India

POCO X2 review: One step down, two steps up

The best midrange phone money can buy

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POCO made its debut in the second half of 2018 with the POCO F1. It was the first phone to house a flagship-grade processor at half the cost. Back then, POCO was a sub-brand of Xiaomi and sales were off the roof. Marketing revolved completely around how fast the phone was. In fact, the POCO F1 created a niche segment for itself and continues to remain unchallenged.

However, the brand was dormant throughout 2019. No new phone was launched, which is surprising considering Xiaomi’s track record of flooding the market with options. Fans asked every day, when will the next phone come? Their demands were finally met a month ago with the launch of the POCO X2.

This time, POCO has been spun-off as an independent brand of Xiaomi. And, the POCO X2 isn’t a successor of the POCO F1. It’s a different lineup, targeting a new price segment.

It doesn’t have an infamous flagship-grade processor. But, it has a lot of nifty tricks up its sleeve. I’ve been using the phone for a couple of weeks and my verdict may surprise many of you. With a starting price of INR 15,999, it’s lighter on the pocket, but what about features? Let’s test it out!

The design has improved leaps and bounds

I have the Atlantis Blue variant and it looks stunning at first sight. The POCO F1 had a polycarbonate body and build quality was surprisingly cheap. Thankfully, the POCO X2 doesn’t carry forward that legacy and comes with an all-metal body. The back has a glass covering that gives it a premium as well as a flashy look. The glass also adds up to give a holographic design, slightly changing color depending on the angle you look at.

The camera array is surrounded by a circular optical illusion that’ll make you believe it’s a bump. But it isn’t. Seems like POCO took some inspiration from OnePlus 7T’s “manhole”.

In their defense though, it looks strikingly different and has a design language of its own. The glass on the front as well as the back is Gorilla Glass 5. I’ve never used a case on phones I review to judge their susceptibility to regular wear and tear. The POCO X2 has survived with flying colors.

The power button and volume rockers are on the right side of the phone and the power button doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. I remember the Nextbit Robin had a similar setup and it was extremely convenient. The same goes for this one. However, the power button is located slightly inward, forcing you to push it with a little more effort.

The POCO F1 had an IR blaster for faster and more accurate facial detection. The POCO X2 skips this feature but the default Face Unlock is fast enough. I used a combination of the two authentication systems and it worked seamlessly.

Lastly, on the bottom is a USB-C charging port, a headphone jack, and the speaker grill. The speaker is loud enough and clear, just like you’d expect it to be.

It has an LCD display and that’s fine

On the front is a 6.7-inch LCD display with Full HD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. This is the first phone in this price segment to have a 120Hz refresh rate and you can feel the difference instantaneously. The smoothness while scrolling is extremely satisfying and delivers an overall premium experience. Although, POCO needs to optimize its software (MIUI 11) to fully leverage the hardware.

Even though it has a higher refresh rate, the UI often tends to stutter while scrolling on apps like Twitter or WhatsApp. I’m sure this can be further refined via an OTA update.

Playing games that support a higher refresh rate like Alto’s Adventure tends to get addictive. The refresh rate automatically falls back to 60Hz in the battery saver mode. When you switch to 60Hz, the change is immediately felt, but you’ll get used to it within a few minutes.

The inclusion of this display completely fills up the gap of not having a flagship-grade processor. You use the display every second you power on the phone, how often do you leverage 100 percent of a flagship processor? At the end of the day, this setup is actually able to provide better user experience, without cutting back on any other functionality.

Lastly, it may not be an AMOLED panel, but LCD surely doesn’t translate to “bad”. This phone has a top-notch panel that can produce perfectly saturated colors, has great viewing angles, and deep enough contrast. There’s also a punch-hole setup on top right and it houses the front camera.

Is it as fast as the POCO F1?

We at GadgetMatch don’t believe in judging a phone by benchmark numbers. Powering the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor and my unit has 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. It’s clear that POCO X2 isn’t built to be a hardware beast and is a budget contender. Considering the price, the Snapdragon 730G is one of the best midrange SoC options available in the market.

