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POCO is a sub-brand of Xiaomi company, that delivers an exceptional flagship-level performance but at a relatively affordable price.It has always been proud of how much more performance bang for your buck you’re getting with its various handsets. They recently launched the Poco X3 Pro, debuting a flagship-grade chipset with a flagship design.
And we’re here to really put this claim to the test in an in-depth look that we are experiencing by using the X3 Pro day in and day out for an extended period of time.
With everything that the phone is packing, is it the best phone in its range? Let’s find out in this review of the POCO X3 Pro.
Look & Feel:
The POCO X3 pro is a relatively large and bulkier phone as compared to other compact smartphones. The Poco X3 pro with its Glass front and a premium-looking plastic back make you feel like it could be glass due to its new finish, thus making it look like a premium smartphone.
This smartphone always makes you aware of its presence either in your pocket or in your hands with its bulkier body weighing 215grams and 9.4mm in thickness, and thus you may not be comfortable using it for a very long time especially if your hands are relatively small.
Poco x3 pro comes with two color options, Frost blue which is more vibrant, and Phantom Black which is more subtle and classic.
The camera island in Poco x3 is very unique – we haven’t seen something like it on any other smartphone before, though it may look like a more polished version of One plus 7t’s camera but it’s totally different. In a world filled with left-aligned vertical camera bumps, this one goes its own way, and because it’s centered, it means the phone actually doesn’t wobble when you’re trying to type, and it’s sitting on a desk.
The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 6 which is newer and supposedly better than the Gorilla Glass 5. The Screen takes up most of the area with a small but noticeable punch-hole camera in the middle. It’s a design of the modern smartphones and looks alike other smartphones of today’s world. If you look closely then, you would find a chin slightly bigger than other bezels, due to the LCD display.
A side-mounted fingerprint sensor is present in the Poco X3 which is directly integrated into the power button. This combination of the fingerprint sensor with the power button makes it incredibly accurate and reliable. In the poco x3 pro, there were no issues in about 95% of the cases. That’s a huge improvement, and the X3 Pro’s fingerprint sensor is almost on par with the Poco F3’s, which so far is the best side-mounted scanner we’ve ever used in a phone that we reviewed long-term. It is right now the second-best side-mounted one we’ve used in a phone we reviewed long-term.
In Settings, you can pick whether to unlock the phone upon touch or a press of the button, and we always go with the latter option because it makes accidental unlocks while taking the phone out of a pocket much less likely. It also somehow feels more natural to press the button in order to turn on the screen, and the fact that this also unlocks the phone is a nice cherry on top.
Poco x3 pro is equipped 6.67 inches RealityFlow 120Hz Full HD+ IPS LCD screen that is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 6. It uses the familiar resolution of 1,080 x 2,400 pixels(395ppi) that supports HDR10, 120Hz refresh rate, and 240Hz touch sampling rate.
It being an LCD panel means it comes with the disadvantages of that technology compared to OLEDs and AMOLED i.e., lesser blacks and some backlight bleed. These are inescapable because of the tech, so you need to keep them in mind.
Since this isn’t the brightest LCD, it will struggle when exposed to direct bright sunlight. You can just about barely make out what’s on the screen, but it doesn’t make for a very good experience. But, indoors where you’re not in direct sunlight though, brightness levels aren’t a problem at all.
Another slight hassle is that you may have to constantly adjust the brightness manually since the auto-brightness curve isn’t very good, constantly favoring a darker look than we’d like. This is especially prone to happening in dimly lit environments, where the screen constantly wants to go to the minimum brightness – and that is, in fact, incredibly low.
This is a praiseworthy thing, in our opinion, because it makes using the phone in pitch darkness much less eye-straining than we’ve recently seen from a lot of OLED panels, especially the ones that aren’t on flagship phones. This LCD can go darker than all of those, but the fact that the phone wants to do that even when there is still some dim lighting around you is annoying, as it’s dim enough to be barely legible in such conditions.
We’re not sure whether the software auto-brightness curve is to blame here, it may just be that the ambient light sensor isn’t very good, or that the Poco X3 Pro is missing a second ambient light sensor on the back. We’ve gotten used to Xiaomi / Redmi / Poco phones all packing such a secondary sensor, and this device definitely doesn’t seem to – or if it has one, then it’s not using it very well.
As with any other Xiaomi / Redmi / Poco phone released recently, there’s a good deal of customization you can apply to colors, with three presets of which the default, called Vivid, should automatically adjust colors based on the content displayed.
Additionally, for every preset, you can pick between three color temperature presets or go custom and choose your own from the color wheel provided. While this isn’t as much customization as we’ve seen on some other phones with OLED panels, it should still do the job for most people.
Speakers & Vibration motor:
Poco X3 pro comes with a set of stereo speakers which isn’t the best sounding ones, but they are definitely the best that comes around the price range with other features. But the mere fact that it has dual speakers at its price point is to be commended.
