POCO F3: The smartphone with high end spec and big brain price

Why pay over the odds when the F3 and X3 Pro offer eye-watering value?

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Smartphone bargain hunters are in for a treat with POCO's latest offerings. Image: POCO

It’s begun: the mid-range smartphone market is heating up with the release of a beast that is the POCO F3.

POCO, an offshoot of Xiaomi, is hellbent on outdoing its more illustrious counterpart by introducing this ludicrously specced phone to the midrange category. Much like what happens when a professional sportsman decides to join your team for a Sunday kickabout.

But lest we forget, there’s also the POCO X3 Pro, a more modest phone but quite well-priced all the same. Both phones run MIUI, so it’s not an entirely alien beast for those who are unfamiliar with the brand.

Budget phone with a Snapdragon 860

The X3 Pro doesn’t have the latest top-tier Snapdragon, but the Snapdragon 860 (basically a souped-up 855) is still plenty powerful for gaming and it’s accompanied by an enlarged copper heat pipe cooling unit – called LiquidCool Technology 1.0 Plus – to this end. They’ve paired the ensemble with enhanced UFS 3.1 storage for snappier read and write speeds.

The display is merely Full HD resolution, but it’s a fairly large one, measuring 6.67 inches. The 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz polling rate are now pretty much standard for gaming phones, and the X3 Pro has a DynamicSwitch controller to optimise the refresh rate according to the application. It also sports a dual speaker array with force feedback style vibrations. The battery capacity is reasonably good at 5,160mAh, and Poco says it’s good for up to two full days. There’s no 65W fast charge feature, but a 33W charger should be adequate.

The rear quad-camera setup sports a 48MP main camera (seems like a Sony sensor) with 1.6um 4-in-1 Super Pixels feature to improve details, while the 119° ultra-wide camera lens has a useful Night Mode that lets you take landscape shots and group photos in low-light conditions. A macro camera and depth sensor bring up the rear.

Flagship phone, mid-tier price

It’s a pretty simple equation: for $549, you can get a phone with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G Mobile Platform and Adreno 650 GPU, a 6.67" AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate. It’s the same narrative that Xiaomi was pushing when it first started.

The display is quite a treat too: HDR10+ certified with a peak brightness of up to 1,300 nits, with MEMC tech to reduce motion blur in videos. Pair that with support for Dolby Atmos and haptic feedback and you have a great phone for content junkies.

At least on the surface, it doesn’t look like there’s much being sacrificed. Going down the list, we see a Snapdragon X55 5G Modem and Wi-Fi 6 support for best connectivity speeds along with LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage for speedy data transfer speeds. The 4,520mAh battery can also get a full charge in 52 minutes with the included 33W charger.

The camera is usually where flagships are truly differentiated by cost and in this case, the F3’s 48MP main camera, like the X3 earlier, is likely Sony tech, meaning it’s pretty decent if the software is good, but it’s not category-defining. Still, it looks like POCO has come up with a useful package not dissimilar to the X3. This ensemble sports a 119° ultra-wide lens and a 5MP macro camera that supports 3-7cm autofocus. The 20MP front camera also has a Night Mode feature for better selfies in poorly lit conditions. The F3 also has a third microphone that helps zoom in on the sounds being recorded.

Prices and availability

POCO F3: $549 (6GB RAM +128GB storage) or $599 (8GB+256GB) in Arctic White, Night Black and Deep Ocean Blue. Early bird starts 27 Mar, 12 midnight to 28 Mar 11.59 pm at an early bird price of $459 and $499 respectively.

POCO X3 Pro: $399 (6GB RAM + 128GB storage) or $449 (8GB RAM + 256GB storage) in Phantom Black, Frost Blue or Metal Bronze. Early bird starts 24 Mar, 12.00mn to 25 Mar 11.59 pm at a special price of $299 and $369 respectively.

Both phones will be available at Shopee and authorised POCO retailers.