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Poco M2 Pro Review: Another Redmi Phone With Identity Crisis
Poco today added another mid-range smartphone to its portfolio in India. Just like the Poco X2, the new Poco M2 Pro is also a rebranded version of the Redmi-series smartphone with a new color scheme and the obvious Poco launcher. The Poco M2 Pro will be available in three variants- 4GB/64GB at Rs. 13,999, 6GB/64GB at Rs.14,999 and the 6GB/128GB at Rs. 16,999. The smartphone will be available for purchase on July 14 at 12 noon on Flipkart.com.
- Smooth Day-To-Day Performance
- Good Daylight Camera Performance
- Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Protection On Both Sides
- Best-In-Class Macro Lens Camera Performance
- Long-Lasting Battery With 33W Fast-Charger
- Dedicated microSD Card Support
- Mediocre 60Hz IPS LCD Screen
- Sub Par Low Light Camera Performance
- Camera’s AI Needs Fine Tuning
- Audio Performance Could Have Been Better
Going by the spec-sheet, the Poco M2 Pro launched in India sits between the Indian versions of the Redmi Note 9-series devices i.e. the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max. It flaunts a similar 6.67-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD screen with the conventional 60Hz refresh rate and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC.
The smartphone flaunts the same 48MP quad-lens rear camera setup and features a 16MP selfie camera. The battery is now rated at 5,000mAh and the only major differentiator seems to be the 33W fast-charger in the box.
Design- Redmi Note 9-Series With New Color Scheme
The design of the Poco M2 Pro is more or less same as the Redmi Note 9 Pro (Indian variant) with some cosmetic changes. And needless to say, the Poco M2 Pro looks identical to the global variant of the Redmi Note 9 Pro. Basically, Poco took the Indian variant of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, tweaked the rear camera module design and added a new color scheme to create the Poco M2 Pro.
The rear panel has a glossy finish which makes the device a smudge magnet. The phone has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner which unlocks the device in a jiffy. Touted as ‘Made in India' device, the Poco M2 Pro scores well in durability. For a smartphone priced as low as Rs. 13,999, having Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection for both front and rear panel and P2i coating makes for a great overall package. The phone feels sturdy and is also splash-resistant. However, it's a bit bulky and not an ideal fit for one-hand use.
The Poco M2 Pro will be available in three color schemes- Out of the Blue, Green and Greener and Two Shades of Black'. The company offers a TPU case in the box.
Dedicated microSD Card, IR Blaster, Type-C Port, 3.5mm Audio Jack & Notification LED
Just like the Redmi Note 9 Pro-series devices, the Poco M2 Pro also takes care of basics. The smartphone comes equipped with a dedicated microSD card slot. You can use two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time. Xiaomi's signature IR Blaster is also provided to let you control smart devices with your smartphone. The mid-range phone offers a Type-C port and the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Last but not the least; you also get the notification LED hidden in the earpiece.
Dated 60Hz IPS LCD Panel Is No Match To AMOLED
The Poco M2 Pro flaunts the same 6.67-inch full-HD+ (1080 x 2400-pixel) screen which we have seen on the Redmi Note 9 Pro series devices. The panel has a tall aspect ratio and accommodates a selfie camera in a centrally aligned punch hole. The display has the conventionally 60Hz refresh rate which feels dated in 2020 even at a starting price of Rs. 13,999 as the competition offers higher refresh rate panels in a similar price bracket.
Usually, it's a tradeoff between a lower refresh rate AMOLED panel and a higher refresh rate LCD panel. The Poco M2 Pro offers neither which is a letdown in the year 2020 even for mid-range device standards. And the same is valid for the Redmi 9 Pro-series devices.
You are not missing out much if you still haven't made the transition to a higher refresh rate panel but the LCD panel is still not at par with AMOLED display in terms of color reproduction, contrast and viewing angles.
Thankfully, the screen on the M2 Pro is Widevine L1 certified, which means you can stream content on OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos in full HD resolution.
