POCO F3 Long-term Review: Attractively Priced ‘Flagship Killer’, But Some User Experience Compromises

  • The POCO F3 is powered by the 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC.
  • It features an AMOLED 6.67-inch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.
  • Price starts at $350, making it the most expensive POCO model to date.

POCO was carved out of Xiaomi as an independent brand in early 2020. As Xiaomi seeks to expand its product coverage, it has now defined the Xiaomi (previously named Mi) series as the one meant for the high-end market. Then comes the Redmi series with its focus on budget options. POCO attempts to fill the gap between Xiaomi and Redmi series by offering ‘affordable premium’ models.

Similar to other smartphone manufacturers’ practices, POCO has its own management to deal with product development, P&L, sales and marketing. However, it shares resources with Xiaomi for R&D, supply chain, manufacturing and after-sales service. This reliance on Xiaomi for supply chain and manufacturing is especially important given the current industry-wide semiconductor shortages, as without the entire parent group’s weight, it would have been difficult and uneconomical for POCO to source ‘Tier 1’ components.Xiaomi Global Smartphone Sales by Sub-brand Share, 2020 & 2021 (Jan-Aug)

POCO now has four product series — F as the most premium, C and M for budget models and X for the gap between F and C-M. The POCO brand has always identified itself with one target audience – tech enthusiasts looking for premium specs at affordable prices. The POCO F3, which was launched in March 2021, is the most expensive POCO model to date. While cheaper variants are mainly being sold in India now, wider availability, along with more premium models, is expected in international markets in the coming days. The device is already one of the best-selling models in China, though, as a caveat, it is marketed there as the Redmi K40 along with two enhanced versions – Redmi K40 Pro and Redmi K40 Gaming.

POCO Smartphone Sales by Geographical Share, 2020 & 2021 (Jan-Aug)

According to Counterpoint Research’s Model Sales Tracker, sizeable market penetration has been witnessed for the POCO brand in APAC, Europe and MEA regions over the past year, reducing reliance on the India market at the same time. We think this move is meaningful and unlikely to be a blip because the increase in penetration in these regions coincides with Xiaomi’s overall strategy during the past year, which is to broaden both the portfolio and brand footprint. In fact, POCO has more than exceeded Xiaomi’s own lofty performances in the past year and half – with sales achieving a 123% increase in the first eight months of 2021, as compared to 73% for the entire group.

Looking at the price range and sales channel of POCO products, they were found to be closely matching Xiaomi’s overall numbers in different regions. As such, it is not difficult to imagine POCO actually following Xiaomi’s overall strategy, despite lower volumes as compared to the Mi and Redmi series. Notwithstanding the varying degrees of sophistication across markets, the POCO brand seems to have captured a sizeable niche market. Having four product series also helps the brand cover a wider range of price points and needs of customers.

POCO F3 Long-term Review

We have been using the POCO F3 for about five months, giving us a closer look at how the device would fare on a day-to-day basis and after systems updates.

Impressive specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G (7 nm) processor
  • Sub-6GHz 5G support but no mmWave
  • 6GB/8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB storage (no expandable storage)

Positioned in the tightly contested mid-range 5G segment, the POCO F3 is packed with noteworthy features at an equally eye-catching price point. This compares favorably with models in the range.Sub $400 Smartphone Comparisons

Looking at the POCO F3’s features, the one thing that stands out is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G chipset, which makes regular appearances in rival flagship models such as the vivo X60, OPPO Reno 6 Pro and Motorola Moto G100, all priced above $500. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G chipset has a prime core that can achieve up to 3.2GHz of clock speed. With the Adreno 650, it also packs one of the most powerful GPUs around. With a polished design, fast-charging battery and a 6.67-inch AMOLED display featuring 120Hz refresh rate, the POCO F3 appeals to tech enthusiasts looking for all-round entertainment, particularly gaming experience.

Slick, Mirror Finish but A Fingerprint Magnet

  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on both front and back
  • IP53, dust and splash protection
  • Glossy finish

The most immediate first impression of the POCO F3 is the curved glossy back, which looks impeccable. It is clear that the design tries to woo tech-savvy and demanding gadget players. We obtained the Night Black version (Arctic White and Deep Ocean Blue are also available), and the strong reflection from the back almost makes it double up as a mirror when the surface is clean. However, this super-glossiness is a magnet for fingerprints and looks terrible when not clean. This also goes against the prevailing trend of major OEMs mostly opting for a matte finish.

POCO F3 BackPOCO F3 Back Fingerprint

The POCO F3 uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both sides, with a not-so-thin curved plastic frame, sprayed with grippy paint that feels metallic. We were delighted with the side-mounted fingerprint sensor that is built into the power button. It is extremely fast compared to the mixed experiences we had with other models opting for under-display sensors (optical). These are mature designs, a clue that the device isn’t a premium flagship model. But it has a fairly pleasurable hold and manifests design character.

POCO F3 Side

Good camera performance for its price

  • Triple rear camera setting
    • 48MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.2, 119˚ (ultrawide)
    • 5 MP, f/2.4, 50mm (macro), 1/5.0″, 1.12µm, AF
  • Selfie camera: 20 MP, f/2.5, (wide), 1/3.4″, 0.8µm

For a device in the sub-$400 range, the POCO F3 cameras perform fairly well. They can capture some stunning shots under the right conditions.

POCO F3 Camera

Below are some photos shot from the primary camera in daylight conditions. Overall, the sensor seems to have captured enough detail, and the contrast is also crisp. However, upon closer inspection, high-frequency detail such as the hair on the teddy bear and the pores on the fried chicken skin look sullied and over-processed.



The following photos were taken during strong daylight (around mid-day). No AI function was used (though the camera app comes with the AI function, which can automatically detect objects such as grass, flowers, trees and buildings). The photos look decent under the right settings, and qualify for most social media purposes.



We then took some close-up shots, with mixed results. In the samples below, while colors are well preserved, the same cannot be said of the details. In particular, edge detection looks weak. The algorithms that are supposed to separate the background from the foreground seem to be off.



Portrait selfies, however, do a much better job. The first shot had AI and HDR off while the second one had them on. Curiously, while the AI has smoothened the skin, details on facial hair and the shirt have become sharper. There were also no problems with recognizing the background from the foreground. Overall, the selfie quality is surprisingly good.

We then took photos at night. The pairs of photos below were taken with default settings and low-light mode. In short, the low-light mode is able to capture much more details without unnecessarily distorting the contrast. The quality of details takes a noticeable hit in the default mode, but no such issue is observed in the low-light mode.

Therefore, we conclude that the POCO F3 cameras perform as expected and are in line with similarly priced competitors. However, under the right conditions, they can take good photos, such as the one below, which was taken with default settings.


