The Poco X2 offers a lot of phone for a lot less money. It may not have the same magic as the Poco F1 but this is a phone for everyone.
It took Poco nearly 1.5 years to make its return to the market with a comeback that seems promising. The Poco X2 has been in the news for long and there’s no doubt that it is simply a redesigned Redmi K30 4G from China. From its design to the internal specifications, every bit of the phone is a mirror image of the Redmi K30, except for the Poco badge. Poco is being aggressive with its pricing too, with base variant of the X2 starting from as low as Rs 15,999.
Some of you might be disappointed with the X2 being just a rebadges Redmi K30. I am too. After all, we all imagined Poco’s comeback device to pack in ridiculous hardware while cutting costs where it doesn’t matter for performance seekers, i.e. design, camera and build. However, in a pre-launch briefing session, Poco General Manager C Manmohan said that the phone you see as the Poco X2 was always meant to be Poco X2 from scratch but Xiaomi did the rebadging thing and launched it two months ago in China. Sounds legit, doesn’t it?
Nonetheless, back to the Poco X2. It’s a new phone for the Indian market and it does have some bragging rights – a 120Hz refresh rate display, the 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor and a 27W fast charging with the charger included in the box. At its price, the Poco X2 is a direct answer to the Realme X2 (the name gives it all) and since I used that phone a couple of months ago, I have the luxury to answer mine as well as your doubts – is it the new sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone king?
Design: Bling overdone?
I don’t like phones with extreme blingy gradient designs but it seems you (our readers) do. Hence, brands go all out to give us phone designs so reflective that I can see all the hair strands in my beard. Poco is no exception.
If you assumed that the Realme X2 was the most reflective design you would see in an affordable phone, you were wrong. Poco has outdone Realme with the X2 and whichever colour variant you choose, the Poco X2 will be the flashiest phone in your surroundings.
The Poco X2 is a giant phone by all standards and it’s also one of the heaviest phones I have used in a while – it weighs 208 grams! Yes, you can kiss goodbye to your pre-sleep on-bed Instagram sessions or else, your hands will plead for mercy. Next to the Poco X2, my iPhone XR looks compact! To add to the presence, the Poco X2 gets this subtle gradient over the rear panel but it also tries to emulate the dreadful camera humps with a highly reflective circular pattern around the camera. Adding further, it carries statements like ’64MP AI Quad Camera’ and ‘Designed by Poco’ on the lining the inside of the circle. Eew!
I understand people like flashy designs but the one on the Redmi K30, oops, the Poco X2, is overdone. It makes the phone look cheap and I would try to hide it either with a bulky opaque case or a skin. Maybe you like the chintzy look of the Poco X2 and you will love it but I hoped Poco would do an Armoured edition Poco X2 or another one where it would be devoid of any gradient design. Next to it, the Realme X2 looks civilised.
Once again, design is subjective and you might love what the Poco designers have done to the X2. Even though it does not appease my taste in design, it is certainly unique.
The phone tries to make up for it with a massive 6.67-inch display surrounded by narrow bezels. There’s a dual cutout for the two selfie cameras but they are separated from each other. Thanks to the LCD panel, the blackout in between isn’t the best and you can make out the gap most of the times. Also, a punch-hole cutout means it eats into your viewing experience massively.
Thankfully, Poco hasn’t stepped back on materials and you get Gorilla Glass 5 protection on both the front and back (Hey Realme, this is what premium means). The phone also has a metal frame that holds all the usual buttons, a USB-C port and a headphone jack. If you hadn’t noticed yet, the Poco X2 gets a capacitive fingerprint sensor mounted on the power button.
For a phone of its price, the Poco X2 feels premium and nice to hold. That said, it’s the heaviest phone in its class and Poco has gone overboard with its design. Flashy gradient colour schemes are so 2019 and we expected the Poco X2 to come up with something subtle. Maybe a few simple matte colours could have satisfied geeks like us – the original first-adopters of Poco F1.
