REVIEW | Poco X3 smartphone

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One of the most promising new smartphones released in late 2020 is the Poco X3 from Xiaomi. Not only does it have solid specs that are flagship worthy, but it also includes a 120Hz display. Further sweetening the package is its P12,990 pricing, placing it in the mid-range territory, which its specs absolutely aren’t.

We spent a month with this device, flexed its camera muscle, and gave it an all-around workout. Keep reading to see how it fared.

Design and Ergonomics

The Poco X3 is a massive phone; probably owing to its 6.67-inch display and hefty battery. Its rear is plastic but has a premium smooth and shiny finish. It feels substantial to hold, and the Poco branding on the rear of the Shadow Grey test unit looked good.

Box contents include:

  • A 33W fast-charger
  • Some documentation
  • The pin to eject the SIM tray
  • A clear case
  • And the phone unit

There are no buttons on the left, with the power and volume rocker being on the right. Due to its larger dimensions, for one-handed use, it’s hard to reach the volume rocker. The camera bump is considerable, but centered; so there is no rocking.

At the bottom are a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB Type-C port, and a bottom-firing speaker. At the top, there is a small hole for a secondary speaker that facilitates stereo mode. When watching videos or listening to music, the rear panel vibrates, further creating a tactile sense to the sound. This is an interesting feature that adds to an immersive user experience.

The screen is 6.67 inch, 1080p resolution, 120Hz refresh, and supports HDR10. It’s covered with Gorilla Glass 5 and uses an IPS LCD panel. As with such panels, off-angel viewing does slightly dim the viewing experience, but it’s no biggie. At this price-point and segment, this is likely the best screen offering on the market.

Specs and Performance

At the heart of the Poco X3 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G; though a mid-range SoC, it’s an amply specked octa-core that handled gaming with ease. This device is undoubtedly aimed at gamers, and affords them quite the package, given the 6GB of memory, 128GB of storage, Adreno 618 GPU, and previously mentioned high-refresh screen.

Those solid specs coupled with the 120Hz screen made for a very snappy user experience; the screen’s fluidity making it more pronounced. The power button has a built-in fingerprint scanner, which is also snappy.

Battery and Charging

With such high-end specs under the hood, it’s important to provide a good battery backup, and the Poco X3 does not disappoint, packing a 5160 mAh unit. Also included is a 33-watt fast-charger which helps juice up the device in no time. Thirty minutes gets you beyond 60%, while an hour beyond 96%.

Below is the charge matrix, starting from 1%.

  • 10 Minutes – 22%
  • 15 Minutes – 34%
  • 30 Minutes – 61%
  • 45 Minutes – 82%
  • 60 Minutes – 96%
  • 67 Minutes – 99%
  • 75 Minutes – 99%
  • 83 Minutes – 100%

With some gaming and moderate use, the device easily lasted a day; light use may even last you two days. So again, this phone should serve gamers well!

Software and User Experience

The Poco X3 ships with Android 10 and MIUI 12. While the phone does come with some bloatware, thankfully you can uninstall some unwanted Google apps, and games. Xiaomi apps like the Mi browser cannot be removed though.

The user interface does include some passive advertising, but the implementation is based on the region. Reviewers in the UK complained of additional ad screens, but thankfully the unit in the Philippines is a lot less obtrusive. While some suggested ads do appear in tools like the device cleaner app, it does not add unnecessary clicks or degrade the user experience.

Nice inclusions are UI privacy features such as prompts to remove meta-data from photos being shared. Similarly, the long screenshots or scrolling screenshot is also very useful.

Camera and Optics

The quad-camera setup on the Poco X3 is quite competent, thanks to an impressive 64-megapixel primary camera. The 13-megapixel ultrawide camera is also good. As always, both the 2-megapixel cameras for depth-sensing and macro are gimmicky and there just to satisfy the quad-camera marketing rights. At the front is an equally competent 20-megapixel selfie camera.

Jumping straight into the primary camera, it’s quite a performer. Photos had vibrant colors as well as impressive detail. Pictures taken with good lighting ensured great results; be it food photography or landscape snaps the camera did not disappoint. Even on dull cloudy days, we managed to capture good colors and reflection, and lighting in water.

Changing gears and taking pictures after sun-down, again resulted in good night pictures. The same color prowess and reflections in the water were present. Pictures captured were brighter than visible to the naked eye. Going a step further, shooting with the Night Mode preset allowed for hand-held long exposure, which gathered a lot of light.

Day vs. Night
Taken without Night Mode
Taken with Night Mode
Without Night Mode vs. With Night Mode

Where the camera was noticeably weaker versus flagship offerings was when taking subjects with limited light in the scene. For example, pictures of building with lights on at night were great, but focusing on an object in a dimly lit living room was poor.

The Selfie camera is a 20-megapixel unit, and features Beauty Mode; there are both color preset filters as well as sliders to adjust smoothness, eye size, and a slender structure. The results were good. The software also allows some Beauty effects to be applied to previously taken photos, but these are more like lighting, and saturations presets on Instagram.

Selfie

Value and Competition

Honestly speaking, there is very little in terms of competition to directly rival this device at its P12,990 pricing. Not to mention it being regularly available at a promo price of P10,990. 

In a similar price category is the Samsung Galaxy M31, the Realme 6 Pro, and Vivo V17. But all of them are lesser than the Poco X3 in some way. Even Xiaomi’s own Redmi Note 9 Pro Max though very similar, lacks a few inclusions present on the Poco X3.

Conclusion

A lot of impressive devices have been released in 2020, making the mid-range segment very exciting. So much so that very little has been left to flagship devices. But no single device has offered a package as well rounded and as capable as the Poco X3. It is hands down the best all-around phone, with no-compromise performance, in the mid-range segment.

It’s great for gamers, has the unique inclusion of a 120Hz display, while packing all the perquisites like plenty of memory, a huge battery, and an impressive camera.  Albeit for some unique low-light situations, the 64-megapixel primary camera really shines. Be warned that the Poco X3 device is big, and ergonomics aren’t the best for one-handed use.

  • Model: M2007J20CG
  • Price:  P12,990 (regularly on promo at 10,990)
  • Verdict: Simply the best mid-range phone to own

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