In terms of loudness, while these are certainly nowhere near the loudest, we’ve ever heard, we also never felt the need for more volume – but you might, especially if you want to use them in crowded, noisy environments. Otherwise, they’re perfectly adequate in their volume range, in our subjective opinion.
A similar can be said about its vibration motor, it isn’t the best vibration motor that we have seen but at this price range it isn’t bad either. So, while we can’t praise the vibration motor per se, we can be happy about the fact that it’s not bad – there definitely are worse ones in phones at this price point.
Poco x3 wi-fi’s isn’t the best either, we’ve had constant issues with stuff not loading when connected to our 5GHz network in specific spots where almost all other phones can hold onto the signal with absolutely no issue. While the phone says it’s connected to Wi-Fi, showing about 50% signal, but data exchange doesn’t take place. The only remedy is to turn off the Wi-Fi and again turn it on. So, it’s an issue that needs to be improved.
Bluetooth connectivity is a decent one with the reconnection to paired devices success rate going on between 85%-90%. This has traditionally been an issue with cheaper phones, and more manual reconnects are required. The Poco X3 Pro is doing well in this regard, while there is still definitely some room for improvement.
Though Poco x3 pro holds an Lcd display, it has redeemed itself with its 120hz refresh rate. So, while you sacrifice the deep blacks and punchy colors that AMOLEDs are known for and some sunlight legibility, you get a refresh rate that’s on par with every mainstream non-gaming flagship out there. That may well be a worthy tradeoff for you – it is in our book when factoring in the price, of course.
The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the phone gets. With its 12oHz refresh rate, the phone looks much smoother than others at this price range but it is not as adaptable which can be understood at a lower price range.
The refresh rate of the device can be set by changing it in the setting section where you can set it to either 60Hz or 120Hz. You of course will select the 120 Hz ones but it may seem like a nice 120Hz display, small lags are still present. Ghosting is a major issue that has to be faced in this kind of price ranged smartphone.
Thankfully though, the Poco X3 Pro does unlock the full 120 Hz to many popular games, making your gaming experience better, which is a nice thing for dedicated gamers.
Software version and updates:
The Poco X3 Pro runs MIUI 12.5 on top of Android 11 and has received the update to MIUI 12.5.6, which has supposedly changed a lot of under-the-hood stuff in order to make the user experience smoother and even less prone to random bugs. This new MIUI12 has been the best MIUI skin on top of android 11.
At the moment of writing, our global variant Poco X3 Pro review unit is on MIUI version 12.5.6 (SJUINXM), with the December 1, 2021 security patch level.
MIUI’s gesture navigation system is still one of the best out there, and today it’s probably the best-optimized one on any Android phone. Xiaomi’s developers have been doing a lot of under-the-hood, behind-the-scenes work to make gestures feel more instant and more natural, and that has panned out in MIUI 12.5.6 (and things should be further improved whenever that Enhanced build hits the Poco X3 Pro).
There’s less perceived gesture lag in this phone than we’ve had in some flagships from other companies, and that’s an amazing feat. As before, MIUI ignores Google’s convoluted way of dealing with slide-out navigation drawers in apps and applies a much simpler solution: when you swipe from the side in the top third of the screen, you trigger that – otherwise, you go back.
New Control Center:
What hasn’t been kept from the Poco X3 Pro’s MIUI 12.5 build is the new Control Center. This splits the notification area in two – if you swipe down from the left side, you get notifications and only notifications, no Quick Settings; and if you swipe down from the right, then you get the new Control Center, which looks eerily like Apple’s.
You still have the choice to go with the traditional Android way of doing things, which gives you notifications and Quick Settings upon swiping down from anywhere. When the new Control Center came out, we used that a lot, but recently we decided to go back to the 2-in-1 approach, but we can’t really say we favor one of these over the other in any substantial fashion. The nice thing is that neither is forced upon you, so you can try both and see what works best for you.
This is the division where no other smartphones in this price range can compete with the Poco X3 pro. Poco X3 pro comes with a Snapdragon 860 chipset which is a beast on performance. Very less smartphones are equipped with this chipset Thus, making X3 pro a performance beast.
Snapdragon 860 is the renamed version of the 855 chipset which was the flagship chipset of Qualcomm in 2019. Sure, that’s two years ago, but a flagship SoC is still a flagship SoC – and you can definitely feel this on the Poco X3 Pro. It’s miles ahead of the competition in performance and speed, so much so that it’s not even funny. This phone feels like it’s on an entirely different level.
So, that’s a huge win for Poco X3 Pro. Obviously, the Snapdragon 860 can’t touch the Snapdragon 870 in the Poco F3, but it’s closer to that than it is to the Snapdragon 720/732 class, for what it’s worth. Of course, it’s also missing 5G support, which may or may not be relevant to you depending on where you live and how much you care about better mobile speeds. The 870 does have 5G, but the 720/732 doesn’t, so if we’re comparing the Poco X3 Pro to phones with those 4G chipsets, it’s a clear winner on all fronts when it comes to performance and sheer speed.
