India

POCO M2 Pro review: A Redmi Note 9 Pro without ads

What’s the difference?

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With a new strategy in place, POCO announced the POCO X2 in the first quarter, and now, it’s back with another offering — the POCO M2 Pro. It’s an affordable offering that’s found a comfortable spot in India’s INR sub-15,000 price bracket. But, there’s a twist.

POCO made its debut with the POCO F1. It was a legendary phone because it did the unexpected — flagship-grade performance at an affordable price. Since then, POCO as a brand has been synonymous to aggressive pricing and top-notch specifications. However, the POCO F1 was launched in 2018 and a lot has changed since then.

For starters, POCO was a dormant brand throughout 2019 and made a comeback at the beginning of 2020. We expected a successor of its infamous first phone, but everything was going to change. POCO is now an independent brand that takes autonomous business and marketing decisions. To make it clear, Mi, Redmi, and POCO are three different teams right now.

If you look closer, the POCO M2 Pro is nothing but a rebranded Redmi Note 9 Pro. Furthermore, the 4GB+64GB entry-level option of both phones has the same price of INR 13,999 (US$ 186). So, what’s different about POCO’s offering? Why should this phone be your GadgetMatch?

A proven design that fits everyone

The Redmi Note 9 Pro series has a very ergonomic design that looks premium as well as sturdy. The quad-camera setup has a significantly larger bump but it gets covered perfectly with the in-box case. The rear sports Gorilla Glass 5 and underneath it is a diagonally-lined pattern. While the phone looks stunning, using it without a case isn’t recommended since it’s prone to smudges and micro scratches.

The rear is the only thing that physically differentiates the phone from Redmi Note 9 Pro. The USB port, volume rockers, fingerprint scanner, and speaker grille are from the same Redmi mold.

I don’t mind rebranded phones as long as they’re not yet available in the same market. If POCO wants to be taken seriously as an independent brand, it needs to stand on its own and bring out original offerings. Realme has done a much better job of publicly distancing itself from OPPO, even though it leverages the same supply chain.

A perfect display

It sports a 6.67-inch Full HD+ display with a tiny punch-hole cut-out that houses the front camera. Unlike the competing Realme 6, it doesn’t have a 90Hz panel and runs at 60Hz. However, considering the price, I wouldn’t consider this to be a con. There are barely any games that can leverage higher refresh rates and the phone is meant to be an all-rounder.

The screen has sufficient brightness and can be seen easily under direct sunlight. The colors look slightly over-saturated but it can be adjusted according to your preference. Being an LCD panel, it does a pretty good job of creating deeper blacks.

POCO Performance

The brand is known for its performance-centric phones and the legacy continues here with a Snapdragon 720G chipset. Any task you throw at it will be done without a glitch. My unit has 6GB RAM and it never slowed down or struggled to handle multiple apps at once. Being a power user, I often use Outlook, Twitter, Gmail, Microsoft Word, and WhatsApp in close proximity. Safe to say, it didn’t feel like I needed a better or more powerful chipset.

I don’t play a lot of games except for reviewing and PUBG is my first preference. The overall experience is smooth and hassle-free. Even at higher settings, the phone gets a little warm but there no visible frame drops. Although, the weight of the phone does get annoying after a while. Similarly, a heavy game like World of Tanks also gets through without any turbulence.

The phone ships with MIUI out-of-the-box and since the Redmi Note 9 Pro series also ships with the same chipset, software updates should drop-in seamlessly.

Powering the phone is a 5000mAh battery and I clocked a little more than seven hours of screen time on a full charge. It has support for 33W fast charging and takes around one hour and twenty-five minutes to fully charge.

Quad-cameras that’ll get anything done

The rear houses a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel sensor. We’ve seen this camera setup on a plethora of Xiaomi phones and it’s safe to assume the output is top-notch. Thanks to Xiaomi’s reach, the AI-assisted changes are accurate as well as satisfactory.

I mean to say, the algorithm knows where to work and how to produce pleasing pictures. Sometimes you may notice over-saturation in landscape pictures, but AI-mode can be switched off with a quick tap. The dynamic range is near-perfect while the overall tone is on the warmer side.

While daytime pictures are excellent, the primary sensor struggles in the dark. Shots can often be grainy or blurry if you’re not careful about being steady.

For the pros out there, a manual mode is available to tinker with the finer details. Portrait mode works flawlessly and works on better than expected on dogs too!

The display cut-out houses a 16-megapixel selfie camera and it’s flawless. Details are retained accurately and the focus is ultra-fast. This sensor also is tuned on the warmer side and comes with an optional beauty mode.

On the video side, it supports recording at up to 4K 30fps. Obviously, there’s no optical image stabilization. But, the electronic rendering is good enough and gets the job done.

No ads in MIUI

Yes, the phone runs on MIUI 11. No, it doesn’t have any ads.

This is the only visible change I can see between the POCO M2 Pro and Redmi Note 9 Pro. MIUI has a lot of customization and functionality, minus the learning curve. The phone is perfect for everyone can be used without any deep technical knowledge. Software support is stable and while there were a few bugs, the overall experience remained unhindered.

The most frequent complaint about MIUI is the ads. This phone won’t spam your notification area and this can be a relief for many. There are a few pre-installed apps, but they can be easily disabled. In a nutshell, the POCO M2 Pro offers a better user experience while retaining top-notch hardware. Lastly, instead of MIUI launcher, this phone has POCO launcher.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

I’d recommend this phone without any buts. The display is immersive, performance is best-in-class, the cameras do a decent job, and the battery can easily last you a day. With MIUI, the uniform Xiaomi experience is brought back without its biggest con. Design is a personal preference and I’ve found both, the POCO M2 Pro, as well as the Redmi Note 9 Pro, be impressive.

