The latest salvo fired from the Xiaomi stable has changed the game for OnePlus, the original ‘flagship killer’ that gave users almost everything that the most expensive phones do. In fact, when it comes to performance, it gives more, beating Samsung flagships, the iPhone and the Pixel phones at speed. For almost two years now, we’ve had no hesitation recommending the newest OnePlus to anyone who wants some bang for their buck.

Now, with the launch of Xiaomi’s new sub-brand Poco and its first phone, called F1, users actually have some choice. There’s the Zenfone 5Z too, which is also as powerful, but its maker, Asus, doesn’t quite have the same connect with users as OnePlus and Xiaomi do. These two companies have spent time developing strong user and fan communities and taking feedback to improve their devices. They’ve also cracked the ‘cool’ factor. So to begin with, the battle really is between Xiaomi’s Poco and OnePlus with both being after the same customers and both having no end of things in common — including some wallpapers — incidentally.

But there are also enough differences between the two smartphones. Here’s a look at the deciding factors.

Price: Poco F1 wins hands down

In India, price is more than half the battle. With thePoco F1 starting at ₹20,999 versus the ₹34,999 OnePlus 6 starter, it’s a no-brainer decision for many, especially those who aren’t already fans of the OnePlus. Even the basic Zenfone 5Z is ₹29,999. Of course, the one factor that the OnePlus 6 will have is that it will be more readily available compared to the Poco F1 since Xiaomi hasn’t been able to keep up with the sheer demand for their phones.

Design: OnePlus 6 has the look

The OnePlus 6 devices in all their variants are made of glass. They look wonderful. The red variant has a deep and mesmerising look and the Silk White, which is a special edition, is made of actual crushed pearls under glass. As a result, the OnePlus 6 looks very premium and more like the flagships it’s trying to kill. Xiaomi has gone with polycarbonate for its Poco F1 saying that people put their phones in a case anyway so why use a vulnerable material like glass. Of course, Xiaomi forgets that when launching their own glass-back phones. For those who aren’t that swayed by how a phone looks as long as it delivers on performance, the Poco F1 will more than meet expectations, looking very cool despite the absence of fancy glass. But for those who have been users of OnePlus phones for a while, the recent takes on a good design are all they need to sway them towards an upgrade.

Ergonomics: Poco F1 has a slight edge

Poco F1 is a tad smaller than the OnePlus 6 and is just narrow enough to be really grip-friendly. It’s slightly heavier on account of a bigger battery, but by no means a weighty or uncomfortable phone. The OnePlus 6 is very slim and elegant, especially without a case, but at the same time a bit more slippery in comparison.

Display: OnePlus 6 shines bright

The OnePlus 6’s display is a 6.2-inch AMOLED and is very bright and vivid, full of rich contrasts. The notch is handled really well on this phone and stops being noticeable after a while because it’s narrow and unobtrusive. Screen space is maximised and it uses Gorilla Glass 5. The Poco F1 has a slightly smaller LCD screen but has a big broad notch (the same size as the iPhone X’s) and it takes up so much of the space that would otherwise be taken up by a bezel anyway. The Poco F1 uses what may be Gorilla Glass 3.

Camera: OnePlus 6 gets the picture

The Poco F1 has a 12 MP primary camera with f/1.9, 1/2.55”, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF coupled with a 5 MP, f/2.0, 1.12µm, depth sensor. The front camera is a 20 MP with f/2.0, 0.9µm. It’s a nice camera though it does nothing in particular with low light. The camera uses AI to enhance photographs, though this is not too evident — and that may not be a bad thing. The OnePlus 6’s camera has almost reached flagship level. Photographs are much clearer and more detailed. The Poco F1 can shoot 4K videos at 30 fps and OnePlus 6 lets you shoot 4K videos at both 30 fps and 60 fps.

Performance: OnePlus 6 wins the race but only just

With both the phones working on the Snapdragon 845 SOC with 6 GB or 8 GB RAM and 64 to 256 GB storage, it’s a tough call to figure out which of the two performs better. The OnePlus 6 feels just that little bit smoother and more polished, but both phones can handle the same processor-intensive tasks. The OnePlus 6 works on a less-customised version of Android while the Poco F1 uses Xiaomi’s MIUI, which has heavy customisations and features except that Xiaomi has made the Poco F1 look a bit more like an Android phone and is using a launcher it is making available to all on the Play Store. It’s difficult to go wrong with performance with either of these phones. The Poco F1 has the fastest face unlock that works even in the dark. It also has an FM Radio app. The OnePlus 6 also unlocks really fast.

Price: Poco F1- ₹20,999, ₹23,999, ₹28,999

Pros: Flagship processor with lots of RAM and storage, snappy performance, strong ergonomics, super fast face unlock even in the dark, great price

Cons: Not premium looking, older Gorilla Glass, no OIS, average camera, picks up finger grease, very broad notch

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