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Xiaomi Poco F3 review

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In almost every aspect, the Xiaomi Poco F3 is a significant upgrade to the Poco X3NFC. It’s still a good deal considering the features you get.

It has a Snapdragon 870 chipet that is extremely fast and a flawless 120Hz AMOLED screen. This phone feels more flagship than most sub-PS400/$500 smartphones.

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Release Date and Price

Design

Display

Camera

Samples Cameras

Performance Specifications and Performance

Software

Battery Life

Should it be bought?

The Poco F3 will be a favorite of media gurus and gamers on a tight budget. The Poco F3 is simply the best phone we can find for the price. It has a responsive display, near-flagship performance and is unbeatable in terms of its capabilities.

The Poco F3’s battery life is also strong. It can withstand a full day of intense usage. The 33W fast charger, which is more generous than any other offering from Apple and Samsung, is also faster.

There have been compromises made in order to reach that lower-mid-range price. It will be cheaper to buy a plastic frame than a metal one. There is no wireless charging and IP rating.

The phone’s camera system is the biggest flaw. It is quite disappointing. The 48MP main camera produces sharp images in good lighting. However, the Poco F3 is lacking in all other areas. The ultra-wide range of images it offers is average at best. There’s also no telephoto camera. Night shots, too, lack definition.

MIUI (Xiaomi’s Android skin) is still a mixed bag. It’s flexible and customizable, but there’s bloatware and some annoying rough edges that are not available with a stock Android-oriented interface.

The Xiaomi Poco F3 is a compelling choice at a price that’s affordable and ranks among the top Xiaomi phones. The phone feels more flagship-like than any other smartphone, regardless of whether it’s the Samsung Galaxy A52 or the Google Pixel4a.

Xiaomi Poco F3 price and release date

  • Now Available April 12, in the UK. Also available in Europe
  • Prices starting at PS329 (around $450 AU$590).

Poco F3 specs

Weight: 196g

Dimensions 163.7 x 76.4x 7.8mm

Display Size: 6.67 inches

Resolution: 1080 x 2400

Chipset – Snapdragon 870

RAM: 6/8GB

Storage: 128/256GB

Rear camera – 48MP + 8MP + + 5MP

Front camera 20MP

Pre-installed Software:Android 11

Battery: 4,520mAh

Charging: 33W wired

On March 22, 2021, the Poco F3 was officially announced. It was released in the UK on April 12, 2021, less than a month after its announcement.

For a model with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, prices start at PS329 (about $450, AU$590). There is an upgrade path available for PS349, which costs $480 and AU$625, to add 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. The Poco F3 is only available in Western Europe and the UK at the time this article was written.

The Poco F3 is priced at the same price as the Pixel 4a and the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G. It has one weakness, but it is better than the rest in key areas.

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Xiaomi Poco F3 design

  • Glass back, sides
  • Slim (7.8mm) and quite hefty (196g).
  • Side-mounted fingerprint sensor

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The Xiaomi Poco F3 has ‘one of these faces’. It’s hard to believe you’ve ever seen it before.

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If you pay attention to parent company Xiaomi’s erratic global release strategy, you will see why. The Poco F3 is basically a rebranded Redmi K40 and has a nearly identical design to the Xiaomi Mi 11i. It’s the exact same phone, but it has been partially reconfigured to suit different markets and price points.

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The F3 is, as you might expect from such a one size fits all approach, tidy, well thought out, immaculately built and somewhat nondescript.

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The phone has Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back, making it feel premium. You even get that super-reflective, fingerprint-attracting finish that flagship manufacturers seem to love. The F3’s sides, however, are made of pure plastic and diffuse light in a metallic manner.

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The lozenge-within-a-rounded-rectangle camera module is a classy touch, and nods to the mainline Xiaomi Mi 11 range.

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The Poco F3 flat on top of a table. (Image credit: TechRadar)

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The combination of all that glass makes a phone that is hardly light at 196g. However, it is not heavy. The phone measures just 7.8mm in thickness.

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The Poco F3’s front adopts an all-screen design, but with a larger chin and a flat display. The central punch-hole camera is another indicator that this phone is not a flagship model. It has a shiny surround and a somewhat off-putting design.

The plastic sides contain a fingerprint sensor that is reliable and fast. It could be slightly recessed, or textured to aid in finding it quickly. However, it isn’t a big problem.

A decent set of stereo speakers is also included in the device’s earpiece and bottom. These speakers are great for media playback and gaming, and offer decent bass and volume for a mid-range smartphone.

Another concession to the Xiaomi Poco F3’s low price is its lack of IP rating. Although IP53 has been mentioned in unofficial sources, it does not make the phone water-resistant.

Overall, however, the phone is well disguised as a premium and prestigious device. Even though it doesn’t set the pulse racing as fast as the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite, it looks and feels great.

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Xiaomi Poco F3 display

  • Strong 6.67-inch 120Hz AMOLED
  • Supports HDR10+ & 100% DCI-P3
  • 360Hz touch sampling rate is great for gamers

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The Xiaomi Poco F3’s superb screen is another reason it’s a great choice for gamers and video-watchers with a budget. Officially, it is “Poco’s clearest display yet,” and we don’t disagree with that statement for a second.

 

The 6.67-inch AMOLED screen is bright and vibrant with a peak brightness level of 1,300 nits. This is the same price as the Oppo Find X3 PRO, a phone that’s more than three times as expensive.

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Although you don’t get the full QHD+ resolution on this phone, FHD+ (1080×2400) is plenty. The phone is also bright and vibrant with HDR10+ support and 100% DCI–P3 coverage.

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You can also enjoy a 120Hz refresh rate on the Poco F3 screen, which makes everything move super smooth. An MEMC mode can be turned on that basically upscales videos with a lower refresh rate.

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The phone’s 360Hz touch sampling speed is perhaps even more impressive, though it is a niche feature. This feature is designed for gamers and enhances your touch inputs’ responsiveness. This is a remarkable feature that most flagship phones can provide at 240Hz.

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The only complaint we have about the display is actually one against the Poco F3’s MIUI software. To adjust the color balance, go to the color scheme settings menu. By default, it is set to auto. This “Adjusts colors according to the current lighting.”

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Scroll down to find an additional adaptive colors toggle that, when activated will “Adjust colors for ambient light”. It is not clear how these modes differ.

The display of the Xiaomi Poco F3 is however unimpeachable in pure hardware terms.

Xiaomi Poco F3 camera

  • 48MP main cam is only okay in decent lighting
  • 8MP ultrawide isn’t very good

Xiaomi Poco F3 features a 48MP main camera based upon a Sony IMX582 sensor with an f/1.8 lens, PDAF (phase detection automatic focus) and a PDAF (phase-detection autofocus). The main camera is supported by an 8MP ultra-wide camera and a 5MP macro camera f/2.4. A 20MP front camera f/2.5 handles selfies.

The results of our shooting with the Poco F3 were disappointing. The shots were not bad, it was just that they weren’t great. You can really tell when your phone isn’t meeting your expectations when it exceeds them in so many ways.

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Daylight photography is excellent. Bright, balanced shots are taken that don’t overdo it with colors. Poco’s/Xiaomi’s powerful scene-recognizing AI was very useful in a few tricky situations like when they shot food under a gazebo. It didn’t get confused by the lighting as much with the Samsung Galaxy A52/5G.

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The Poco F3 camera bump. (Image credit: TechRadar)

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This is Samsung’s new mid-ranger. The Galaxy A52 5G is a better, more comprehensive camera system than its competitor, despite the occasional whiffed shot or overly applied colors. The Poco F3 doesn’t capture as fine a detail and the HDR tools don’t make shadows as clear as its rival.

The main camera of the Poco F3 is excellent, but its ultra-wide 8MP sensor falls short. Images are soft and colors are not as sharp as they are at wide angles. There is also a lot of noise around the edges. This is where Samsung’s rival takes the cake.

A 5MP telemacro camera is the third snapper. Although it’s more capable of taking close-up shots than the 2MP atrocities found in many cheaper phones, we prefer a more competent telephoto lens with higher pixel counts. This is a lens that we don’t think many people will use.

The Xiaomi Redmi 10 Pro has a 108MP sensor, which means that there is less cropping potential for the Poco F3’s 2x zoomed photos. As a result, they are quite fuzzy.

The 20MP selfie camera captures sharp shots in good lighting and has decent balance. The selfie portrait mode can be a bit finicky, introducing weird halo effects. Portrait mode with the main camera produced a cleaner separation between subject & bokeh-enhanced backdrop.

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Night shots by the Poco are quite standard for this market section – i.e. Not great. It preserves dark areas instead of artificially lighting them. There are also some positive aspects.

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However, it tends to produce a lot of noise where it illuminates scenes. The Xiaomi Poco F3 doesn’t have optical image stabilization. This is unlike the Galaxy A52 5G or the Pixel 4a which can take better low-light snaps.

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These rivals show just how much is possible in the sub-PS400/$500 range if a manufacturer puts its resources and focus on the camera. The Poco F3 seems to favor performance and is an underwhelming camera system.

