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Poco M3 Review

    Poco M3 Review

    by
    Amaan
    Mar 15, 2021

    Introduction:

    Meet the hottest phone of the season – the Poco M3. This handset from Xiaomi-backed brand has become the talk of the town. This smartphone basically has everything that a bestselling smartphone should have - good looks, a nice screen, excellent battery, stereo speakers, and a nice camera setup. What’s most impressive is that all of these features come at a price that’s easy on your wallet.

     

    Although Poco has separated from Xiaomi and became an independent company, still Xiaomi is the one who manufactures everything that Poco designs, even the software that Poco phones run right down to the chargers they use, the source of it is Xiaomi. Hence, the independence of both brands isn’t as obvious as we think it to be, at least for now that’s the case.

     

     

    Still Xiaomi or not, Poco M3 keeps up the more bounce for the ounce spirit that we’ve been witness to from Xiaomi and Poco phones earlier. The first thing to catch your attention regarding the new Poco M3 is out of the ordinary design, however we do like the leather-like texture plastic as it enhances the grip and the distinctive features like the glass with Poco branding on the back.

     

    For this price we had expected that the phone would have a bit downgraded specs, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It is a full package consisting of great stuff like the sizable 1080p display with a small notch, a first-class chipset, diverse connectivity support, stereo speakers and a massive battery of 6,000mAh capacity and fast charging. Not to mention, the fact that the fast charger is included in the box which is becoming a rarity with each passing day.

     

    The damage control was probably handled by the triple camera on the back to keep the price this low. Although the smartphone is highlighted with a high-res 48MP, it did skip on the ultrawide sensor and instead packs macro and depth lenses. Additionally, the 4K video is also missing, just the 1080p. Then again, not to forget the price which still makes the specs look overqualified for the money’s worth.

     

    Last but not the least, the smartphone boots Android 11 with MIUI 12 on top for Poco. There isn’t much of a difference from the standard MIUI 12, additionally the phone will apparently receive usual MIUI updates in the upcoming years.

     

    Body162.3x77.3x9.6mm, 198g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 3), plastic back, plastic frame.
    Display6.53" IPS LCD, 400 nits (typ), 1080x2340px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 395ppi.
    ProcessorQualcomm SM6115 Snapdragon 662 (11 nm): Octa-core (4x2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver); Adreno 610.
    Memory64GB 4GB RAM, 128GB 4GB RAM; UFS 2.1 - 64GB 4GB RAM, UFS 2.2 - 128GB 4GB RAM; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
    Rear CameraWide (main): 48 MP, f/1.8, 1/2.0", 0.8µm, PDAF; Wide (main): 48 MP, f/1.8, 1/2.0", 0.8µm, PDAF; Wide (main): 48 MP, f/1.8, 1/2.0", 0.8µm, PDAF.
    Selfie Camera8 MP, f/2.1, (wide), 1/4.0", 1.12µm.
    Video captureRear camera: [email protected]; Front camera: [email protected]
    Battery6000mAh; Fast charging 18W, Reverse charging.
    Operating SystemAndroid 10, MIUI 12.
    Misc.Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); FM radio; Infrared port; stereo speakers; 3.5mm jack.

     

    Unboxing the Poco M3

     

    The box in which the Poco M3 is shipped is dark yellow in colour, and it’s fully loaded. The phone is, of course, bundled with a USB cable and a 22.5W QC3 charger by Xiaomi. Even though the charger supplied is of 22.5W the phone supports 18W which is underutilization of capacity.

     

    That’s nice, there is a transparent silicone case, a screen protector and a SIM ejection tool. Hold down your horses, there’s also a one final compartment at the bottom, where you’d find three Poco branded bracelets – one braided and two silicone bracelets done in the Poco's signature yellow and black hues.

     

    Design:

     

    The Poco M3 is not a rebranded or reworked smartphone of some Xiaomi or Redmi phone. The phone was exclusively designed by Poco and features its own unique design.

     

    What’s even better is the looks of the phone that are top-tier compared to the price class. For what it costs it avoids looking cheap, the credit for which goes to smart choice of materials. Instead of going for common dual-glass sandwich design Poco opted to make the best utilization it’s all plastic construction, and the result is this what you see.

     

     

    The front of the phone is all screen with very slim bezels. There is a water drop notch on the top that is home to the selfie camera. Everything is protected by a flat sheet of Gorilla Glass 3.

