Poco — the brand that was spun off from Xiaomi in 2020 — is planning to launch a range of smartphones in India this year, an executive revealed to Gadgets 360. The Chinese brand is looking to upgrade its entire lineup in the country and bring more 5G phones to its portfolio by as early as May–June to expand its market presence. To begin with its plans, the brand is launching the Poco M4 Pro 5G as its first model of 2022 in India this week.
Anuj Sharma, Country Director, Poco India, told Gadgets 360 that in the next four months, the brand was planning to refresh its entire set of phones to the fourth generation.
“We're not adding more complexity right now,” he said, adding that the new models will only be a part of the existing Poco F, Poco X, Poco M, and Poco C series.
“We'll definitely have at least one model in each of the series,” he noted.
The last model that Poco introduced in India was the Poco C31 that debuted in September last year. The phone came with a starting price of Rs. 7,999 and offered features including MediaTek Helio G35 SoC as well as triple rear cameras, and a 5,000mAh battery.
In December, it claimed that over three million units of the Poco C series, which comprises the Poco C3 and Poco C31, were sold in the country.
However, Sharma emphasised that continuing to offer an affordable pricing is not that easy nowadays.
“Affordability is going to be tough because if you look back for the last two, three years, at least in the entry level lineup, there isn't too much of an option. Things haven't really changed too much,” he said.
The executive also indicated that while Poco isn't likely to enter any new affordable price segments in the market, it would bring some of its new models that would be close to the Rs. 30,000 pricing.
“I will probably breach the price points that we had on the Poco F3 GT and go up a bit more, but may not be a massive step, because I don't really want to put a shock to the system suddenly,” he stated.
The Poco F3 GT was launched in India at an initial price of Rs. 26,999.
“We will continue on longer life cycles, longer than the industry life cycles. I don't think that will change,” Sharma said.
On Tuesday, Poco is set to launch the Poco M4 Pro 5G in the country. The phone debuted in Europe in November.
Sharma said that Poco made the M4 Pro 5G for both European and Indian markets, but the launch in India was delayed as the brand initially projected to have enough supplies of its existing models until January.
The ongoing supply chain shortages of various components also pushed fresh supplies for Poco.
“We had a small portfolio; we doubled our volumes and yet we ran out of most models by Diwali. So, November, December, and January had been fairly lean for us,” he said.
Poco believes that it has fixed its forecasting mistakes this time, the executive suggested.
New 5G Poco phones are on way
Poco already has the M3 Pro and the F3 GT as two of its existing 5G models. The M4 Pro 5G is indeed the next in the lineup. Nevertheless, Poco is set to bring more 5G phones this year.
Sharma told Gadgets 360 that since the government in its Budget 2022 confirmed the 5G spectrum auction plans, demand for 5G would go up.
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“Now, I think it makes a lot more sense to have 5G phones. And we'll definitely do that,” he said.
He added that there would be a challenge in balancing the overall portfolio between 4G and 5G technologies.
Going beyond phones is a key priority
In addition to phones, Poco has long been in the headlines for working on truly wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds. It even in 2020 announced that the earbuds would be called the Poco Pop Buds. However, the offering didn't make it to the market.
Sharma told Gadgets 360 that TWS earbuds were still on the cards. However, exact details on when the earbuds would debut are still not clear.
“From a team perspective, one of our key priorities for 2022 is to go beyond phones,” said Sharma. “I don't want to say anything, saying that we'll definitely do it because we've been trying to do it for the last, I think, five quarters. And we've basically run into roadblocks, mostly internally saying that we don't like it, or this is not really hitting that particular threshold.”
Last year, Poco also launched its community that it claimed to help get direct feedback from its customers and improve the experience. Sharma said that the community initially existed in beta and reached its stable stage just last month, though it added 300 people who are actively contributing on the feedback side.
Poco has also established a camera lab in India to start giving localised camera experiences to users.
“It's important because you know if you've got a darker skin tone, even in broad daylight, sometimes devices struggle with what should be the exposure value of the person. And how do you balance it out with the background? So, all of those aspects are just one part of it that we are looking at,” Sharma said.
He also noted that both the community and the camera lab will work together to improve the experience and make it more useful for Indian users.
In the recent past, Poco faced complaints over rolling out a malfunctioning update that deteriorated user experience. The brand had acknowledged the problem and said that the issue impacted only 0.2 percent of the Poco X2 units it sold in the country. However, several consumers reported its impact online.
The launch of the community is likely to help Poco fix such issues in the future. But nonetheless, the software side that Poco uses on its phones is still handled natively by Xiaomi's MIUI team. We may, thus, have to wait and watch on how establishing the community could be helpful in improving the experience.
Poco X2 Users Complaining About Camera, Touch, Slower Charging Problems After Updating
Market experts are optimistic on the growth of Poco in India.
IDC India Research Director Navkendar Singh told Gadgets 360 that Poco as the brand had found good appeal with its smaller lineup, fresh brand identity, and spec-heavy devices.
“Considering the intense competition in the market where the top 5 are so dominant, Poco has been able to carve a decent mindshare in the below Rs. 20,000 segment,” he said.
Similar to Singh, Faisal Kawoosa, Founder of market research and consulting firm Techarc said that Poco had built up a fine brand equity and product positioning. He, however, noted that it was one such brand that was affected since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.
“Now, going in expansion mode makes all the sense and it can capitalise on its strengths,” he stated.