Return of the Poco

WHEN Poco launched in 2018, it disrupted the market with the Poco F1, receiving rave reviews and was quickly dubbed the “flagship killer.” It swiftly propelled the brand’s popularity, and tech enthusiasts expected a lot of great things from Poco.

Surprisingly though, the independent smartphone brand under Xiaomi Group became quiet after such a rousing introduction, leaving Poco fans anxious about its next “kingslayer.”

Well the wait is finally over. Poco released not one but two new phones in the local market, the Poco F2 Pro and the Poco X3 NFC launched just a few days ago.

Its vision of bringing ultimate performance and latest technologies to a larger user base by delivering only the innovations that matter is best summarized by the Poco X3’s tagline: “Exactly What You Need.”

Marketed as the true mid-range champion, the Poco X3 is priced starting at P10,990 and the Philippines is one of the first countries to have a commercial release.

The Poco X3 is designed to meet the needs of young tech/gaming enthusiasts who prioritize performance and the most useful high-end specs, and is the first to use Qualcomm’s newest and most powerful 4G processor to date, the Snapdragon 732G. It offers sustained peak performance and AI capabilities that will impress even the most demanding gamers thanks to its architecture based on the KryoTM 470 octa-core CPU and Adreno 618 Elite Gaming series GPU.

The device embeds LiquidCool Technology 1.0 Plus, combining an enlarged copper heat pipe with multiple layers of graphite that work together to reduce the heat of the phone’s processor by up to 6 degrees. The phone can be further optimized for gaming using Game Turbo 3.0, the utility that tunes the phone in accordance with game requirements.

Additionally, the phone’s Z-axis linear motor ensures superb haptic feedback with over 150 vibration modes for different scenarios.

The phone is also the first in its price range to have a 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate on its edge-to-edge 6.67” FHD+ DotDisplay.

The 120Hz makes it one of smoothest screens while the 240hz touch sampling rate further reinforces the phone’s extraordinary display capabilities. This great display is only matched by a pair of flagship-grade stereo speakers.

As for the cameras, the Poco X3 has a rear quad-camera system consisting of a 64MP main camera, 13MP ultra-wide angle camera, 2MP macro camera and a 2MP depth sensor.  The phone’s main camera is a flagship Sony IMX 682 sensor featuring an ƒ/1.89 aperture and 1.6µm 4-in-1 Super Pixel that produces detailed and ultra-clear pictures. The 13MP ultra-wide angle camera boasts a 119° field of view propped up by ƒ/2.2 aperture and a 1.0µm pixel size. For selfies, the device has a 20MP camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture and 1.6µm 4-in-1 Super Pixel.

Top-level specs are no use without a battery that lasts, which is why the Poco X3 NFC is equipped with a large 5160mAh battery that can last over two days under moderate usage. The handset supports 33W fast charging which not only means that the device can be charged to 100 percent in only 65 minutes, but also that a mere 30 minutes will fill it up to 62 percent.

The Poco X3 NFC will come in two storage options the 6GB+64GB variant will be available at P10,990, while the 6GB+128GB is priced at P12,990 and two colors: Shadow Gray and Cobalt Blue. Will it be as great in real-life use as it is on the spec sheet? I’ll have a full review once I get our hands on a retail unit soon.

POCO F2 PRO, TOO COOL TO BE TRUE?

WHAT I was able to try out for a few weeks was the Poco F2 Pro, the successor to the Pocophone F1, sharing the same core principles of better hardware and greater value. Does it deserve to be the rightful heir to the throne?

The Poco F2 Pro offers everything you need in a phone—a  gorgeous design, flagship processor, an AMOLED display, a large battery, terrific cameras, you even get a 3.5mm jack—but does it also justify the huge price difference of the original?

One of the biggest gripes about the Poco F1 was its pedestrian design—it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t a standout either. That changes with the F2 Pro that now has a metal and glass build and svelte curves that give it the look of other 2020 flagships.

Exploring the phone, up top, you have the 3.5mm jack right beside the pop-up camera and IR blaster. The phone has the power and volume buttons on the right, and the red accent on the power button is a nice touch. On the bottom is the speaker, USB-C charging port, and SIM card tray. Both the front and back are covered by Gorilla Glass 5, and I actually like the matte textured finish that makes it easier to hold the phone and also hide those fingerprint smudges.

As far as weight, the F2 Pro is a bit on the heavy side, probably due to its massive battery and perhaps the added mechanism of the retractable camera and the aluminum chassis. But the weight is distributed quite well and its still very comfortable to hold even during prolonged use.

The F2 Pro has a massive 6.67-inch (2400 x 1080) FHD+ Super AMOLED display. But unlike most 2020 phones the F2 Pro utilizes a retractable selfie camera. It’s nothing new, but in a year of punch holes and cutouts, the F2 Pro stands out, giving you a true all-screen experience.

The screen delivers an immersive experience and supports HDR10+, and you get vibrant colors with superb visibility under sunlight out of the box. You still have options to further customize the colors to your preference. You also get the latest TÜV Rheinland Full Care Display Certification, DC dimming, Sunlight Mode as well as a dedicated reading mode that switches the panel to warmer.

While I have no complaints about the screen, I still wished it had a 120Hz or even 90Hz panel that’s become one of the main selling points of its competitors.

There’s a new name on top of the DXO Mark ratings and it’s the Mi 10 Ultra from Xiaomi. The company has been delivering great cameras across its portfolio recently, and the F2 Pro is no exception. It has a 64MP Sony IMX686 primary sensor, a 13MP wide-angle lens with a 123-degree field-of-view, 5MP macro lens, and 2MP portrait module.

The cameras of the Poco F2 Pro are quite impressive, and it took pretty good pictures overall. Photos come out vibrant with nice-looking colors thanks to its post-processing software. The camera holds up even in low-light conditions, and while it’s not the best, it does a pretty good job at preserving details.

It can also capture videos in 8K, making it one of the few smartphones that could take 8K videos. But the one thing I liked best among its video modes is VLOG. This lets you shoot several short videos and the Poco F2 Pro will immediately put it together in one artsy video—perfect for those quick Facebook and Instagram stories.

As for the front-facing 20MP camera, it also does a decent job for selfies, and the pop-up camera always made me smile whenever I see those LED lights and hear the sound effect.

The F2 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset, and as a result, it is not only one of the fastest phones in the market today but also among the most affordable options.

The Snapdragon 865 makes the Poco F2 a very powerful and reliable device for day-to-day use. I never encountered any lag or slowdowns, and it handles even the most demanding games with ease. Performance was quite snappy, apps loaded fast, and the phone could handle multiple functions even photo and video editing without slowing down.

Ensuring an extended user experience, the Poco F2 Pro packs a 4,700mAh battery, and sports a swift 30W fast charge, which can fuel the device to 64 percent in just 30 minutes and 100 percent in 63 minutes. It comes with a 33W in-box charger so you get the optimum charging speed they promised.

Poco is definitely back with the F2 Pro. It might not be the Poco F1 heir we were expecting (or hoping for) because of its higher price tag, but considering its more premium build and design, better cameras, AMOLED screen and other extra features, the Poco F2 Pro is still one of the best value-for-money smartphones you can buy at the sub-P30,000 price range.

The Poco F2 Pro has two variants—8GB+256GB (P29,990) and 6GB+128GB (P26,990)—and is available in Neon Blue, Phantom White, Electric Purple and Cyber Grey.

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