There are Android flagship phones, bringing together the very best of hardware and specs as well as the Android customizations. Then there are flagship killers which attempt to offer similarly powerful specs and hopefully the same sort of experience at a price point that also saves you a bit of money. But what do you call a phone that takes the game further and finds itself positioned and talked about in the same breath, at least in terms of the spec sheet, around the Rs 20,000 price point? You’ll simply call it a steal deal. And get in line to buy one. In case you are still wondering what I’m on about, here’s the big revelation. It is the new Poco X3 Pro. The latest Poco phone that is in many ways returning back to the roots. Top specs, a fast phone and an incredibly attractive price tag.
To illustrate exactly what I’m saying, you’ll need to get the complete picture about the Poco X3 Pro and the versions you can buy. There is the 6GB RAM and 128GB storage option that is priced at Rs 18,999 and this is the entry-spec model. The second, and the higher tier spec combination, gets you 8GB + 128GB with a price tag of Rs 20,999. And why do I call it a flagship killer Android phone? This runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 processor, had quad cameras at the back led by a 48-megapxiel camera and you get a lot of RAM, irrespective of which variant you eventually pay for. These specs are very similar to the recently reviewed OnePlus 9R, which has impressed us considerably. The OnePlus 9R in the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage spec is priced at Rs 39,999 while the 12GB + 256GB costs Rs 43,999. It also runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chip, also has a 48-megapixel camera leading the quad camera setup, fast UFS 3.1 storage, a larger 6.67-inch display complete with 120Hz refresh rate and in fact gets a larger battery while at it. All things considered, the OnePlus 9R offers tremendous value if you are looking for a more affordable alternative to a flagship Android phone. And with a further significantly lower price tag, the Poco X3 Pro becomes what I have already referred to it as—a steal deal. After all, consumers do look at the spec sheet closely, and before most things. But all said and done, is this the phone designed to kill flagship killers, if you strip away the visuals of possible violence from that thought? The simple answer is, it does offer a lot for a significantly lesser price point still, and that in itself makes it as I keep saying it. A steal deal. Particularly if you want a powerful Android phone but don’t exactly have a luxurious budget.
Powering the Poco X3 Pro is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 chip. The chip maker claims this is as much as around 12.6% faster than the predecessor. Your RAM options are 6GB and 8GB and irrespective of which variant you pick, you’ll get 128GB storage. That’s pretty simple as far as the line-up goes, but you’ll probably miss an option of more storage. That being said, this has the storage expansion option too, up to 1TB while at it. To be fair, 6GB RAM gives you more than enough performance, when paired with this processor. Yet, it is with the 8GB RAM spec that will really tick off the flagship-esque performance checklist. If you can stretch the budget just that little bit, go for that 8GB RAM which will surely hold you in better stead for the time to come. What also helps the Poco X3 Pro is the really fast UFS 3.1 storage standard, which is the fastest you get on smartphones at this time, which allows for snappy fast fast data read and write speeds. The net result—your apps open really quickly, and everything just feels slick, as you’d expect with a flagship phone. The Poco X3 Pro promised to behave like a flagship phone, and that’s what it does.
The 6.67-inch display isn’t anything fancy like an AMOLED, but Poco does insist that this LCD is a smart display. What’s smart about it? This is a 120Hz refresh rate display which can change on the fly between 50Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates depending on the content that you’re watching. To be fair, that isn’t exactly a unique feature and quite a few smartphones before the Poco X3 Pro have already done this. But what the Poco X3 Pro does is bring this feature to the more affordable price points, the idea being to save battery by clocking down the power requirements of the display when need be. It is an LCD display, and I am not one to make a predefined opinion about something based on just the spec sheet. That served me well here, because what the Poco X3 Pro gets is a pretty neat display that ticks off pretty much every box on the checklist of someone paying mid-range prices for a flagship-esque phone. Colours look really good and one of the reasons are the deep blacks that LCD displays otherwise struggle to replicate. This display can go really bright through I did notice the tendence to stay on the dimmer side in certain auto brightness instances—this is absolutely not a problem for me but may not work as well for some users. This is also one of the few phones that gives you granular control over the night mode brightness, which is really handy in case you use the phone in bed before sleeping. To control how the colours look, you have three options—Auto, Saturated and Standard. And for each of these three, you’ll get further control with Default, Warm, Cool and Custom modes.
