Chinese technology company Xiaomi has made several attempts to make strides beyond budget and midrange smartphone segments. The birth of Poco as Xiaomi’s sub-brand was an outcome of one such attempt it made in 2018. The brand’s first smartphone, the Poco F1, set a benchmark for premium midrange smartphones by offering a combination of top-notch features and specifications at an affordable price – these gave users an unmatched bang for their buck.
That was the happy part. But the Poco brand, after a successful start, faded into an oblivion of sorts for failing to produce a worthy successor to the F1.
When technology enthusiasts, having waited for over two years, were beginning to write off the brand, Poco made a comeback this year with the India launch of the Poco X2, a Xiaomi Redmi K30 spin-off.
The Poco X2 is hardly a successor to the Poco F1, but it is a midrange smartphone with a motley bunch of impressive specification and features. These include a segment-first 120Hz refresh rate screen. Can the Poco X2 repeat for Poco the history it created in India with the F1? Let’s find out.
Poco’s comeback smartphone is not an original. It is a rebranded version of the Xiaomi Redmi K30. You might let its unoriginal design slide, but you cannot ignore its uninspiring build – tall, broad, bulky and heavy. Moreover, the phone’s rear camera protrudes from its body, making it unstable on flat surfaces like table tops.
The phone’s build and design might be uninspiring, but the choice of construction material is top-notch. It has a glass construction with Gorilla Glass 5 protection both on its front and back. The glass on the back exhibits gradient reflections, accentuating the phone’s otherwise boring design.
One of the ‘okay’ things in the Poco X2 is its capsule-shaped punch-hole display. The phone has a 6.67-inch screen of a fullHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels) resolution, stretched in a tall 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen is not AMOLED but LCD of questionable contrast, colours and viewing angles. It supports 120Hz refresh rate, which makes its user interface (UI) transitions appear lively and enhances user experience (UX) in regular operations (browsing, social media, etc), but not all apps and games support this enhanced refresh rate, so the screen dynamically switches to the conventional 60Hz. This limitation is not unique to the Poco X2; most phones (affordable or premium) with enhanced screen refresh rates suffer from this. It will continue to be so, unless the developers of apps and games make their products compatible with enhanced screen refresh rates.
The screen supports HDR10, but the panel’s abysmal brightness hampers its utility to a large extent. The brightness might not be good enough for HDR10 content, but it does not temper the screen’s sunlight legibility. It is also a competent device for graphic-intensive games like PUBG, which supports HDR graphics.
Being an LCD panel, the phone’s display does not include the on-screen fingerprint sensor, which is placed beneath the side-mounted power button. It is safe, fast and accurate and one of the best things this smartphone offers.
The Poco X2 has a quad-camera set-up on the back – a 64-megapixel primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide sensor of an f/2.2 aperture and a 120-degree field of view (FoV), a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. On the front, the phone has a dual camera set-up – a 20MP primary sensor of an f/2.2 aperture and a 2MP portrait sensor.
The phone’s primary rear sensor is a capable unit. It takes detailed shots with a reasonable dynamic range and minimal noise in most conditions. Though it is tuned to reproduce saturated colours, it manages to keep colours close to natural at its native resolution.
The phone’s front camera is good, too. However, its utility is best suited for selfies and portraits.
The Poco X2 is a mixed bag with regard to performance. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G system-on-chip, paired with up to 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage, it handles everyday tasks with ease and shows no weakness in handling processor- or graphic-intensive apps. However, its user interface is not refined. It is one of the best custom skins available on the Android platform, but it does not look polished. It lags occasionally and closes background apps randomly.
Nonetheless, it is one of the best Android custom skins and supports dark mode, which works even with apps that do not currently have a dark mode. It has gesture navigation, which makes it easy and convenient to navigate around the UI. Moreover, there are lots of options for customisation and personalisation accentuating the phone’s overall user experience.
Powering the Poco X2 is a 4,500 mAh battery. With screen set to operate at a 120Hz refresh rate, the battery lasts one full day on average use. You can c change the refresh rate to 60Hz from display settings to get some more on-battery time. Complementing the good on-battery time is a 27W fast charger which comes in the box. It is fast indeed; it replenishes the battery from zero to 100 per cent in about an hour and a half.
Starting at Rs 15,999 (6GB/64GB), the Poco X2 is not the Poco comeback phone we had been expecting. Nonetheless, it is a fine smartphone in its own right, with a bit of something for everyone. It competes with Xiaomi’s Redmi K20, and other competent smartphones like the Realme X2 (review), in India’s highly crowded affordable midrange smartphone space.