The perfect budget flagship phone is as much about the right mix of features, as it is about the right choice of compromises. You cannot bring flagship performance to mid-range prices without cutting some corners, and hence, what sets a good “budget flagship” smartphone apart is compromising on the right aspects.
The Poco F1 from 2018 was a fantastic example of this. Now, in 2021, the revamped brand has made its second true budget flagship, the Poco X3 Pro, a phone that brings a top-notch processor around the Rs 20,000 mark and manages to do it while maintaining an impressive specification sheet. Check out the details below.
Poco X3 Pro specs: 6.67-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display with 120Hz refresh rate | Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 chipset | 6GB/8GB RAM, 128GB UFS 3.1 storage | 48MP+8MP+2MP+2MP rear camera, 20MP front camera | 5160mAh battery, 33W fast charging.
We tested the Poco X3 Pro for about a week and here’s what we think about the phone.
Design, build quality
The Poco X3 Pro follows the design language of the Poco X3, which is not surprising considering they belong to the same family. You have the dual-tone finish on a plastic back and a big half-circular, half-rectangular camera bump that is made to look like a circular module. There is a big Poco logo on the back but it is subtle, unlike what we saw on the Poco M3.
The volume buttons and power button which doubles up as a really fast and accurate fingerprint scanner are on the right, while the SIM slot is on the left edge. The phone retains the IR blaster on top making it handy for those planning to use it as a universal remote with other appliances. Among the usual elements, at the bottom, we still find the 3.5mm jack which is good to see.
Coming to the build quality, the phone is a solid build all around except the plastic back panel that feels really weak. Also, it vibrates almost as well as a second vibration motor in the device. This gets pretty evident when the phone is playing media at high volumes and while some may enjoy the extra sensation during gaming, it could become annoying for others.
The Poco X3 Pro gets a great display just like the rest of the Poco X series. It is still an IPS LCD panel but a good quality one. Moreover, the phone’s brightness can get really low on the lowest level, allowing you to use this device comfortably in night.
Viewing angles are great and so is colour reproduction. There is a centre-aligned punch-holer camera on the top of the screen. While we would have preferred a slightly less-distracting corner implementation, the large screen of the Poco X3 Pro doesn’t let the punch hole feel too intrusive.
The Poco X3 Pro comes with a good set of cameras on the front and back. Pictures we took with the phone appeared crisp and had great detail. Even though the sensor has taken a drop from 64MP to 48MP, when it comes to real-life usage, there is no “loss in quality”. However, pictures in indoor lighting did struggle a little to get the white balance right. Note that none of the lenses has OIS (optical image stabilisation) though the EIS (Electronic image stabilisation) works great.
Coming to night mode, the Poco X3 Pro does a wonderful job at getting in more light and eliminating noise from pictures. Performance by the ultra-wide sensor is as expected considering the 8MP sensor. While images do get the wide-angle, they come out soft and are only usable during the day. However, the ultra-wide sensor can be used with night mode and that gives a little more usable results in the dark.
The 20MP front camera takes decent pictures even in indoor lighting with crisp details. Macro shots and portrait shots are fairly average. Coming to video, you can record up to 1080p 60fps or 4K 30fps. With a high-end chip in the trunk, the phone makes features like Dual-Video possible where you can capture footage from both the front and rear camera at the same time.
Check out our camera samples by clicking on the image below.
The vanilla Poco X3 Pro was already a good enough performer for day to day tasks. The Pro too, without any doubt is capable of handling regular tasks easily. More than a handful of heavy apps at a time is not a problem for the Poco X3 Pro and it can run without any stutters or lags.
Moreover, the Snapdragon 860 chipset brings out the best of the 120Hz refresh rate when it is turned on and hence, the phone feels much smoother, even with the relatively heavy MIUI 12 skin. That is no surprise when you realise the Snapdragon 860 is an upgraded version of the Snapdragon 855 Plus, the same chipset that powered flagships like the OnePlus 7T series and the Asus ROG Phone 2.
Gaming is clearly where the Poco X3 shines the most. The phone is pretty much made to bring quality gaming to the budget segment. With an 800-series processor and the Adreno 640 GPU, the phone is capable of handling the heaviest of titles with ease. With games like Call of Duty and Free Fire, you can max out your graphic settings and framerate. We tried a couple of Call of Duty matches at maxed-out settings and saw that the phone doesn’t heat up too much either, which was just great.
The Poco X3 Pro comes with Android 11-based MIUI 12 out of the box and Poco should update the device to the newer MIUI 12.5 soon. MIUI 12 is not the cleanest skin out there and while Poco claims that there are no ads on the phone, we still have a lot of bloatware, most of which fortunately can be uninstalled.
However, MIUI 12 has a lot of features on the software side, from its apps to the utilities that are baked into the interface. MIUI 12 is one of those Android skins that comes with a lot of weight to it, very much because of its feature-packed nature. On phones like the Poco X3 Pro, however, the processing power is good enough to carry the weight of the skin and as a result, the user experience is not harmed.
The Poco X3 Pro drops battery capacity to 5,160mAh, which is less than the 6,000mAh battery you get on the Poco X3. However, this is still good enough to give you over a day’s usage considering the phone’s larger screen size. If you game a lot on the device, which you likely will if you are getting this phone, expect to see faster discharge. Charging speed is great though and a full charge takes just over an hour. Note that we tested the phone with 120Hz on at all times and that you can always switch to 60Hz and get much more juice from the device.
Verdict: Is the Poco X3 Pro for you?
The Poco X3 Pro gets a lot right for its price. Recall what we said about making the right compromises. It is a device meant for gamers and power users on a budget and any aspect of the phone that would affect your gaming is not compromised. A fast chip, a great GPU, stereo speakers, headphone port, UFS 3.1 storage, the phone has it all. Even in other areas like the camera or battery life, the Poco X3 Pro performs above average in its segment.
A few things could have been improved with the phone. A glass back would have reduced vibrations on the back, and the higher-end 8GB RAM variant could have bagged 256GB storage. Picking an older chipset also means you lose 5G support for when it arrives in India. However, for those not concerned with future-proofing their phone for years to come, you get a great deal with solid hardware components here, making this phone an easy recommendation.