POCO F3 Review: A High-End Budget Phone, But What’s The Caveat?

Updated: Aug 20

The POCO brand, a sub-brand of Xiaomi, has made a name for itself by providing high-end specs with a mid-range price. And this year, they have again delivered the most powerful mid-range phone, the POCO F3.

The new POCO F3 5G has a premium look and feel to it. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 in the front and the back, a very common design for most premium phones but a pain to keep it fingerprint-free. It’s also nice that the screen doesn’t curve as much and there are fewer chances of unintentional touches on the edge. Speaking of fingerprints, the fingerprint sensor has been changed from under the display on POCO F2 to the right power button in the POCO F3. We are not sure why the change but for left-handed users, it will be almost impossible to unlock your phone with your left thumb while holding the phone.

The 1080 x 2400 display is similar to what you get from last year’s model but it has been bumped to a higher refresh rate of 120hz. You do get a better experience when gaming and watching videos. But compared to high-end flagship phones with higher resolution, you will see a subtle hint of over saturation and, of course, less sharp images.

The phone is now powered by a Snapdragon 870G, and while this chipset is just an overclocked version of last year’s 865G, which can be found in the POCO F2, it is still a very speedy processor: you just shouldn’t expect a huge jump in performance. The heat from the overclocked processor will be managed by POCO’s new LiquidCool Technology.

On our CPU benchmark test on Geekbench, we got 976 for single-core and 3220 for multi-core performance. The single-core performance is slightly better than Samsung’s S21 Exynos processor, but it loses to the Snapdragon 888 on the Samsung Galaxy S21. For multi-core performance, it is surprisingly slightly below the previous POCO F2 Pro but ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

For graphics performance, our benchmark result on 3D Mark clocks in at 4173, just slightly below the Oppo Find X3 and the Exynos version of the Samsung Galaxy S20. The POCO F3 is also the first phone from POCO that supports Dolby Atmos, but don’t expect a really wide soundstage or assume that it will sound close to a decent pair of portable Bluetooth speakers. All we can say is that it can get really loud, but do expect some distortion at full blast.

The 3.5mm jack has also been removed. In the camera department, you will get a 48-megapixel 26mm wide lens, a 5-megapixel macro lens and an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens with very little distortion. This setup is pretty much what you will get in most current phones. It also performs decently in low light and you can shoot videos of up to 4K 30 frames per second.

The front-facing camera has been improved with a larger aperture to give you a tad more bokeh for your selfies. Lastly, charging time is slightly improved with 33W charging taking around 52 minutes for a full charge, but there is a slight downgrade to the battery size to 4,520mAh and it still doesn’t support wireless charging.

The POCO F3 will come in 3 colours, Arctic White, Night Black and Deep Ocean Blue, and will also be available in 2 variants: 6GB RAM and 128GB storage or 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The recommended retail price is S$549 and S$599, respectively.

So in summary, this is still the fastest mid-range phone you can get at a very affordable price, but if you already own last year’s model, there is really very little reason to upgrade now.

Content by Lawrence Ng

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