     

    The back is entirely made of plastic that curves towards the frame. The back has a faux leather texture which feels really amazing and also adds to the grip plus is resistant to fingerprints. Definitely a win-win in my books.

     

    Then there is this large piece of black glass, with Poco branding, that houses the camera module. This adds to the beauty of the phone. There is no purpose that lies behind placing the glass the way it has been, it’s purely for aesthetic purpose, nothing more nothing less. It does make the phone stand out from the crowd.

     

    Moving on to the thick plastic frame, which has a matte finish and just like the back it is also resistant to fingerprints. Its longer side is pointy instead of being flat, not the best for grip I suppose, when holding the phone in landscape orientation. It’s not bad per say, it’s just that it feels a little bit weird when you pick the phone from your desk or any other surface.

     

    Anyway, let’s just leave it at that and turn towards the front of the phone.

     

     

    The front of the Poco M3 is equipped with a 6.53” 1080p IPS LCD screen with a water drop notch behind which the 8MP selfie camera is seated. Above the selfie shooter is a thin grille behind which sitting is the earpiece. Some of us might have expected a notification LED light here, but no luck there, sorry.

     

    The bezel at the bottom is thicker than the rest which is common for phones with LCD screens. The reason is that the display driver is located beneath that piece. It’s not like we mind it, especially in a phone that’s really cheap.

     

     

    The back houses the camera island and LED flash that shares the same black glass piece that is protruding out of a larger piece of glass with Poco branding. Although the camera island sticks out, the phone doesn’t wobble much.

     

    The frame of the phone is made of plastic and is home for a lot of stuff. On the left is the triple-card slot. The right side carries the volume rockers and the power button with built-in always-on fingerprint scanner, that’s really fast. You can change the always-on reader to press and scan option to avoid the major loophole that ever side-mounted fingerprint readers have - misreading that results in PIN unlock when grabbing/handling your phone.

     

    The top section of the frame houses one of the stereo speakers, the 3.5mm audio jack, the IR blaster and a microphone. Unlike many other flagship phones Poco M3 indeed packs full-blown stereo speakers on its sides instead of designating the earpiece as a secondary tweeter. Lastly, the bottom accommodated the other stereo speaker, the mouthpiece, and the USB-C port.

     

    The dimensions of the phone are 162.3 x 77.3 x 9.6 mm and weighs 198 grams. The Poco M3 isn’t one of the slimmest phones around but is really light. We are quite impressed with the overall footprint, considering it packs a massive 6,000mAh battery.

     

    Having spent quite a bit of time your opinion of the phone won’t be any different away from the point that the phone is solid and well-built with good grip and amazing design. The phone skips on all sorts of waterproofing, but who in the right mind would expect such a thing from a phone that’s as cheap as Poco M3.

     

    The only grievance is concerned with the shape of the frame – its pointed design makes picking up the phone from a flat surface a bit discomforting. But if that's the issue with you, then the accompanying case will sort it out in a matter of seconds.

     

    Display:

     

    The Poco M3 is equipped with a 6.53-inch IPS LCD panel with a water drop notch on the top that is home to the selfie camera. The resolution of the screen is 2,340 x 1080 pixels – making for a 395ppi density. That’s high for a phone that belongs to the budget segment – giving M3 an upper hand in the cut throat competition.

     

    A piece of Gorilla Glass 3 protects the screen, just to be on the safe side Poco provides a screen protector in the retail box.

     

     

    Poco claims that M3 Provides a contrast ratio of 1500:1 and 400nits of maximum brightness. The maximum brightness the phone provides is 395 nits and the black level is deep enough at 0.25, hence the contrast ratio exceeds 1500:1. With the sunlight mode kicking in the brightness can soar even higher to nearly 440 nits in bright ambient light. The brightness can go as low as 2.5 nits which is perfect for using the phone in dark.

     

    Poco M3 provides three different contrast options for the display. With Automatic contrast turned on, the screen output aims at accuracy in the sRGB color space, and we measured an average deltaE of 4.8 and a maximum deviation of 9. This is the only mode which allows choosing of color saturation (default, warm, cool), and we measured a Delta E of 4.8 with the Default preset ON. Choosing the Warm preset will take care of some of that blue tint seen in Default.

