Poco has been very selective about its smartphone portfolio. It was separated from Xiaomi and the Poco X2 (Review) was launched more than a year after the Poco F1 (Review). Instead of releasing ‘flagship killers’ like F1, the company is now focusing more on the budget segment. With the new Poco M2 Pro, it aims to take the sub-Rs. 15,000 price segment. Poco says it has had tremendous success with the X2 and looks forward to repeating that formula.
Poco M2 Pro starts at Rs. 13,999 and looking at its specifications, it looks like it could be a strong rival to Redmi Note 9 Pro and Realme 6, which are two excellent offerings with similar pricing. However, the numbers on paper are not always an accurate depiction of actual performance. It’s time to put the Poco M2 Pro to the test, to see if it’s as good as it’s made.
Poco M2 Pro Design: Deja Vu
Poco wants to take home the fact that the M2 Pro is made in India, with major labels on the front and back of the box. While this should certainly please some people, there is a ‘Mi’ logo on the bundled charger and you are greeted by MIUI when you boot up the phone, so make up for what you will.
The design of the Poco M2 Pro is attractive and well built, but it also looks similar to the Redmi Note 9 Pro (Review). Looking at both the phones together, the body of both of them looks exactly the same. Everything lines up perfectly, including the buttons, ports, the hole-punch in the display and the rear camera bump. Poco has used a new angular stripe pattern on the bottom three-quarters of the phone. Some cosmetic changes have also been made to the camera module. The M2 Pro has a P2i water-repellent coating, which is said to make it splash-proof.
The Poco M2 Pro feels a bit heavy and bulky in the hand, but I got used to the weight after a few days. A fingerprint sensor is embedded in the right, recessed power button, and it authenticates you with a simple tap. I wish the volume buttons were on the opposite side, as they are a bit difficult to reach. The SIM tray on the left supports two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card. The headphone jack, USB Type-C port and speaker are on the bottom, while the secondary microphone and infrared emitter are on the top.
Poco has used a 6.67-inch full-HD + LCD display with a cutout for the selfie camera. You also get Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, back and rear camera modules. I usually find the pre-applied screen protectors really annoying, but the one on the M2 Pro is not intrusive. The display gets bright, colors are punchy, and the Settings app lets you tweak the color profile.
One feature that is missing is a high refresh rate. A 120Hz panel is one of the defining features of the Poco X2, but the lower-cost M2 Pro gets the standard 60Hz display. The reason for this, as I was told by Poco, was to make a choice between fast charging and a higher refresh rate to keep the price down. The Realme 6 (Review) remains the upper hand among phones under Rs. 15,000 with its 90Hz display.
Overall, the Poco M2 Pro feels very well made and looks good in blue. It is also available in black and green colours. In the box, you can expect a silicone case, charger, cable, and SIM eject tool.
Poco M2 Pro Software: MIUI with Poco Launcher
The similarity of Redmi Note 9 Pro continues with the software. The Poco M2 Pro runs on MIUI 11, which is based on Android 10, and my unit had the June security patch. Apart from keeping the Poco Launcher as the default, the features and functionality are very similar to those on Redmi devices. There is a full suite of Mi apps, including Mi Music, Mi Video, Mi Browser, etc., and most of them cannot be uninstalled. There are also third-party apps like Hello, Facebook and some basic games and they can all be uninstalled.
Despite all the stock MIUI apps, I was surprised to see no spam messages from them in the notification shade. Certain sections of some apps still push random promoted content, but this can usually be disabled.
Poco M2 Pro Performance: Reliable
The performance of MIUI and the app was excellent throughout our review. This is largely thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G SoC. This is the same one used in Redmi Note 9 Pro and Realme 6 Pro. I’m testing the mid version of the Poco M2 Pro, which has 6GB LPDDR4X RAM and 64GB UFS 2.1 storage, and is priced at Rs. 14,999. There is a lower variant with 4GB RAM and the same amount of storage, which is priced at Rs. 13,999, and a top-end variant with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage is priced at Rs. 16,999.
Navigating through MIUI’s interface felt fast, multitasking worked well, and apps in general were quick to load. Gaming performance was also very good. I played normal heavy-hitters and all went smoothly with good graphics. Even after playing for a long time at a time, I didn’t notice any heating problems. Game Turbo is a useful utility that gives you shortcuts for screen recording etc while playing games.
Videos looked good on the display of Poco M2 Pro. However, the single speaker is not very impressive. If you use wired headphones, you can enable software enhancements for audio, but there’s nothing to increase the speaker’s volume.
Poco M2 Pro Cameras: Good, But Not Great
The Poco M2 Pro sports four rear cameras, which include a primary 48-megapixel sensor, an 8-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth camera. You get a 16-megapixel hole-punch selfie camera. The M2 Pro has the same version of the MIUI Camera app as the Redmi Note 9 Pro. From what I can tell, the only real difference between the two phones in terms of functionality is that you can use Night Mode for the selfie camera on the M2 Pro.
There are some interesting features like the ability to record full-HD video with the macro camera, and the results were surprisingly good. Pro Mode also supports video recording, so you can manually set the exposure for the shoot and the ability to record in log format, which can then be color graded. For what it’s worth, the Redmi Note 9 Pro now has the exact same features.
In broad daylight, the primary camera of Poco M2 Pro captured good looking pictures. Details were generally sharp in landscape shots, and colors were vivid. Pro Color Toggle lets you capture more saturated colors when you need them. Close-ups also looked good, although the camera app made colors a bit brighter than in the actual scene. The wide-angle camera delivers significantly weaker colors and details than the main sensor. Portrait mode worked well, and the level of background blur can be adjusted.
In low-light conditions, the main and wide-angle cameras struggled with exposure and detail. The camera app did a good job of reducing noise, but photos generally looked underexposed, and zooming in revealed weak details. Night mode also wasn’t very effective, doing barely anything to improve the image.
Selfies taken in bright light were good. Details and skin texture were generally well represented. Shots were decent, as long as there was enough ambient light around.
The M2 Pro supports video recording up to 4K 30fps. Videos shot at this resolution had a very warm color tone, and colors looked quite exaggerated. There is no stabilization at this resolution. Stepping down to 1080p, stabilization caused videos to look better and colors had a more natural tone. Performance in low light wasn’t great, and videos generally looked a bit unexposed and grainy.
Overall, the cameras on the Poco M2 Pro performed well in good light, but struggled to deliver satisfactory results in low light.
Poco M2 Pro Battery: Long Lasting
I really liked the battery life of Poco M2 Pro. The 5,000mAh capacity easily lasts a full day, even with lots of gaming and camera use. With the light workload, I was able to use the phone well till the second day. In our HD video loop test, the phone lasted a little over 17 hours, which was good. The bundled 33W fast charger does a good job of quickly charging the battery. I was able to charge this phone to about 95 percent in an hour.
Verdict: Is Poco M2 Pro worth buying?
I think the Poco M2 Pro is a nice addition to the sub-Rs. 15,000 smartphone segment, and I have no trouble recommending it. In many ways, you can think of it as fast charging as the Redmi Note 9 Pro (Review) for a similar price. Plus, it should be much easier to buy than Xiaomi’s flash sale system. The M2 Pro offers good build quality, sharp display, solid battery life and good performance. The cameras aren’t too bad, provided you’re shooting during the day.
However, unlike the Poco X2 (Review), I don’t find the M2 Pro disrupting this price segment simply because it is similar to the Redmi Note 9 Pro that has been selling here for quite some time now. The Realme 6 (Review) remains a solid choice, as it is still the only phone with a 90Hz display under Rs. 15,000.
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