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POCO M3 review: budget smartphone that scores big on looks and battery life

POCO has been an interesting addition to the smartphone market. The Xiaomi sub-brand decided to branch out as an independent brand, but that has not stopped it from making use of its parent company’s vast resources. With the M-series, POCO is looking to appeal to the budget-conscious buyer. And the M3 is the latest attempt from the brand to offer features that more than make up for its price tag.

Also read: POCO M3 with Snapdragon 662, 6,000mAh battery launched in India: price, specifications

With a starting price of Rs 10,999, POCO M3 has a tough fight on its hands with the Redmi 9 Power (review) and Realme Narzo 20 (review). So, can the new POCO M-series smartphone win this tough battle? In this review, we give you the answer.

Design and display

  • 162.3 x 77.3 x 9.6mm, 198 grams
  • 6.53-inch LCD, FHD+, 400nits brightness, Corning Gorilla Glass 3

It is not often that a budget phone catches our eyes in terms of looks. But that is what the POCO M3 has managed with its unique design. Yes, the front screen still sports a waterdrop notch, but the rear panel is where things get interesting. The brand has used a textured finish panel that is equal parts scratch and fingerprint resistant.

Poco M3 features a textured back panel and unique rear camera design

This is a rock-solid combination that we would like more phone makers to adopt. POCO sent us the Hello Yellow variant of the M3, and it is easy to see why this colour sold out on Flipkart.

Poco M3 gets a side-mounted fingerprint sensor integrated with the power button

You will find the volume rocker and power button on the right side of the phone. POCO has opted for the side-mounted fingerprint sensor. The overall feedback of the sensor is quick, and immediately takes you to the home screen.

Poco M3 sports a 6.53-inch Full HD+ display with a water drop notch

Having a 6.5-inch display with a large-sized battery has taken a toll on the dimensions and weight. But unless you prefer using smaller phones, the M3 should be manageable. The notch is neatly tucked at the top-center, giving you ample real estate for viewing. The screen gets Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection as well.

Talking about the quality of the big screen on the M3, the brightness and colour levels of Full HD+ resolution are adequate as long as you are indoors. It does not support any high fresh rate and sports a regular LCD panel. But we would have liked the outdoor visibility to be slightly better.

Cameras

  • Rear: 48-megapixel primary sensor, 2-megapixel macro sensor, and 2-megapixel depth sensor
  • Front: 8-megapixel

POCO M3 features a triple rear camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary camera, 2-megapixel macro sensor and 2-megapixel depth sensor. The main camera modes include 48MP, panorama, HDR, and Pro mode among others. In the front, the phone gets an 8-megapixel selfie camera which also helps you with video calling and video recording.

The M3 features triple rear cameras with a 48MP primary sensor

In most cases, our expectations from budget phones with respect to the camera are not very high. The imaging sensors used are generally adequate in daylight conditions, but suffer when the light dims. The same trend continues with the POCO M3 as well. The primary 48-megapixel sensor does the major leg work here, and tries to justify the use of higher megapixel count. But the results vary depending on how and when you use the camera.

Photos shot in bright daylight offer bright colours and ample details. Having multiple cameras only serve their purpose when their capabilities enhance the performance. Sadly, in this case, neither of the secondary lenses are cut out for the heavy work.

Shooting portrait photos lack sharpness and the colours washed out. The same was evident when you shoot in dark conditions. The front camera fared no different. Selfies lacked the original sharpness but more importantly, the skin tones did not match up.

Performance, software and battery

  • Android 10 with MIUI 12
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 662
  • 6GB + 64GB, 6GB + 128GB
  • 6,000mAh battery, 18W fast charging

POCO has used the Snapdragon 662 chipset to power the M3. This mid-range chipset gives you reliable performance, and pairing it with 6GB RAM is a bonus at this price point. Make no mistake; most other brands don’t give you this much RAM at this price, including Xiaomi.

With POCO M3, your daily tasks are easily handled, and multi-tasking is also part of its forte. This means you can open multiple tabs on Chrome, watch a video or two on YouTube and switch between WhatsApp, Twitter and more.

Poco M3 comes powered by the octa-core Snapdragon 662 chipset with 6GB RAM

But as we have experienced over time, this processor from Qualcomm has its shortcomings, and those show up on rare occasions in form of stutter or minor lag. Safe to say, this phone is not going to excite gamers, and if that’s your requirement in the budget segment, there are better-equipped options available.

In terms of storage, you can choose between 64GB and 128GB options that get UFS 2.1 and UFS 2.2 transfer technology, respectively.

You will definitely like the stereo speakers built into the phone. Watching videos on the phone was a pleasant surprise. The sound was not shrill and you could pick up the heaviness of the music in the background. It is rare to find that with phones in this bracket.

Poco M3 runs MIUI 12 built over Android 10 OS

POCO M3 runs the MIUI 12 version borrowed from Xiaomi. This version is built over the Android 10 operating system and it will get the Android 11 update in the coming months. Unlike the UI riddled with ads on Xiaomi phones, we saw less of that on the M3.

However, the amount of bloatware continues to be an irritant. And what makes it worse is those apps keep throwing notifications on the big screen. We are hopeful that things will improve with future MIUI builds.

Poco M3 packs a 6,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging support via USB Type-C

One good feature of the Snapdragon 662 is its energy efficiency. And having a 6,000mAh battery means the power efficiency shines with flying colours. For reference, during our YouTube video test, the phone barely broke into sweat. We lost just over 18 percent of battery while running a 2 hour-long video at full brightness and high volume.

Now put that into perspective for real-time usage, and the results will be more than sufficient. You can easily get the M3 to last you for over a day or even two if managed properly. The unit supports 18W fast charging via Type-C, and while that may not be the fastest, we’ll take it for the price .

Bottomline

The POCO M3 is a rock-solid device that fetches a high score with its looks and dependability. At this price range, you get a large screen with support for Full HD+ resolution and HDR. The Snapdragon 662 processor is capable, and the 6GB RAM means you can get more out of it for your daily use.

On the flip side, the cameras are decent in daylight but strictly average in low light conditions. Same goes for the selfie camera. And MIUI means your battle with bloatware continues, but at least the ads make fewer appearances.

Poco M3 deserves top marks for its looks.

However, what really stands out with the M3 is that you have an entertainment-centric device offering long battery backup. So if you need a reliable, power-friendly device on a budget, the POCO M3 has got you covered in most areas.

Pricebaba rating: 8 / 10

What works

  • Large Full HD+ display
  • Distinctive design
  • Impressive battery life
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Reliable performance

What doesn’t

  • Average cameras
  • Bloatware in MIUI
  • Bulky for one-handed use
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