When it comes to us recommending the best smartphone under Rs 20,000 in India in 2020, Poco has always found a mention on the list. The ex-Xiaomi sub-brand launched a new smartphone called the Poco X2 (review) that offered absolute value-for-money performance with its price fluctuating between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000.
Roughly six months later, we have with us the Poco X3 that comes with the same ethos of the Poco X2 - offering best-in-class specifications without being heavy on the wallet.
However, with the competition heating up, Poco X3 finds itself competing against a plethora of smartphones under Rs 20,000 namely the Realme 7 Pro (Review), Realme Narzo 20 Pro (Review), Samsung Galaxy M31s, Redmi Note 9 Pro, Realme 7, among others.
Is the Poco X3 capable of out-doing the competition? Is Poco X3 the best smartphone under Rs 20,000 in India? We have used the smartphone for over a week and here is our Poco X3 review.
Poco X3 review
Poco claims that its smartphones offer “everything that you need and nothing you don’t”. The company has loaded its latest smartphone with the best-in-class processor, a high refresh rate display, a massive battery with fast-charging capabilities, and a 64MP quad-camera unit. While these specs surely are quite enticing for the starting price tag of Rs 16,999, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Poco X3 display
Poco continues to be the only smartphone under Rs 20,000 to offer a 120Hz refresh rate display. As an upgrade, the Poco X3 comes with a DynamicSwitch function that allows it to save power by automatically switching between 50, 60, 90 and 120Hz depending on the use case and the format of the content displayed on the screen. This allows the Poco X3’s refresh rate to go up for use cases like gaming and down for lighter operations like reading – thereby optimising power usage.
The display size remains the same at 6.67-inch. What may seem like a downgrade is the peak brightness levels that have dropped marginally from 500 nits to 450 nits. While we did not come across any difficulty in using the smartphone when indoors, we preferred keeping the brightness levels at full for a better viewing experience in outdoor conditions. Despite being an LCD, the display offered rich and vibrant colours. The colour scheme is on the neutral side and you can change it in the settings as per your preference.
A minor upgrade that you might miss out from the Poco X3 specifications sheet is the touch sampling rate. Poco has doubled the touch sampling rate from 120Hz to 240Hz on the Poco X3. Theoretically, this should make your swiping and scrolling experience a lot smoother with the improved touch sensitivity, and it does. While not many can notice a 120Hz refresh rate + 120Hz touch sampling rate, the 120Hz refresh rate + 240Hz refresh rate combination is certainly noticeable.
That tall 6.67-inch display is wrapped around a polycarbonate body. Yes, the Poco X3 has a plastic body, unlike the Poco X2’s glass back. You might say that this is a downgrade - which it is - but despite that plastic back, the phone weighs 225 grams without the case. Using a polycarbonate shell is not only cost-effective but it also helps reduce the weight by a few grams.
The 10.1mm thickness might seem like a lot but thanks to the curved back, the phone offers a good grip when held.
A glossy rear panel of this Cobalt Blue Poco X3 review unit shared by the company also makes the Poco X3 prone to fingerprint smudges and you would want to slap a case on it. Another reason would be avoiding the phone from wobbling from flat surfaces, courtesy of that camera bump, which by the way, looks a lot different from other smartphones in its price range.
The power button doubles up as a fingerprint scanner on the right edge, just below the volume keys. On the left edge, you get a triple hybrid SIM tray. The USB Type-C port is sandwiched between the 3.5mm headphone jack and the speaker grille. The earpiece above the display acts as a secondary channel for audio output. Poco has also placed a tiny notification LED that lights up when you have an unread message.
Poco X3 is also IP53-certified, making it splash resistant.
Poco phones have always been about performance and the Poco X3 has similar characteristics. The smartphone under Rs 20,000 gets powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G processor, which gets a slight performance bump over the Snapdragon 730G processor found on the Poco X2. Performing intensive tasks like playing graphics-heavy games like Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt 8 is a breeze. Thanks to an almost bezel-less design approach coupled with the performance unit, the gaming experience was quite immersive. The device got slightly warm only after 45 minutes of CoD Mobile gameplay. If you love playing games on your smartphone and have a budget under Rs 20,000, just buy Poco X3 and you will be more than happy.
