Poco X2 review: The Redmi-Realme duopoly now has some serious competition

The Poco X2 starts at Rs 15,999 for the 6+64 GB variant, and goes all the way to Rs 19,999 for the 8+256 GB option.


The wait has been long for a lot of smartphone enthusiasts.

Many thought Xiaomi sub-brand Poco was dead and gone for good, especially after news emerged that Poco India head Jay Mani had left the company. But in January 2020, Xiaomi announced that Poco would now be a separate brand, and within days we saw the trailer of its upcoming device — the Poco X2.

The Poco X2 has been launched in three variants at three price points and it will sell exclusively on Flipkart from 11 Feb onwards. If you are an ICICI bank card holder, you can save an additional Rs 1,000 on the prices given below:

 Poco X2 review: The Redmi-Realme duopoly now has some serious competition

Poco X2 is one well-built device and it’s one smartphone you will flaunt among your friends.

Poco X2 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage: Rs 15,999 Poco X2 6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage: Rs 16,999 Poco X2 8 GB RAM + 256 GB storage: Rs 19,999

But before I get into the review, here are the responses I got from team Poco regarding this new launch:

Why Poco X2? Where’s Poco X1?

Since the marketing of the Poco brand began with Season 2 Episode 1, the phone’s name was decided to be Poco X2.

Is it the successor to the Poco F1?

No. Given that Poco is a different brand now, it is safe to say that there will be more Poco devices we will be seeing in 2020. The Poco X2 features the Snapdragon 730G, which isn’t the top end Qualcomm chipset. Given that Poco F1 was completely kitted out when it came to the internal specs, and Poco X2 isn’t going all out on that front, maybe there is a Poco F2 in the works.

Will Poco X2 sell offline?

Not for the near future at least, as Poco has to develop its distribution network which will take time. So, for now, the device will be selling on Flipkart.

With these burning questions out of the way, let’s get started with the review.

For those wanting the TL;DR version: Poco X2 is a good improvement over the Poco F1 and with a design language that isn’t half as boring. The long-lasting battery and 120-Hz display paired with a Snapdragon 730G processor which excels with gaming, make this a phone to go for if flagship processor is not your main requirement. Camera quality in daylight is great but there’s immense scope for improvement in many areas. Redmi and Realme surely have stiff competition now.

The second coming of Poco pays more attention to design

The first time I set eyes on the Poco X2, it did seem like a direct lift of another Xiaomi device, which has already seen a launch in China — the Redmi K30 Pro. The glossy glass rear housing the quad-camera setup inside a circular, glossier background, and the dual punch hole cameras on the top right hand corner of the screen, makes it seem like another variant of the Redmi K30 Pro. Does this mean that when K30 Pro eventually launches in India, it will have a different design? We don’t know. Poco refuses to call the Poco X2, the Indian version of the Chinese K30 Pro.

Poco X2-1280

In comparison to the Poco F1, the Poco X2 design is miles ahead. It comes in three colours, lilac (Matrix Purple), blue (Atlantis Blue) and pink (Phoenix Red). I really liked the lilac colour, but reviewed the Atlantis Red model (it’s not red, it’s hot pink), which was a bit too loud for my taste.

Moving on, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 is employed on the front and back and there is a plastic frame holding things together. You can feel its heft at 208 grams, but it isn’t that unmanageable. It doesn’t have ingress protection (IP) certification, but it comes with a P2i coating, which means it can only take a few drops of water here and there. The glossy back can quickly become a smudge magnet. It isn’t as slippery as I thought it would be, but I still snapped on the transparent cover which compensates for the protruding camera module.

I quite liked the fact that Poco X2 has gone for a fingerprint scanner on the right hand side. You will need to press the button as well to turn on the device. This can get annoying if you just want to glance at the display in its locked state and then want to put the display to sleep to put the phone in your pocket. Pressing the power button also unlocks the device now.

If you are concerned about waking up the device while its lying on the table, just register your index finger for unlocking the Poco X2 as well — it’s not the most comfortable way to unlock the device though. The volume rocker is present just above the power standby button and on the left hand side, you just have the hybrid SIM card tray. It still has a single downward firing speaker beside the USB Type C charging and data transfer port. A 3.5 mm audio jack is present at the base along with an IR blaster on top.

Poco X2 is one well-built device and it’s one smartphone you will flaunt among your friends. Of course, the 6.67-inch display means it will require two handed operations for most things such as reaching the notification bar and so on. The punch hole display ceases to be a bother within a few hours.