Poor Sunlight Visibility, Color Reproduction And Viewing Angles
The IPS LCD gets fairly bright for comfortable indoor use but seems dull under direct sunlight. It even felt somewhat dimmer while using the phone outdoors on a cloudy day. The 450 nits peak brightness is a big letdown. The Galaxy M21 and M31's 1080p AMOLED displays come across as a far better screens than the IPS LCD panel on the Poco M2 Pro for video playback and gameplay even though the Galaxy M21's AMOLED panel has lower peak brightness levels.
And if you want to keep up with the latest technology trends and also fancy a smoother experience, Realme 6 with a 90Hz refresh panel at a starting price of Rs. 14,999 is the phone you should go for.
Feature-Rich Camera Setup Delivers Good Real-Life Results
Once again there's no change in the camera hardware. The Poco M2 Pro brings the familiar quad-lens camera setup. The primary camera is a Samsung f/1.79 48MP GM2 sensor paired with an 8MP wide-angle lens, 5MP macro lens and a 2MP depth sensor. The camera can record 4K 30fps videos, 1080p 60/30fps videos, 720p slow-motion up to 960fps, time-lapse and 720p 60/30fps videos. You also get support for RAW mode. For selfies, the Poco M2 Pro features the same 16MP sensor that was seen on the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
Crisp 48MP Shots, Good Wide-Angle And Macro Lens Results
As far as the image quality is concerned, the Poco M2 Pro does not disappoint in daylight. The 12MP pixel-binned and 48MP high-resolution shots are crisp and show punchy colors. The dynamic range is also good and colors pop out well if you are clicking pictures in ample lighting with HDR enabled. You can also shoot pictures in RAW format with 48MP for even better details but for some reason, the HDR doesn't work in the high-resolution mode.
Enhance Color Vibrancy With Pro Color Mode
Xiaomi has also added ‘Pro Color' feature that works just like the Realme's ‘Chroma Boost' mode to enhance contrast and color vibrancy. It works as advertised and delivers images with vibrant colors that will appeal masses but not the avid photographers as the image output looks highly artificial. I would recommend you to disable the AI and HDR while using the Pro Color mode for decent results.
Good Portraits But Poor Low-Light Results
The Poco M2 Pro's quad-lens camera has a 2MP dedicated depth sensor. Whether it's actually helping in creating bokeh or the system is using software algorithms, the output is quite pleasing and you get to see a pleasing bokeh. The edge detection is not always at point but when it works, the overall image output is impressive. The same cannot be said for the low-light camera performance. The dedicated night mode only works with the primary sensor and the results are pretty average.
Best-In-Class Macro Camera And Good Wide-Angle Camera
The Poco M2 Pro features a 5MP macro lens and an 8MP wide-angle lens. Both these lenses capture impressive pictures. The 5MP macro lens clicks best-in-class macro shots in the sub-15k price segment. The 8MP wide-angle sensor also captures good images in daylight with punchy colors and decent dynamic range.
As far as video recording is concerned, the Poco M2 Pro can shoot videos in 4K resolution at 30fps, 1080p videos in 60/30fps, 720p videos in 60/30fps, slow-motion videos at 720p with 960fps and time-lapse videos. The camera app shows that the EIS works while recording 4K videos but the results say otherwise. The software-backed stabilization only works well with the 1080p 30fps videos.
Overall, the Poco M2 Pro has a better overall camera setup in its respective price bracket.
The Poco M2 Pro is essentially the Redmi Note 9 Pro with no change in the underlying hardware. The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm's 7th gen. octa-core Snapdragon 720G chipset. Based on 8nm fabrication process, the octa SoC has a max clock speed of 2.3HGHz and is paired with 4GB, 6GB and 8GB RAM for multitasking and 64GB and 128GB UFS 2.0 storage. The capable hardware ensures smooth day-to-day performance.
The Poco M2 Pro can easily multitask and even runs the popular game titles like the PUBG and Asphalt 9 with no major issues. PUBG runs at high settings by default and the frame rate drop is quite minimal even at graphics set to maximum. However, the mediocre IPS LCD screen hampers the overall gaming experience. You can check the benchmark scores of the Snapdragon 720 SoC in our review of the Redmi Note 9 Pro.
