Billed as the true successor to the iconic Poco F1, the new Poco X3 Pro has some big shoes to fill. Not everyone wants all the latest fancy features – some buyers with tight budgets like having choices when it comes to phones that prioritise the cameras, battery life, or even gaming performance. The Poco F1 was all about its high-end processor and made no apologies about lagging in other departments. With a new focus on the youth market, Poco has chosen a slightly different approach for the X3 Pro. Interestingly, parent company Xiaomi has also recently launched the Mi 11X (Review) in India, which in other markets is known as the Poco F3 and is a closer match to the F1 in terms of price. Which of these phones should you choose? We’ve got the answers.

 

Poco X3 Pro price in India

The Poco X3 Pro has been launched starting at Rs. 18,999 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you want 8GB of RAM, there’s another variant priced at Rs. 20,999, but storage remains unchanged. If you consider yourself a power user and expect to use this phone heavily for several years, you might notice the difference between 6GB and 8GB of RAM. There are three colour options: Graphite Black, Steel Blue, and Golden Bronze.

In terms of positioning, the Poco X3 costs less than the Poco F1 (Review) did at launch time, although that model received several price cuts and was often discounted on sale. It will compete with the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (Review), Realme X7 5G (Review), Moto G60 (Review), and several other popular recent models.

The Poco X3 Pro is 9.4mm thick and weighs 213g

 

Poco X3 Pro design

The Poco brand is clearly targeting younger buyers who like flashy designs that will stand out anywhere. We’ve seen bold colours, unique camera module shapes, and eye-catching patterns on some recently launched Poco phones. Unsurprisingly, the X3 Pro looks a lot like the Poco X3 (Review), with the same kind of oversized camera module in the centre of the rear which looks like a circle with the top and bottom flattened out.

Two-thirds of the rear panel has a frosted matte finish, but there’s a thick stripe right down the centre which is not only glossy and reflective, but also has a pattern of diagonal lines that you’ll see at certain angles. This part of the rear picks up fingerprints easily, and they stand out even more because the matte areas on either side remain relatively clean. There’s a huge Poco logo in this stripe as well, but it’s outlined and not solid like on the X3, which makes it a bit less in-your-face.

Not everyone will like how large and heavy the Poco X3 Pro is. It weighs 213g and is 9.4mm thick, which are both above average for this segment. The body is rated IP53 and Poco refers to this as “splash-proof”, and it’s always welcome. The front is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 6.

On the front, there’s a 6.67-inch display with a camera hole at the top-centre. There’s a notification LED hidden in the speaker grille right at the top, but while this is a popular feature, it isn’t really visible unless you’re looking at this phone head-on.

Poco has gone with a side-mounted fingerprint sensor which is slightly recessed. The volume buttons are right above it. On the left is the hybrid dual-SIM tray which means you’ll have to sacrifice a second SIM if you want to use a microSD card for more storage, or vice versa. Xiaomi’s trademark IR emitter is on the top, along with a hole for better sound through the earpiece when used as a second speaker. On the bottom, you’ll find a 3.5mm audio socket, a USB Type-C port, and the primary speaker.

poco x3 pro fingerprint ndtv poco x3 pro

The fingerprint sensor is embedded in the power button on the right

 

Poco X3 Pro specifications

The most interesting thing about the Poco X3 Pro is its Qualcomm Snpadragon 860 SoC. This is a relatively uncommon processor and we’re seeing it in action for the first time. Qualcomm rarely offers multiple 800-series models in a year, but now we have not only the flagship Snapdragon 888, but also an 870 and 860 in the mix. It is a slightly tweaked version of the Snapdragon 855 from a few years ago, but that’s still pretty powerful by today’s standards. It echoes the Poco F1’s use of the Snapdragon 845 which was a bit dated but still very capable for its time.

The Snapdragon 860 has eight CPU cores with one running at 2.96GHz, three at 2.42GHz and four more at 1.8GHz, and also features the Adreno 640 integrated GPU. It does not have an integrated 5G modem, and while 5G is not a practical reality in India yet, Poco might seem to be a bit behind the curve since most other manufacturers are pushing this as a big selling point at the sub-Rs. 20,000 price level.

