Review UMIDIGI F1: Smartphone secret tip in the middle class for $179.99

UMIDIGI smartphones often have a lot of potential, but they rarely managed to convince us. Now the manufacturer is launching two new mid-range smartphones, which are not only named after trends: the UMIDIGI F1 and UMIDIGI F1 Play. We have now tested the UMIDIGI F1 and one thing is for sure: it is the best UMIDIGI smartphone yet!

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone

Technical data of the UMIDIGI F1

UMIDIGI F1 UMIDIGI F1 Play
Display 6.3 inch 19.5:9 Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) LC display (409 PPI) 6.3 inch 19.5:9 Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) LC display (409 PPI)
Processor MediaTek Helio P60 @2 GHz MediaTek Helio P60 @2 GHz
Graphics chip ARM Mali G72 ARM Mali G72
RAM 4 GB 6 GB
Internal memory 128 GB 64 GB
Camera 16 megapixels with ƒ/1.7 aperture + 8 megapixels 48 megapixels Samsung GM1 with ƒ/1.7 aperture + 8 megapixels
Front camera 16 megapixels with ƒ/2.0 aperture 16 megapixels with ƒ/2.0 aperture
Battery 5.150 mAh with Quick Charge 3 5.150 mAh with Quick Charge 3
Connectivity AC WLAN, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, GPS, NFC, 3.5 mm jack, LTE AC WLAN, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, GPS, NFC, 3.5 mm jack, LTE
Features Fingerprint Sensor Fingerprint Sensor
Operating system Android 9 Android 9
Dimensions | Weight 156.9 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm | 186 g156.9 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm | 186 g 156.9 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm | 193 g

Packaging & Scope of delivery

The UMIDIGI F1 comes in the manufacturer’s typical black box, with a filigree fingerprint design. This is provided with a somewhat unnecessary, black cardboard slipcase. In contrast to the UMIDIGI S2 Pro at that time, it is a very simple packaging, which is printed on the back with the complete Specsheet. Inside is the UMIDIG F1, a black USB charger with 18W, a red USB type C cable, the SIM needle, a display protection foil (very cool!), the fancy silicone case and a manual.

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Scope of Delivery

That’s how we praise it! Especially the silicone case with the imitation leather design really makes a difference and refines the device once again. On the packaging and the device there is a CE mark.

UMIDIGI F1 with Waterdrop Notch

At first glance, the F1 could almost be confused with the top devices from OnePlus or Huawei. The reason: the waterdrop notch at the top of the display, which first attracts attention. This steals considerably less display space from the 6.3 inch screen than the Notch solutions of the last generation. The curved design is very similar to that of the Xiaomi Mi 9, which was subsequently chosen.

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Display Notch

Otherwise, the black edges on the left and right between the display and the case frame are pleasantly thin at 3 mm. The lower edge of the screen is the widest, but is still pleasantly thin.

The back, on the other hand, isn’t quite as exciting. Here we get a typical design of the current generation. The dual camera is arranged vertically, the flash is located between the two cameras. The fingerprint sensor is located centrally in the upper third and is slightly oval. With a thickness of 8.8 mm, the smartphone is even slightly thicker than a Xiaomi Mi Mix 3. The manufacturer relies on three different color variants. The UMIDIGI F1 is available in classic black and gold. Those who like it more extravagant can also fall back on a red Colorway.

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Rear Black

At the bottom we find a USB type C port as well as a 3.5 mm jack plug, on the left the hybrid SIM slot and on the right the volume rocker including power button.

Processing & Handling

The little problems with earlier UMIDIGI smartphones were immediately obvious to the mobile phone user. Processing errors were the order of the day, but with the F1 it looks different. The manufacturer uses a kind of “rubberized” plastic for the material, which I’ve never seen before, but the phone benefits from it. This definitely gives you a better grip, even if you don’t use the included silicone case.

UMIDIGI F1 Backside Black

The recesses at the bottom for ports and speakers are milled clean enough so that nothing is sharp-edged. The gap dimensions are small and the display is neatly recessed into the case. For example, the Vernee M8 Pro has a much better solution to this problem. The only criticism I’d have is that the volume rocker was slightly offset, but that’s not really noticeable. So I would give the processing of the UMIDIGI F1 a total of 9.5/10 points – first-class work, UMIDIGI!