Display: 120Hz is now accessible
OnePlus popularised the trend of high refresh rate displays and Poco leads the trend this year with the 120Hz display on the X2. The Poco X2 is the first phone this year – and also the cheapest phone ever – to come with a 120Hz refresh rate IPS LCD panel. Why LCD and not AMOLED like the Redmi K20? Poco says the LCD panel made it possible to keep the costs low despite going big with 120Hz. Does that mean it’s bad? No sir, not at all.
AMOLED screens look punchy but LCD panels give out natural colour tones. The one on the Poco X2 does just that and in its default setting, it renders vibrant colours, high contrasts and wide viewing angles (the X2 gets HDR10 support). MIUI looks stunning on this display and once you are watching videos or photos, the display only adds to the experience. A panel of this kind makes you wonder whether the AMOLED technology is overhyped for its colour production.
The biggest draw here is the 120Hz refresh rate and that makes everything look smoother. The MIUI interface glides through while scrolling menus or webpages seems fluid. Of course, some of that has to with the system animations (more on that later). Poco says the higher refresh rate is meant to assist with smooth gaming and even though with limited games making the most out of the 120Hz panel, it does go a long way to make things look smooth. PUBG MOBILE is smooth while Alto’s Odyssey is a breeze to play on this display. The pill-shaped cutout ruins the experience at times.
Performance: Still fast but not furious as Poco F1
By now, you must be knowing that the Poco X2 isn’t running on a latest flagship-grade chipset from Qualcomm. In fact, it is using a midrange chipset from last year – the Snapdragon 730G. On paper, it promises to bring many benefits of the Snapdragon 800 series chips but the fact is that it is weaker than even the Poco F1’s Snapdragon 845. Poco said it wanted to use the flagship Snapdragon chips but the Snapdragon 855 chip is still costlier to purchase while Qualcomm has stopped selling the Snapdragon 845. On that note, the Poco F1 is no more manufactured.
Does that mean the X2 is just another midrange phone? Yes and no.
The Snapdragon 730G is a powerful chipset and if paired with a well-optimised software, which it has been on the Poco X2, it will deliver performance on levels second the Snapdragon 855. This phone relies on MIUI 11 based on Android 10 and it comes with the Poco launcher on top.
On a daily basis, the Poco X2 is fast and fluid. Fluid not because of the 120Hz display but due to the smoother animations and excellent optimisations. I know that new phones are fast but the Poco X2 feels closer to the Redmi K20 Pro now and given that the Redmi K20 Pro is still smooth after six months, I have high hopes for the Poco X2. Juggling between basic apps such as messages, WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, and some music streaming apps was a breeze.
When it comes to games, the phone performs as good as the Snapdragon 730G can. That means PUBG MOBILE is locked to at most High graphics with average frame rates. Even games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty Mobile aren’t running at their best. For a phone that promises best gaming performance, that’s not acceptable. That said, in the highest possible settings, the Poco X2 manages to retain the performance and you get consistent performance. Consistency is the key here and I did not experience dropped frames in PUBG MOBILE or Call of Duty Mobile. Asphalt 9 isn’t well optimised though and you will see stutters often. If you have the Poco F1 and you want to upgrade to the X2 for gaming, I suggest stick to the F1 for now and wait for the Poco F2.
Part of the smooth performance has to do with MIUI for POCO and for those who love speed and fluidity, the Poco X2 will make you used to itself. MIUI brings its own perks such as its polished UI, an extensive customisation engine and lots of exclusive conveniences. However, MIUI also brings its dreadful advertisements and even if you choose to opt-out of personalised ads, apps like the Mi Video and Mi Music will bug all day with persistent ads in the notification tray. Moreover, MIUI for POCO comes loaded with unnecessary apps and games – stuff that may make you go cringe. This is very un-POCO like and I feel Poco has missed out an opportunity to offer the benefits of MIUI without bugging its users with ads and bloatware.
