Poco, the smartphone sub-brand of Xiaomi, is about to release its highest-spec phone yet.
The Poco F4 GT looks and sounds like a gaming phone, and in an exclusive pre-launch interview the company’s head of product marketing Angus Ng revealed to Tech Advisor a spec sheet to match – but insists the device isn’t exclusively designed for gamers.
I’ve seen the device, but I can’t talk about it yet or indeed show off the phone’s design, though Ng was happy to chat in detail about the phone’s specs ahead of its global launch on 26 April – a first for the series , after last year’s F3 GT launched primarily in India.
“We want to be the most affordable Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 smartphone in the industry. That is the main goal,” he explains.
With the latest flagship chipset from industry leaders Qualcomm, Poco is effectively dropping its most premium phone to date, with the same processor as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro, and Oppo Find X5 Pro – not to mention gaming phones such as the Black Shark 5 Pro or Red Magic 7.
The F4 GT has a 120Hz AMOLED display, and high frequency 1920Hz PWM dimming, which Ng says is to make sure people’s eyes are best protected when using the phone for long periods of time, especially in low light conditions.
It also has what Poco calls its LiquidCool Technology 3.0. Ng says the design separates the battery charging indicator circuits and the Snapdragon chip to help keep the two main heat spots further apart, while vapor chambers on top of each help cool the phone when it’s under heavy load.
“But … if you’re playing Genshin Impact on the highest graphic settings, you know, and you still feel a bit of heat, I think that’s relatively normal for any smartphone.”
The software has a ‘performance mode’ to push the hardware to the max, though Ng says the phone will “perform without issue” when in ‘balance mode’. He doesn’t recommend charging the phone while playing a high-performance game.
The main camera sensor is the 64Mp Sony IMX686 sensor, first used in 2020’s Poco F2 Pro. Ng admits cameras still aren’t top priority for Poco.
“It’s not because we don’t take cameras seriously … We just want to make sure it takes good photos,” he said. “We’re trying to provide a good shooter. It doesn’t have to be the top-end one.”
He’s prouder of the haptics in the phone.
“I know it’s forbidden to say ‘we’re the best’ based on advertising law, but I can honestly say, it’s probably the best experience I’ve felt on handheld typing.
“It really kind of sets the whole tone. When you turn on the phone and you set up, type in your email, then you can feel how good the phone is.”
Ng didn’t tell me about the F4 GT’s battery size or charging speeds, but we can speculate a little. The specs he did confirm match up with the Xiaomi Redmi K50 Gaming Edition – the phone that industry insiders have speculated the F4 GT is based on.
If that holds true across the board, then Poco fans can expect to see a 4700mAh battery with impressive 120W fast charging – though there’s no guarantee Poco won’t have made tweaks to the spec along the way. We’d certainly also expect the design to differ a little from the Redmi phone, which you can see above.
Built to game – and more
Ng says Poco surveyed customers and found a lot of people who have gaming phones have two phones they always carry around. Phones like the Asus ROG Phone 5 were bought simply for gaming but weren’t people’s primary device.
“It’s kind of like carrying a PS5 with you all the time … we kind of wish our users don’t need to carry another phone,” Ng told me. “We don’t really want to position ourselves purely on a gaming phone even though it has a lot of gaming features. This phone is fully capable of being a normal flagship.”
He says the phone has a full metal body with shoulder buttons with magnetic release switches. While these scream ‘gaming phone’ at first blush, Ng told me the buttons can be mapped for functions such as opening the camera, in a move meant to appeal to a wider audience.
“If you don’t use it for gaming or turn on the triggers, the shoulder buttons, then technically this is no different than a normal flagship out there in the market.
“We’re not looking to compete with other gaming smartphones because we don’t see ourselves as a pure gaming smartphone. If we do compete with them, I think we can put up a good fight, but we’re definitely not the best gaming phone in the world.”
His honesty is quite refreshing.
“It’s such a niche space in general in the mobile market, but I can say we’re definitely one of the best.”
Poco’s roadmap for the future
Poco sells M, F, and X-branded devices at a relatively low cost compared to rival smartphone brands. Is the F4 GT a move towards a new target audience?
“We were always happy to expand our target audience group. Obviously, we would love more users to try our phones,” Ng said.
“The F4 GT is a test in the water for higher end users or for people who are looking for a really good performance phone … the goal is to meet the needs of our current fans and their gaming hobby.”
As to whether there will be a regular F4, all Ng would say is, “stay tuned.”
He did though have more to say about Poco’s Android update promise. With Samsung now promising many Galaxy customers four years of Android platform updates and security patches – more even than Google – other manufacturers have work to do to catch up.
“We’re currently actually working on that like right now. It’s something that we’ve been discussing with Google and the MIUI team,” Ng said.
“We are trying to strive for a three plus four,” he added, meaning three years of Android version updates and four years of security patches.
“For F series and X series, because they’re performance phones, they can probably, you know, take the three years of updates, or two to three years of updates, and be able to run lag-free. Whereas I think for the lower end ones, we need to do a bit more intensive testing where we kind of need to test out is it even worth upgrading … [in case] it can’t handle all the new features.”
As for the series of phones themselves, the X and X Pro series will remain a key focus, as well as the F series. There are discussion of a new line, but nothing is confirmed at this time.
With the F4 GT, Poco is promoting what it calls its AIoT – artificial intelligence of things – credentials and will launch the phone alongside new wireless earbuds and a smartwatch. AIoT is branding borrowed from Xiaomi, but Poco isn’t likely to stray far from mobile accessories.
“We don’t want to go too far away from our smartphones,” Ng said. “I don’t think we will ever release anything like a robot vacuum cleaner.”
Poco has been pushing out more devices at a faster pace since it shook up the industry with the Pocophone F1 in 2018. The company clearly believes it can provide a crossover gaming hit with the F4 GT and appeal to more than the Fortnite crowd, but we ‘ll have to see just how hungry people are for high performance Android phones with trigger buttons and features which are, no matter how much the company says they aren’t, targeted at mobile gamers.