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POCO X2 first impressions: an impressive comeback

Back in August 2018, Xiaomi decided to launch a sub-brand called POCO and the debut smartphone from the new subsidiary was called the F1. The POCO F1 disrupted the affordable smartphone segment and how! The handset came in at a starting price of Rs 20,999 and stole the thunder from the OnePlus (OnePlus 6) and ASUS (Asus ZenFone 5Z) that year by becoming the most affordable Snapdragon 845-powered smartphone. However, since then, there has been radio silence from the brand despite the social media being bombarded with fans asking about a follow-up device. Now, after 18 long months, POCO is making a comeback, this time as a standalone brand. The second smartphone from its arsenal isn’t the POCO F2 as expected, but instead a mid-ranger, the POCO X2 that was launched in India today.

Despite POCO’s claims about functioning independently from Xiaomi, the POCO X2 is actually a rebranded Redmi K30 4G that was launched in December 2019 in China and thus has the same design. As such, the POCO X2 is a far cry from the plain-jane POCO F1 from two years ago. The glass-clad POCO X2 comes with a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 layer on the front as well as the back with a plastic chassis. There’s a unique finish on the back that’s a mixture between sheen and matte and it looks stunning. You get a circular module on the rear housing the quad-camera module with the LED flash below and Redmi logo replaced by POCO branding. There’s no fingerprint scanner on the back. POCO is offering the X2 in Atlantis Blue, Matrix Purple, and Phoenix Red colour variants, all of which look stunning, to say the least.

The POCO X2 has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner embedded in the power button on the right, with volume keys just above it. On the left side, you will find the SIM tray, which is unfortunately hybrid as you can either insert a microSD card or a second nano-SIM card. At the bottom, there is a 3.5mm audio jack, USB-C charging port and speaker grill. I was pleasantly surprised to see POCO retaining the IR Blaster on top along with another noise-cancelling mic.

In the front, the POCO X2 sports a dual punch-hole LCD display measuring 6.67-inches and offers a 2,400 x 1,080 pixels screen resolution. The feather in the hat of the POCO X2 is that it’s the most affordable device to offer a dual punch-hole screen and super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. The difference that a 120Hz refresh rate makes is noticeable – the animations were buttery smooth and the whole interface felt snappier, which is a great experience on a mid-range phone. The viewing angles are good and the display was sharp enough to not make me rue the fact that it’s an LCD panel and not an AMOLED. Moreover, the 20:9 display flaunts a screen-to-body ratio of 84.8 percent, which makes it an ideal device for multimedia.

Ticking at the core of the POCO X2 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, which is one of the most powerful upper mid-range chipsets and comes with gaming-specific features. The processor is further backed by an Adreno 618 GPU and up to 8GB RAM. The onboard storage being offered is up to 256GB, which can be further expanded using the microSD card slot. The 8nm gaming processor along with a 120Hz display should be a game-changing combination at this price point, and I can’t wait to review it extensively. During my short time with the handset at the event today, the smartphone performed like a beast and I cannot emphasise enough how smooth the whole interface feels.  As for the software, the POCO X2 boots MIUI 11 based on Android 10 out of the box. The software comes with an array of improved features like an improved always-on screen, Dark mode, smart notification sounds based on Mother Nature, and cleaner interface.

Powering the handset is a 4,500mAh battery with support for 27W fast charging. The cherry on the top is that the brand is providing a 27W fast charger with the handset.

The quad-camera setup on the back houses a powerful 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor accompanied by an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, 2-megapixel macro lens and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Notably, the POCO X2 is the first smartphone in India to feature the improved Xony IMX686 sensor.  In the front, the smartphone flaunts a 20-megapixel primary selfie camera with a 2-megapixel depth sensor beside it. The camera app is a typical MIUI affair with various modes including short video, video, portrait 64MP, Mimoji, Pro and more, accessible from the viewfinder itself by swiping left and right. As for video recording, there’s 960fps slow motion, vlog mode with seven different styles, 4K at 30fps and more.

I daresay POCO is all set to repeat history with its latest launch. The X2 has everything it takes to disrupt the sub-Rs 20,000 segment in India, which is not an easy task considering there are contenders like the Realme X2 (review) and Redmi K20. However, with a 120Hz display, MIUI 11, bundled 27W fast charger and premium design, the POCO X2 comes across as much better value for money offering here with price starting at Rs 15,999.

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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.