You get a fairly large 6.67-inch full-HD+ LCD screen. It does have a 120Hz maximum refresh rate and 240Hz maximum touch sampling rate, as well as HDR10 support. There’s a fairly generous 5,160mAh battery and 33W fast charging, with a matching charger included in the box. Poco has used UFS 128GB of 3.1 storage and 6GB or 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. In other countries, the higher-end variant has 256GB of storage, but market segmentation was seemingly calculated differently for India. Other specifications include dual-band Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5, GPS, stereo speakers, and high-res audio certification.

Being an offshoot of Xiaomi, Poco’s phones run MIUI. We’ve spoken about MIUI 12 in detail in our recent reviews of the Redmi Note 10 and Mi 11X, plus all their siblings. The UI is packed with features such as a Game Turbo for optimisations and shortcuts, a Video Toolbox overlay, and a Second Space for privacy. You can customise the notifications shade to behave like iOS with split sections for quick toggles and notifications, and you can also switch between on-screen buttons and gestures for navigation. There are a few preloaded apps including the GetApps store and Themes browser which do generate a lot of spammy notifications, and you also have to disable the Glance lockscreen carousel if you don’t want to see promoted content.

poco x3 pro sim ndtv poco x3 pro

The hybrid dual-SIM tray means you’ll have to choose between a second Nano-SIM and a microSD card

 

Poco X3 Pro performance

You should now expect perfectly smooth performance in casual everyday use when you’re paying around Rs. 20,000 for a smartphone, and that’s what the Poco X3 Pro delivers. The hardware is more than enough to run all your social media and communication apps, plus casual games and productivity tools. I didn’t feel any slowdowns when switching between multiple heavy apps.

Benchmark tests show how good the Snapdragon 860 SoC is. AnTuTu 9 reported a score of 5,43,796 which is remarkable for a phone at this price level. In contrast, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max managed 2,71,830 and the Realme X7 5G scored 3,35,698 (though scores for older versions of AnTuTu are not directly comparable). In Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core tests, the X3 Pro managed 752 and 1,892 points respectively. The 3DMark Wild Life graphics tests posted a score of 3,476, while GFXBench’s T-Rex and Car Chase scenes ran at 119fps and 39fps respectively.

The screen on the X3 Pro isn’t the best that I’ve seen at this price level, in terms of colour reproduction. It’s fine for casual use but if you really like your content to pop, you might be a little underwhelmed. The high refresh rate is good, and HDR kicks in when playing videos on YouTube. The camera hole is on the larger side by today’s standards and you might find it distracting in lighter scenes in videos. Stereo speakers are nice to have, and while the ones on the Poco X3 Pro are loud and good enough for sound effects in games, they won’t really let you get the best out of high-quality music.

All these capabilities together make for a solid gaming workhorse. I fired up COD Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends, and both of them ran without any hitches. Gameplay was enjoyable overall. The upper rear of the X3 Pro did get a bit warm, and the large camera bump on the back did sometimes get in the way when holding the phone horizontally. A protective case should help with both these things.

Usage is generally pleasant. The fingerprint sensor works well and is easy to find by touch alone. Face recognition is also quick. Not everyone will find this phone comfortable to use, especially one-handed, because of its bulk. The main irritations come in the form of ads on the Glance screen and promotional content in GetApps notifications, which can be disabled with a little digging through the phone’s settings.

