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

Redmi Note 10S launches with Helio G95, 64MP camera

Comes with an upgraded camera

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Just after two months of launching the Redmi Note 10 series, Xiaomi has returned with a successor. The affordable segment plays a crucial part for the company, and the lineup has proven to be a marvel. What’s new in the Redmi Note 10S?

The design is extremely similar to the predecessor, and it’ll be hard to differentiate between the two. Xiaomi calls it EVOL design, and it’s also a part of the Redmi Note 10 Pro series.

On the front, it has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution with a standard 60Hz refresh rate. Powering the phone is a Mediatek Helio G95 processor, coupled with Mali-G76 MC4 GPU. It supports expandable storage via a dedicated microSD card slot.

The rear sports a quad-camera setup consisting of a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front gets a 13-megapixel selfie shooter, which is embedded in a punch-hole cut-out.

Backing these internals is a 5000mAh battery with support for 33W fast charging. Xiaomi claims the Redmi Note 10S can go zero to a hundred percent in around 78 minutes. The fingerprint sensor is located on the side and doubles up as the power button.

Redmi Note 10S is priced at INR 14,999 (US$ 203) for the 6GB+64GB variant and INR 15,999 (US$ 217) for the 6GB+128GB option. It’ll be available in three colors — Deep Sea Blue, Frost White, and Shadow Black. Sales start from May 18 via Amazon India, Mi.com, Mi Home stores, and retail stores.

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India

POCO extends smartphone warranty for all users by two months

Check whether you’re eligible

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POCO has announced it will extend the warranty of smartphones in India by two months. If your phones warranty is expiring in May or June, it’ll be extended up to July or August. The extension is free for all users in the country amid a raging second wave of Coronavirus.

India is going through its second wave of the fatal virus, and things are far from cooling down. Almost 350,000 new cases were detected on May 11, and its peak was just a week ago.

POCO also announced that no launches would be organized in May. “We are pausing our new launches as we hope for the situation to improve,” a statement read. Brands took a similar decision in 2020 since all service centres were inaccessible due to lockdowns.

To curb the spread, most states have announced a partial or strict lockdown. Restrictions on movement are high, and companies have been asked to go remote completely. Northern parts of the country are still coping with the oxygen shortage, and beds are hard to find in hospitals.

Amid the chaos, many brands like Lenovo and realme have suspended their launches. “India is going through a very challenging time, and our heart goes out to all in time of this crisis. We know the media has been awaiting the new ROG Flow X13 and Zephyrus line-up. However, keeping in view the current situation, Asus India has decided to cancel all upcoming PC and ROG launches,” Asus India Business Head Arnold Su said in a press statement.

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Gaming

PUBG Mobile is making a comeback as Battlegrounds Mobile India

Will be exclusive to India

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Battlegrounds Mobile

After an excruciating wait, it’s official — PUBG Mobile is coming back to India. But this time, it’ll have a new name: Battlegrounds Mobile India with some added features, and an India-centric focus.

Krafton, the game’s developer, has announced it’ll be launching the Battlegrounds Mobile India soon. The game will bring an AAA-rated multiplayer experience alongside exclusive in-game events, tournaments, and leagues. While a launch date isn’t available, Krafton did confirm that pre-registration will be opened up soon.

The game will be free-to-play and incorporate the same battle royale concept that made it popular. Although, little detail is available about maps, guns, vehicles, and the plot (if there is any) of the game.

Furthermore, the game’s developer said that it would comply with all local laws and compliances. This includes data localization — storage of data within Indian borders. The announcement has cheered millions of players in the country who’ve been waiting for an alternative ever since the primary game was barred.

Why PUBG had to go

In mid-2020, India and China were involved in a fatal border skirmish that left many casualties on both sides. Following the conflict, India took a stringent anti-China stance and banned a host of apps that were developed or backed by Chinese companies. TikTok, owned by ByteDance, was among the first to come under the hammer.

PUBG Mobile was also included in the ban because Chinese giant Tencent was a distribution partner of the game. Following the ban, Krafton quickly removed Tencent from the agreement and announced plans to launch a new game independent of any Chinese influence.

Indian developers rode the hype wave, and many TikTok clones were touted as the next big thing. On the same lines, nCore Studios tried to bridge the gap by launching FAU-G, but it was a colossal failure. In fact, it still doesn’t have a battle royale mode, so it’s safe to assume Call of Duty: Mobile is the only practical alternative left for users right now.

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