How the POCO X2 came into being


Now that the cat is out of the bag and we all know what the new POCO device is — the X2, let’s take a look at how this phone came into being. This comes with the backdrop of rumours of the brand being killed by Xiaomi to rumours of how this phone was rebadged version of a Redmi phone in China. I sat down with POCO GM, C Manmohan who gave me the entire dope on the journey towards the fruition of the POCO X2. 

Is it a rebadged Redmi K30 from China?

My conversation with C Manmohan revealed that the POCO X2 wasn’t a rebadged Redmi K30, but it was quite the contrary as the Redmi team adapted the POCO X2 for the K30. The similarities are there in terms of the design but these two phones are different as the X2 doesn’t have a 5G capable chip as it has the more mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G. Of course, since India doesn’t have 5G, the POCO team never wanted to make a 5G phone as it would have driven the costs upwards. 

Why isn’t there a Snapdragon 855? 

Now, the biggest draw of the POCO F1 was the fact that it was the most affordable Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 based phone. Now presumably one would imagine that POCO wanted to achieve the same thing for the X2, however, there was a problem. Since the launch of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, the price of the Snapdragon 855+ didn’t go down as much as it had gone down for the Snapdragon 845 in the case of the POCO F1. Since the Snapdragon 845 was discontinued, POCO didn’t have much of a choice with regards to the X2 as it wanted to make a sub Rs 20,000 smartphone. 

Is the Snapdragon 730G as fast as the Snapdragon 845? 

By C Manmohan’s own admission the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G isn’t exactly as fast as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 which was there on the POCO F1. However, in terms of pure performance, it is very close. The Snapdragon 730G pulls ahead because of its superior 8nm manufacturing as opposed to 10nm for the 845. This means it is more power-efficient. POCO gets away with this by superior software optimisation and faster 120Hz display which makes everything smoother. There is also liquid cooling so gaming performance is similar to the F1 which still is a very capable phone. 

How much is the 120Hz display a factor? 

120Hz screen is a huge play in not just software experience but also pure performance. Generally, the Xiaomi software layer of MiUI pulls down the speed quotient of these phones, even though the POCO launcher is something that’s helped speed up things. The 120Hz panel just makes this phone smooth, so they aren’t kidding with their smooth AF hashtag. This phone feels as fast as a OnePlus 7T which has a slightly lower refresh rate panel. This display doesn’t even guzzle too much battery as the upgraded 4,500mAh battery ensures 12 hours of use and now there is also the 27-watt charger which makes this a rapidly charging phone. 

Why the fingerprint scanner is embedded into the home button? 

One of the reasons that the fingerprint scanner is on the side is because C Manmohan and his team felt that that would be faster. It would be a tie in with the ethos of the device. The other reason they adopted this position was that they didn’t want it on the back to keep it clean. The front was out of the question as that would have meant them using a more expensive OLED screen which would’ve again driven the price of the phone upwards. 

Gone is the plastic frame and in comes metal? Why 

With the POCO F1, one of the reasons they used the plastic back was because they didn’t want a phone that was susceptible to damage. At the same time, they wanted to make the phone very affordable. This time around they have a thick aluminium frame, P2i certification and also a very nice looking design. Clearly, it seems like not many people appreciated the barebones design language. They even have done a punch-hole notch instead of an IR scanner. 

What about the cameras?

The POCO F1 had the Sony IMX 386 sensor which was there in the Pixel 2. This time around they are using the brand new 64-megapixel Sony IMX 686 sensor which has a 1.6-micron sub-pixel count and an f/1.89 aperture. This is a flagship-grade camera sensor, not something out-dated. In fact, this is the first phone in India to use this sensor which is impressive. This is another area where POCO has outdone itself from its previous effort.

Will there be a POCO F2? 

My conversation with C Manmohan indicated that there will be a phone that will be succeeding the F1. He didn’t say flat-out that there is a POCO F2, but while talking about the X2, he said, that it is a different series from the F1 and said that they will make a phone with a Snapdragon 800 series processor. All the chatter around the actual cost of the Snapdragon 865 also indicated that for their return they wanted to make a phone that would hit sub Rs 20k. And that’s what they have achieved. 

Why did POCO have an 18 month sabbatical between two products? 

The exit of senior figures like Jai Mani led to Xiaomi regrouping and taking a step back while they figured out what to do with the brand. But the fact that there was so much love for the POCO F1, this was an easy decision. In fact, Xiaomi had never sold a phone upwards of Rs 20,000 which sold as well as the POCO F1. The wheels were set in motion months ago for POCO to be spun-off into a separate brand with a different office, and team. In fact, as of now, POCO phones wouldn’t be sold at Xiaomi’s Mi stores or the online store, but instead is being sold on Flipkart. When the new POCO unit was given independence a couple of months ago, they came up with the unique design that’s part of this X2 device which was also chewed up by the Redmi team in China for the K30 and K30 Pro.