Display with catch-up demand

The screen is an LTPS LC display with an FHD+ resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels. We don’t get an AMOLED display in the price range, but that’s not a problem, you can’t expect that. In theory, I really like the screen of the UMIDIGI F1, but only at full brightness. If you lower it to half the brightness, you won’t get this impression anymore. Finally, the display becomes so dark that it reflects relatively strongly. A minimum of 75% of the maximum brightness is necessary here.

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Display

The Android operating system does not leave so many possibilities for individualization of the display. Colors and contrast can’t be adjusted, unfortunately. Only a “Lift to Activate” function is cool, otherwise only default settings remain. But the display supports Multi-Touch with up to ten fingers, which in my opinion should be standard. I also didn’t notice any delays or other malfunctions of the display during the test period.

Helio P60 processor & giant battery

As with the Z2 Pro, UMIDIGI relies on the Helio P60 processor from MediaTek for the F1 as well. At the moment the Octa-Core is probably the best choice for MediaTek processors in the middle class and technically on eye level with the Snapdragon 660 processor from the Mi 8 Lite by Xiaomi. In addition there is 4 GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128 GB internal memory. The memory is even expandable. This puts the UMIDIGI F1 in the upper middle class.

The UMIDIGI F1 Play gets a different memory configuration. The slightly stronger smartphone also gets 6 GB RAM, but only 64 GB mass memory, which can also be expanded.

UMIDIGI F1 Gaming Screenshot

I like the performance of the UMIDIGI F1 surprisingly well. Even navigating through the operating system is very fluid and fast, the apps are quickly opened and in multitasking the 4 GB are usually sufficient. But here it doesn’t hurt to empty the cache every now and then. I can’t find any Lags. You can even play games with the UMIDIG F1 and even with a smooth performance. PUBG runs smoothly, even if only with medium graphics settings. For the ultimate gaming experience, the ARM Mali-G72 GPU offers a little too little power.

UMIDIGI F1 Benchmarks

The overall benchmark results are also really good. They confirm our impression and show that the P60 does not have to hide from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660, which sits in the Redmi Note 7, for example. In some cases, the MediaTek processor even performs better than the competition. In short: the UMIDIGI F1 offers enough performance for almost everyone; 80 – 90% of people should get along with this performance easily!

UMIDIGI F1 with a huge 5,150 mAh battery

On the hardware side, the built-in battery is also very interesting. The minimal above-average case size can be explained by the 5,150 mAh battery installed by the manufacturer. It also supports 18W Fast Charging, so that a complete charge is at least adequately fast. A corresponding charger is included. But we have to do without wireless charging.

UMIDIGI F1 battery benchmark

The battery benchmark ran for a full 12 hours, which is an above-average value. You should get by without any problems for at least 1.5 to 2 days without having to plug it in. Of course, this also depends on the individual use. If the phone is empty, the UMI F1 needs about 2h 15 minutes with the included charger, which is a more than acceptable value considering the battery size.

Camera: Hardware top, software flop!

Of course there are also some cameras in the UMI F1. The dual camera on the back consists of a 16 megapixel sensor with ƒ/1.7 aperture, the secondary sensor offers 8 megapixel resolution. On the front is a 16 megapixel sensor with a ƒ/2.0 aperture. So far we have always been quite disappointed by the UMIDIGI cameras, but here you have obviously done your homework. Because the photos of the UMIDIGI F1 can really convince me in many points!

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Camera

If the lighting conditions are right, I really like the sharpness and colours of the 16 megapixel camera. Here you certainly don’t have to hide from industry giants like Xiaomi and Honor. The autofocus also works quite reliably and usually manages to focus on the desired object. The contrast is personally minimally too high for me, but it can also be adjusted afterwards. This also works relatively well with moving people, as long as they are not travelling too fast. According to our information, it’s the Samsung S5K2P7 sensor.

UMIDIGI F1 test photo main camera contrast

UMIDIGI F1 test photo main camera person

UMIDIGI F1 test photo main camera object sharpness

Portraits & other modes

Where UMIDIGI fails, however, is software optimization. This is noticeable, for example, in portrait mode, which is called “depth of field mode” here. The mode is okay and better than other China manufacturers, but also not on the level of Xiaomi and Honor. For comparison you can take a look at a photo of Julian, where I could take a first class portrait with the Redmi 7. The UMIDIGI’s edge detection is not so strong, Julian’s hair and beard are hit by the bokeh, which shouldn’t be the case.

