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Poco M3 Review: Power Meets Stylish Design at an Affordable Price

Is the Poco M3 the best budget smartphone in its price range? We have used the device for a week to help you decide. Here is our Poco M3 review:

February 09, 2021 / 12:42 PM IST

The Indian smartphone market is flooded with entry-level and budget smartphones under Rs 15,000. This absolutely is a great thing because consumers are spoilt for choices and they can pick the smartphone based on their preferences and use case. Poco M3 is yet-another-budget-smartphone in the sub Rs 10,000 category. The device comes in two storage options with 6GB of RAM as standard starting at Rs 10,999. How does the Poco M3 fare against the competition? Is the Poco M3 the best budget smartphone in its price range? We have used the device for a week to help you decide. Here is our Poco M3 review:

Poco M3 Review

The key parameters for recommending a budget smartphone revolve around its display, form factor/ design, performance and battery life, software, and lastly, the camera module. Poco is betting big on the smartphone’s overall design and performance by calling it an “OP Performer”. 

Let’s start with the design and the display of the device.

Design and Display

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The refreshing design helps the Poco M3 make itself stand apart from the crowd with its colour options and the camera module design at the back. The people who saw this phone during our Poco M3 review period appreciated the overall design. Poco M3 comes in three distinct colours - Cool Blue, Poco Yellow, and Power Black.

Poco M3 (Image: Pranav Hegde)

The former two options are quite striking and do grab attention. If you want a subtle-looking phone, the Power Black is the one to go for. It is not just about the colour options. The phone is well built and offers good in-hand feel despite the polycarbonate back. You can credit the textured rear panel for that. What adds to the good in-hand experience is the curved edges. For a phone with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio that weighs 198 grams, the Poco M3 is ergonomic for most people. 

Poco M3 (Image: Pranav Hegde)

The camera module - or should I say the camera island - at the back houses three sensors. We will get to the camera performance in the latter part of the review. The camera module’s design, however, is unique and something that I have not seen in a smartphone in the price range. Sure the large Poco branding does grab attention but the overall design did grow on me. If you don’t like the Poco branding, simply stick a black-coloured phone skin and you should be good to go.

Upfront, you get a 6.53-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD. The good thing here is that not many phones in the price range offer a Full HD+ resolution. A 1080p display clubbed with WideVine L1 certification means that the screen offers good sharpness and colours.

My only complaint here would be the overall brightness. the display is bright for indoor use and the viewing angles after quite good. However, I often struggled to read content while on the move in direct sunlight. A slightly brighter display would have helped in a better viewing experience. While we are at it, the display is surrounded by narrow bezels.

Poco M3 (Image: Pranav Hegde)

There is a tiny water-drop notch on top for the front camera. The screen comes with a 60Hz refresh rate, in case you are wondering. At the price point, I do not expect even a value-focused brand like Poco to offer a 90Hz panel under Rs 11,000.

Performance and Software 

The Poco M3 draws power from a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 SoC that is built on an 11 nm architecture. The chipset is also found on the likes of Redmi 9 Power and a few other budget smartphones in the price range. Without getting into the technical details, I am going to jump into my day-to-day performance experience with the device.

Poco M3 (Image: Pranav Hegde)

My use case included the basic - scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, playing games in between work calls or otherwise, clicking photos, etc. I did initially notice that some apps like Facebook and Instagram took a couple of seconds more than usual to open.

With 6GB of RAM as standard, multi-tasking too is not an issue. Apps opened from where I left them. However, I did come across minor stuttering and lag here and there. For instance, the keyboard froze a couple of times when I wanted to tweet something about my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review. Even the app drawer stuttered slightly when I swiped up from the bottom of the screen. This is unlikely to be the SoC as it is capable enough to load and play heavy games like Call of Duty Mobile. I played the game at High graphics and the gameplay was smooth. The phone was slightly warm to the touch after 25 minutes of gameplay, which is not something to worry about.

Poco M3

The problem could be the resource-hungry MIUI 12 for Poco. The excellent part of the custom Android skin is that it offers you a variety of options to customise your phone’s UI- right from icon shapes to themes and widgets. The company has included a bunch of animation that makes the UI feel smooth. My favourite feature is Floating Windows that lets you run apps on the screen as you multitask.

MIUI 12 for Poco is ad-free, the company claims and so was the case during our Poco M3 review. Although the phone will prompt for personalised ads during setup, I did not come across any ads during my Poco M3 review. What I do not like though is the number of pre-installed apps the phone comes with. This is without the N number of apps that I chose to not install on the phone. Yes, you can delete some of these apps, except GetApps, which will spam you with frequent notifications. 

Battery life is quite impressive. The device packs a beefy 6,000 mAh battery, which you also find on the Poco X3 (review). On average, the phone offered an all-day battery and then some more the next day. You can easily refill the battery from zero to 100 in a few minutes short of two hours using the company’s 18W fast charger.

Poco M3-10

The audio quality is decent for the price. What I will appreciate though is that Poco is offering the Poco M3 with dual-speakers. The earpiece above the front camera acts as a secondary audio outlet.

There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint scanner that is quick to unlock the device within a second.

Lastly, the Poco M3 camera review

Camera

Poco M3 (Image: Pranav Hegde)

Poco M3 sports a triple-camera setup at the back. The camera island houses a 48MP primary camera, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor.

The camera app is quite simple to use. You get various modes like Photo, Video, Portrait, Pro, etc. below the viewfinder. The top section of the camera app has settings like Flash, HDR, etc. The most annoying part here is that you have to dig through the camera settings to find the macro mode. Poco could have simply added it in the “More” Section, after which I could simply edit and drag it to the row below the viewfinder.

Poco M3-3

Coming to the camera performance, the primary sensor shoots decent images in daylight. Colours are well saturated and for the price, you get decent details. I struggled to get the focusing right in macro shots but I would not rely on that 2MP sensor as it gives mediocre results. Instead, shoot using the 48MP mode and crop in to get better details. 

Lowlight camera performance is below average. There is night mode but don’t expect a lot. You will notice grainy images with noise in the shadows. Stick to the camera setup for shooting only during the daylight.

Poco M3-7

The phone clicks decent selfies for the price. Colours are a bit off and the skin too is a bit smoothened despite the beauty mode disabled. Click on the Flickr slideshow below to check some shots clicked for the Poco M3 review.

Poco M3 photos

Verdict

Coming to the main question - Should you buy the Poco M3?

If looks and decent performance are your priority, you can consider buying the Poco M3. The device does look exceptionally good, especially for the price. For Rs 10,999, the 6GB RAM + 64GB storage option should be more than enough for most users. However, if you download loads of games or shoot photos and videos, consider getting the 128GB variant for Rs 11,999. The camera performance is quite average but that’s common for most phones in the price range. I would have traded the macro camera for an ultrawide lens that could be of more use. But for that, you have the Redmi 9 Power. However, with the Poco M3, you get more RAM for the same price. Moreover, no ads - something that you are likely to get on the Redmi 9 Power.
Pranav Hegde
first published: Feb 8, 2021 07:53 pm

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