POCO's first offering - the F1 - was an impressive budget flagship smartphone with Snapdragon 800 series chipset. After a quiet period of close to a year and a half, POCO's new offering - the X2 - dares to compete against the likes of Redmi Note series of the erstwhile company, Realme and more. But can POCO leave its mark in an already cluttered segment?
Before we talk about the device, just a few things about POCO one should know -- POCO started in August 2018 as a sub-brand of Xiaomi. And in January this year, POCO became a separate legal entity. However, instead of creating everything new, POCO continues to use some of the resources of Xiaomi. For instance, the phone has MiUI instead of another custom made UI and shares the after-sales network for a wider reach of service points.
With a big screen dominating the front and multiple camera setup at the rear, almost all smartphones look alike. It's true for the POCO X2 as well but to me, it looked premium when compared with the competition.
A near bezel-less display dominates the front and the slightly curved rear makes it comfortable to hold. However, the raised vertical camera module at the rear (top centre) makes it uneven when placed on a flat surface. The bundled silicon cover addresses this problem. The fingerprint scanner has been flushed with the power button on the right panel. I used my right thumb and both my index fingers that made it rather comfortable to unlock the device. POCO has also added an IR blaster on the top, coupled with Mi Remote. This is one of my all-time favourite features as it comes handy to quickly control air conditioner, TV and other appliances when the remote isn't around. Front and the rear of the phone have been protected using Gorilla Glass 5 and it also has a P2i coating that makes it splash-proof.
The 6.67-inch screen with 2400X1080 resolution appears bright and sharp. There isn't a water-drop notch. Instead, there are two holes on the top right for the in-screen dual-camera module. Taking a notch higher is the 120Hz display, which has been turned on by default. The increased refresh rate results in increased smoothness and responsiveness and can be experienced while playing some of the games as well. But as the experience of using the 120Hz display is a mixed bag, one can switch back to 60Hz display from the phone's display setting. In all, the screen was bright, a delight for streaming videos and gaming. Even while reading documents or browsing the web, the text appeared crisp. I preferred keeping the brightness on auto mode as at full brightness started to strain my eyes.
The POCO X2 scores on the photography front. At the rear are four camera sensors - a 64MP Sony IMX686, 2MP macro lens, 8MP ultra-wide along with 2MP depth sensor. Using pixel binning technology, the camera captures images at 16MP by default. But there is a dedicated option to click at 64MP resolution as well. The camera UI appears to be the same as on Xiaomi smartphones running MIUI. The default photo mode has options such as AI camera that identifies the object and optimizes the settings and mode for the same. I was able to switch to the ultra-wide lens by tapping on the dot at the bottom of the photo mode, which zoomed out from 1X to 0.6X. The coverage area and images captured using the ultra-wide lens are impressive. There is also a small flower icon on the top to activate the macro mode. Other modes onboard include 64MP, portrait, night, panorama, Pro, short video, slow motion and video. The size of the image captured using pixel binning technology was 7.5MB whereas the file size was close to 19MB when captured at 64MP resolution. The images captured were sharp with good colour reproduction. Interestingly, not just bright day-light but the camera captured some impressive results in low-light using night mode. The 20MP along with 2MP front camera setup captures good selfies too.
If you have used a Xiaomi smartphone before, you will feel immediately at home. The POCO X2 runs on Android 10 based on MIUI with POCO launcher onboard. While the apps are placed across home screen windows, the app tray is accessible by swiping up from the bottom. Within the app tray is a search bar at the bottom and various categorizes - all, communication, entertainment, photo, games, tools and more - on the top. The combination of two makes it easy to search for the apps. However, there is some bloatware onboard.
Being a mid-budget smartphone, the X2 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G chipset. My review unit was the top-of-the-line variant with 8GB RAM and 256GB onboard storage (Rs 19,999). The performance was satisfactory as it handled multitasking with ease. I spent a lot of time streaming videos and browsing the web and all this worked smoothly without any lag. While gaming, I did experience frame drops but that's something you experience with all mid-budget smartphones.
The POCO X2 easily lasted me a day on a single charge. This included a couple of hours of calls, emails, web browsing, gaming, camera usage and more. Although housing a 4500 mAh battery, the 120Hz display hogs a lot of power. However, the 27W fast charging comes in handy as it fully charges the device in less than an hour and a half.
For a mid-budget smartphone, the POCO X2 with the bright 120Hz display, powerful performance, impressive camera and a great battery backup with fast charging is a great buy. With all this and more, the POCO X2 gives tough competition to not just Realme but also its erstwhile company Xiaomi.
Price: Rs 15,999 onwards