It's the battle of the Realme X2 and the Poco X2, two phones that share much more than their names. Both these smartphones are aimed at buyers who have budgets of around Rs. 16,000 - Rs. 20,000 and both check nearly all the boxes when it comes to features and capabilities that people these days look for.
The Realme X2 (Review) was launched in mid-December 2019 and we were highly impressed with its specifications, features, and performance. It improves upon the slightly older Realme XT (Review) and does offer more than Xiaomi's Redmi Note 8 Pro (Review), but at a slight price premium. Now, Xiaomi is trying to make sure that its arch rival doesn't gain any ground, spinning sub-brand Poco out as a separate company and launching the new Poco X2 (Review).
With the Poco X2 positioned right above the Redmi Note 8 Pro, Poco is putting fresh pressure on Realme. This brand new model has a lower starting price than the Realme X2, and at a glance, it seems like the new segment leader. However we're going to dive deep and check out everything there is to see about both phones, to tell you which one is the better option.
The new Poco X2 is available in three variants. The price starts at Rs. 15,999 for 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The middle option has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and costs Rs. 16,999. You could also step up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which will cost you Rs. 19,999.
On the other hand, the Realme X2 base variant has 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage and the price starts at Rs. 16,999. The next step up gives you 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage, for Rs. 18,999. The top end variant is priced at Rs. 19,999 and is equipped with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
It would seem that Poco has the outright advantage in terms of pricing and some specifications, but there's much more to be uncovered about how the two competitors stack up against each other.
Most smartphones today look and feel very similar, and most companies tend to follow the same design trends. That said, the Realme X2 is a little smaller and considerably lighter than the Poco X2. Realme's offering is less tall, with a 6.4-inch 19.5:9 screen, while its fresh competition has a 6.67-inch 20:9 panel on the front. The two phones weigh 182g and 208g respectively. When reviewing the Poco X2 we felt that it was a bit bulky and unwieldy – the Realme X2 is easier to manage.
Both companies have used Gorilla Glass on the front and rear of these two phones. The Poco X2 is available in Phoenix Red, Matrix Purple, and Atlantis Blue so there's no neutral option. Realme offers Pearl Blue, Pearl Green, and a somewhat less flashy Pearl White. The colour options for both phones all have gradients or appear to shimmer under the light, and the Poco X2 goes a step further with a prominent reflective circular patch around the camera module. Clearly, demure looks are out this season.
Talking about grabbing attention, the Poco X2 features a cutout in the top-right corner of its screen for its two front-facing cameras, while the Realme X2 makes do with a more conventional waterdrop notch. Both approaches impinge upon screen space a little, though the Poco X2's taller screen accommodates more content to make up for that. You might find yourself more distracted when watching video on the Poco X2 though, as content surrounds and draws attention to the camera cutout.
Another unconventional aspect of the Poco X2's design is its side-mounted fingerprint sensor. Using it is a little awkward and slow, and it will be difficult for left-handed people to get used to. Realme has used an in-display fingerprint sensor which works quite well.
Both phones have a USB Type-C port, audio socket, and single speaker on the bottom. The Poco X2 has an infrared emitter on the top, which can be used to control common appliances. The Poco X2 has its volume buttons on the right, above the power button, and they aren't very easy to reach, while the Realme X2's volume buttons are on the left.
The Realme X2 has a vertical four-camera module in the upper left corner of the rear, which makes the phone wobble a bit when used lying flat on a table. The Poco X2 also has a vertical arrangement, but in the upper centre of the rear which is more balanced. In both cases, the modules protrude quite a bit and have rough edges. Realme has placed a more prominent brand logo on the back of its phone than Poco has.
In terms of construction quality, both phones feel very well built, with good materials and attention paid to details. They both feel equally durable too. The Realme X2 comes with a screen protector pre-applied, and the Poco X2 doesn't.
Starting with processors, both the Poco X2 and the Realme X2 feature the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor, which is marketed for its relatively beefy integrated graphics capabilities. This is a relatively modern CPU manufactured on an 8nm process, with two 2.2GHz cores and six 1.8GHz cores. Needless to say, day-to-day usage was problem-free with both phones.