Xiaomi’s Ad-Ecosystem- Disable It While Setting Up The Phone
The Poco M2 Pro runs the MIUI 11.0.2 based on Android 10 with Poco launcher set to run by default. So far we haven't faced any software issues on the Poco M2 Pro. The phone runs without any lags and UI navigation is smooth.
The Poco M2 Pro hasn't displayed any unwanted apps so far as I had disabled the Glance screen and the ‘Personalized Ads' toggle while setting up the device. The phone also has a fair share of bloatware and comes pre-installed with apps like Helo, ShareMe, Get Apps, WPS office and some Mi apps like Mi video, Mi Mover, Mi Credit, Mi Pay, etc. and even some irrelevant and data hog apps like CleanMaster. The entire bunch of pre-loaded apps just kills the Android feel. If you want a stock Android experience, check out the recently launched Motorola Fusion Plus smartphone.
Moreover, the Samsung Galaxy M-series mid-range devices with One UI 2.0 are also good alternatives if you prefer a more refined and intuitive software experience. They are also plagued with unwanted ads but the overall UI experience is still better than the Xiaomi and Poco devices.
X-Factor: 33W Fast-Charger In Box, 5,000mAh Battery Unit, NaviC Support
The Poco M2 Pro brings the fastest fast-charging tech solution in the sub-15K price bracket. The smartphone is powered by a hefty 5,000 mAh battery cell that draws power from a 33W fast-charger. Xiaomi is shipping the powerful charging brick in the box which at this price-point is commendable. It can refuel the battery from zero to 100% in about 88 minutes. The battery itself can easily last for a day with medium to high usage.
I did not face any connectivity issues on the Poco M2 Pro. The smartphone supports Dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NaviC, WiFi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz) 2 x 2 MIMO, VoWiFi, and has a USB Type-C port. As far as audio is concerned, the Poco M2 Pro comes equipped with a single bottom-firing speaker. It is neither loud nor does it produces mind-blowing clear audio. It's just an average speaker that won't do any good if you don't have headphones handy.
Poco Can Do A Lot More As An Independent Smartphone Brand
Rebranding a phone is not new and is certainly not a bad thing if the original product is a good overall package. However, the repetitive process can hamper a brand's identity, especially in the case of Poco which started as a cult brand. Poco might be operating as an independent brand now but it fails to differentiates itself from the parent company. The young brand largely relies on Xiaomi product portfolio to bring new devices to Indian consumers.
We would love to see a full-blown Poco device without any traces of Redmi branded products. It would bring back the Poco F1 days for loyal Poco fans and would also benefit the young brand in a longer run to carve out a niche in the crowded smartphone market.
That said, you will be disappointed if you were expecting the Poco M2 Pro to be to an entirely new device because it is not. It is a Redmi Note 9 Pro with the Poco launcher and a faster 33W fast-charging adaptor in the box with a new color scheme.
Should You Buy The Poco M2 Pro?
The Poco M2 Pro is a good overall device with the highlight feature being the long-lasting battery and the 33W fast-charger in the box. The feature-rich camera setup manages to deliver in real-life and the SD720 SoC ensures smooth performance. But just like the Redmi Note 9 Pro, the Poco M2 Pro also fails to deliver a good and modern display experience and loses the fight to smartphones like the Realme 6 and the Galaxy M31.
These smartphones offer much better screens at somewhat similar price-points. The Mi's ad ecosystem is still a pain-point and the company has no plans to address the issue which again is a big letdown. The lackluster software is also a letdown
If you have a budget of Rs. 15,000 to 17,000, you must check out the Poco X2 and the Realme 6-series devices. These handsets offer higher refresh rate panels for smoother and modern display user-experience and 64MP sensors for better overall camera performance.
If you are looking for non-Chinese smartphones, the Galaxy M21 and the Galaxy M31 are some great alternatives. You will get to experience vibrant AMOLED screens and refined software experience along with Samsung's brand value.