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POCO F3 GT review: come for the design, stay for the performance

Back in August 2018, POCO made its debut with the POCO F1 affordable flagship. The brand has launched several M and X series smartphones over the past year, but POCO fans in India have long been demanding a successor to the iconic POCO F1. The brand did launch POCO F2 Pro globally but it didn’t hit the Indian shores, considering it wasn’t really a value-for-money offering that would live up to the F1’s reputation.

Also read: OnePlus Nord CE 5G review: back to basics

It took three years, but POCO has finally launched its second F-series smartphone in the country called POCO F3 GT. The new launch carries forward the F1’s legacy, but unlike its predecessor that focused solely only on flagship performance, the F3 GT is an all-around package that adds a stunning design, long-lasting battery life and fast charging to the mix, among other features. I have been using the POCO F3 GT for over a week now and here are my thoughts on the latest POCO launch.

Design and display

  • 161.9 x 76.9 x 8.3mm, 205g
  • 6.67-inch Turbo AMOLED, Full HD+, 120Hz refresh rate, 1,300nits, up to 480Hz touch sampling rate, 10-bit display, HDR 10+, DC dimming, Sunlight Screen Support

The POCO F3 GT is available in Gunmetal Silver and Predator Black colours. If you like loud gaming aesthetics with a design that turns heads, the Gunmetal Silver variant is a perfect choice. On the other hand, if you’re like me and prefer a more subdued design, you’ll love the stealthy Predator Black option.

The POCO F3 GT is also the first smartphone from the brand to sport a glass sandwich design, which imparts a premium hand-feel to the phone. While the POCO F3 GT is chunkier and heavier than the competition at 8.3mm and 205g, it doesn’t feel unwieldy, thanks to the even weight distribution and curved back panel. Moreover, the matte finish on my Predator Black unit was bullet-proof against fingerprint smudges, which is a huge plus.

Let’s talk about what POCO is calling Slipstream Design and little details that showcase the gamer DNA of the smartphone. Starting with the back panel, the camera module and the accompanying LED flash stands out the most. POCO has integrated RGB glow indicator lights in the pill-shaped triple camera module, which are subtle and can be tuned to turn on when playing games or for notification from apps.

The dual-LED flash module is shaped like a thunderbolt, which lends a unique personality to the smartphone. Other details include two stripes running along the center of the back panel with POCO branding in the middle and induction coil-like stripes on the sides. Long story short, the POCO F3 GT is one of the best-looking offerings in this price segment.

Coming to the buttons and ports, the bottom edge houses the dual nano-SIM tray, USB Type-C port, and a speaker grille. You’ll find another speaker grille on top, which completes the dual stereo speaker system on the handset. The left edge is home to volume buttons and on the right, you’ll find the fingerprint scanner embedded into the power button, and gaming trigger buttons on top and bottom. The fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate, so is facial recognition.

Of course, the headlining feature here are the GT buttons, which bring up the maglev triggers when toggled. These shoulder triggers are quite tactile but have a bit of a wobble when you are actively engaging them during the gameplay. I love the fact that you can hide the trigger buttons simply by sliding the GT toggle keys but I would have preferred a single toggle instead of one each for the triggers. Additionally, I couldn’t justify the presence of the trigger buttons since there is a noticeable delay in response when using them, and I preferred the response time offered by the display’s 480Hz touch sampling rate. Perhaps more seasoned gamers would appreciate these triggers but for me, it was more of a novelty than a utility.

Speaking of the 480Hz touch sampling rate offered by the POCO F3 GT, the smartphone is also the first from the brand to feature a 120Hz AMOLED panel. The 6.67-inch panel comes with FHD+ screen resolution and 1,300 nits peak brightness. The display is a delight to say the least, it gets plenty bright outside and has good viewing angles as well as colour production. The WideVine L1 certification and HDR10+ compliance are an added bonus. During my stint with the handset, I binge-watched Navarasa and American Horror Stories 2021, which were a delight to watch on this panel. The screen is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 5.

As for audio, the POCO F3 GT is missing the 3.5mm audio jack but the brand is providing a 3.5mm to Type-C dongle in the box. The dual stereo speakers on the phone are plenty loud for media consumption on the go. The speakers come with support for Dolby Atmos, Hi-Res Audio, and Hi-Res Audio Wireless, which is a plus.

Cameras

  • Rear: 64-megapixel sensor (main), 8-megapixel sensor (ultra-wide), 2-megapixel sensor (macro
  • Front: 16-megapixel sensor

The POCO F3 GT has a triple camera array on the back panel with a 64-megapixel f/1.65 primary unit, which could be the OmniVision OV64B sensor. The primary lens is accompanied by an 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide lens and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. On the front, the POCO F3 GT has a 16-megapixel selfie unit housed within a tiny punch-hole cutout.

The camera interface is pretty standard with a pro, video, photo, portrait, and more options at the bottom, which can be navigated by swiping on the viewfinder. There are toggles for flash, HDR, AI scene recognition, filters, and Google Lens on top. The camera app is loaded with features like 64MP mode, Magic Clone, Freeze Frame Clone, AI Beautify, Night Mode, Tilt-Shift, and others, which can be accessed from the More option on the viewfinder.

For video, there are Dual video, Movie frame, VLOG Mode, AI video colour focus, AI portrait, AI beautify, Macro, Track moving object, Time-lapse, and 960fps Slow Motion video.

While the camera setup of the POCO F3 GT looks impressive on paper, I was a little disappointed with the actual performance. At first glance, the pictures taken during the daytime appear to be good but as you pixel-peep, several issues present themselves. One of the most glaring issues was the oversharpening of the images, due to which a lot of details are lost and pictures appear noisy. On the bright side, I found the colours to be attractive, which further look more appealing if the Pro Colour mode is turned on.