Superb display enables smooth gaming experience

  • 67-inch AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 1300 nits (peak)
  • 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~395 ppi density)

The POCO F3’s display is probably the biggest selling point. At 6.67 inches, this AMOLED screen is huge but necessary these days for a prime gaming experience. At 1300 nits peak, the screen is very bright (sometimes too bright at night), and the color saturation is decent at all brightness levels. The screen resolution is the typical extended 1080p. But with better positioning of the punch-hole camera, the visual ‘real estate’ has not been compromised.

The POCO F3 supports 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling. The refresh rate does automatically adjust between these two frequencies depending on the app, but for the sake of saving battery, we manually had it on 60Hz default for most of the day except for games and videos.

POCO F3 - Refresh Rate Settings
In the video below, we played Honor of Kings under 90Hz refresh rate at 60fps frame rate – the top video quality available for this game. Overall, the quality of the video was great, able to reflect finer details such as the flapping movement of our character’s robe and the movement of the minions. Most encouragingly, video quality consistency is on display at the 0:35 mark, where our character performs a rushing move when multiple objects are in view, and the 0:45 mark, when multiple characters are performing dynamic actions. The performance was stable throughout the game as the display rarely deviated from the targeted 60fps frame rate (seen at the top right of the screen).

For comparison, we played Call of Duty: Mobile. The game was played under 60Hz as the higher 120Hz is only available on the Sony Xperia 5 II. While we did fairly well and killed four opponents in the sample, you can see that the smoothness of the video quality takes a dive compared to the previous sample, especially in near-field dynamic environments, such as nearby objects when moving the cursor and zooming in to shoot.

Another interesting gaming feature is the Game Turbo mode. It allows the device to automatically detect ongoing gaming sessions, and can stop notifications and calls. Additionally, one can slide open the menu the top left of the screen to see further features. Useful ones include GPU, CPU and FPS performances, as well as memory boost, screenshot and video recording. One can even access other apps through a pop-out screen – useful for filling moments of inactivity when playing ‘idle’ games. POCO F3 - Game Turbo Mode

POCO F3 - Game Turbo Mode, WhatsApp

Perhaps one drawback of the POCO F3 screen is that it can dim unexpectedly under very bright sunlight, probably due to overheating and subsequent thermal throttling. However, it can be fixed by manually adjusting the brightness. We experienced this issue 3-4 times in the first month but much more frequently in subsequent months.  This is consistent with the complaints seen on Xiaomi forums.

Dual speakers with Dolby Atmos add to entertainment value

The POCO F3 has a pair of decent speakers in the earpiece and at the bottom of the phone, with Dolby Atmos surround sound solution providing the loud audio experience of true stereo. While a hand may cover the speakers when playing a game or watching videos in the landscape mode, we found the speakers doing a good job at projecting sound. We tested the phone in the shower (tightly sealed of course as the phone comes only with an IP53 rating) and even received calls on the speaker in busy shopping malls – with positive results.

There is a range of equalizer options (see below) for those with particular tastes in audio experience. We streamed a range of music from Spotify and concluded that the POCO F3’s speakers projected a decent range, especially at mid-tones. However, the sound seems to be slightly distorted at the highest volume.

POCO F3 - Audio Settings

Reasonable battery and charging performance, more would be nice

  • 4520mAh battery
  • Fast charging 33W, 100% in 52 min (advertised)

The POCO F3 has a battery of 4520mAh, which is decent at its price range. We saw about eight hours of screen-on time on 60Hz and five hours on 120Hz on 4G connectivity (numbers based on the Screen Time App). However, the apps used were somewhat less ‘intensive’ than what one would find in a typical product review test, and more representative of one’s general daily usage. In our view, the battery will probably be just enough for a day’s average usage, but a power bank or charging wires are a must if one plays games or watches videos during the day.

POCO F3 - Battery

Luckily, the POCO F3 comes with a 33W adapter, which charges around 66% in 30 minutes and 100% within an hour. However, the slight drawback is that playing games on 120Hz while charging can lead to overheating, as seen below when the battery reached 44°C. Inevitably, we experienced some lags while using heavy payload apps like gaming or AI photography.

POCO F3 - Battery Temperature

Software is a huge drag on performance

Now we come to the biggest disappointment in the POCO F3. The device runs on Android 11 with the MIUI 12 skin. The customization is pretty thorough, and the POCO launcher uses a fairly distinct system theme, which can be changed. One of the key alterations is a redesigned app drawer, which has fewer rounded corners and automatically sorts apps into different categories. The first page still displays a vertical list of everything you have installed, but it takes a bit of getting used to. We have avoided navigating for apps in the categories view (Communication, Entertainment, Photography, etc.) as much as possible, due to the confusing sorting of some of the apps.

Compared with other Android competitors, the MIUI takes a fair amount of effort to get its settings sorted out. This may not be an issue for tech-savvy users or those with previous experience of using MIUI, but it is an unnecessarily high barrier for average users looking for a simpler experience. Furthermore, the range of bloatware is alarming. The POCO F3 also has its own clock, calculator, voice recorder and music player – none of which can be uninstalled. The system frequently pushes notifications to update these, which we strongly advise against.

Xiaomi users are fairly active on online forums, and MIUI bugs tend to be quite frequent. Disappointingly, this is a legacy issue that works hugely against the brand, which it seems unable to rectify. With the POCO F3, there is the possibility of upgrading to Android 12, but we do not expect a major boost to the phone’s performance.

In summary, while the hardware in the POCO F3 packs a punch, the bottom line is that software does not do the hardware justice, and the phone is powerful only on paper.

Conclusion: A value-for-money smartphone for tech-savvy users and gamers

The POCO F3 inherits the brand family DNA with top-notch design, excellent display and gaming performances, which will no doubt attract techy-savvy customers who know exactly what they are looking for. Its flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 870 5G, and the AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate will be especially popular among its targeted buyers. While we have found the phone to be fairly reliable in terms of day-to-day general usage, the software weakness can be frustrating for the average user. Despite this, if one can bear with the fidgety initial setting-up processes, the phone is capable of doing its job.


Q2 2021: Apple Achieves Record June Quarter Shipments, Xiaomi Becomes the Second-Largest Smartphone Brand Globally

  • Global smartphone market grew 19% YoY but declined by 7% QoQ as 329 million units were shipped, led by Samsung.
  • Xiaomi eclipses 50 million smartphones, becoming the world’s second-largest smartphone brand for the first time ever.
  • Samsung retained the number one spot with shipments reaching 58 million units in Q2 2021, however, its market share declined to 18% as compared to 22% in Q1 2021 as its shipments declined by 24% QoQ.
  • realme grew by 135% YoY and 17% QoQ, crossing cumulative shipments of 100 million smartphones since its entry into the smartphone market.
  • Global smartphone shipment revenues grew by 25% YoY to $96 billion in Q2 2021 setting a second-quarter record.

Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, London, Denver, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Hong Kong – July 29th, 2021

Global smartphone shipments declined by 7% QoQ in Q2 2021, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. This was primarily due to ongoing component shortages as well as the implementation or extension of COVID-19 restrictions across Asia and Europe. Shipments, however, grew by 19% YoY as inoculation rates increased in several major economies preventing the need for lockdowns as stringent as those seen in the same quarter of last year.

Commenting on OEM rankings, Research Director, Tarun Pathak noted, “While Samsung retained the top spot, its market share fell by over 3% to 18% in Q2 2021. Shipments were down due to weak seasonal demand in some of its key regions such as India, Central and Latin America and Southeast Asia followed by production disruption in Vietnam due to COVID-19. Xiaomi had its best-ever quarter as it was able to increase its market share in China, Southeast Asia and Europe. While Apple fell to the third spot, it captured record second-quarter shipments thanks to persistent demand and supply for its iPhone 12 series. OPPO and vivo retained their spots in the top five as OPPO continued expanding to overseas markets and vivo managed to lead the China market for the second quarter in a row.”

Highlighting the revenue dynamics, Research Analyst, Aman Chaudhary noted, “Global smartphone wholesale shipment revenues eclipsed $96 billion*, up 25% YoY but declined 16% sequentially. This comes at a time when the industry was facing supply constraints. Apple captured a record second-quarter revenue share of 41% driven by continuing demand for the iPhone 12 Series followed by Samsung, OPPO, Xiaomi and vivo. However, Xiaomi had a strong quarter in terms of revenue as well, becoming the only brand within the top five to grow its revenue sequentially. It captured its highest-ever revenue share of over 9% driven by the strong performance of Redmi Note and the Mi 11 series.”

Commenting on Xiaomi’s record shipments, Senior Analyst, Harmeet Singh Walia noted, “Xiaomi crossed 50 million shipments for the first time ever driven by a combination of premium and low-to-mid price segment devices. Xiaomi’s exceptional performance comes despite a decline in India due to the spread of new COVID-19 variants. The increased shipments can be attributed to its growth in regions including Europe, Southeast Asia and Central and Latin America where it captured market share vacated by Samsung and Huawei. Southeast Asia and Europe were bright spots for Xiaomi as demand for mid-tier devices increased during the quarter.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Samsung’s quarterly shipments declined by 24% QoQ and grew by a meagre 7% YoY reaching 57.9 million units in Q2 2021 due to supply constraints. Samsung’s revenue fell by 30% QoQ despite increasing by 7% YoY in Q2 2021. Samsung is diversifying its product mix and channel strategy in regions such as India, Europe and Central and Latin America. Samsung has also shifted focus towards premium devices over the mid-range series on the supply side in regions such as the US where supply constraints and low inventory limited its growth.
  • Xiaomi recorded a QoQ shipment growth of 8% while its shipments grew by a staggering 98% YoY driven by the strong demand for Redmi 9, Note 9 and Note 10 series. Demand for its premium Mi 11 series remained strong as well. This mix of premium and lower-to-mid segment devices enabled Xiaomi to achieve its highest-ever smartphone revenue in Q2 2021.
  • Apple’s smartphone shipments fell by 18% QoQ but grew by 30% YoY to reach 48.9 million units in Q2 2021. This is because demand for iPhone 12 series remained high while its supply was not hit as severely by chip shortages because of its strong industry relationships, careful supply chain management, expedited shipping, and ability to cut days from factory to point-of-sale. Apple saw its revenue increase by 52% YoY.
  • OPPO’s shipments declined by 12% QoQ to 33.6 million units in Q2 2021. Its market share declined to 10% compared with last quarter’s 11%. However, driven by its global expansion and steady performance in China, it saw a growth of 37% compared with the same quarter last year when it enjoyed 9% market share. Following the shipment trends, OPPO’s YoY revenue also declined by 10% QoQ while increasing by over 50% YoY.
  • vivo‘s shipments declined by 8% QoQ but grew by 44% YoY to reach 32.5 million units in Q2 2021. vivo’s growth was driven by a strong performance in the China market, where it has retained the leadership position for a second consecutive quarter. vivo saw a quarterly decline in revenues of 10%, in line with the decline in its shipments over the same period. However, it saw YoY revenue growth of 69% driven by solid performances of its mid-tier models such as S9, Y52s and Y31.
  • Among other major OEMs, OnePlus, realme, and Lenovo Group grew the fastest. OnePlus grew by 170% YoY in Q2 2021 with its Nord N series doing particularly well in the North America and Western Europe markets. realme grew by 135% YoY in Q2 2021 as a result of its continuing success in China as well as its expansion in Southeast Asia where its C-series, launched in March this year, did exceptionally well. realme also reached the landmark of hitting 100 million in cumulative shipments since launch. Apart from this, it also reached 50 million units in cumulative shipments in India during the quarter, the fastest by any brand so far in India. Lenovo Group grew by 110% thanks to the success of its Moto E7 Plus in Latin America and Moto G Play 2021 in North America.

*Preliminary revenue, based on wholesale pricing.

Note: All shipments are preliminary and subject to change.


For press comments and inquiries please reach out to press (at)

You can also visit our Data Section (updated quarterly) to view the smartphone market share Globally and from the USA, China, and India.

Some of our other regional smartphone market analysis for Q2 2021 can be found below:

India Smartphone Market Stays Resilient During Second COVID-19 Wave, Crosses 33 Million Shipments

US Smartphone Market Grows 27% YoY in H1 2021 Despite Shortages; OnePlus, Motorola, Nokia HMD Gain as LG Exits

China Smartphone Market Sees Lowest Q2 Sales Since 2012; vivo Leads as Huawei Plummets


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

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 Tarun Pathak

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Harmeet Singh Walia

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Q2 2021: India Smartphone Market Stays Resilient During Second COVID-19 Wave, Crosses 33 Million Shipments

  • India’s smartphone market registered its highest ever shipments in H1 2021.
  • Xiaomi led the market in Q2 2021 with a 28% shipment share. The brand registered its highest-ever ASP (average selling price) in a single quarter due to the strong performance of the Mi 11 series.
  • Samsung captured the second spot with an 18% share while vivo captured the third spot with a 15% share.
  • realme became the fastest brand to reach 50 million cumulative smartphone shipments in India.
  • OnePlus led the premium market (>INR 30,000) with a 34% share.

New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – July 28, 2021

India’s smartphone shipments grew 82% YoY to reach over 33 million units in Q2 2021, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. However, the market declined 14% sequentially due to a fall in consumer sentiment during the second COVID-19 wave. But the decline was less than expected due to the resilient nature of the smartphone market.

