Battery life is a treat with the phone lasting for a whole day even with the screen set on 120Hz, and a 27W charger to take it from empty to full in a little over an hour.

Atom Tech Shorts Tuesday, February 04, 2020 - 18:05

Remember the Poco F1 from Xiaomi? Launched back in August 2018, the F1 quite possibly revolutionized the value flagship segment, delivering no-compromise high-performance specs at a price that was accessible to many more than any OnePlus flagship. Stands to reason that there were few phones that were as hotly anticipated while carrying as much of a burden of expectations as the successor to the Poco F1.

The Poco X2, the first phone from Poco to launch in over a year and a half, is not that phone.  Instead, the phone is a near replica of Xiaomi’s Redmi K30 launched towards the year end in China, which makes its way into India as the Poco X2.

Design and Ergonomics

If you’ve kept up with the news and know about the Redmi K30, the Poco X2 looks exactly the same, and for a good reason – the folks at Poco, now an independent brand of its own, had collaborated with Xiaomi on the design and internals on this one. That said, this is a big leap forward from the purely functional F1, with the high-gloss glass finish available in three colors - Atlantis Blue, Phoenix Red and Matrix Purple.

There’s a distinctive circular ring around the camera that highlights the quad-camera setup and defines the rear of the X2. But coming from the vibrant gradient effects of the Xiaomi K20/K20 series from 2019, one would have expected more than just vibrant colors.

Gorilla Glass 5 protection on the front and rear is good, but all that glass renders the X2 heavy and rather slippery in the hand. It’s a good thing Poco has gone for a tall 20:9 aspect ratio 6.67-inch LCD display so the phone is somewhat manageable in the hand. You get a side-mounted fingerprint scanner which doubles up as a power button – a big win for the device since the scanner is perfectly located on the side and is faster than any in-display fingerprint scanner we’ve tested.

Rounding up the package is an infrared blaster to control your TV and the like and a USB Type-C port that supports 27W fast charging, with the charger included in the box.

Display

The high refresh rate of 120Hz on the 2400x1080 pixel display on the X2 is a big deal for the price point, but after using the device for over a week, one remains unconvinced about the value of the faster refresh rate on this device. When it works, the effect on the user interface or for supported games is buttery smoothness, but there are moments when one notices some lag while using the device, and the device missed that instant response one would come to associated with a 120Hz screen. It’s quite likely it comes down to a lack of software optimization in Xiaomi’s MIUI when it comes to the new hardware, something that a software update could fix in the future.

The other issue is that Poco has gone with a punch-hole cut-out for the dual-front cameras, which leads not only to a lot of wasted space but a fair bit of light bleeding out around the edges of the cutout. For day-to-day use though, the screen is a good LCD panel with true-to-life colors and good brightness.

Performance

Unlike the Poco F1 and its top-shelf Qualcomm chip, the Poco X2 gets a mid-range Snapdragon 730G that we saw previously on the Realme X2. The chip is frugal on power while still packing the chops to deliver good gaming performance when needed. Performance isn’t an issue on this device, though the bloatware on the device is a let-down.

Battery life is a treat with the phone lasting for a whole day even with the screen set on 120Hz, and a 27W charger to take it from empty to full in a little over an hour.

Cameras

The POCO X2 has four cameras on the rear: A 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor, an 8MP wide-angle shooter along with 2MP macro and a 2MP depth sensor for portrait shots. The front sees a 20MP camera and a similar 2MP module for portrait mode. The 64MP camera is a revelation – photos are full of detail, with decent colurs and dynamic range. Low-light pictures are usable too, as are the portrait shots. The ultra-wide lens is good only in well-lit conditions, and one would have much preferred a telephoto shooter over the macro lens on the X2. Overall, good results if not outstanding.


Pictures clicked on Poco X2

Worth a buy?

It may not have been the phone a certain section of the audience (Poco fans) would have been waiting for, and it doesn’t really follow the philosophy of what made the brand originally stand out. But it doesn’t make it any less of a phone. Performance is on par with the segment, battery life and camera are both dependable and the 120Hz panel has potential, if somewhat unfulfilled at the moment.

That said, it exists in a crowded market, and faces tough competition from within (Redmi K20) the family and beyond (Realme X2). Pricing is stellar, and that might be Poco’s trump card in their renewed bid for your wallet.

The Poco X2 launched today starting at Rs. 15,999 for the base 6GB RAM + 64GB storage variant, while its 6GB RAM + 128GB storage option is priced at Rs. 16,999 and an 8GB RAM + 256GB storage model for Rs. 19,999. It will go on sale through Flipkart at 12pm on Tuesday, February 11.

Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator.