Poco M3 Pro 5G Review: The budget 5G segment gets a looker

Poco gets into 5G

by: - Last updated on: July 20th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • The Poco M3 Pro is the first Poco phone in the Indian market to come with 5G support.
  • At Rs 13,999, it is one of the most affordable 5G phones in the country and goes up against the Realme 8 5G.
  • It is easily the most distinct-looking phone in its segment, but take 5G out of the equation, however, and the Poco M3 Pro faces some stiff competition.

The network itself might not be available in India, but the number of 5G phones in the country is increasing rapidly. Initially, these devices came with premium price tags, but of late, they have become more affordable and are even available in the mid-segment. And the latest addition to the mid-segment 5G ranks comes from Xiaomi’s “crazy” sub-brand, Poco – the Poco M3 Pro 5G. At Rs 13,999, it joins the Realme 8 5G as one of the most affordable 5G phones in the Indian market.

poco m3 pro review

Switching to a Switchblade design

It also is perhaps one of the most striking 5G phones in the mid-segment. In its second coming, Poco has shown a willingness to go for designs that stand out – from the large logos on the X3 series to the bright yellow back of the M3 launched a few months ago. The front is business as usual – a tall 6.5-inch LCD display with a punch-hole notch in the center – but flip the phone around, and you are likely to either smile or frown, depending on your sense of aesthetics.

The back is glossy carbonate with a highly reflective finish and is a bit of a dust and fingerprint magnet. It curves towards the sides, which is, again, pretty standard. But then things change radically when you clap eyes on the camera unit and the area around it. At one level, it is pretty standard as well – a rectangular unit with slightly rounded edges with three lenses and a flash that juts out a little.

But you will be too busy staring at the prominent logo in silver below it to notice this “regular” design. The camera unit and the logo are kept in a slightly darker colored section on that back, making it appear totally different from the back – what Poco calls a “switchblade design.” There is also a tiny metallic ring around one of the lenses, giving it a very distinct look. We got the Power Black option – also available are Cool Blue and a rather crazy sounding Poco Yellow – and well, it is unlikely that this phone will be mistaken for another. That camera unit literally makes it stick out from the routine crowd.

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That apart, the Poco M3 Pro 5G is a tall-ish phone at 161.8 mm in height and is neither super slim (8.92 mm) nor super lightweight (190 grams). It is a very regular mid-segment phone until you turn it around and see that camera unit! It is certainly different, but whether you like it or not is going to be a matter of preference.

Incidentally, this is a good place to point out that we totally love the fingerprint sensor on the side! We would have liked some dust and water resistance too, that said.

A smart display at this price point

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It is very mid-segment in terms of specs and performance too. The highlight of the device, in our opinion, is the 6.5-inch full HD+ display. It is an LCD one and is reasonably rather than exceptionally bright (not really a match for the AMOLED on the Redmi Note 10s), but for us, what makes it special is its ability to switch its refresh rate depending on the content being displayed on it. It has a maximum refresh rate of 90 Hz but can switch to 90 Hz, 60 Hz, 50 Hz, or 30 Hz as per the content you are viewing. This is rare at this price point, and as we will find out, it does seem to make a difference in terms of battery life, as the phone does not always run at a maxed-out refresh rate.

The phone comes with two RAM and storage configurations – 4 GB/ 64 GB and 6 GB/ 128 GB. While it does come with expandable memory, the microSD card slot is a hybrid SIM one which means you will have to sacrifice one of two SIM connections if you want to boost storage.

The power of Dimensity 700…and a 5000 mAh battery

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The phone is powered by the Dimensity 700 chip, which is about a notch above the Snapdragon 720G but does not quite have the gaming muscle of the MediaTek G95. So you are going to get decent casual gaming and will be able to do most routine tasks like browsing the Web, checking mail and messaging, social networks, and all without too much trouble. However, get into the heavy-duty gaming zone or run too many apps at the same time, and lags and stutters will creep in. A bit of a miss in gaming and multimedia is the absence of stereo speakers, which we actually saw on the Poco M3 and which are also becoming increasingly common in this segment. There is a 3.5 mm audio jack, though.

