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POCO X3 Pro review: flagship-grade performance, budget price

In August 2018, Xiaomi disrupted the Indian budget smartphone market — yet again — with its sub-brand POCO and the debut launch POCO F1. The Snapdragon 845-toting smartphone was the first to offer a flagship-grade processor under Rs 20,000 and went on to become the best selling device. Ever since, POCO has separated from Xiaomi as a standalone brand and launched the POCO X3 (review), which was the first smartphone to offer a 120Hz display under Rs 20,000.

Also read: Realme 8 Pro review: worthy challenger to the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max?

However, the POCO X3 couldn’t fill the boots of the POCO F1 and fans were still demanding a true follow-up to the POCO F1. While a POCO F-series device has been teased by the brand, the POCO X3 Pro is being touted as the spiritual successor to the F1. I’ve been using the POCO X3 Pro for a while now and here’s everything you need to know about the handset.

Design and display

  • 165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4mm , 213g
  • 6.67-inch LCD, Full HD+, 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, Corning Gorilla Glass 6, HDR 10

Considering the POCO X3 Pro is a souped-up POCO X3, the brand has not meddled much with the design and it features the same dual-tone polycarbonate shell featuring the POCO logo on the back with the massive circular camera module. If anything, the POCO X3 Pro is slightly slimmer at 9.4mm and weighs less too (213g vs 225g). I personally like the heft it has to it as it gives a confident in-hand feel and the curved back panel is quite ergonomic too. But I can also see how many might not like the bulky form factor of the handset.

POCO is offering the X3 Pro in Graphite Black, Golden Bronze and Steel Blue colourways. I received the Steel Blue variant and it looks stunning. The dual-tone finish is a mix of matte (on sides) and glossy (in the middle). I was pleasantly surprised to see that the back panel doesn’t pick up as many smudges and fingerprints as I expected. This along with the confident heft of the device allowed me to use the smartphone without the provided case during my stint with it.

As for the ports and buttons, you’ll find the volume buttons and fingerprint scanner / power button on the left. The buttons have a good tactile feedback and the fingerprint scanner is quite accurate. On the right edge, there’s the hybrid SIM tray slot, which can take dual nano SIM cards or a single SIM and microSD card. On the top, there’s the IR blaster and a couple of mics, while the bottom edge houses the 3.5mm audio jack (yes!), USB Type-C port, and speaker grille.

Coming to the display, the POCO X3 Pro borrows the same 6.67-inch IPS LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate from the POCO X3. The viewing angles are good and I didn’t have any issue with the legibility even outdoors. As for the visuals, the display panel produces visuals that are bright, crisp, and vivid.

Just like POCO X3, the Pro variant also features HDR10 and Widevine L1 certification, which makes the video streaming experience pleasant. I watched Ajeeb Dastans and Irul on Netflix and was quite impressed with the picture quality. And thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, the whole experience feels smooth. Users can choose between 120Hz and 60Hz but I had the device set to 120Hz during my stint with it.

Cameras

  • Rear: 48-megapixel primary sensor, 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, 2-megapixel macro lens, 2MP depth sensor
  • Front: 20-megapixel sensor

At a time when brands like Realme, Xiaomi, and even Motorola are launching smartphones with 108-megapixel cameras under Rs 20,000, the POCO X3 Pro features a 48-megapixel primary camera. It’s a downgrade compared to the 64-megapixel shooter on the POCO X3 as well. The primary lens is accompanied by an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a pair of 2-megapixel depth and macro sensors. On the front, there is a 20-megapixel selfie camera.

Considering POCO X3 Pro is a downgrade compared to the POCO X3, I didn’t have high expectations with the camera setup, to begin with. However, the 48-megapixel primary camera shoots vibrant and detailed shots in daylight with a balanced dynamic range. The camera captures 12-megapixel shots by default and there’s a dedicated 48MP mode for more details and print quality pictures. The HDR mode is turned off by default and if you like your images to be more on the peppy side, I’d suggest turning it on.

On the flip side, the quality of images takes a dip when you switch to the wide-angle lens. The edges are soft and there’s a noticeable colour shift from the main lens. Things get progressively worse with the 2-megapixel macro lens. The shutter speed is quite slow and if you have shaky hands, you will often end up with blurry results. The portrait shots turn out nice with good edge detection and you can control the level of blur in the background.

Coming to the lowlight shots, in the regular mode the camera captures lacklustre images with middling details and lots of noise. However, turn on the dedicated night mode and you get much more detail and well-exposed shots. The post-processing makes the images softer, which is noticeable when you zoom in or crop the image.

As for selfies, the 20-megapixel front shooter on the X3 Pro does an admirable job during the daylight with a good amount of details. On the flip side, I was slightly disappointed by the portrait shots and low-light selfies.

Performance, software and battery

  • Android 11 with MIUI 12 for POCO
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 with Adreno 640
  • 6GB + 128GB, 8GB + 128GB
  • 5,160mAh battery, 33W fast Charge

Coming to performance, the POCO X3 Pro ships with the Snapdragon 860 SoC, which is basically the Snapdragon 855+ with minor upgrades. I received the 8GB + 128GB storage variant and I was pleasantly surprised to see the UFS 3.1 storage standard, which is the fastest mobile storage platform currently. Thanks to the ample RAM and fast storage, I didn’t face any lag or stutter in my day-to-day usage. Apps open very quickly on the POCO X3 Pro and multi-tasking is a buttery-smooth experience.

As for gaming, I played the Badlands, Odyssey, Forza Street, and a little bit of Call of Duty: Mobile on the smartphone. And I am glad to report that the smartphone handles every single one of them without breaking a sweat, including CoD Mobile on the highest graphics settings. If it’s a powerful gaming machine south of Rs 20,000 you’re after, I would blindly recommend POCO X3 Pro.

The POCO X3 Pro boots MIUI 12 based on Android 11 out of the box with POCO Launcher on top. The POCO version of MIUI 12 is much cleaner and has no ads but you’ll still find bloatware eating into your storage. These include apps like Cleaner, GetApps, Themes, Security, and ShareMe, among others. GetApps is particularly annoying with frequent notifications to update or install an app, but thankfully you can disable these.

On the bright side, there are some useful features like various customisation options, raise/ double-tap to wake, quick ball, one-handed mode, Game turbo, video toolbox, and Lite mode, to name a few.

The 5,160mAh battery comes with the support for 33W fast charging. On a full charge and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout, the POCO X3 Pro lasted me all day with hours of Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, Slack, and WhatsApp. The bundled 33W charger juices up the smartphone from zero to 100 percent in about 1.5 hours, which is not bad.

Bottomline

If you are in the market for a great performing smartphone with good battery life then I would recommend the POCO X3 Pro wholeheartedly. For its starting price of Rs 18,999, you get an immersive 120Hz display, Snapdragon 860 SoC, all-day battery life, and stylish looks.

However, if a well-rounded offering is what you are after, the  Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (review) will serve you better. For the same starting price of Rs 18,999 you get a 120Hz display but with a Super AMOLED panel, 108-megapixel quad rear cameras, and Snapdragon 732G.

Then there’s the Realme 8 Pro (review), which is priced lower at Rs 17,999 but misses out on the high refresh rate and comes with a year-old Snapdragon 720G processor. The handset offers an FHD+ Super AMOLED display, 108-megapixel quad rear cameras, and a smaller 4,500mAh battery with faster 50W charging.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works

  • Smooth 120Hz display
  • Powerful performance
  • Good battery backup

What doesn’t

  • Average cameras
  • Bulky form factor
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.