Poco launched in India as a Xiaomi sub-brand in 2018. It launched its first and only smartphone, the Poco F1, that year and took the market by storm with its performance-focused flagship processing unit at a much affordable price.
After an year-long sabbatical and parting ways with Xiaomi, Poco has, yet again, bet big and stuck to its value-for-money model. This time, however, the price segment and the target audience is slightly different.
The Poco X2 is not a successor to Poco F1 — something that ‘Poco Fans’ and enthusiasts have been waiting for since a very long time. Instead, the Poco X2 comes to India as a rebranded Redmi K30 4G launched in China.
Nonetheless, consumers only care about specifications, features, and the way a smartphone performs. So, does the Poco X2 steal the crown from Realme X2 as the best smartphone under Rs 20,000 in India?
We feel the Poco X2 is indeed the best smartphone under Rs 20,000, but then there is a tiny asterisk of compromises there.
Design and display
Most smartphones launched under Rs 20,000 in India look quite similar, but the Poco X2 tries to differentiate itself from the crowd. The front has a tall 6.67-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD screen. The display might seem tall, but thanks to the 20:9 aspect ratio and the slightly curved sides on the back, I found it quite comfortable to hold. However, do not, by any chance, mistake it to be a smartphone that can be used single-handedly.
The Poco X2 also offers 120Hz refresh rate support — a feature that no phone currently in its price range offers. Poco calls it the ‘RealityFlow’ display. The smartphone allows you to switch between a 60Hz and 120Hz refresh rate, which means that the screen will refresh images and animations 60 or 120 times per second, depending upon the setting.
A higher refresh rate, coupled with software optimisation, assists in a smoother and ‘refreshing’ user experience. We wish Poco offered an option to switch to 90Hz as it would have saved on battery usage while offering a better experience than 60Hz. Users may not notice the difference, but the Poco X2’s 120Hz screen will surely come in handy for mobile gamers. You can check the gaming performance details in the ‘performance’ section of this review.
The IPS LCD panel is not the sharpest and most vibrant among the lot, but is not bad either. We did not face any difficulty while viewing any kind of content from any angle, even when outdoors. The display setting does offer the option to switch between warm and cool tones if the default colour scheme does not suit your eyes.
The dual punch-hole on the top-right of the display houses a 20MP primary sensor and a 2MP depth sensor. We also did notice some colour bleeding around the hole-punch cutout. The display comes with HDR-10 and WideVine L1 support for streaming HD content.
Poco X2 has a glass-and-metal sandwich build that gets a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on the front and back. The rear panel comes in three colours — Matrix Purple, Phoenix Red, and our review unit Atlantis Blue.
Instead of a subtle plain design like the Poco F1, the company went ahead with a flashy and gradient colour mix with the Poco X2. The vertically-aligned rear camera module is surrounded by a circular patch that may look like a cutout, but is not. Despite being having a glossy back, the Poco X2’s rear panel did not attract as many fingerprints as we had expected.
Lack of an AMOLED panel means that instead of an in-display fingerprint scanner, the biometric option can be found on the right edge, which also doubles as a power button.
You may find it a bit difficult to place your finger or thumb correctly, but once you get the hang of it the fingerprint scanner detects and unlocks quickly. Above the power button is the volume rocker. The bottom edge houses the mono speaker, USB Type-C port, and the 3.5mm headphone jack. The hybrid SIM tray is located on the left edge.
Poco X2 packs loads of features while being light on the wallet, but it does feel a little heavy on the hands (weight: 208 gm).
Performance and MiUi software
Powering the Poco X2 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor with an Adreno 618 GPU. The processing unit is paired with 6GB/8GB RAM and up to 256GB UFS 2.1 internal memory. For Rs 20,000, one needs to appreciate Poco for offering 8GB RAM and 256GB inbuilt memory, as other competitors in the price range have limited themselves to 128GB.
Snapdragon 730G is the best processor for mid-range smartphones, and if you compare it to Poco F1’s Snapdragon 845, the latter offers better CPU and GPU, but lags in the camera performance and artificial intelligence department.
We played classic races on Asphalt 8 and TDM/RageGear matches on PUBG Mobile. While the performance was lag-free and smooth, the device did get slightly warm. However, it should not be a huge concern, courtesy of the liquid-cooling feature for thermal heat management.
PUBG Mobile loaded at a high frame rate with HD graphics. As mentioned earlier, we did not experience any lag or frame drop while playing eSport. We enabled gyroscope as a controller option while playing Asphalt racing, and even there we found the performance to be smooth. The device did get a tad warm but was manageable.
When it comes to battery life, Poco X2’s 4,500 mAh battery can easily last for a day. Our medium usage included social media scrolling, streaming shows on Netflix and Prime Video, and some gaming. While consuming media (audio and video), the device was paired with Bluetooth headphones. We did manage to get an average screen on time of about 4.5-5 hours during our two-week review period. Throughout this review period, the refresh rate was set at 120Hz.