Incidentally, the phone runs on the ad-free Poco Launcher on top of MIUI 12 (not 12.5), and while there are a few Mi apps that come preinstalled, the UI works smoothly. And making sure it runs for a while is the job of a 5000 mAh battery. It will generally see you through a day and a half of normal to heavy usage. There is a 22.5W charger in the box, but the battery itself supports only 18W fast charging (a limitation of the Dimensity 700, some say), so the phone takes about two hours to charge.

A good main sensor (did we need the others?)

poco m3 pro camera review

The cameras are firmly mid-segment too. That jazzy-looking camera unit on the back contains three snappers – a 48-megapixel main sensor, a 2-megapixel depth sensor, and another 2-megapixel macro sensor. It is really about the main sensor, though, as the other two seem more decorative in nature – we get decent portrait shots (but do not know how much of that is attributable to the depth sensor and how much to software) and super close up shots were not the sharpest.

That said, the main sensor took some very impressive snaps in good light conditions. Poco’s cameras have generally had more “natural” color handling than their Redmi and Mi counterparts slightly, and this continues with the M3 Pro 5G as well. Those who love punchy, poppy colors might feel a little letdown, but if you are looking for realistic-looking shots, you will not be too disappointed as long as you stay in well-lit environs. Of course, things take a bit of a hit in low light conditions, but we do not expect the world at this price point. Video quality is passable and good enough for social networks. However, we were a bit disappointed with the 8-megapixel selfie camera – it takes good enough snaps, but we were expecting a bit more considering the sort of selfie snappers in this price segment.

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[Click here for full resolution images plus additional samples]

So…worth it?

The Poco M3 Pro 5G starts at Rs 13,999 for a base 4 GB/ 64 GB variant. There is also a 6GB/ 128 GB variant available for Rs 15,999. And at that price, it is definitely one of the best budget 5G phones available in the market right now. It gets right alongside the very similarly configured Realme 8 5G, which also has a similar processor, display (although not a smart one), and battery and starts at exactly the same price. However, it only has 4 GB and 8 GB RAM variants (no 6 GB one). And well, with due respect to it, the Realme 8 5G looks nothing as striking as the Poco M3 Pro 5G.

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However, take 5G out of the equation. Then, the M3 Pro has to deal with the Redmi Note 10S, which starts at Rs 14,999 and brings an AMOLED display (albeit with a 60 Hz refresh rate), a more gaming-oriented MediaTek G95 processor, more versatile cameras (a 64 MP main sensor, and a usable ultrawide), a base 6 GB/ 64GB variant, a newer version of MIUI (12.5) and a battery that is capable of charging much faster thanks to a 33W charger in the box. And for those thinking of the higher RAM/ storage variant, the very formidable Redmi Note 10 Pro, which packs in a more premium design, a superior display, and far better cameras at Rs 15,999.

The Poco M3 Pro 5G is a good option for anyone wanting to dip their toes daintily in 5G waters, but take the alphanumeric component out of its name, and it faces stiff competition. That switchblade design does give it an edge, but it will not always cut it. Puns thoroughly intended.

Pros
  • Eye-catching design
  • Good battery life
  • Smooth performance
  • Decent main camera
  • Uncluttered, ad-free interface
Cons
  • Hybrid SIM slot
  • Largely decorative secondary cameras
  • Not the best for gaming
  • No stereo speakers
  • No dust and water resistance
Review Overview
Appearance & design
Cameras
Software
Performance
Price
SUMMARY

At Rs 13,999, Poco M3 Pro is one of the most affordable 5G phones in the country and goes up against the Realme 8 5G. But take 5G out of the equation, however, and the Poco M3 Pro faces some stiff competition.

3.9

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