The ridiculously inexpensive Poco Pods were supposed to launch sometime in 2020. Fast forward to 2023 and the Poco Pods are finally here. Priced at ₹1,199, these Poco Pods are meant for consumers foraying into the world of TWS earbuds for the first time.
This is Poco’s first attempt into expanding its ecosystem and the Poco Pods share a lot in common with the Redmi 4 Active. The Poco Pods’ spec sheet is hardly believable given the price. There’s the 12mm drivers, Bluetooth 5.3, Google Fast Pair support, fast charging, and up to 30 hours of playback. All for less than ₹1,500.
It is Poco’s first pair of TWS earbuds and, therefore, consumers must be cautioned. Here's our detailed review.
The box doesn’t scream anything premium. There are just three things inside the box. The Poco Pods earbuds with a charging case, eartips (you get small and large sizes) and a user manual.
The Poco Pods seem familiar upon first look. That’s because they borrow heavily from the Redmi Buds 4 Active, which I reviewed for Lounge recently. There’s the oval-shaped charging case, the plastic body and the strip covering the circumference of the case. There’s the signature yellow-coloured Poco branding on the front of the case and the click is satisfying. Inside the case, you can find two stem-shaped earbuds. Once again, there’s no pairing button, and nothing is premium about these buds.
The case, and the buds themselves, are more vibrant, thanks to the yellow hues, which is something one can appreciate. The whole package is lightweight and pocketable. There’s a USB type-C port at the bottom for charging purposes. One cost-covering measure that Poco has employed is to not include a charging cable. Consumers will be displeased with this move, especially first-time buyers.
The Pods (as I’ll refer to henceforth) weigh just 3.6 grams for each earbud. The case comes in at 41 grams. Overall, the stem design provides for a comfortable fit and the earbuds didn’t give any indication that they’d fall out during my two weeks of testing, even during physical activities such as running. The Pods are IPX4 rated, which means they are sweat and splashproof resistant.
If you know what you’re getting with the Poco Pods, and you are the target consumer, then you shouldn’t be very disappointed. The 12mm drivers are well-tuned, given the price point. They’re most suited for bass lovers - with the lower frequencies boosted - as they offer a satisfying thump that others in this category don’t. There’s a bit of loss in the quality of the sound in the mid-range and high-frequencies, but for the most part, your daily songs - the pop chartbusters - will sound just fine.
If you’re looking to decipher the many instruments on an iconic jazz track like Take Five, then you’re far from the ideal consumer for these products (meaning, any in this segment). There’s also no support for an equaliser, but that’s not a surprise.
The call quality is very much acceptable, for short calls. Just don’t rely on the Environmental Noise Cancellation (ENC)-enabled calls, for something like a long work meeting. ENC, as some say, is a budget version of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). ENC helps filter out the background noise, supposedly helping to make the user’s voice more audible. For me, the ENC feature was practically useless, as I noticed no difference.
There are touch-sensitive areas for controls on the earbuds. The Poco Pods lack any app support, which means that the controls are non-customisable. There’s the usual, play and pause, skip to the next track, activate or disable low-latency mode and some others.
It’s fairly easy to learn and use, but the lack of customisation is frustrating. The touch works fairly well, but at times, you have to tap a few times to get the desired result.
The Poco Pods feature a 440mAh battery in the charging case and a 34mAh battery in each earbud. The company says the Pods offer up to 5 hours of standalone playback and 30 hours of combined playback. During my use, I managed closer to four hours before the earbuds started to give way.
Charging the case is quite slow as it takes almost two hours to fully charge. A 10-minute charge provides 70 minutes of playback time. It’s just about satisfactory.
There are a plethora of budget-oriented TWS earbuds in today’s market. For under ₹1,500, you can get TWS earbuds from boAt, Redmi (a sub-brand of Xiaomi), Poco, Boult and others. The only ones worth it are the Redmi Buds 4 Active and the Poco Pods.
These two are straightforward, no-frills, trustworthy choices. The Poco Pods may be a first generation but they do a good enough job to be a worthy option when shopping for TWS earbuds. They have a good in-ear fit, matte finish, and yellow hues, and even come with a gaming mode. Audio quality is above average for this segment. Finally, thanks to Bluetooth 5.3, the Poco Pods offer good connectivity.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts at @IMSahilBhalla.