For the consumers, this is a win-win situation. But, for the brand, it’s a mixed bag. POCO intended to move out of Xiaomi’s camp but hasn’t been able to do that efficiently this year. To become a truly independent brand, it’ll have to stop depending on the parent so much and create its own identity. Right now, the original POCO F1 fans are disappointed along with the current followers who expected a fresh offering.

India

Moto G60 and G40 Fusion launch with 120Hz screen, Snapdragon 732G

The price is genuinely surprising

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Moto has always followed a laid-back approach to new launches and doesn’t get into aggressive marketing like Xiaomi or realme. It also doesn’t maintain a very attractive price point, often getting sidelined. Though, things are starting to change with the recently launched Moto G60 and the G40 Fusion.

The Moto G60 will go directly against the Redmi Note 10 Pro, the POCO X3 Pro, realme 7 Pro, and the Galaxy M31. It’s a very competitive market and Moto has a unique selling point — stock Android interface.

The two phones have a lot in common like a 6.8-inch LCD screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and punch-hole cut-out for the front camera. Powering them is a Snapdragon 732G processor with Adreno 618 GPU and up to 6GB RAM. There’s a microSD card slow for storage expansion.

On the rear is a triple camera setup and the G60 get a 108-megapixel sensor while the G40 Fusion has a 64-megapixel unit. The other two cameras are same for both the phones and consist of an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. The G60 gets a 32-megapixel front camera while the G40 sports a 16-megapixel one.

The duo ships with Android 11 out-of-the-box and runs on a 6000mAh battery. There’s support for 20W fast charging via Quick Charge 4. A fingerprint scanner is located on the back for authentication and Motorola has also retained the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Only one storage configuration is available on the G60 and the 6GB+128GB model costs INR 17,999 (US$ 240). Sale starts from April 27 and ICICI Bank cardholders can avail a INR 1,500 discount as launch offer.

The G40 Fusion is priced at INR 13,999 (US$ 185) for the 4GB+64GB option and INR 15,999 (US$ 211) for the 6GB+128GB. It’ll go on sale from May 1 and ICICI Bank cardholders get a INR 1,000 discount. Both the phones are available in Dynamic Gray and Frosted Champagne color options.

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India

The LG Wing gets a huge price cut, now available for $400

Offer available till stocks last

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Last week, LG announced it’ll entirely shut down its mobile division due to rising losses. It’ll stop making new phones, but existing inventory is up for grabs. It seems like the company is earnest about leaving the past behind and has announced a massive discount on the recently launched LG Wing.

The LG Wing has received a massive price cut of almost INR 40,000 (US$ 532). It was launched for INR 69,990 (US$ 931) in October 2020 but will now sell for INR 29,999 (US$ 400) via Flipkart. Only the 8GB+128GB option was launched in India.

While this may be surprising for readers from other markets, LG has previously introduced such radical discounts in India. Even the LG G8X, which launched for INR 70,000 (US$ 931), was soon available for INR 25,990 (US$ 345). It’s still in stock and available for a discounted price. In fact, you can exchange your old phone in return for further discounts of up to INR 16,500 (US$ 220).

LG Mobile intends to close down by July 31 completely. So, the time span available to grab existing inventory is short. Thankfully, a one-year warranty and five-year service for the LG Wing are mentioned, meaning LG intends to keep the spare and service supply chain active for a long time.

It has also confirmed that these recent phones shall receive active software updates for up to three years. So, if you’re thinking of grabbing a niche phone that looks unique, this is your chance.

If it helps, this writer purchased the LG G8X three months ago for a discounted price and it has turned out to be an extremely solid phone. The Dual Screen setup comes in very handy for Zoom calls, reading, and researching. We’re unlikely to see such radical or experimental ideas anytime soon since most companies are now focused on scaling, in turn, moving away from a niche market.

Read Also: The LG Wing 5G offers a new smartphone experience

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India

Samsung launches Galaxy S20 FE 5G variant with Snapdragon 865

Don’t prefer Exynos? This one’s for you!

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The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE made its debut in the US last year in both, 4G and 5G capable options. The phone was launched in India after a few months and played a critical role in grabbing the premium market, albeit with a slightly pocket-friendly price.

The 5G option of the phone sports a Snapdragon 865 processor, while the 4G one has an Exynos processor. All other specifications of the phone remain the same. While this is true on-paper, many have been disappointed with the Exynos option and the new phone helps bridge the gap.

Its got a 6.5-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and Gorilla Glass protection. Powering the phone is a Snapdragon 865 processor with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.

On the rear is a triple-camera setup consisting of a 12-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens. The Galaxy S20 FE 5G is capable of zooming up to 30x and multi-frame night mode. The front has a 32-megapixel selfie camera for selfies.

Backing these internals is a 4500mAh battery with 25W fast charging. It’s worth noting that the 4G variant comes with 15W fast charging, instead. It runs on OneUI 2.0 out-of-the-box and features an in-display fingerprint scanner for authentication.

The phone is priced at INR 55,999, but you can grab it for just INR 47,999 as an introductory price. It’ll go on sale via Amazon.in, Samsung.com, and other partner stores. Color options include Cloud Navy, Cloud Mint, and Cloud Lavender.

Read Also: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Unboxing and Review: Not What You Think!

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