Commenting on the market dynamics, Senior Research Analyst Prachir Singh said, “Smartphone shipments witnessed low volumes during April and May. However, the market saw a pent-up demand in June as restrictions were lifted and stores started to reopen. Offline-centric brands were more affected during April and May as consumers were preferring online channels for purchases. Brands like Xiaomi and realme were able to maintain high volumes leveraging their better online reach. Due to the multiple use-cases and functionalities, the smartphone has become an integral part of daily life and a necessity. The pent-up demand witnessed in June is a testament to that.”

Commenting on the competitive landscape and brand strategies, Research Analyst Monika Sharma said, “Chinese brands held a 79% share. Xiaomi (includes POCO) led the market with a 28% share, followed by Samsung, vivo, realme and OPPO. The Redmi 9 series, as well as the Redmi Note 10 series, drove the shipments for Xiaomi while online-heavy Galaxy M-series and F-series drove the shipments for Samsung. The share of 5G smartphones is constantly increasing, crossing 14% in the June-ended quarter. realme was the top 5G smartphone brand with a 23% share, followed by OnePlus. OnePlus led the premium smartphone market (>INR 30,000) with a 34% share, driven by the newly launched OnePlus 9 series. To expand and serve their consumer base, many brands started home delivery of smartphones during lockdowns via digital platforms like WhatsApp.”

India Smartphone Market Q2 2021

Note: Xiaomi includes POCO brand

India’s mobile handset (feature phone + smartphone) market grew 74% YoY in Q2 2021 but declined 28% QoQ. The feature phone market declined 50% QoQ with the second COVID-19 wave reducing the disposable income of its consumers, who mainly reside in Tier 3 and 4 towns, and rural areas. itel led the feature phone market with a 24% share, followed by Jio, Lava and Samsung. This is the seventh consecutive quarter where itel led the feature phone market.

India Handset Market Q2 2021

Note: Xiaomi includes POCO brand

Market Summary:

  • Xiaomi (includes POCO) retained the top position in the Indian smartphone market with a 28% share driven by the Redmi 9 series and Redmi Note 10 series. Xiaomi captured the top four positions in the Top 5 models list with the Redmi 9A, Redmi 9 Power, Redmi Note 10 and Redmi 9, out of which the top three models clocked more than a million shipments. The Redmi 9A has been the best-selling model for the last three quarters. Xiaomi re-entered the ultra-premium segment with the Mi 11 Ultra powered by Snapdragon 888 chipset. In the premium segment, Xiaomi shipped its highest-ever volumes in Q2 2021, capturing more than 7% of the segment. POCOXiaomi’s sub-brand, registered 480% YoY growth driven by its strong demand in the budget segment. The POCO M3, C3 and X3 Pro were the top models for POCO in Q2 2021. 
  • Samsung remains the second-largest brand in India’s smartphone shipments, registering 25% YoY growth. It remained aggressive in online channels during the quarter. Its online-centric Galaxy M-series and F-series contributed to 66% shipments of the brand in Q2 2021. Samsung reached its highest-ever online share, an indication that the brand’s online channel strategy is working well along with its e-store. Samsung led the upper mid-tier (INR 20,000-INR 30,000) segment driven by the strong performance of the Galaxy A32, A52 and F62.
  • vivo grew 61% YoY and held the third position in Q2 2021. The brand’s share in the premium segment (>INR 30,000) increased to 12%, its highest ever in a single quarter. The newly launched V21 series along with the X60 and IQOO 7 series drove the shipments for the brand. vivo also led the INR 15,000-INR 20,000 price band.
  • realme grew 140% YoY in Q2 2021 and captured the fourth position in the Indian smartphone market. realme is quite aggressive with its 5G push. The brand led the market in 5G smartphone shipments, capturing more than 22% share. It also became the fastest brand to reach 50 million cumulative smartphone shipments in India.
  • OPPO grew 103% YoY and had a 10% market share in Q2 2021. The OPPO F19 Pro Plus was the top 5G smartphone model in the INR 20,000-INR 30,000 price band. OPPO launched an e-store in Q2 2021 to expand its online reach and consumer base. The brand also helped its offline consumer base and channel partners by offering free smartphone deliveries during lockdowns by leveraging digital platforms like WhatsApp.
  • Transsion Group brands (itel, Infinix and TECNO) registered 296% YoY growth, capturing a 7% share collectively in India’s smartphone market. itel remained the top smartphone brand in the sub-INR 6,000 price band. Also, in the sub-INR 8,000 price band, Transsion brands collectively led the market with a 29% share. itel has been leading the feature phone market for the last seven consecutive quarters.
  • Apple witnessed 144% YoY growth in Q2 2021. The brand maintained its leading position in the ultra-premium segment (>INR 45,000 or ~$650) with more than 49% share. Continued strong demand for the iPhone 11 coupled with aggressive offers on the iPhone 12 series were the driving factors for this growth. 
  • OnePlus grew more than 200% YoY in Q2 2021 driven by the OnePlus 9 Series. The brand led the premium market with a 34% share. OnePlus captured three spots in the top five smartphone models in India’s premium market. It was also the top 5G smartphone brand in the premium segment in Q2 2021, capturing a 48% share.

The comprehensive and in-depth Q2 2021 Market Monitor is available for subscribing clients. Feel free to contact us at press(at) for questions regarding our latest research and insights.

The Market Monitor research relies on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results and vendor polling, triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.

You can also visit our Data Section (updated quarterly) to view the smartphone market share globally and for the USChina and India.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Prachir Singh

Monika Sharma

Tarun Pathak

Karn Chauhan

Follow Counterpoint Research

Related Posts

Can POCO Scale New Heights as Independent Brand?

In 2020, Xiaomi spun off POCO as an independent company. Though POCO has separate management, it utilizes Xiaomi’s R&D capabilities, supply chain, logistics, and innovations. This type of support-sharing mechanism is quite common among smartphone brands. While we feel the move to go independent, in itself, will not have a major impact on POCO’s brand identity, it can certainly grow as an individual brand if it works towards its advantages. The brand offers key flagship features in the value-for-money segment for its tech enthusiast audience. POCO saw sales growth of 567% YoY in 2020, from a small base.

POCO’s Global Market Sell-through

Counterpoint Research POCO’s Global Market Sell-through
Source: Counterpoint Research Global Handset Model Sales, March 2021

Some of the key highlights of the POCO’s journey so far are:

India: POCO’s biggest market

More than half of POCO’s global sales came from India in Q1 2021. Its leaner portfolio and aggressive marketing strategy quickly caught the attention of tech enthusiasts in the country. POCO smartly selected its online channel with Flipkart, as most of Xiaomi’s sales happen on Amazon.

POCO leverages the Flipkart platform to directly compete with other brands. POCO was in the second position on Flipkart and fourth in terms of total India online smartphone shipments in Q1 2021. In January this year, it conquered the No.1 position on Flipkart for the first time. This was mainly due to increased shipments of the POCO C3 and POCO M3 models from the budget segment. One of the key reasons for the success of its models on Flipkart is a clear differentiation within the lean portfolio addressing the needs of its target audience at different price points.