It’s able to handle day-to-day tasks with ease and challenging games like PUBG, Mobile Legends, and even Rortos Flight Simulator are playable smoothly. Additionally, games like Alto’s Odyssey support a higher refresh rate and are extremely intuitive to play. The POCO X2 comes with a liquid-cooled vapor chamber which helps heat dissipation and ensures a seamless experience over an extended duration of heavy usage.

Stunning cameras that’ll get better over time

The quad-camera setup on the back includes a 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor, a 2-megapixel depth sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera for taking close-up shots. The 64-megapixel isn’t enabled by default and has to be switched on manually.

The camera interface is neat and easy to navigate. The macro mode shows on the main screen and is quickly accessible. It also lets users tap to focus. The close-up shots look really impressive and are great for taking shots of drops or items that are too small. The AI mode livens up photos that might have looked a bit dull otherwise.

We expect the IMX686 sensor to be Xiaomi’s favorite choice of camera this year and could be found onboard many more upcoming phones. This means the company will have a huge data set of test images coming in, in turn, fine-tuning the algorithm.

Though, don’t get me wrong. The sensor is also up to the mark and delivers stunning photos. The Night Mode needs some enhancement, but it’s nothing major.

Lastly, for selfies, the POCO X2 features a 20-megapixel primary camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor for more accurate edge detection. The primary selfie camera captures clear facial details in selfies, but there is a slight bit of skin smoothening even when the beautification mode is turned off.

How long can it last?

The POCO X2 is equipped with a 4500mAh battery which can easily last through a day with moderately demanding use. Locked to 120Hz, I was easily able to get a full day of use from the hardware. Drop it down to 60Hz and you should make the phone last a whole lot longer.

The POCO X2 comes with a 27W charger which is rated for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. While recharging, the POCO X2 takes slightly more than an hour to go from nada to 100 percent.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

In one sentence, I’d say this is the best phone you can get under INR 20,000 (US$ 275). Actually, I’d even say this is the best phone under INR 30,000 (US$ 410) in India. It gets everything right and is a perfect midrange phone.

The design has improved radically, the performance is top-notch, cameras are exceptionally capable, and the battery will easily get you through a day of heavy usage.

From a usage point of view, this phone is ideal for gamers since the chipset is powerful enough and the software is well optimized. In case you’re looking for a work phone, MIUI 11 has a host of unique features that often come very handy. This includes a high level of customization and power tools.

Lastly, there’s no other phone that’ll offer a 120Hz display at this price point. It’s safe to say, POCO X2 is a breath of fresh air that delivers an experience, and not just on-paper “first” features.

India

Samsung Galaxy F22 goes official with 48MP camera, 6000mAh battery

Also gets an AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate

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Galaxy F22

The affordable segment has been a very competitive price segment for the last few years, and its demand is never-ending in the developing markets. Samsung has launched the Galaxy F22 in India, and its unique selling point is a massive battery, quad cameras, and an AMOLED display.

It has a signature Samsung design that we’ve seen on a lot of other F-branded phones. While the looks are conventional, it aims to cover up by offering as many features as possible. Despite intense competition from players like Xiaomi, realme, and vivo, Samsung has managed to hold onto its fort, unbudged.

On the front is a 6.4-inch AMOLED screen with HD+ resolution, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a waterdrop notch. The Galaxy F22 is powered by a MediaTek Helio G80 SoC with up to 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. There’s a microSD card slot for storage expansion.

The rear sports a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front features a 13-megapixel selfie camera.

Backing these internals is a 6000mAh battery with 25W fast charging. Although the charging brick included with the phone is rated for 15W only, so you’ll have to buy a faster charger adapter separately. The fingerprint scanner is located on the side for authentication. It ships with Android 11-based One UI 3.1 out-of-the-box.

The Samsung Galaxy F22 is priced at INR 12,499 (US$ 167) for the 64GB+4GB storage and INR 14,499 (US$ 195) for the 128GB+6GB option. It’ll be available in Denim Blue and Denim Black color options, and sales start from July 13. Online sale partner includes Flipkart and Samsung’s in-house online website.