The Realme X2 posted an AnTuTu score of 2,67,419 while the Poco X2 beat that by a small margin, with 2,80,912. Geekbench 5 also gave the Poco X2 a very slight advantage with 548 and 1,759 points in the single-core and multi-core tests respectively while the Realme X2 managed 545 and 1,712.
We weren't able to run graphics benchmarks on our Poco X2 review unit but based on what else we've seen, we can expect performance in the same ballpark as that of the Realme X2 which ran the GFXBench T-rex scene at 36fps and gave us a score of 1,262 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme.
We played PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends, and didn't have any trouble on either of these two smartphones. Both of them defaulted to the High settings in PUBG Mobile, and we didn't see any stuttering or hitching with either of these demanding games. The Realme X2 is lighter and somewhat less fatiguing over 20-30 minutes of gaming, though the Poco X2 has a larger and somewhat more immersive screen.
Here's where the two competitors have taken very different approaches. The Poco X2 has a 6.67-inch 1080x2400-pixel LCD screen and of course there's a cutout for the two front cameras. The big highlight is a 120Hz refresh rate, and there's HDR-10 as well. On the other hand, Realme has gone with a 6.4-inch 1080x2340-pixel Super AMOLED panel with an in-display fingerprint sensor.
In terms of quality, it's hard to pick a winner. The Poco X2's UI does feel very smooth, thanks no doubt to the high refresh rate. However, colours aren't particularly vibrant and media including games and videos didn't really pop with life when we used this phone. It's the opposite with the Realme X2 – the Super AMOLED panel does make colours more vivid and blacks are deeper for better contrast. Which one you prefer will be entirely subjective.
At their maximum volume levels, the speaker on the Realme X2 is definitely louder than the on the Poco X2, but sound is harsher and more distorted. The Poco X2 sounded a little more open and clear even with both phones' volumes set to roughly 50 percent. Using the same pair of earphones, we still got the impression that the Poco X2 produced slightly crisper, cleaner sound, though the Realme X2 was not too bad by any means.
The new Poco X2 has a 4500mAh battery and supports 27W fast charging with the included adapter, while the Realme X2 has a 4000mAh battery and comes with a 30W charger. Both phones lasted us well through a full day of normal usage, though the Realme X2 gave us a few more hours the next morning. Our HD video loop test ran for 13 hours, 43 minutes on the Poco X2 and 13 hours, 11 minutes on the Realme X2. Both phones charge very quickly, which is to be expected.
Both the Poco X2 and Realme X2 boast of quad-camera setups with 64-megapixel primary rear cameras. Poco has used the brand new Sony IMX686 64-megapixel sensor with an f/1.89 aperture, while Realme has gone with the Samsung GW1 sensor and an f/1.8 aperture. Both phones also have 8-megapixel ultra-wide cameras, 2-megapixel macro cameras, 2-megapixel depth sensors.
Things are a bit different on the front – the Realme X2 has a single 32-megapixel selfie camera while the Poco X2 has a 20-megapixel one with an additional 2-megapixel depth sensor.
The two phones' camera apps show completely different approaches to design. Poco puts all available modes in a single carousel which is a bit hard to swipe through, and most major settings are accessible in a toolbar at the top of the screen, or a dropdown menu. Realme on the other hand exposes only the major modes, with the rest in a small spillover menu that requires more swiping and scrolling, and you have to go into the settings menu to change even the resolution. Poco lets you use the macro camera with a separate toggle button, and the wide-angle camera is implemented as a zoom level. On Realme phones you have a toggle for the wide-angle camera and there's a separate macro mode in the spillover menu. Neither approach is perfect and both require a bit of exploring and learning.
To compare the photo quality of these two smartphones, we took them both out together to shoot the same things under identical conditions. We'll start with daytime landscape shots. The Realme X2 produced a slightly crisper shot with better contrast and focus,but we did find that it had a slightly warmer colour tone which wasn't exactly accurate. The Poco X2 was more neutral and did a better job with details in the distance.