The Poco X3 Pro gets you MIUI 12 for Poco, and the phone is running MIUI 12.0.4 to be precise. This is the latest for Android as well as MIUI. We noticed this change a while ago with the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max as well, and that’s very much on display here as well—a greater focus on Google’s original apps for some of the most important functionality. The Phone app, Messages, Calendar and Chrome, for instance. These apps don’t get duplicates, which is great. The interface, if you already use a Xiaomi phone, will have that warmth of familiarity. Yet, the same slickness doesn’t always apply—there is Google Photos and MIUI’s own Gallery app as well as Google’s Files app and also MIUI’s File Manager app. There is significantly lesser preloaded app clutter too but the GetApps app notifications still really annoy me. Maybe there are too many of those, and maybe I don’t like to be prompted that much. If you can call those adverts, there’s that bit too. That being said, I turned off the Personalized Ad Recommendations, an option that is buried in Settings -> Passwords & Security -> Privacy -> Ad Services. I didn’t see any ads interfere with the notification bar after I explicitly turned them off. There are still recommendations all over the place, including the App Vault screen (that’s -1 on your home screen), which serves up a lot of ‘popular videos’, ‘utilities’ which are basically app and task suggestions that lead to an app or “recommended” apps.
If you are buying the Poco X3 Pro for photography, chances are that you’ll come away impressed. This has a 48-megapxiel wide camera, an 8-megapixel ultrawide camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth camera. One can perhaps say a higher spec ultrawide camera would have felt more in tune with the positioning of the phone, but this could just about get the job done for the most part. The way this camera and image processing combination has been tuned, colours are restrained and look sophisticated as well as closer to natural. I’ve often remarked that a camera is only as good as the image processing optimization that it is given. Daytime and good light photos get a lot of detailing, and if you really want to pick out fine details, choose the 48-megapixel mode specifically to get a much higher resolution image that lets you zoom in much more. Though I have to observe that in some photos, contrast in certain parts of the frame could have been a bit better. Low light photos take just that but extra to process, so hold that pose and poise for a bit longer. The photos that emerge, even without the night mode active, are fairly well illuminated. Yet, you should use the night mode for significantly better differentiation and replication of the finer highlights in the frame. And also, for much better colours without the typical noise getting in the way of the details.
Last but not least is the design of the Poco X3 Pro, something that will surely have people take a second glance at your phone. Irrespective of whether it is the Steel Blue, Graphite Black or Golden Bronze colour. The dual finish on the back panel looks really good, and some may say that it looks like there is a racing stripe running down the middle of the phone. I like it. What is pictured here is the Graphite Black phone and I’m not sure if you can spot it, but towards the right and left side edges, there is a dash of what looks like purple and a shade of blue. That merges into a black band running inwards from either side that then gives way to the thick band running down the middle. The sides have a slightly coarse and grippy finish while the middle band is glossy and catches some fingerprints. I’m a fan of subtle branding, and this Poco branding is a bit too loud in that regard. But personal preferences and all that. The fingerprint sensor is integrated in the power button on the side spine, and to be fair, I would have preferred it integrated in the display, just as phones with premium personality should.
The Last Word: What Exactly Do You Expect From The Poco X3 Pro?
Earlier in this review, I had asked whether the Poco X3 Pro can be the phone to really stir up the market and put the flagship killer Android phones, for the lack of a better word, in a bit of a tough spot by offering even more value? The thing is, for the most part, it seems to be hitting the notes as it should. Performance doesn’t leave anything unanswered; the design will attract those who like their phones to be noticed, the cameras are on the ball from the outset, and this has a large battery which simply adds on to the package. Yet, if it has to be talked about in the same breath as Android flagship phones and the whereabouts, things like a fingerprint sensor that integrated in the power button, ads in the interface and MIUI that doesn’t feel any different from phones that cost half as much, do stand out. It has to be said that the Poco X3 Pro is not parking the bus at all when it comes to making its performance centric positioning very clear, and it absolutely delivers on that promise. For a lot of users, anything else that’s slightly less than 100% really fades into the background.