     

    Setting the contrast to Standard Contrast gives amazing accuracy within the sRGB color space and an average deltaE of 2.0 is recorded.

     

    Lastly, the Increased Contrast setting makes the colours pop by sacrificing the accuracy.

     

    Battery Life:

     

     

    The biggest highlight of the phone is its massive 6,000mAh battery. It’s actually impressive how much light the phone is considering the massive battery. Even when using the phone for a full day, that involves streaming videos, the phone barely makes it to 45% battery by the time you hit the bed. The battery can survive for two-days provided you aren’t gaming on the phone. The phone is shipped with an 18W charger inside the box. Considering the large battery, the phone takes longer to refuel, but the extended power backup makes up for it. The phone takes nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge back up completely. The large battery and fast charging speed give Poco M3 an edge above its competitors.

     

    Speakers:

     

    The Poco M3 is equipped with two stereo speakers – one at the bottom and the other one at the top which have a rather balanced output.

     

     

    The Poco M3 is equipped with speakers that are loud and produce clear sound. The sound quality is rather remarkable considering the price of the phone and quality of material used. M3 is one of those phones which produce bass sound that you can feel and hear with mid-tones of outstanding quality. The high notes aren’t one of the best that we’ve heard but still good enough. Cutting long story short, the Poco M3 is one of the phones with the best audio output. The company did a great job.

     

    Performance:

     

    The Poco M3 draws power from 2020’s Snapdragon 662 chipset based on an 11nm manufacturing process. The chipset is equipped with an octa-core CPU consisting of 4x Kryo 260 Gold cores clocked at 2.0 GHz and 4x Kryo 260 Silver cores running at 1.8 GHz. The Gold cores are based on the Cortex-A73 design, while the Silver derivatives are based on the energy-efficient Cortex-A53 cores. The GPU inside this Snapdragon 662 is Adreno 610.

     

    The SoC supports 4GB of RAM and 64GB UFC 2.0 internal storage. There is also a version with 4GB RAM and 128GB UFS 2.1 storage. Both models offer microSD expansion.

     

    For its class the multi-core processor performance is satisfactory with 1398 points on Geekbench. It’s disappointing, the single-core CPU performance is quite sluggish. You can feel that when using the Android OS for mundane tasks like scrolling home screens or switching between apps - there is a noticeable lag, the phone does stutter here and there.

     

    The smartphone marks 177,904 points on AnTuTu which isn’t bad at all, all things considered.

     

    The Poco M3 isn’t one of the fastest of phones, that’s obvious, but it’s not slouch either. As it is subjective for users’ expectations for speed and the task. The plus point is that the phone doesn’t get hot when under load and won’t even drop its performance further when you are playing games or using a heavy app. It always gives its best.

     

    Camera:

     

     

    The Poco M3 features a triple rear camera setup, it’s nothing fancy. There is a 48MP main camera, a 2MP macro lens and a 2MP depth shooter. There is also the LED flash which accompanies the camera module on the back.

     

    Main Camera48MP, f/1.8, (Wide), 1/2.0”, 0.8µm, PDAF
    2MP, f/2.4, (macro)
    2MP, f/2.4, (depth)
    Selfie Camera8MP, f/2.1, (wide), 1/4.0”, 1.12µm

     

    On the opposite end of the viewfinder, you have a flash mode switch, an HDR switch, an AI toggle, and a magic wand with beauty effects and filters. You'll find some more options behind a hamburger menu, including the Macro mode, plus the shortcut to the settings. What you won't find is an option to set the output resolution.

     

    There is a Pro mode for the main camera. Manual 48MP pictures are also an option. You can use up to 30s shutter speed and ISO up to 4000.

     

    Photo Quality:

     

    Considering the class of Poco M3 the default 12MP photos shot on the main camera are outstanding. The resolve details more than enough, sharpness is pleasant and the contrast is quite high. As for the dynamic range it is average but not low in the least. The colours are warmer than expected, all things considered the photos are quite lively.

     

    The high level of details is an outcome of gentle noise reduction. Despite the processing leaves some noise but detail in the areas with uniform colours aren’t messed with. There is visible corner softness which can very well be ignored since the photos are of such great quality.

     

     

    For expecting a lot worse from a phone in this class the photos are worthy of praise.

