerprint scanner of the 6T is very stylish and perhaps future proof too, but it still is significantly slower than the more conventional “on the back” scanner on the F1.

Similarly, while the OnePlus 6T’s face unlock is generally faster, we found that the F1 working much better in low light conditions (that infrared sensor, we think). The OnePlus 6T was also slightly more prone to bugs and crashes than the Poco F1 – we had instances of apps like FB Messenger crashing on it, and sometimes the keyboard would not respond. No, these did not happen often enough to be deal breakers and given OnePlus’ superb update record, we are sure they will be sorted out sooner rather than later, but we did find the Poco F1 being a more reliable performer in general. There also simply were more apps on the F1 out of the box than on the OnePlus 6T – yes, we know the purists will scream “bloatware,” but you can do more on the F1 from the word go than on the OnePlus 6T. Top that with the significantly better battery life and well, the F1 comes away a winner.

Winner: Poco F1

Battery life – Dash it, this mAh is not meh!

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Yes, the OnePlus 6T does have a larger battery than the OnePlus (3700 mAh against 3300 mAh), and we have been told that it was the size of the battery that pushed out the 3.5 mm jack on the device. But even that does not really bring it into the range of the Poco F1’s battery life. The battle here is between comfortably a day of battery life and a day and a little more. Yes, the Dash Charge of the OnePlus 6T does compensate, but the F1 comes with support for Quick Charge. Careful handling can see the F1 get through two days on a single charge – that’s just not an option on the 6T, which can stretch slightly beyond a day with careful usage, even though it does have the best battery life we have seen on a OnePlus phone. The F1’s win here is as clear as the 6T’s in design.

Winner: Poco F1

Price – the Gulf of Rupees!

This was where the Poco F1 had delivered a shocking coup de grace to the OnePlus 6. And it does the same to its successor. The Poco F1 starts at Rs 20,999 for the 6 GB/ 64GB edition, while the OnePlus 6T starts at Rs 37,999 for the 6 GB/ 128 GB one. But even the 6 GB/ 128 GB edition of the Poco F1 comes at Rs 23,999, and in fact, the highest specced F1 (8 GB/ 256 GB) comes for Rs 29,999, which is well below the base model of the OnePlus 6T. The high end OnePlus 6T (8 GB/ 256 GB) is priced at Rs 45,999 – you could actually end up purchasing two Poco F1 base level models for less. Do we need to say who wins?

Winner: Poco F1

Ma+th done…and the answer is:

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On paper, this is a very close race. Interestingly, the OnePlus 6T took the first four rounds, only for the F1 to storm back and take the next four. With both phones tied at 4-4, which one does a consumer go for?

It really boils down to a battle between flaunt and function, between eye candy and pocket-friendly, between an established brand (with perceived “equity”) and a new kid on the phoney block, between a beauty and a beast….we could go on.

Some would say that the OnePlus 6T with its victories in both hardware and software is the obvious choice, but we would beg to differ, simply because these hardware and software victories do not translate into the sort of performance edge that many would assume they would. Yes, there is no doubting that OnePlus 6T cuts a smarter figure with its much more premium design and many would say that the presence of the under display fingerprint scanner makes it a more modern device, but the Poco F1 hits back on the performance front. Its less trendy fingerprint scanner works faster, its bigger notch contains a speaker and an infrared sensor for better low light face unlock and well, it manages to get a larger battery than the OnePlus 6T even while retaining a 3.5 mm audio jack and expandable memory. And then there is the killer blow – the price.

Yes, we can see pure Android loving geeks and OnePlus loyalists flocking to the OnePlus 6T and what it offers. It adds some very interesting features to the already awesome OnePlus 6 (read our comparison here). But it does cut some corners in doing so – the new fingerprint scanner is slightly slower and the 3.5 mm audio jack is history. Oh and costs more money to get one.

Which is why mainstream users are likely to find the Poco F1 more up their alley. It more or less matches the 6T in many departments, beats it in a few, has pretty much everything a person on a tight budget would want from a high-end device without cutting too many corners (3.5 mm audio jack, FM radio, expandable memory…). Sure, it does not LOOK as stunning as some of the flagships out there, like the OnePlus 6T.

But but but…well, it costs a whole lot less money. In fact, it reminds us of another phone that was very similar to it – all function, all speed, so what if it had a plastic back…and a killer price. Four years ago. Remember the OnePlus One, anyone?

Oh, the irony then that it is Poco that has been asking consumers to “do the ma+h.”

We did. It is brutal.

There is only one winner here.

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