Poco X2 specs at a glance

Display: 6.67-inch IPS LCD with HDR10 support and 120 Hz refresh rate

Resolution: 1,080 x 2,400 pixels with a pixel density of 395 PPI

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G with Octa core processor (2x 2.2GHz Kryo 470 Gold and 6x 1.8 GHz Kryo 470 Silver and Adreno 618 GPU)

RAM + Storage: 6 GB + 64 GB

Cameras: 64 MP primary + 8 MP ultra-wide angle + 2 MP macro + 2 MP depth sensor

Front camera: 20 MP primary + 2 MP depth sensor

OS: Android 10 with MIUI 11

Battery: 4,500 mAh

Camera

The Poco X2 is the first phone in India to employ the 64 MP Sony IMX 686 sensor. So far, the only other 64 MP sensor seen on the market is the Samsung GW1, which is present on the Realme X2, X2 Pro and Redmi Note 8 Pro. The Sony IMX 686 on the Poco X2 comes with a 1/1.7-inch sensor with a pixel size of 1.6 microns.

The 64 MP primary camera has a maximum aperture of f/1.9 and is pixel binned to give a 16 MP image in regular photo mode. To shoot 64 MP images, you have to actually select the 64 MP mode. Additionally, there is an 8 MP ultra-wide camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and there’s a 2 MP for macro shots and a 2 MP depth sensor.

In daylight photos, the details are quite good. I shot most of the photos with AI mode on and HDR set to Auto. The Poco X2 was able to identify scenes such as greenery, food, architecture, landscape and so on very well. Of course, when these modes are selected, certain colours get a boost — green for greenery, warm colours with food and so on. When thin objects such as branches are shot against sunlight, you do notice a bit of purple fringing around the edges, but only on pixel peeping.

Poco X2

In portrait mode, the image quality is sharp and quite detailed in daylight. It’s able to separate the subject well from the background, but the edge separation is completely compromised. Many photos in portrait mode ended up blurring out the hair on the edges, which, in effect, undid all the good work this mode does otherwise. A future software update should definitely look into this.

When it comes to low light photography, the Poco X2 performs well with ambient street lighting. Yes, there is noticeable noise when you pixel peep, and clicking a photo in 64 MP resolution makes noise even more apparent when seen at 100 percent. In general use cases, where you get a 16 MP photo, noise levels are tolerable. Far off objects shot with the rear camera do tend to look a bit on the softer side when you pixel peep. Textures on buildings and details on faces go for a toss. All in all, low light photographs are usable if you make use proper of the ambient light.

Low light selfies leave a lot to be desired though. In 8 out of 10 instances, the selfie was a noisy mess. Usable yes, but lacking much detail the moment you start zooming in even a bit. Even selfies in daylight do not expose the image well. The background gets blown out most times if you are shooting outdoors, and even the skin tones appear strange.

Nightscape mode was hit and a miss, and resulted in photos which were too soft on details. It does tend to brighten up a dark scene, but doesn’t manage to retain details. In scenes with ambient light, the photos with HDR + AI look better than those taken in Nightscape. This mode certainly needs a lot of work to come even remotely close to what the Pixel 3a offers.

pocox2-1280

The Poco X2 is the first phone in India to employ the 64 MP Sony IMX 686 sensor.

One thing to note is that the HDR+AI mode seems to slow the pace at which images are captured. There’s a noticeable processing animation after each image is captured. To capture images rapidly, I’d suggest you turn these modes off.

I did try the GCam 7.2 app on the phone to see how it compares, and even though you don’t get access to the macro and ultrawide modes, regular photos and selfies get a much needed boost in sharpness, dynamic range and overall image quality. Things should only improve from here. We will do a detailed comparison between the Gcam app and the stock Poco X2 app in a future story.

On comparing with the photos from the Redmi Note 8 Pro, I felt that the Poco X2 images had a slight edge in low light. The Note 8 Pro offered a slightly better dynamic range at dusk though. When it comes to video recording, don’t even bother with the 4K @30 fps mode as even the slightest movement shows up in the final output as there is no stabilisation in this mode. In low light, the jittery footage paired with focus hunting is headache inducing. The FullHD @60 fps mode does result in relatively better footage, but the electronic stabilisation isn’t the best here as I noticed that while shooting when walking, the footage remains jerky. The microphone is able to record ambient sound well. Having said that, Poco X2’s video camera isn’t its strongest point, unless you are shooting with sufficient light around you.

One interesting feature is the Shoot Vlog mode, which has different styles for you to shoot videos in. It works only in landscape mode and lets you shoot 4–5 clips which are a couple of seconds long. The phone then stitches these clips and applies the particular style that you had selected. This is great for making quick videos when out and about to share on social media. I’m sure there will be more styles added here in the near future.

Performance that will attract gamers

Unlike the Poco F1, the Poco X2 does not sport the flagship processor of this generation. Poco has decided to go with the gamer-focussed Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G, which houses two high performance Kryo 470 Gold cores and six low power Kryo 470 Silver cores. Paired with either 6 GB or 8 GB RAM (I reviewed the 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage variant) the Poco X2 offers enough horsepower to run most of the tasks you throw at it. Sure, it doesn’t give you the best Geekbench scores, but frankly that’s not the audience the Poco X2 is meant for in the first place.