     

    The AI camera option on the viewfinder when turned on recognizes the scene and tweaks some parameters accordingly. Unfortunately, the AI option ruins the photos since it only offers top contrast and colour saturation. So, it’s advised to leave the AI option off.

     

    High-resolution 48MP mode is also available, but no point using it as the 48MP images are basically upscaled from 12MP and aren’t impressive at all.

     

     

    The 2MP depth sensor is used to shoot portraits. Poco M3 seems to have been utilizing it at max capacity with proficient subject separation and natural-looking blur. The portrait shots are at par with the regular ones in terms of details. We think the users are gonna be ecstatic with the M3’s portrait mode.

     

    The 2MP macro cam sounds good on paper, just on paper, but is a living nightmare in reality. It has a fixed focus at roughly 4cm, it takes nearly 6-7 attempts to get a sharp photo. With sufficient light the macro photos present enough details and low noise, however the contrast isn’t great. The downside is, when the light isn't enough, the noise level shoots up, and the photos rather become pretty much unusable.

     

    Overall, the Poco M3 puts up an excellent game as a shooter in broad daylight, it’s surprising to see what it can do. Let’s see what it can do in low-light.

     

     

    The low-light shots from the main camera are average at best. While the pictures don’t seem to lack details and also aren’t that blurry, but are dark and quite noisy. The colours do seem to get washed out often and the contrast is lightyears away from great. Even the HDR mode isn’t helping much in this case.

     

    The AI camera boosts the contrast and colours, additionally, also works as HDR. Having the AI on at night would be a smart choice. The shots turn out to be brighter, with restored highlights, better color saturation and details are satisfactory. The photos are equivalent to that of the standard mode.

     

    The main cam of Poco M3 comes with Night Mode support, and we recommend you to use it after dusk. It alongside brightening the whole scene also restores the blown highlights. The noise reduction is way stronger than the regular shots, and fine details are completely wiped out, but those photos are still preferable. They seem really great on the phone’s screen and in low resolution on social media.

     

    Selfies:

     

    The Poco M3 comes with an 8MP selfie camera with a f/2.1 lens and fixed focus. The detail in the photos is average, whereas the contrast and colours are satisfactory. Won’t say that there is no noise, and the dynamic rage is mediocre at best. The camera struggles with the exposure when shooting indoors and you may end up looking like a ghost.

     

    There is also the portrait mode that’s available for selfies, and it is at par with a single fixed-focus camera in terms of being competent. It scores a passing grade provided you don’t mind a smeared ear or two and if your haircut is that complex.

     

    Video Quality:

     

    The Poco M3’s main camera is able to capture videos up to [email protected] There is neither 4K mode nor 60fps shooting available, unfortunately.

     

    While the video bitrate is 20Mbps the audio is recorded on speakers at a rather low 96Kbps bitrate. Furthermore, there is no support for electronic stabilization on the phone.

     

     

    The video footage captured on the main cam is rather average in details and on a low end in the dynamic range department. The contrast and the colours are satisfactory.

     

    Final Verdict:

     

    The Poco M3 is not a perfect phone neither is it a bad one. If you ignore the absence of NFC, an ultrawide camera, and its UI stutters occasionally, the Poco M3 not only impresses with high-res screen and massive battery capacity but also with remarkable stereo speakers and main camera.

     

    Besides, regular usage the Poco M3 can also be used for gaming, provided you lower the game resolution and graphics quality. The Poco M3 can definitely be called a great all-rounder.

     

     

    The constant competition has pushed the boundaries of the possibilities in the entry-level segment. We do sure have some great phones between €100 and €150 that do deserve your attention with large screens capable cameras, and great battery life, and the Poco M3 takes a well-deserved place in this select group of devices, earning our full recommendation.

     

    Pros
    1. 6.53” large screen with 1080p resolution and great contrast
    2. Unique design
    3. Spectacular battery life
    4. Stereo speakers with outstanding output
    5. Great photo quality including portraits
    6. Comes with MIUI 12 which is handy to use
    7. Can do exceptionally well in gaming under 720p resolution and low graphics quality
    8. 3.5mm jack, standalone microSD card slot, IR port and FM radio

     

    Cons
    1. No NFC
    2. Charging not that fast
    3. Lag in UI occasionally
    4. Omits ultrawide camera
    5. The selfies are weird
    6. Video capturing average at best