Hence, even with a lean set of models in its product portfolio, POCO had the highest number of models in the Top 10 shipments on Flipkart – POCO C3, POCO M3, POCO M2, and POCO X3 in the first, second, sixth, and eighth positions respectively in Q1 2021.

POCO’s success story in the Indian market is driven by demography – more than one-third of the country’s population is youth and tech-savvy, wanting to experience flagship-like features at affordable prices and a greater focus on CMF (Color, Material, and Finish) further helped to gain market share.

Global Expansion on the cards:

POCO’s youth-centric strategy played a vital role in scaling up its success in India. Now, POCO is expanding in markets like Europe, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Southeast Asian nations like Indonesia and the Philippines have nearly one-third of the youth population in the 15-35 age group, just like India and favorable for POCO to grow. However, POCO has different strategies for different markets in terms of channel and product portfolios.

Channel Strategy – Key to Success

About three-fourths of POCO’s global sales lean toward the online channel driven by India’s Flipkart contribution. However, unlike India, POCO also operates offline in Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

More than 80% of sales in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines happen offline. In Indonesia, due to geographical and logistical constraints with scattered islands, the online mode of delivery is not feasible. Also, most of the SEA markets are price-conscious and believe in local shops. The offline-active OEMs also played a major role in shaping this behavior.

As a result, POCO is offline heavy in these markets. It operates online here by adopting a hybrid channel strategy where one can order online and collect the device from the nearest local shop.  Therefore, POCO is smart in localizing its channel strategy based on the geographic and demographic split, preference of consumers, and market dynamics. This attribute of POCO is a big positive for the brand.

Product portfolio: Lean and Diverse

Considering India as an example, POCO recently launched a 5G model in the country, the POCO M3 Pro, in the sub $250 price segment. But it has launched three 5G models outside India. The two 5G devices not launched in India are comparatively in a higher price range but it is likely to accelerate its 5G portfolio as well. POCO’s main target is to compete with other 5G smartphones in the budget segment. Therefore, POCO’s strategy for India will be locally driven and focuses on tech enthusiasts and young audiences.

Possible challenges and solutions for POCO

POCO may face some challenges in its journey to establish itself as an individual brand. POCO has rebranded a few of its models that carry the same DNA as Redmi. This strategy can be understood during the initial period when the brand needs support but can be avoided in the future.

As mentioned earlier, POCO focuses on localization strategy across the globe. With the changing demographics and geographic preferences, managing the resources for delivering and adapting to change may become a challenge with limited shared resources. Also, POCO is a new brand in few markets and consumers’ acceptance levels may take time to go up. POCO should also refresh its product portfolio regularly across all markets to maintain momentum. Additionally, with hardware getting commoditized, POCO will also, at one point in time, need to look into its efforts in software and adjoining product categories in the consumer electronics space.

India Smartphone Shipments See Record Q1 in 2021; New COVID-19 Wave Likely to Dampen Consumer Sentiment

  • Xiaomi led the market in Q1 2021 with a 26% shipment share. Five out of the top 10 smartphone models in the country were from Xiaomi.
  • Among the top five brands, Samsung grew the highest at 52% YoY.
  • OnePlus led the 5G smartphone shipments with a 33% share.
  • realme had the cheapest 5G offering in Q1 2021.

 New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – April 26, 2021

India’s smartphone shipments grew 23% YoY to reach over 38 million units in Q1 2021, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. These were the highest ever first-quarter shipments. New product launches, promotions and financial schemes, as well as pent-up demand coming from 2020, drove the smartphone market in Q1 2021.

Commenting on the market dynamics, Senior Research Analyst Prachir Singh said, “Continuing with its stellar run, India’s smartphone market registered a third consecutive quarter of record shipments in Q1 2021, riding on pent-up demand. Consumer confidence also increased due to the beginning of a vaccination drive in the country. But these numbers should be taken with caution as a second and more virulent wave of COVID-19 is currently on in the country and is likely to impact the coming quarters. The consumer demand will take a hit due to the ongoing COVID-19 wave and subsequent lockdowns.”

Commenting on the competitive landscape and brand strategies, Research Analyst Shilpi Jain said, “The Chinese brands held a 75% share in the March-ended quarter. Xiaomi led the market with a 26% share, followed by Samsung, vivo, realme and OPPO. Xiaomi has recently expanded its manufacturing capabilities with new EMS partners, which helped the brand maintain strong shipments during the quarter. All the major brands are focusing on new product launches to drive consumer demand. Samsung maintained a high number of new product launches in its Galaxy M-series, Galaxy F-series as well as the Galaxy S21 series during the quarter. Besides, realme launched its 8 series, OnePlus announced its 9 series and Xiaomi launched its Redmi Note 10 series that has started well. Brands are also focusing on promotions and financial schemes to increase consumer demand.”

Exhibit 1: India Smartphone Market Share, Q1 2021

India Smartphone Market Share, Q1 2021

India’s mobile handset market grew 19% YoY in Q1 2021 due to the strong performance of both feature phone and smartphone segments. The feature phone market registered a 14% YoY growth during the quarter driven by strong shipments of JioPhone under its new model and subsequent promotions. However, itel led the feature phone market in Q1 2021 with a 21% market share.

 Exhibit 2: India Handset Market Share, Q1 2021

India Handset Market Share, Q1 2021

Note: Xiaomi’s share includes POCO brand

Market Summary:

  • Xiaomi retained the top position in the Indian smartphone market with 4% YoY growth in Q1 2021 driven by the Redmi 9 series. The Redmi 9A was the best-selling model during the quarter. The brand reentered the upper mid-tier segment (INR 20,000 – INR 30,000) (~$280-$420) almost after 1.5 years with its latest 5G offering, the Mi 10i 5G, which performed strongly in this segment. The recently launched Redmi Note 10 series has received a good response from consumers. The models primarily focused on OLED display, design and camera (108 MP). To cope up with the strong demand, the brand expanded its manufacturing base by partnering with more EMS partners like BYD and DBG.
  • Samsung remains the second-largest brand in India’s smartphone shipments with 52% YoY growth driven by its focus on the budget segment with the new M02 series and multiple other launches. It refreshed its A-series with the A32, A52 and A72, and the M-series with the M12. It also launched its latest flagship Galaxy S21 series earlier than its normal launch period. After being aggressive on online channels in 2020, the brand attempted to gain share offline. Samsung made its online exclusive F-series available across offline channels and is now launching new products across both channels. Samsung’s online portal is doing quite well and has increased its contribution within Samsung’s channel, driven by the Galaxy S21 series and other flagships.
  • vivo grew 16% YoY and held the third position in Q1 2021. With the recovery in offline channels in Q1 2021 following an improvement in the COVID-19 situation, vivo continued to be the leading smartphone player in the offline segment. The brand launched its latest flagship X60 series with advanced camera capabilities. The initial consumer response has been robust, thus continuing the momentum of the previous X50 series. X-series has generated a positive mind share for vivo in the premium segment.
  • realme declined 4% YoY in Q1 2021 but managed to maintain its fourth position in the market. realme is bringing the 5G smartphones to lower price points with its newly launched Narzo series and realme X series. The Narzo 30 Pro 5G was the cheapest 5G smartphone offering in the country during the quarter. Additionally, the brand is expanding its reach in offline channels.
  • OPPO grew 12% YoY and had an 11% market share in Q1 2021. OPPO made its 5G debut in Q1 2021 with the OPPO Reno 5 Pro 5G, which held a 3% market share in India’s 5G smartphone shipments. It also revamped its F-series with the F19 series, and with the F19 Pro Plus, the brand entered the 5G segment in the upper mid-tier segment. The consumer response to the F19 series has been positive.
  • POCO was the fastest-growing brand registering 558% YoY growth driven by its strong demand in the budget segment. It refreshed its portfolio with the M3 in the budget segment and with the X3 Pro in the mid segment.
  • Transsion Group brands (itel, Infinix and TECNO) registered 81% YoY growth, capturing 7% share collectively and climbing to the second position in the overall India handset market. itel became the No.1 brand in the sub-INR 6,000 tier driven by the A48 and A23. TECNO’s cumulative smartphone shipments crossed the 10-million mark since its entry into the Indian smartphone market.
  • Apple continued to carry forward its momentum from Q4 2020. It witnessed 207% YoY growth in Q1 2021. The brand maintained its leading position in the premium segment (>INR 30,000 or ~$400) with almost 48% share. Strong demand for the iPhone 11 coupled with aggressive offers on the iPhone SE 2020 and expansion in ‘Make in India’ capabilities are the driving factors in this growth. Apple also registered more than 1 million shipments for two consecutive quarters for the first time.
  • OnePlus grew more than 300% YoY for Q1 2021 driven by the OnePlus Nord and OnePlus 8T shipments. OnePlus was the top 5G smartphone brand in the country in Q1 2021. It recently launched the OnePlus 9 series with revamped camera capabilities in partnership with Hasselblad. OnePlus Nord was the best-selling 5G smartphone model during the quarter.

The comprehensive and in-depth Q1 2021 Market Monitor is available for subscribing clients. Feel free to contact us at press(at) for questions regarding our latest research and insights.

The Market Monitor research relies on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results and vendor polling, triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.

You can also visit our Data Section (updated quarterly) to view the smartphone market share globally and for the USChina and India.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Prachir Singh

Shilpi Jain

Tarun Pathak

Karn Chauhan

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The Mi 10 Could Help Xiaomi Increase its Global Presence in the Ultra-Premium Segment

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the global smartphone market to experience its fastest ever decline of 13% YoY in Q1 2020. While Samsung, Huawei, and Apple have been impacted, Xiaomi has seen a 7% growth, mostly coming from markets outside China. The growth also saw Xiaomi becoming the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in the world. While most of this growth comes from affordable to mid-premium smartphones, the company now has its eyes set on the ultra-premium segment with the Xiaomi Mi 10-series.

Xiaomi Portfolio Segmentation

Xiaomi is more than just a smartphone maker. The company portfolio includes Smart TVs, fitness bands, TWS headphones, IoT products like air purifiers, water purifiers, security cameras, and more. In terms of smartphone portfolio, there are Redmi branded smartphones focusing on affordable to mid-range segments. These include the Y-series, Note-series, and K-series among others.

For the premium portfolio, Xiaomi is going with the Mi branding. This includes the A-series smartphones that offer near-stock Android experience with Google’s Android One branding. The Mi-series also includes the flagship smartphones with top-of-the-line hardware and premium design. The latest Mi 10-series and the concept Mi MIX Alpha are some examples.counterpoint xiaomi brand segmentation

In China, Xiaomi also acquired Meitu’s handset business in 2018. The company has been popular for its photo-editing and sharing app. Meitu also made smartphones but they didn’t sell well. After the takeover, Xiaomi did launch Mi CC9 Meitu edition phones, but they were restricted to the Chinese market.

The portfolio also included Poco, which has now spun off as a separate brand. But if you look at the overall strategy, Poco will focus on the gap that is left in the mid-premium segment. The decision to set Poco free makes sense as it will help Xiaomi target the premium segment, whereas Poco can continue as a “flagship killer” in its segment.

The house of brand segmentation is not exactly a new concept. Xiaomi is learning from Realme, which started as Oppo’s sub-brand and has seen immense success after it spun off. Even Vivo has been following the same footsteps, where iQoo has now branched out to focus on the premium segment. Likewise, Transsion Holdings has a multi-brand strategy where it has Tecno, Infinix, and iTel, all focusing on different audience segments.

Poco going on its own, with Xiaomi focusing on two different consumer sections with Redmi and Mi brand could help in differentiating the portfolio.

Xiaomi Ultra-Premium Market Share

As of Q4 2019, Xiaomi had a market share of around 1% in China in the ultra-premium segment (>$660 wholesale price). With the Mi 10 series, Xiaomi is going global to chase share in the premium segment.

counterpoint xiaomi global ultra premium market share

Globally, Xiaomi has less than 1% market share in the ultra-premium segment. In markets like Spain, UK, Italy, Germany, and France; Apple, Samsung, and Huawei are strong. These are also the markets where OnePlus and Oppo have some presence, and they will be Xiaomi’s immediate competitors. The interplay between brands in Europe is at a critical stage due to the difficulties Huawei is facing following the US including Huawei on its entity list that prevents it from launching new flagship products with GMS services.

While Apple and Samsung are the market leaders, Xiaomi with a 5G portfolio has a good chance to compete with OnePlus and Huawei. A 108MP quad-camera setup, 5G, and other features like wireless charging, and fast charging make Mi 10 5G a compelling device. Huawei’s P40 series is impressive, but the lack of GMS service means an opportunity for Xiaomi to grab some share.

Given the fact that Xiaomi has gained a good market share with its affordable and mid-range smartphones in countries like Spain, the premium push likely comes at the right time. Xiaomi should also partner with carriers to ensure the smartphone gets the right push.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pricing and Competition

In China, there are two smartphones in the series – Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro. The regular Mi 10 model has three SKUs – with the base model available for around $560, whereas the top model with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will set you back $660.  The Mi 10 Pro is also offered in three SKUs – with the base model at around $700, and the top-end model with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage for $860.