Smoothness is similarly much improved, too, while not reaching the levels seen in phones with the Snapdragon 870. The Poco X3 Pro is a big step forward in smoothness compared to Redmi Note 10 Pro, but it’s still not as smooth as the Poco F3. There are random stutters and lags here and there – not constantly, and much less than we saw on the Redmi Note 10 Pro, but they’re still present from time to time.
The 120 Hz screen refresh rate and 240 Hz touch sampling rate obviously help with the perceived smoothness, but this 120 Hz doesn’t exactly feel like the 120 Hz on a Mi 11, for example. Some of that difference is down to the Mi 11’s better touch sampling, surely – maybe all of it, even. We’re not saying 120 Hz on the Poco X3 Pro doesn’t feel smooth enough, it certainly does for this price class, but don’t expect it to feel identical to 120 Hz on a high-end 2021 flagship. There’s still a difference, even if the numbers are the same. Though, with all the differences in this price range, Poco X3pro is a real beast in performance measures.
Poco x3 pro comes with a beefy 5160mAh battery and that’s equally fair by looking at its flagship SoC which drains a hefty chunk of power. We still managed to get around 6-7 hours of screen on time on a regular basis which is pretty good as this is above average battery life.
considering the added performance you’re getting, and the fact that even these numbers are very good for this day and age. They’re not record-breaking, for sure, but we’d wager a guess that most people would be able to go through a day without needing a top-up, even those with a more intensive use case than ours.
The phone charges at 33W and goes from zero to full in around an hour, which given the size of the battery, is a great feat. And, as you’d imagine by the price point, there’s no wireless charging here but still, it is pretty good taking into consideration its price point.
There isn’t much emphasis on the X3 Pro’s cameras; no fancy 108MP sensor here and that’s not surprising. What you get is a quad-camera setup consisting of a 48MP wide, an 8MP ultrawide, a 2MP depth, and a 2MP macro. The only one that takes good images, though, is the primary one. Surprise, surprise.
While I’m not sure how much the flagship-level ISP of the Snapdragon 860 is responsible for this, the images from the 48MP camera are pretty good in daylight scenarios. There’s some really good dynamic range on display and details are plenty. It even did a respectable job with edge detection while taking portraits. Color reproduction is on the saturated side, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Night mode shots are decent, but the Poco X3 reduces noise so aggressively that it can fuzz details.
The ultrawide can take some usable shots, but images lack sharpness, and there’s a color temperature disparity. For what it’s worth, there is a dedicated night mode for the ultrawide (which most Poco and Redmi phones don’t have) that does deliver a slightly better image. The macro sensor is borderline unusable, and you’ll have to take a ton of photos to get a single serviceable shot from it.
Poco x3 pro has a 20 MP front camera that clicks nice photos during daytime, with decent amounts of detail, good colors, and very good contrast. Using Portrait Mode for selfies isn’t great, since the subject separation could be much better, but the blur looks okay – still artificial, but not horribly so. At night the shots clicked are produced with a lot of softness and noise, predictably, and the colors aren’t entirely accurately reproduced either.
As for videos, the primary sensor is capped to take 4K@30fps videos even though the processor does support 4K@60fps and we still don’t know why it is like that. There’s no OIS here, and although EIS is present, it does a very mediocre job at delivering shake-free videos. There is a stabilization video mode but it limits videos to 1080p@30fps. If you really care about taking good videos with your smartphone, the Poco X3 Pro is surely not the best phone in its segment.
Should You buy it or not???
If all you care about is performance, the Poco X3 Pro is the most powerful phone in its segment the Snapdragon 860 along with 8GB of DDR4x RAM and UFS 3.1 storage help clinch this title easily. Features like a powerful stereo speaker setup, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a cooling system, and a high refresh rate display further improve the gaming experience. So, from that point of view of offering the most performance bang for your buck, Poco has done it again, and it’s definitely the best smartphone for its price point.
However, if you are a camera-centric person and you care more about the photos that it takes than the performance then, it isn’t the best phone that you can get at this price. Poco x3 pro’s camera performance is middling and if you have an X3 Pro-like budget but the camera image quality is of the utmost importance to you, then you’ll be much better served by the Redmi Note 10 Pro while sacrificing some performance and smoothness in the process.
The Poco X3 Pro is a mid-range phone all-around, with one standout feature – the chipset, and thus, the performance. In this sense, the X3 Pro is very much the successor to the F1 that we’d all been waiting for. But just like the F1, this definitely isn’t the phone for everyone. The decent display, the chunkiness, and the average camera performance take away some points. If these things matter to you, the Redmi Note 10 Pro (AKA the Note 10 Pro Max in India), the Moto G60, or the Realme 8 Pro may be far more suitable for you. But if power is all you’re hungry for, there’s enough for you to chew on here.