Poco-x2-pubg

MIUI 11 running over Android 10 runs great on this configuration and there were no issues with animations, app switching, transitions and so on.

The Snapdragon 730G is a great processor for gaming enthusiasts. Be it PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9 or Mortal Kombat 11, the Poco X2 delivered excellent results during gameplay. Game Turbo 2 gets activated automatically and the LiquidCool technology ensures that the phone doesn’t heat up much. Even while charging, I did not notice the phone getting hot.

Call quality on the Poco X2 is brilliant and there is barely any distortion or jarring noticeable when taking calls. The lack of stereo speakers is a bummer, but the single speaker on the Poco X2 makes up for it with the sound clarity and loud volume. The presence of the 3.5 mm jack will be welcomed by many.

MIUI 11 (11.0.3) running over Android 10 (1 December, 2019 patch) runs great on this configuration and there were no issues with animations, app switching, transitions and so on. The one annoying aspect was the ads being shoved in your face in the notification bar, despite disabling notification from apps such as Mi Browser, Mi Music and Mi Videos. If you are getting a MIUI powered device, this is something you can only escape by heading to Settings > Ad services > Personalised ad recommendations and toggling it off. MIUI supports features such as Second Space (which lets you have a second instance of WhatsApp or other apps on your phone), Quick Replies, and Digital Wellbeing, among others.

Great LCD display with 120 Hz chops

Poco X2 has gone with an IPS LCD panel with a 20:9 aspect ratio. It sports a 1,080 x 2,400 pixel resolution with a pixel density of 395 PPI. There is a punch hole dual camera on the top right hand corner which doesn’t take long getting used to.

2mp-selfie-poco x2

Despite being an LCD display, the contrast on this display was great.

The headline feature on the display is the fact that it has a 120-Hz refresh rate (which means the display updates 120 times a second). A higher refresh rate display is particularly helpful when gaming. When playing PUBG Mobile and Mortal Kombat 11 one can notice the absolute smoothness at which the game plays. But on certain apps such as Twitter or Instagram, I did notice some lag when scrolling quickly. On podcasting app Stitcher though, I found the animations were quite good. So, the 120 Hz works great when it does, but it’s not a uniformly great experience across all apps. Poco also claims to intelligently adjust the refresh rate depending on the apps. You also have the option to switch to 60 Hz if you want to save on battery life. This should get better with future software updates hopefully, especially now that more and more smartphones are getting on to the 120 Hz bandwagon.

Despite being an LCD display, the contrast on this display was great. Of course, the black levels aren’t as deep as on an AMOLED display (you do notice the separation between the grey backlit area and the black edges of the bezel), but it’s not much of a bother unless you are really looking for backlight bleeding. I finished watching a couple of films on this display and it was quite a good experience. In a quiet room, the single speaker is loud enough to eschew the need for a headphone while watching videos.

The battery lasts long and charges quickly

The Poco X2 sports a 4,500 mAh battery that is par for the course in this segment. Given the LCD display and a high end (but not quite flagship) chipset, I could easily extract closer to two days of use over the weekend, and a day and a half during weekdays. The best bit though is that Poco has bundled a massive 27 W charger which takes under 75 mins to completely charge the device. This is a boon especially for those times when you realise only too late that you have no charge left. The Turbo charging gets to work and within 15 mins gives you enough charge to carry on for the entire work day.

The screen on time hovered around 4 hrs on average, which is pretty good for a phone with such a massive display.

Verdict and price in India

The Poco X2 starts at Rs 15,999 for the 6+64 GB variant, and goes all the way to Rs 19,999 for the 8+256 GB variant. There is nothing much to complain about at these price points. The 6+128 GB variant at Rs 16,999 makes for a good value proposition as 8 GB RAM is still overkill. Yes, the Poco X2 has its flaws, low light photography and selfies being the prime among them, but in every other department, the Poco X2 delivers.

Poco-x2

The 6+128 GB variant at Rs 16,999 makes for a good value proposition as 8 GB RAM is still overkill.

While Poco X2 is looking to compete with Realme X2, which is a good offering as well, the real victim could end up being the Redmi Note 8 Pro, as the Poco X2 offers a slight edge over the Note 8 Pro for a slight premium.

The excitement that Poco F1 had created in the market, the expectations from the next Poco device were really high. Poco X2 may not have the top of the line processor, but it doesn’t really matter if you are looking for a daily driver which can let you game at the best settings.

Build and Design: 7.5/10

Display: 8.5/10

Software and OS: 7.5/10

Performance: 8/10

Camera: 7.5/10

Battery: 8.5/10

Overall: 8/10

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