In the UK, only the vanilla Mi 10 model is launched where the base model with 128GB storage is available for $850, whereas the 256GB storage model will set you back $980. The pricing in Europe is similar, and the Mi 10 Pro model is also available at a starting price of $1,098.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g lead 2
Source – Xiaomi

Talking about competition in the UK, the OnePlus 8 starts at around $699, whereas the OnePlus 8 Pro starts at around $899. Similarly, the Huawei P40 starts at around $899, the P40 Pro starts at around $1,080, whereas the Huawei P40 Pro+ starts at around $1,500. If we compare the Mi 10 pricing with the competition, it is clear that Xiaomi is positioning Mi as a premium brand.

Xiaomi has attempted premium push previously with Mi Mix and Note series, but failed to make any impact. However, the Mi 10 series sports a leading-edge immersive display, 108MP quad cameras setup and Snapdragon 865 SoC with 5G, which could drive uptick in this important “halo” segment.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Specifications and Features

Immersive Dual Curved Display

The Xiaomi Mi 10 flaunts a 6.67-inch curved AMOLED display (with HDR 10+) that runs at FHD+ resolution (1080x2340pixels), and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The screen brightness peaks at 1,120 nits, which should make reading under direct sunlight easier. The panel features a 90Hz refresh rate to make viewing motion content smoother. To make gaming smoother, the smartphone also comes with a 180Hz sampling rate for better sensitivity.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g gaming
Source – Xiaomi

A display with a faster refresh rate is becoming a de-facto standard feature for premium smartphones. But the Xiaomi Mi 10 falls behind in comparison to the competition. The OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 series both come with a faster 120Hz display. They also come with a better QHD+ display resolution compared to FHD+ on the Mi 10. Having a better display could have made the Xiaomi phone future proof.

Processing and Connectivity

The Xiaomi flagship smartphone comes with a 7nm Snapdragon 865 SoC under the hood. The chipset is 25% faster than last year’s Snapdragon 855 and consumes 25% less power at the same time. To keep the thermal levels low, Xiaomi is also using vapor chamber cooling with the help of graphite layers and graphene. The smartphone comes with up to 12GB RAM LPDDR5 RAM which is again faster and more energy-efficient compared to the previous generation. Along with up to 256GB UFS 3.0 storage, you get better read and write speeds, along with faster app opening times.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g snapdragon 865
Source – Xiaomi

On the connectivity front, the Mi 10 features a Snapdragon X55 5G modem to bring the next-gen connectivity solution. With SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) modes, the Mi 10 supports the Sub-6Ghz network (n1, n3, n41, n78, and n79 bands). The smartphone also includes Wi-Fi 6 connectivity which brings a 270% speed improvement over the previous generation, with maximum speeds of up to 9.6GB/s. It is also more power efficient.

Quad-Cameras with 108MP Main Sensor

In the photography department, the smartphone offers a quad-rear camera setup. The highlight is the primary 108MP camera sensor with f/1.69 aperture and OIS. It is a Samsung sensor with a sensor size of 1/1.33-inch and 1.6μm pixels. Unlike Samsung which is using 9-in-1 Nona-Binning to capture 12MP photos by default, Xiaomi is using 4-in-1 super pixel binning to capture 27MP photos by default.

The primary camera is backed by a 13MP ultra-wide-angle lens with a field of view of 123°. There is also a 2MP macro lens to capture close-up shots and a 2MP depth sensor for portrait shots. For selfies and video calling, you get a 20MP front camera in a hole-punch setup.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g cameras
Source – Xiaomi

The camera setup with a 108MP primary sensor will surely help Xiaomi in positioning. But the one area where it lacks is the telephoto lens with optical and hybrid zoom functionalities. Competitors like the Oppo Find X2 Pro, Huawei P40 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S20-series have zoom functionalities. Xiaomi could have gone with a telephoto lens, instead of giving a macro lens. Sure, the telephoto exists in the Mi 10 Pro, but it is not sold in every global region.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g camera app
Source – Xiaomi

The interesting part of the Mi 10 camera is the app that opens multiple possibilities. It features 8K video recording at 30fps, slow-motion videos at 120fps, a dedicated VLOG mode for YouTubers, and a video portrait mode. There is a pro mode too, which unlocks histogram for videos, focus peaking, metering options, and more. Xiaomi has also included a Movie Mode with 8 classic filters, color focus, real-time background blur, and more.

Ad-Free Android Software

Unlike the Redmi-series that comes with MIUI-based Android skin with ads, the Mi 10 comes with Tier 1 Android experience. Running on Android 10 OS with MIUI 11 skin, the differentiator is where it uses Google applications for core apps such as dialler, messaging, and more. The Xiaomi software also includes goodies like document scanner in the camera app, always-on display, and Mi Remote app that can use the infrared sensor to control your audio/video devices such as TV, AC, DVD player and more.

counterpoint xiaomi mi 10 5g miui
Source – Xiaomi

Fast Charging Battery and Extras

To keep things ticking, the Mi 10 is armed with a 4,780mAh battery with support for 30W fast wired charging, and 30W fast wireless charging. There is also support for reverse wireless charging where you can wirelessly charge other Qi-enabled devices at 10W speed.

Talking about extras, the Xiaomi Mi 10 comes with stereo speakers, where the earpiece doubles as a secondary speaker when playing games, listening to music, or watching videos. What is exciting here is unlike other brands, Xiaomi is using symmetrical “Dual 1216 super-linear speakers,” to offer better stereo experience. The smartphone also supports Hi-Res audio, and LHDC support as well.

Overall, with the Mi 10, Xiaomi has a good device to contest for its share in the ultra-premium segment.

Related Posts

Poco X2 Hits The Sweet Spot With A Fluid Display and Striking Design

The Poco X2 price starts at $215.
It features a 120Hz refresh rate display, first in a mid-tier segment.
The smartphone offers quad-rear cameras and dual front cameras.

The Rise of Poco brand

The Poco F1 was Xiaomi’s one of the most popular smartphones to launch in March 2018 and helped Xiaomi enter the “affordable premium” segment breaking away from the affordable Redmi branded sub-$200 phones. At $280, at the time, it offered the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, with SKUs staggering up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Features include dual rear cameras, fast charging and a front camera with an IR-based biometric face unlock. Those were some of the premium flagship-grade features for a sub-$300 smartphone.

Though the model was popular in India and elsewhere for the “value for money” proposition, the model could have sold well with better hardware design (analysis here) from (Colors, Material & Finish) CMF to the build quality, a bit intrusive on-device ad experience and less stable software. This led Xiaomi to reassess its Pocophone strategy and after a hiatus of almost two years, Xiaomi decided to spin-off Pocophone. So Poco is now operating as an independent brand from product management, P&L, sales and marketing perspective though would potentially share the R&D, supply chain and manufacturing partners with Xiaomi.