Battery life is quite solid. You should easily be able to get through a full day even with an hour or so of gaming. With moderate use, you might even be able to stretch to a day and a half. The Poco X3 charged to 55 percent in 30 minutes and 93 percent in an hour using the bundled 33W charger, which is not bad at all.

poco x3 pro cameras ndtv poco x3 pro

The primary and ultra-wide-angle cameras have lower resolutions than those of the more affordable Poco X3

 

Poco X3 Pro cameras

In an interesting twist, Poco has gone with lower resolutions for the X3 Pro’s rear cameras than it did with the Poco X3. You get a 48-megapixel primary camera and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide one, compared to 64 and 13 megapixels respectively on what is supposed to be a lower-end model in the same series. Of course, sensor and lens quality are much more important than resolution alone. It will be interesting to see how the Poco X3 Pro delivers, and whether people are willing to look beyond the usual “bigger is better” marketing message. There’s also a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

Poco X3 Pro daytime camera samples (top: standard; bottom: ultra-wide)(tap to see full size)

 

The camera app is the same that we’ve seen on recent Xiaomi phones. It’s feature-rich, but some controls are buried, for example switching to or from the macro camera takes multiple taps. The main camera mode switcher is a carousel above the shutter button, and there’s a spillover menu with even more modes such a Short Video, Vlog, Dual Video, AI Watermark, Clone, and Long Exposure.

Poco X3 Pro daytime close-up camera sample (tap to see full size)

Poco X3 Pro daytime macro camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

When it comes to photo quality, the Poco X3 Pro isn’t the strongest in its segment. It will take good enough photos if you’re a casual user, but colours don’t pop as much as I would have liked, and dynamic range isn’t very strong. There’s a reasonable amount of detail in daylight shots, but don’t expect the most realistic textures. The ultra-wide-angle camera of course captures poorer details and compression does seem rougher, plus there’s some perspective warping at the edges of frames.

Close-up and portrait shots are decent, since phone cameras are in general much better when dealing with subjects in the foreground. There’s some natural depth of field which always makes shots stand out nicely. It’s difficult to focus accurately with the macro camera since there’s no way to know if you’re standing too close or too far from the subject, and at the end of the day, the quality of output doesn’t justify spending too much time trying to get it right.

Poco X3 Pro low-light camera samples (top: standard; bottom: ultra-wide)(tap to see full size)

 

As for low-light shots, the Poco X3 Pro did struggle in dark environments at night but did an okay job when there was sufficient artificial lighting. Textures are murky and detail is weak. Night mode doesn’t always brighten shots much but can improve contrast and make points of light against dark backgrounds look much less blown-out. It works best when there’s really very little ambient light, and this is especially evident with the ultra-wide camera which doesn’t always produce usable results in the dark without Night mode.

Poco X3 Pro selfie camera samples (top: daytime portrait; bottom: low-light)(tap to see full size)

 

The 20-megapixel front camera doesn’t deliver the most natural-looking skin tones, and the default smoothening is too aggressive for my taste. Selfies taken in the day as well as at night are good, but not great. Portrait mode does well with separating the background though focus isn’t always perfect.

Video recording goes up to 4K 30fps with the primary rear camera. There’s no stabilisation and I did notice quite a bit of jitter in video recorded while moving, no matter the resolution. Just like with stills, the quality is ok for casual use but you can get better at this price level. Video shot at night, under bright streetlights, is grainy and dull.

poco x3 pro bottom ndtv poco x3 pro

There’s a 3.5mm jack, USB Type-C port, and speaker on the bottom

 

Verdict

Poco clearly had one goal in mind for the X3 Pro, and that was to deliver the best possible CPU performance at around the Rs. 20,000 price level. Arguably, it has succeeded. This is a phone that will do very well for gaming and will feel snappy and responsive for the foreseeable future. If you want a device that feels premium but don’t want to spend too much, this could be a compelling option. There are also other positives – the IP53 rating and stereo speakers are both nice to have, and if you’re looking for bold design, you’ll get it.

On the downside, the screen is a little underwhelming and the cameras are just average. If 5G is something that will be important to you and you want to use all that CPU power for the next few years, the X3 Pro won’t fit the bill. It’s also quite bulky and heavy.

It’s easy to see that young buyers will like what the X3 Pro has to offer, but this phone isn’t for everyone. Do check out our list of the best phones priced under Rs. 20,000 if you’re looking for more of an all-rounder.


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