POCO is back and boy it is back with a bang. Its latest smartphone the POCO X2 isn’t exactly what many would consider being a true successor to the POCO F1 which in 2018 became the darling for many smartphone enthusiasts who preferred performance-oriented smartphones. For many people, this is a rebadged Redmi K30, which may be true, however, it doesn’t matter as that phone isn’t sold in India. The thing about the POCO X2 is that it is a more well-rounded phone than its predecessor and is the making of a new chapter in the brand’s short life as it is now spun off from Xiaomi into a full company which works on its own and just leverages Xiaomi’s supply chain and distribution.

 Most affordable high-refresh-rate display in India

The big hook around this phone isn’t its raw performance, but its high refresh rate display. POCO calls it the reality motion display which essentially is marketing speak for a 120Hz 6.67-inch 1080p LCD panel. Sure, the LCD part may be a downer as AMOLED panels represent the cutting edge on smartphones, however, its 120Hz refresh rate is wild as its even higher than the OnePlus 7T. Everything is super-fluid and smooth. Animations which Mi UI is loaded with are hefty, but this 120Hz panel makes short work of those and make this a highly responsive phone, perhaps the fastest feeling phone based on MiUI, more so than even Xiaomi’s Redmi K20 Pro.

The display on its own is also a very nice one. It is very sharp which is to be expected however, it is also something that’s not all smartphones do well. The phone supports wide wine L1 which means you get full Netflix support out of the box something that wasn’t there on the POCO F1. Generally, it is a great phone for watching videos, reading text or even writing long articles like this one, if it is something that you like to do.

 Fastest sub 20k smartphone outside of POCO F1

The POCO X2 takes the rather controversial route of using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor which is based on an 8nm node. Now this means, it is still not as fast as the POCO F1 which was based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 which according to folks at POCO is still faster but now is not manufactured by Qualcomm. This also means this phone is right up against phones like the Xiaomi K20, the Redmi Note 8 Pro and its latest arch-nemesis Realme which has the X2 that also provides a high-refresh-rate.

That being said, it terms of how the phone feels in use, this bad boy blows away the competition thanks to its optimisation and 120Hz panel which also can be dynamically paired back to 60Hz when there is no app support.

This phone also supports liquid cooling which is another added advantage over other phones like the Xiaomi Redmi K20, Realme X2. It definitely feels faster than other Snapdragon 730 based smartphones. POCO is not kidding when it boasts about its #SmoothAF punchline.

What makes things even more powerful is the fact that the Mi UI gaming mode is highly optimised with the 730G chip which makes games like PUBG and Call of Duty mobile graphically enriching and enchanting to play.

Last but not least, there is a pill-shaped hole-punch notch which is also a first for POCO and it looks nicer than the iPhone X style notch screen. This comes with the obvious trade-off — there is no IR blaster for a secure face unlock.

Best looking sub 20k smartphone

Yes, it is huge. The POCO X2 is a massive phone by any measure, however, ugly, it is not nor is it cheaply built. You get this aluminium construction with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and the back. You get this purple colour which looks astoundingly classy while being slick like a sports car. The industrial design kind of resonates with the sports car like the ethos of the device.

 The ergonomics are also quite neat — you have curved sides, gently curves on the back so that the phone nestles easily into even small palms. There is a very unique camera bump on the back with a cool circular pattern that adds elegance to the design of the phone. This phone will attract eyeballs no matter what.

 While doing so, it is a functional beast. You get a massive 4,500mAh battery which is kind of a bare necessity for a phone that has a 120Hz panel. High refresh rates equate to poor battery life, only in the case of POCO X2, it is highly decent battery life with the phone running for over 12 hours with medium to heavy usage. It also helps that the Xiaomi 27 watt sonic charger which debuted with the K20 Pro is offered in the box on POCO X2 making it the fastest charging sub 20k smartphone outside of the Realme.

 The other thing that’s nice here is the fact that you get a 3.5mm jack and even though there is a single speaker, it is a pretty loud one and it is clear too. This phone also has P2i water and dust resistance; it is certainly a handy thing to be had.

 Stupendous still cameras

The POCO F1 always had a very good camera system. It had the same cameras like Google Pixel 2. The X2 takes things up a notch. You get the new Sony IMX 686 64-megapixel sensor as the primary camera. This is the first phone to land in India to have this sensor and it will be a sensor that’s there in some of the best of 2020.

On top of this there is an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, and twin 2-megapixel cameras — one for depth sensing while the other is for macro photography. The end result is a very very good camera combination especially if you’re into still photography,

POCO has done a great job turning this camera as it takes stunning shots in both daylight and low light situations. Xiaomi’s algorithms are great and they also brilliant at using the night mode which takes some impressive photos. If I had to compare, the imaging is on par with high-end phones like Samsung Galaxy Note 10 plus.

For video also is not bad. I used it over the weekend at a couple of gigs and the output in low-light especially was superb even at high resolutions like 4K. It also supports 960fps slow-motion videos which is another frill.

On the front too, there is a stellar 20-megapixel camera that’s supported with a depth sensor. Let’s just say, selfie portraits have never looked better outside the Google Pixel 3.

 Other stuff

This phone is based on MiUI 11 which is built on top of Android 10. The phone has pretty decent software which is responsive and up to date. Since POCO still essentially is a Xiaomi company, it gets a lot of software support. POCO has also proven that they will support the device for a long period. That’s not been with other brands. That being said, there is an element of duplication of apps but it is less so than say Samsung.

Xiaomi’s software also has useful tools — firstly a fabulous theme engine that can transform the look at feel of the UX. There is also pretty intuitive gesture-based navigation inspired by the iPhone and then there are cool apps like Mi Drop which facilitates fast file transfers, Mi remote which can be used with the IR blaster for controlling home appliances and generally hackability which will catch the fancy of nerds.

You also get a very affordable price of Rs 15,999 for the base-line 64GB and 6GB RAM variant going all the way to Rs 19,999 for the 8GB RAM and 256GB version. It also has a very fast fingerprint scanner which is embedded on the phone lock button on the right side. It is perfectly placed as automatically your thumb rests on it in a very natural way.

This phone comes together as a system. It doesn’t have a singular tentpole lure that the POCO F1 had. What you’re getting is a phone that retains the fast performance of the POCO F1, but builds on top of that with a stunning display and stupendous camera system built into an exquisite looking phone. It still has everything that the nerds will like — a fast Snapdragon chip, massive battery and even liquid cooling for endless gaming, but now it has a wider appeal because it looks great, the display is superb and well the cameras are flagship-grade. At Rs 19,999, frankly, this phone is a steal.

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