Audio quality is decent from the single speaker and the 3.5mm headphone jack assists with great audio quality through headphones.
Camera: This makes it a Poco for everyone
The cameras on the Poco F1 were average and after thousands of fixes, Poco managed to bring it performance closer to what users demanded. With the Poco X2, the company has ensured the hardware is great so as to let to software soar with computational photography.
The Poco X2 gets four cameras at the back and the main one uses the latest 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor – this is the sensor you are going to see on a lot of premium phones this year. Paired with that, there’s an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth camera. The telephoto camera is still a luxury in phones in 2020. For selfies, the Poco X2 uses a 20-megapixel camera that’s paired with a depth camera.
This is the first time I have experienced the new Sony sensor and in the right lighting conditions, it does blow minds with the levels of detail. In daylight, the image quality is exceptional for a phone of this price range. The detail levels are astonishing as the phone stick to 16-megapixel images by default for pixel binning. Images are sharp and MIUI’s camera algorithms bring out the most vibrant colours as well as high contrasts.
I kept the AI mode switched on and the camera tended to increase the colour saturation but it made the photos look livelier. Switch over to the 64MP mode and pixel peepers will be in for a treat. However, the 64MP photos are centre-weighted and that means you will start losing sharpness as you move towards the edges of the photo.
Sadly, the same performance isn’t available in low light or indoor lighting. The camera tries to retain vibrant colours but to counter image noise, it loses out on sharpness. In dark scenarios, the photos are decent but they all have noise and lose sharpness. The night mode enhances the exposure but detail levels mostly remain unchanged.
Xiaomi’s camera app usually struggles with lighting and I hope that a GCam mod for the Poco X2 can extract more low light performance from the Sony camera.
The ultra-wide camera is similar to the one on the Redmi Note 8 Pro. it is average at best with a very limited dynamic range, i.e. muted colours and sub-par details. The macro camera is decent too and as long as the lighting conditions are good, you will get good looking macro shots.
The front camera has been tuned well and in most lighting conditions, it takes good photos. The additional depth camera helps with more accurate edge detection in portrait mode. The depth camera also helps with face unlock but you have to be in a well-lit scenario to make it work. I miss the IR camera from the Poco F1.
Battery: Easily an all-day phone
The original Poco F1 had a good battery life despite using a powerful chipset and the Poco X2 carries on the tradition. The phone relies on a 4500mAh battery and under moderate usage, which includes texting on WhatsApp, half an hour of YouTube binging, an hour of social media browsing, two hours of music streaming via wireless earphones, and occasional PUBG sessions, the Poco X2 ended the day at 50 per cent on an average after a full charge in the morning. If you are more cautious, you easily extract two days of battery. Do note that I always kept the display in the 120Hz refresh rate mode.
The 27W fast charging system is a boon and it refills the massive battery within an hour when the meter turns red.
After going through all the parameters of the Poco X2, I have mixed feelings for this phone. The Poco X2 shows that Poco is now more than just a geek-focused brand. As a separate company, it wants to have multiple models in its lineup and the Poco X2 is the one that will feed their vault to fund their flagship phones.
As an affordable phone, the Poco X2 has a lot going for it. If you love big screens, the Poco X2 is for you. If you want 120Hz of smoothness, the Poco X2 is there for you. Want the 64-megapixel Sony camera? The X2 is the one. Most importantly, if you want a fast and smooth user experience with loads of customisation options, the Poco X2 is currently beating everything in its class. At a starting price of Rs 15,999, it’s hard to believe what Poco has to offer.
My only gripe with the Poco X2 is its chintzy colours and the massive size. Compared to the rather lightweight and simple Poco F1, the Poco X2 feels like the designers never stopped designing the phone. It’s bulky and ostentatious. Design is still a subjective matter and unlike me, you may love the flashy design of the Poco X2, in which case it becomes an even better deal.
- Fluid display
- Great performance
- Nice cameras
- Chintzy looks