Couple that with the massive 6,000 mAh battery, and you are likely to get a screen-on time of more than eight to nine hours depending on your use case. The day we played heavy games for hours, the battery lasted for close to eight hours on a single charge. You can expect a longer battery life if you do not play games on your device. The battery took an average of one hour and 40 minutes to charge completely.
While there was no lag during our gameplay session, we did come across some minor stutters during multi-tasking. Poco has a reputation for pushing out quick updates and we can hope this is fixed very soon.
Poco X3 runs on a Poco launcher based on MIUI 12, which is based on Android 10. As promised, there were no ads. There are quite a few third-party apps, some of which may be essential but the rest were simply filling up the app drawer. GetApps also spammed us with frequent notifications. You can easily disable them by swiping left in the notification tray.
MIUI 12 has received a significant overhaul. You can now choose for a separate control centre in the settings or opt for the traditional one above the notification tray. In case you choose the former, you can swipe down from the top-right portion of the screen to invoke. RAM management too has been really good. On our 8GB Poco X3 review unit, apps opened where we left them.
The speakers are loud and clear and if you stream a lot of content on your phone, the dual stereo-speaker setup, coupled with that edge-to-edge display, will help you offer an immersive viewing experience.
Poco X3 has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is easily reachable even for smaller hands. It is quick to detect and unlock the phone. You also get face unlock as an alternative. Chances are that might not work when you are wearing a mask, which is how it should be.
Poco has a quad-camera setup with a 64MP Sony IMX682 sensor at the helm. You miss out on 4K 60fps video recording which was possible on the Poco X2's 64MP IMX686 sensor. The other three sensors include a 13MP 119-degree ultrawide lens, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro lens.
The camera app on the Poco X3 has some tiny tweaks here and there. Various modes like Photo, Video, Portrait and "More" can be found above the shutter. The "More" option has other modes like Pro, Clone, Time-lapse, VLOG mode, etc. Above the viewfinder are options for the 64MP mode, HDR, Google Lens, and a hamburger menu that further houses other options like Macro mode, tilt-shift, time burst, etc.
The primary camera clicks detailed shots. You get sharp, colour-accurate images with well-exposed highlights and shadows in daylight conditions. The dynamic range too is pretty good. In low-light, the night mode tries and brings out the best possible details with an improved dynamic range.
Poco X3 also brings more AI Skyscaping filters - an underrated feature on devices running the Xiaomi Android skin. These filters use AI to detect the sky and allow you to replace it one among the several options available. What makes these filters even better is that the final output looks real.
The 13MP ultrawide camera is a welcome upgrade. The images offer quite a good amount of detail, although obviously not as good as the primary sensor. The colour temperature too is the same as the primary camera. For the 2MP macro camera, you need to get used to focusing it right to get decent results which otherwise aren’t that great.
For selfies, Poco X3 gets a single 20MP front camera and is one of our favourite front-shooters in the price range alongside the Realme 7 Pro (Review). You get detailed, colour-accurate selfies without any major skin smoothening. Of course, disable the beauty mode to get close-to-real results. Click on the Flickr slideshow below to check some sample images shot on the Poco X3.
Coming to the main question - Should you buy Poco X3? Is Poco X3 the best smartphone under Rs 20,000 in India?
We would recommend the Poco X3 to the ones who want maximum performance within a budget. The trifecta of Snapdragon 732G processor, 8GB RAM, and a 6,000 mAh battery with 33W fast charging offer more-than-enough juice for the power user in you. Add to it the high refresh rate display that also offers an immersive viewing experience.
The only complaint that we have about the Poco X3 is its weight. No doubt the Poco X3 is light on the wallet, but it certainly feels heavy when in the pocket. Not many might be comfortable holding a smartphone that weighs 225 grams and is 10.1mm thick.
If you are on the lookout for a slim and not-so-heavy device, consider checking our Realme 7 Pro review. The smartphone also offers a whopping-fast 65W Super DART charging that charges the smaller 4,500 mAh battery in roughly 35 minutes. There are other options like the Narzo 20 Pro (Review), Motorola One Fusion+, and Redmi Note 9 Pro Max.
If you want a big battery smartphone with an AMOLED screen, Samsung Galaxy M31s could be a good buy for a smartphone under Rs 20,000.