Wide
1X
2X
5X
10X
Pro Colour Off
Pro Colour On
Night Mode Off
Night Mode On
Close Up
Macro
64MP Mode
Rear Portrait
Selfie Portrait

Coming to the dedicated lenses, the 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens is plagued by the same issues as the primary lens. Moreover, the camera tends to crush details in shadows. As for the macro lens, like every other 2-megapixel macro shooter, it clicks average shots and the better option would be to use the primary camera and zoom into the subject. The lowlight shots are also plagued by the lack of detail and the dedicated night mode tends to oversharpen the frame. However, credit where its due, the night mode does boost exposure in the shots.

The 16-megapixel selfie camera clicks social media-worthy pictures but just like the primary camera, it’s plagued with over sharpness. Having said that, the camera does capture realistic colours and offers good edge-detection in portrait mode.

Performance, software, and battery

  • Android 11 with POCO launcher
  • MediaTek Dimensity 1200 with ARM G77 MC9
  • 6GB + 128GB, 8GB + 128GB, 8GB + 256GB
  • 5,065mAh battery, 67W fast charging

The POCO F3 GT is the first gaming phone from the brand and as such the onus is upon the performance of the handset. Spec-wised, the POCO F3 GT has the MediaTek flagship, Dimensity 1200 SoC under the hood. The processor is backed by either 6GB or 8GB LPDDR4X RAM. Depending on whether you choose the former or latter, you’ll get 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, respectively. There’s a provision to expand the internal storage as well.

In day to day performance, the POCO F3 GT is a capable smartphone. It handled multitasking like a champ with multiple apps open in the background. Thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate and the powerful processor, I didn’t experience a single stutter during my stint with the smartphone. However, switch to the gaming lane and I was left desiring more.

I am not saying that the gaming experience was bad. The POCO F3 GT opened BGMI with Ultra frame rates and HDR graphics (40fps) by default. During our BGMI test, we had the frame rate set at Smooth with Extreme graphics and the game played in 60fps frame rate throughout the session. In comparison, the Realme X7 Max 5G —powered by the same Dimensity 1200 SoC— can achieve 90fps gameplay in similar settings. That being said, the gameplay was good on the POCO F3 GT and the 480Hz touch sampling rate adds to the overall responsiveness in the game. Perhaps POCO will bring 90fps gameplay with a future update.

Coming to the Maglev Triggers, they can be mapped to any two points on the screen, which I set to fire and sprint in BGMI. As I mentioned before, the response time was slightly slower than the on-screen triggers.

The POCO F3 GT boots the latest MIUI 12.5.4 OS with POCO Launcher on top of Android 11. You get a wide array of goodies with the interface like third-party icon packs support, Always-On Display, Second Space, Floating Windows, Super Wallpapers, and more. On the flip side, you do get the usual set of bloatware but most of these apps can be removed to free up resources. I particularly like the absence of any sort of ads and pesky notifications on the smartphone.

The POCO F3 GT is powered by a massive 5,065mAh battery with support for 67W fast charging. On a full charge with the refresh rate set to 120Hz, the smartphone easily saw me through the day, even with heavy usage. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the SOT of almost 13 hours with more than 10 hours of binge-watching when the refresh rate was set to 60Hz. The 67W fast charger bundled with the smartphone can juice up the battery from zero to 100 percent in just an hour.

Bottomline

The POCO F3 GT is priced at Rs 26,999 for the base variant and goes up to Rs 30,999 for the top-end model. At the end of the day, POCO F3 GT is a capable smartphone with stunning aesthetics, good battery backup, clean software and good day-to-day performance. However, it falls short when it comes to camera and gaming performance.

Serious mobile gamers can opt for the iQOO 7 5G (review), which is slightly more expensive than the top variant of the POCO F3 GT at Rs 31,990. You’ll get the capable Snapdragon 870 SoC, MEMC and HDR support in gaming, and 4D Game Vibration with a linear motor. Also, in my experience, the 48-megapixel primary camera on the iQOO 7 is a much better performer in terms of regular, macro, and low-light imaging. In other aspects, it’s neck and neck with the POCO F3 GT except for the battery, which is a smaller 4,400mAh unit, albeit with 66W fast charging support.

Then there’s the Realme X7 Max 5G (review), which is priced identically at Rs 26,999. It comes with the Dimensity 1200 SoC and 120Hz AMOLED panel. The camera setup is similar as well  — 64MP + 8MP + 2MP rear and 16MP front— but with a better Sony IMX682 sensor on the back. The imaging prowess of the smartphone is quite good in daylight as well as low light. It misses out in terms of battery with a 4,500mAh unit featuring 50W fast charging.

In a nutshell, the POCO F3 GT is a refreshing change of pace for the brand and gives POCO fans the opportunity to try something new. If you’re looking for a stylish smartphone with commendable performance, POCO F3 GT is a good option. However, if cameras and gaming-specific features are your priority, you can look at the options above.

Pricebaba’s rating: 7 / 10

What works

  • Brilliant display
  • Unique, stylish design
  • Smooth performance
  • Impressive battery life
  • Fast charging

What doesn’t

  • Average cameras
  • 90fps gameplay not supported in BGMI
  • Slight delay in using Maglev Triggers
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman has over 8 years of experience in content development. He is a Senior Writer and Social Media Manager at Pricebaba. He covers technology news, feature articles, and tech reviews, apart from managing the official Facebook and Instagram handles. Despite a degree in marketing, his love for latest gadgets and technology steered him towards consumer technology coverage.