Neither phone's wide-angle camera was very good, which was to be expected. Photos were dull and distant objects were poorly defined. The Realme X2 had problems with chromatic aberration in one shot but otherwise the two phones were more or less evenly matched. In 64-megapixel mode, it was the Realme X2 that came out ahead with better contrast and sharper focus.
Closeup shots taken with the Poco X2 looked more realistic, while the Realme X2 blew out warm colours. Both phones were quick to lock focus and details were comparable. Natural depth of field in extreme closeups was also very good with both phones. We did notice slightly better contrast and subtle details with the Poco X2 though.
It took a little bit of effort to get macros right with both phones. We felt that the Poco X2 did a better job of highlighting very fine detail with very tight focus, but the Realme X2 produced more vivid shots while the Poco X2's macros tended to look a little washed-out.
Portrait mode gave us a more pronounced depth effect on the Poco X2 than on the Realme X2. Once again, we noticed warmer colours on the latter, which tended to make skin tones look too red. We had no complaints with edge detection for either phone.
The Realme X2 handled selfies a bit better, with more natural skin tones and less obvious automatic beautification. In portrait mode with the front cameras, the Realme X2 adjusted itself to light our face more evenly, but this caused the background to be overexposed. We actually think this is the right call to make, because the Poco X2 made us look like our face was in the shadows, and the background usually isn't as important in portraits.
At night, it was the Realme X2 that showed better overall results. Colours were more vivid and contrast was a little more punchy, with noise well under control. The Poco X2 delivered slightly brighter photos but this came at the cost of a little noise, and colours looked a bit faded. These characteristics carried through to photos taken using Night Mode or Nightscape on both phones – the Poco X2's shots were brighter but the Realme X2 gave us a more pleasing and useful result overall.
Neither phone's wide-angle camera was worth using at night – the Poco X2 gave us a brighter shot while the Realme X2 produced slightly better definition, but they were both quite bad on the whole. As for selfies, the Poco X2 gave us a sharper background again, but this time our face was also better lit, while the Realme X2 stumbled a little. Both phone's low-light selfies were somewhat noisy too.
Results with video were a bit surprising. In the daytime at 1080p, the Poco X2's footage stuttered a little while the Realme X2 was smooth throughout. Colour accuracy and focus shifting were pretty much on par for both. However in stark contrast, the Poco X2 did much better with 4K delivering stable and usable footage while the Realme X2 couldn't keep up, and turned every step we took into a major bump in the footage. These two phones were more evenly matched at night – footage was shaky and there were visible artefacts, but focus remained accurate. The Realme X2 did seem to capture slightly better footage in terms of detail and clarity at night.
We were happy to see the Poco X2 running Android 10 out of the box, although the MIUI 11 skin (also identified as Poco Launcher in some places) is not our favourite because it saddles users with a lot of bloatware and a lot of spammy notifications. There are also ads in some of the default apps. While this has been toned down a bit compared to what we've seen on several Xiaomi phones, it's still annoying, especially on a device that otherwise feels premium.
The Realme X2 ships with ColorOS 6, which is based on Android 9. An update to ColorOS 7 and Android 10 has been promised for March 2020. Realme does a little better when it comes to bloat and ads. There are still some annoying promotional notifications, but they are easier to manage.
Overall these two phones are fairly evenly matched. The Poco X2 has the price advantage and the spec sheet has several interesting highlights such as the 120Hz refresh rate and dual embedded front cameras, which make it feel like the more modern option. The cameras are overall just a little more useful in situations that are more likely to be important, though this phone's cameras are by no means clear winners across the board.
However, on the whole, the Realme X2 feels like the easier phone to live with. It's a little more compact, its software isn't as intrusive, its battery lasted a little longer, and it has the more engaging display. It's also more easily available right now, without the annoyance of flash sales. All of these are valid reasons to choose this phone over its new rival, even if it doesn't check every single box. This model is still very competitive, but we could see Realme cutting prices just to make sure it isn't left behind.
You wouldn't regret buying either of these phones, but when it comes down to a final verdict, the Poco X2 does have an advantage based primarily on its price.
Is Realme C3 price likely to usher in a budget smartphone revolution? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.