Since the spin-off in Feb 2020, Poco announced Poco X2 which shares the same industrial design, specifications, and software with the Redmi K30 that Xiaomi sells in China under the independent Redmi brand. Additionally, the positioning is similar which is to offer more advanced features compared to the traditional rival brands at relatively cheaper price-points. At a starting price of US$215, the Poco X2 offers a 120Hz display refresh rate, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G SoC up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, quad-camera sensor module, and dual front cameras in hole-punch cut-out.

A Lot is Riding on the Poco X2

In 2019, the $135 – $200 retail price band was the fastest-growing segment across key markets such as India, South Asia, parts of Europe. And in 2020, we expect this to shift towards the $200 to $300 price band.

“This segment is going to be the sweet spot as all the major brands are targeting mature users (second and third-time buyers). Companies are focusing on advanced features that were earlier available only in the premium segment which include – better refresh rate displays, premium-grade CMF design, a fast-charging battery and enhanced camera features like quad-camera setup,” said Research Analyst Anshika Jain.

If we look at the $200 to $300 price band, it contributed to almost a 16% share of the total sales in 2019 in India, Xiaomi’s leading market globally. Samsung led this segment with a 31% share, followed by Vivo with 22%, Xiaomi with 15%. This segment is about to see an uptick and Poco will aim to capture significant share with Poco X2.

According to our channel checks, the initial sales response to the Poco X2 in India has been encouraging and could capture an 8-10% share in this segment in the first quarter of 2020 itself. “Poco has launched its X2 smartphone in the Indian market, which has been well received. The Poco X2 become the “highest-rated smartphone on Flipkart just in a short period”, added Research Analyst Anshika Jain.

counterpoint India market share 2019 $200-$300

Can it be a Global Winner?

“The OEM can leverage this initial success and expand in overseas markets like Eastern Europe, especially Russia. Over one-third of the smartphones sold in these markets are in the US $150-$300 price band, and Poco X2 with its heavy specs can set a good value proposition within the same. Xiaomi already has a strong foothold in these regions which can be leveraged by Poco. Expanding their portfolio with Poco X2 can also help the OEM climb the price tiers,” said Research Analyst Varun Mishra.

According to Counterpoint’s, Model Sales Tracker research, almost half of Poco F1’s lifetime global sales came from outside India, from markets like South East Asia, and parts of Europe. With the Poco X2 available at a more affordable price point and attractive specs, it can do even better than the F1 on a global scale.

However, does the Poco X2 deliver when it comes to real-world performance?

Poco X2 Review

We have been testing and using the Poco X2 for more than a couple of weeks, here are some of our first-take observations. There are four key highlights of the smartphone – the standout display, advanced camera setup, fast charging capabilities, and the overall system performance. Additionally, the beautiful gradient design at the back, and that makes it five. But keeping the aesthetics on the side, we will first talk about the core features that make it stand-out and also over-time will influence the buying decision of customers.

counterpoint poco x2 review back

Fluid 120Hz Display

The smartphone display refresh rate is becoming an important feature trickling down from the flagship gaming phones and is slowly penetrating the mainstream models. Xiaomi (& Poco) are the first ones to introduce a 120Hz refresh rate display model at a ~US$200 price point. Although, on an IPS LCD panel, it does the job quite well. The 6.7-inch FHD+ panel is bright, legibility under direct sunlight is good, and the reproduction is quite punchy. It is also HDR10 certified, which makes the content looks lively and fluid on the screen.

counterpoint poco x2 review refresh rate

The 120Hz screen refresh rate makes the Android UI feel smoother and more responsive. You can notice the difference when scrolling through the interface, or when browsing through your favorite webpages. While games will benefit from the high refresh rate, developers will need to add support for the same. With that being said, I didn’t find it to be as fluid as the OnePlus 7T, 7T Pro devices. But then, these devices cost twice as much, or more. But it is commendable what Xiaomi has tried to achieve with Poco X2 at this price point.

counterpoint poco x2 review screen 2

Dependable Cameras

There are six cameras in total, two on the front and four at the rear. The primary sensor at the back is the latest Sony IMX686 sensor with 64MP resolution (analysis here). Poco is using the “Pixel Binning” technique where default photos are shot in a 16MP resolution. But if want to click full resolution photos, you’ll have to manually select the mode from the camera app.

counterpoint poco x2 review rear cameras

Photos shot from the primary camera look good in both day and night lighting conditions. The sensor can capture good details and colors. Below are some camera samples.





Additionally, there is a low-light mode, which uses different exposures and multi-frame algorithms to reduce the noise, and does a great job. You can check the camera samples below.

Poco has also included an 8MP camera into the module with an ultra-wide-angle lens. While it does let you capture more details with a wider frame but the quality takes a bit of hit, where the colors look a bit washed out. The camera sensor array also sports a 2MP depth sensor for portrait shots and a 2MP macro lens for close-up shots. These lenses do a decent job, although software updates can bring further improvements.



2X Zoom

Moving on, Poco is also offering dual front cameras in a hole-punch cut-out. There is a primary 20MP lens, paired with a 2MP depth sensor for bokeh effects.

counterpoint poco x2 review front cameras

When clicking selfies, at times, the AI turns a bit more aggressive, and one can prefer turning it off for some natural shots. But if you don’t mind over smoothening of the skin in your photos, keeping the AI ‘On’ may not be a bad idea.

Performance and Battery Life

Under the hood, you have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G SoC which is built on the 8nm process. The “G” in 730G denotes a gaming-focused chipset. It comes with features like Snapdragon elite gaming, and 15% faster GPU rendering. Qualcomm has also added a Wi-Fi latency monitor to reduce janks and offer a smooth gaming experience. Games like PUBG Mobile run at HD resolution, and high frame rate, but support for HDR isn’t available yet. Further analysis of the Qualcomm 730G can be found here.

What is impressive is the cooling technique that the company is using. Even after playing PUBG Mobile for 30-minutes, the device was barely warm at the back. This is despite the high refresh rate, which is good. Even the battery optimization is good. During this session, the battery drain was barely 8%. I was also watching some content on Netflix, and a 50-minute episode caused the battery drain of 7%.

counterpoint poco x2 review display

Poco has worked hard to optimize battery life. The Poco X2 is armed with a 4,500mAh battery, and support for 27W fast charging. It takes the smartphone’s battery from empty to 100 in about 75 minutes, whereas if you want a quick top-up, half the battery is charged in about 25 minutes.

counterpoint poco x2 review headphone jack

Verdict: Raises the Bar & Value Proposition in the Mid-Tier Segment with Standout Design & Advanced Display.

The Poco X2 offers meaningful features such as 120Hz refresh rate display, and a capable chipset with a good overall performance. Add good cameras and battery performance to the mix, and Poco is addressing the big gap that was left in the segment.

Poco has a winner in hand with the new X2 smartphone. It gets the software, hardware and features combination right. Poco has kickstarted the competition in what we believe will be the fastest-growing category in 2020. The X2 has good potential to help Poco create its mark as an independent brand in the segment, and gain some market share.

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