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India

Mi Watch Revolve Active is a premium fitness tracker with 14 days battery

Has more than 100 workout modes

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Mi Watch Revolve Active A

The Mi Watch Revolve was launched last year, and it sits in a comfortable spot — not too expensive, but loaded. Now, the brand’s expanding its offering and bringing in a much more fitness-oriented product dubbed the Mi Watch Revolve Active.

As the name suggests, the watch is designed to keep you outdoors as much as possible. Or in the new normal, as active and fit as possible. It has a far more sturdy build and continues the premium design language.

It has a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with an always-on display, eliminating the need to touch the screen just to view the time or other essential details. In addition, the screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and weighs just 32 grams.

The fitness front comes equipped with LifeQ Health algorithm, which analyzes more than 30 key data points like blood oxygen, stress, heart rate, sleep quality, energy levels, calories burned, and more. All these data points are leveraged to process your lifestyle, fitness regime, and overall performance.

Together, these data points deliver more accurate blood oxygen levels (SpO2), sleep cycles, real-time heart rate, stress levels, body’s oxygen consumption (Vo2 Max), and calories burned. In addition, more than 117 workout modes are supported, including triathlons, swimming, HIIT, Boxing, Water sports, and Yoga.

GPS tracking features an Airoha GPS chip that supports GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BDS navigation systems.  Simple operations will be far simpler when you summon Alexa, as the watch supports the voice assistant for reminders, alarms, and other instructions.

The Mi Watch Revolve Active is water-resistant up to 50 meters and comes pre-installed with basic apps like alarm, timer, stopwatch, weather, find my phone, flashlight. It connects to the phone via Xiaomi’s Wear App and has a mini-store for watch faces, which has more than 100 options right now.

Lastly, Xiaomi says the watch can deliver up to 14 days of battery life on a single charge. If you toggle the long battery mode, it can stretch up to 22 days. While these numbers may seem inflated, Xiaomi has an irrefutable history of delivering solid numbers in the real world.

Price and availability:

The Mi Watch Revolve Active is priced at INR 9,999, and sales start from June 25. It’ll be up for purchase via Amazon, Mi.com, and other partner stores. It comes in Beige, Black, and Navy Blue watch case options, with six strap color options, including Black, Blue, Green, White, and Purple.

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India

Mi 11 Lite launches with Snapdragon 732G, triple-rear cameras

The lightest phone to launch in 2021 so far

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The second wave of Coronavirus has eased in India, and the country is gradually opening up. A few brands decided to avoid any new launches amid the raging pandemic, creating a vacuum in an otherwise fast-paced industry. Thankfully, Xiaomi has returned with a new offering, and it’s called the Mi 11 Lite.

The Mi 11 series is designed to offer a more premium experience without making a huge dent in your pocket. It follows the same design language as the Mi 11X but is far more thinner and light. At just 6.8mm thickness and 157g weight, it’s touted to be the lightest phone of 2021 so far.

On the front, its got a 6.5-inch AMOLED screen with Full HD+ resolution, a 90Hz refresh rate, and Gorilla Glass 5 protection. In addition, to make the phone lighter, Xiaomi incorporated a “flat flexible OLED” and a redesigned circuit board that is 35 percent smaller than conventional ones.

Powering the Mi 11 Lite is a Snapdragon 732G processor with up to 8GB RAM and expandable storage. A side-mounted physical fingerprint scanner is included for authentication, and there are dual speakers with Hi-Res Audio support.

The rear sports a triple camera setup consisting of a 64-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 5-megapixel telephoto sensor. There’s a 16-megapixel selfie camera that is housed in a punch-hole cut-out. The software supports AI Beautify, Night mode, Time burst, and much more.

Backing these internals is a 4250mAh battery with 33W fast charging. The brand claims the battery has an endurance rating of more than 100 hours, and the compatible fast charger is bundled along. The Mi 11 Lite is IP53-certified for minor dust and water splashes.

The Mi 11 Lite is priced at INR 21,999 (US$ 300) for the 6GB+128GB option and INR 23,999 (US$ 325) for 8GB+256GB. It’s available in three color options — Jazz Blue, Tuscany Coral, and Vinyl Black. Pre-orders start from June 25, and the sale starts from June 28 via Flipkart, Mi.com, and partner physical stores.

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