UMIDIGI F1 test photo main camera portrait comparison

Also in the low-light the camera does not do well, but rather badly. Thanks to the ƒ/1.7 aperture, the camera is relatively fast, but the ISO has to be raised a lot, which makes the image noise fast. In addition, there is only a timelapse, pro and video mode. The camera app is therefore very clearly arranged, which I personally like very much.

UMIDIGI F1 test photo main camera low-light
The low-light capacities are acceptable, but nothing more.

If you switch to the front camera, which has a resolution of 16 megapixels, you get solid self-portraits. The camera fails for my feeling partly because of the colors, which look somewhat unnatural. Also the sharpness and the focus are not right, which reminds me a bit of the Huawei Nova 4. Nevertheless, the Selfies are quite ok, even though Xiaomi simply offers more in this price range!

UMIDIGI F1 test photo front camera

We expect a little more from the UMIDIGI F1 Play, which is equipped with a 48 megapixel camera. This is the Samsung ISOCELL GM1 sensor, which also sits in the Redmi Note 7. It’s not a native 48 MP sensor like the Sony IMX586, which sits in the better UMIDIGI S3 Pro or Xiaomi Mi 9. In addition, there is an 8 megapixel secondary camera for some extra image information and a 16 megapixel camera on the front.

Finally a decent OS

Another aspect in which we hoped for improvement in advance is the software. UMIDIGI puts Android 9 on the internal memory of the UMIDIGI F1 and changes relatively little at the Google operating system. There are a few UMIDIGI apps like the flashlight app or the NoteBook app, but otherwise UMIDIGI’s branding is very limited. But with that it is basically very close to Stock Android, which I personally like very much. The OS is also equipped with an App-Drawer.

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Android Software

With the security patch from the beginning of January, the operating system is relatively up-to-date. During our testing period, no F1 updates came out that we could have installed. Unfortunately, we lack the long-term experience to know how well the UMIDIGI F1 will be provided with updates. With Android 9 it’s at least up to date, but we can’t say if you can get a system update here or how regular security updates are.

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Virus Scan

It is however pleasing that apparently no viruses or other harmful software is on the F1. Two virus scanners couldn’t find any problems except for the deactivated extensible web protection – that’s what we want.

Unlocking options

To unlock the UMI F1, the manufacturer offers two options. You can use Face Unlock, which also takes some time and apparently takes several photos of the face. However, the success rate is only about 75%, which is slightly below average. Sometimes the unlocking mechanism doesn’t react or doesn’t recognize the face. The same unfortunately applies to the fingerprint sensor, which is not the fastest and has a success rate of only 75%. That is a pity and not quite contemporary, but still tolerable.

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone Face Unlock

The full programme

The F1 offers a number of connection options for this. On the underside we find a 3.5 mm jack connector and a USB type C slot. The SIM slot on the left side offers space for either two Nano-SIM cards or one Nano-SIM card & one microSD card. So memory expansion is basically possible!

UMIDIGI F1 USB Type-C

And on a wireless level we get all the important global LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20. For local internet 802.11 a/b/g/n/ WiFi is available. GPS and GLONASS are also present, the GPS fix takes a few seconds within the building, but is then pretty accurate with up to 4 meters!

UMIDIGI F1 Smartphone AUX connector

A big advantage over the competition is the integrated NFC. Contactless payment with Google Pay is no problem!

Conclusion: Comeback of the year

That’s what I call a comeback! After the last UMIDIGI devices almost disappointed us by the bank, we get with the UMIDIGI F1 a really very interesting smartphone for a reasonable price. Finally you can order the F1 for about $200, so it has to compete with a Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite or Redmi Note 7. On the plus side, the F1 has a large battery, NFC, almost pure Android and good performance. The camera is also very solid and can produce nice photos.

I would really criticize only the display. That’s good in itself, but unfortunately a bit too dark, if you don’t want to be on the road with almost full power. This finally reduces the battery life. You can live with that, but here the competition is simply equipped with better panels. Also the fingerprint sensor and the Face Unlock are not quite on a par with the competition, but they are still usable.

We are glad that we gave UMIDIGI another chance. Will you change your mind or have you sworn away UMIDIGI forever?

To the gadget
Profile picture from Thorben

Thorben

My special interests are smartphones from China and I am always keen to discover new smartphone accessories like smartwatches and headphones. 

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Comments (1)

  • 30.04.19 um 11:11

    David ward

    Just seen it for 139. It’s a still at 400 y’all

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