These are two of the most confusing Android phones I’ve used in 2024 | Digital trends

The Poco F6 Pro and Poco F6 on a table.
The Poco F6 Pro (left) and Poco F6 Andy Boxall / Digital trends

Poco isn’t a smartphone brand that many may have heard of, but those who have will mainly associate it with bright, colorful gaming phones. That’s not the case for the Poco F6 and Poco F6 Pro, Poco’s two latest devices that look surprisingly mature yet feature the usual design flair expected from the brand.

However, despite sharing a name, the two F6 phones are really different. It’s quite difficult to work out which one is the real star just by looking at the spec sheets, as there are interesting things about both. When they arrived I had my SIM card in the Google Pixel 8a, so which new Poco phone should replace it? I used them both to find out.

Poco F6

Poco F6 Andy Boxall / Digital trends

I was very intrigued to try the Poco F6 because it used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 processor, a processor I haven’t experienced yet. The somewhat misleading name indicates that it’s a high-end chip, but it’s actually a hodgepodge of several old Snapdragon 8-series chips, put together as a “greatest hits” version for moderately priced Android phones. This actually sounds pretty good. That’s how it is?

I am using the Poco F6 model with 12 GB RAM and it performs great. To play Asphalt 9: Legends on the highest in-game settings, at full brightness and in Poco’s Ultimate gaming mode setting, caused no issues, and the game was smooth, fast and exciting. It’s capable of running the 3DMark benchmark app’s ray-tracing-infused Solar Bay Stress Test, and it looked flawless on screen. It certainly made the phone feel warm, but not hot, and it passed the test. My first experience with the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 is very positive, and the Poco F6 seems like a great mobile gaming companion.

Poco F6 Andy Boxall / Digital trends

The lightweight plastic body (just 179 grams) and large 6.67-inch AMOLED screen help boost its gaming credentials, and the dual speakers sound great too. The sparkling rear panel houses two cameras: a 50-megapixel Sony IMX882 main camera with optical image stabilization and an 8 MP wide-angle camera. The Poco F6 is not a camera superstar. Coming from the Pixel 8a, which has an excellent camera, I found the F6’s photos inconsistent, often showing dull or inaccurate colors, while the noisy, grainy wide-angle camera was an inevitable disappointment.

A hidden feature unique to the F6 is Contactless Gestures, which can be found under the Active Visual Perception menu on the phone. It allows you to wave your hand in front of the selfie camera to control music, answer and end calls, and browse documents. It only works with a few Poco default apps and Netflix and is considerably slower and less useful than touching the screen, but it was a nostalgic throwback to phones like the LG G8 ThinQ, right down to the fact that it didn’t work all that well. It’s strange that this isn’t on the Poco F6 Pro.

Poco F6
Poco F6
Poco F6 wide angle
Poco F6
Poco F6

Elsewhere, it has a 5,000mAh battery with 90W charging (the charger is included in the box), 5G and NFC connectivity, an IP64 rating for water and dust resistance, a 120Hz refresh rate and Xiaomi’s HyperOS software based on Android. I found Poco’s interface through HyperOS busy and distracting, and was immediately put off by the many bright colors (it’s like it was designed with crayons) and multiple pre-installed apps.

The Poco F6 is a good start, but my SIM card remained firmly in the Pixel 8a. Would the Poco F6 Pro change that?

Poco F6 Pro

Poco F6 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital trends

The Poco F6’s Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 proved to be a highlight of the phone, but what about the Poco F6 Pro? My interest was piqued by the 50MP main camera, listed as a Light Fusion 800 sensor, which I haven’t seen before. Would it improve over the Poco F6’s disappointing camera? It dobut not in the way I’d like, and it certainly didn’t encourage me to switch from the Pixel 8a.

The Light Fusion 800 main camera is joined by another poor 8MP wide-angle camera and a useless 2MP macro camera, so just because the F6 Pro has an extra camera on the spec sheet shouldn’t be assumed that it’s better. The main camera boosts saturation compared to the F6, but also increases noise. It’s a rather unrefined camera overall, with details crushed under the weight of overexposure in bright conditions or lost through murky contrast levels. I’ve only taken a handful of photos with each new Poco phone, but neither has impressed me or made me want to take more.

Poco F6 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital trends

The F6 Pro has a solid, reliable Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor inside and not the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3. It’s a trusted, efficient and impressive performer, so I had no concerns using the phone. There’s also faster 120W wired charging for the 5,000mAh battery. The 6.67-inch, 120Hz AMOLED screen has a resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels and is brighter than the F6’s screen – and it’s all wrapped up in a very cool metal and glass casing, with a striking, cracked icy effect on the back.

It’s certainly a step up from the F6, but the phone is heavier at 209 grams and for some reason it doesn’t have an IP rating to improve durability. The same HyperOS software and Poco interface are installed. While I prefer the design of the Poco F6 Pro and rely on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, aside from the brighter, higher-resolution display, the Poco F6 will likely satisfy most people looking for a mid-range phone that is not just about the camera.

Poco F6 Pro
Poco F6 Pro
Poco F6 Pro wide angle
Poco F6 Pro
Poco F6 Pro

Using the Poco F6 Pro underlined why I wasn’t sure which of the two to spend the most time on, as the name and camera specs on paper should make it the more desirable and exciting of the two. However, the Poco F6 has some additional features that add value, and since neither camera is very good, I couldn’t find many reasons to stick with the F6 Pro.

More confusion, as usual

Poco F6 (left) and Poco F6 Pro
Poco F6 Pro
Poco F6

It was confusing looking at the different spec sheets and trying to decide which new Poco phone you would spend the most time with as both have interesting aspects. I split my time evenly and found the Poco F6 to be the better phone of the two, with little aside from the screen to sell me on using the F6 Pro. But even working this out doesn’t mean the confusion is over. Annoyingly, these two phones are not unique in Xiaomi’s extensive catalog.

Poco is part of the Xiaomi family, although it is not clear exactly how closely the companies work together. The fact is that the Poco F6 and Poco F6 Pro are very closely related to two other Xiaomi phones: the Redmi Turbo 3 and the Redmi K70. Both also use Xiaomi’s HyperOS software, but with the MIUI interface and not Poco’s dazzlingly colorful interface. So when we started there was a choice of two phones, but now you have a choice of four Phones.

Poco F6 Pro
Poco F6
Poco F6 (left) and Poco F6 Pro

This level of confusion isn’t new to Poco due to its complicated relationship with Xiaomi, and which one you choose will likely come down to where you live, what’s available, and which brand “appeals” to you (and your wallet). On that topic, Poco hasn’t confirmed the price and availability of the F6 or F6 Pro at the time of writing, but we’ll update this article as soon as we know more.

After spending all this time trying out cameras, processors and software, which phone do I think you should try? That’s easy, it’s the Google Pixel 8a.

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