If that is less for you, the 27W fast-charger bundled with the Poco X2 should recover quite quickly. At the launch event, Poco claimed that the Poco X2’s 4,500 mAh battery charges faster with its 27W charger than Realme X2’s 4,000 mAh and 30W VOOC charger combo.
The claim is true in our experience. Do note that Realme trickles down its charging speed once the battery is 90 percent charged. The charging speed is comparatively slower between 90 and 100 percent so as to avoid any long term battery health problems. Poco X2, on the other hand, continues to charge at the same 27W charging rate from zero to 100, allowing it to refuel the bigger battery faster than its competitor.
The mono speaker at the bottom is loud and clear, however, it gets easily covered when you are holding the phone in landscape mode. Fortunately, there is the 3.5mm headphone jack that can be used as an alternative if not for Bluetooth headphones.
Face unlock, too, is quick, but we would not rely much on it when it comes to security.
Out-of-the-box, Poco X2 boots on MiUi 11 for Poco based on Android 10. The custom ROM comes with some additional customisations over MiUi like an app drawer, raise to wake and Digital Wellbeing.
MiUi is also popular for its ads and bloatware. While setting up the device itself, the software prompts for installing various apps. In case you do not want to install them, you can choose to skip or delete them later. Some of these apps also haunt you with notifications.
For example, GetApps will recommend you to download one app at least every day. Several third-party apps like Gaana, Helo and DailyHunt come pre-installed and can be deleted. We did not come across many ads during my review, which is a good sign that the company is (hopefully) listening to the community. Some may not even care and just ignore these ads or bloatware. So, it comes down to how to prefer your smartphone’s software experience.
Poco X2 is not just a performance-centric performance. The company is also promoting the device’s imaging capabilities. The Poco X2 has a total of six cameras — four at the back and two on the front.
The rear camera setup includes a 64MP f/1.8 Sony IMX686 sensor (a first in India), an 8MP ultra-wide sensor, and two 2MP sensors for depth and macro photography. We were very impressed with Poco X2’s primary camera. The pictures clicked offered enough detail, even at the corners. In the past, 64MP cameras offered better detail in the centre of the image, whereas the corners were slightly soft.
The camera does struggle to maintain the same amount of sharpness and detail in low-light, which is when the night mode comes into play. Although not great, night mode on Poco X2 does the job well enough. Do not expect excellent levels of sharpness and detail though. There were also times when the dedicated 64MP mode did a better job in low-light conditions than in night mode. The dynamic range is also pretty good on its primary camera.
The 8MP ultra-wide sensor does a decent job too. However, the colour temperature is not always the same as the primary sensor and often boosts the shadows, especially in the corners. A plus point here is minimal distortion around the edges.
We did not click macro shots too often given the struggle of keeping our hands still while being close to the subject. The Poco X2’s camera does click pretty good macro shots provided the lighting is good. The sensor manages to focus the subject correctly while you hold the phone still. There were a couple of instances in macro mode where it struggled to focus the subject, which was well within its 2-10cm range.
The 20MP+2MP front camera setup also clicks detailed shots. If you love taking selfies, you will often use various modes like stage, movie and natural under the portrait mode section. Turn off the beauty mode option, and you will get selfies as good as real. The skin smoothening was also minimal and edge detection, too, was on point. In short, the Poco X2’s front camera is a treat for selfie lovers.
Reiterating what we mentioned at the beginning of this review, the Poco X2 is, undoubtedly, the best smartphone under Rs 20,000.
If the Poco F1 brought a flagship-grade performance at its price-range, Poco X2 sets a benchmark in the sub-Rs 20,000 category.
The smartphone comes with category-first features like a 120Hz refresh rate display with a dual punch-hole cutout. The quad-camera setup and the processing unit do not disappoint and offer a more-than-reliable performance.
We have been used to seeing ads and bloatware on Redmi devices, and Poco is another addition. However, the frequency of spam was significantly less during our experience.
Software is one area where users may have divided opinions. Some may prefer a cleaner and stock UI, while others may like the customisations and features that Poco X2 brings with MiUi 11.
The trade-off here is the choice between an LCD and AMOLED display. Realme X2, which is considered to be one of Poco X2’s biggest competitors, offers an AMOLED screen. It also offers a waterdrop notch, which some may prefer over the dual punch-hole on the Poco X2.
There is also the placement of the fingerprint scanner. Although reachable, the smaller surface area makes it difficult to place one’s fingers at the dedicated spot to unlock the device quickly.
If these tiny niggles could possibly bother you, the Realme X2 (Review) could be a better smartphone. For everyone else, the Poco X2 should currently be an ideal smartphone to buy under Rs 20,000.