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This is a good choice, rather than a major flaw. However, it’s important to determine your priorities before you commit your hard earned money.

Camera samples

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The colors are kept natural and clean. (Image credit: TechRadar)

This beach scene is well captured by the main 48MP camera. (Image credit: TechRadar)

The detail in zomed shots has to be cropped in. (Image credit: TechRadar)

The ultra-wide is far off in terms of color, detail and dynamic range. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Although the telemacro camera may not be perfect, it is still a niche and noisy product. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Xiaomi’s AI can balance difficult scenes. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Great crisp details and well-balanced colors. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Sharp shots can be taken with the 20MP selfie camera. (Image credit: TechRadar)

However, the selfie portrait mode can produce some strange effects. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Performance and specs of Xiaomi Poco F3

  • Snapdragon 870 with 6GB/8GB RAM delivers true flagship performance
  • The Probably the most affordable gaming phone

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Apart from the excellent display, the Poco F3’s main advantage is its high performance. It is much faster than its competitors and can compete with phones twice as expensive.

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The Snapdragon 870 chipset is what makes this possible. It is basically an overclocked Snapdragon865 processor, last year’s top-of-the-line flagship processor. It comes with 8GB LPDDR5 RAM, but there’s also a 6GB version. This means you get flagship performance even though it isn’t at the cutting-edge.

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Geekbench 5’s average multi-core score of 3,369 puts it on par with the international version of the $799/PS769/AU$1,249 Samsung Galaxy S21 with its Exynos 21100 chip. This is a significant improvement on the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G’s Snapdragon 750G score of 1,886.

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The Poco F3 in one hand. (Image credit: TechRadar)

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A 3DMark Wild Life score (4,086) flies past the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite with its Snapdragon 732G at 3,120. However, this is still a lot less than Snapdragon 888 devices such as the OnePlus9 which are more in the 5500 range.

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We found that Genshin Impact was defaulting to Medium settings, which is a very demanding but highly scalable game. This made for an extremely smooth experience. We were able to increase the settings to High and set it at 60 frames per second, and the game remained playable. This is no small feat considering the vast open-world adventure game.

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This impressive performance, combined with the Poco F3’s fluid display and powerful stereo speakers make it the best gaming phone for under the PS350/$450 price tag.

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You have ample storage with the option of 128GB or 2256GB UFS 3.1 storage. However, there is no expansion. As standard, you get 5G connectivity.

Software Xiaomi Poco F3

  • Android 11 with MIUI 12
  • MIUI is confusing
  • The themes shop is an easy customization tool

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Given the recent flood of Xiaomi-affiliated devices, we’ve had plenty of time to get used to the MIUI software. However, the software is constantly improving.

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MIUI 12 (based upon Android 11) is fast, fluid and easy to use. There are not many Android skins that offer so many customization options. We love the ability to choose to split the dropdown shade into shortcut toggles or notifications depending on which side of the screen you drag.

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The themes store at Xiaomi is one of the most well-designed and slickest of its kind. It allows you to download and apply many looks and styles to your home screen.

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However, we cannot praise MIUI’s improvements enough to make it perfect. It’s filled with annoying and just plain confusing elements.

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The Poco F3 leaned on a table. (Image credit: TechRadar)

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MIUI is not always at its best. It defaults to a 60Hz screen refresh rate and the old notification style. To get things working properly, you will need to do some digging at the beginning.

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It is also very annoying that MIUI interrupts your work with a large, blank page notification to inform you that a new app was installed and scanned.

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It’s possible to get lost in MIUI’s labyrinthine settings menu. Not everything is right. So it seems.

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There’s also the old issue of bloatware. This includes many of Xiaomi’s tools, some clunky games, and a few third-party apps that are pre-installed. Can anyone explain why three web browsers should be pre-installed on the Xiaomi Mi5? Anyone?

Xiaomi Poco F3 battery lifetime

  • 4,520mAh battery provides you with a full day’s intensive usage
  • 33W charger gives you a full charge in under an hour

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The Xiaomi Poco F3 comes with a 4,520mAh battery, which is a near-flagship feature. This is the OnePlus 9 Pro with the same capacity as the Poco X3 NFC with its massive 5,160mAh cell.

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This makes it an all-day device that can be used even during intense usage. One time, we used the device for around a day and a quarter. This included approximately 3 hours screen-on (light to moderate) and 5 mins of camera usage (intensive). Before we fell below 20%, we received our first low-power warning.

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The Poco F3 is not particularly affected by media usage. The typical test involves looping a 90-minute video with the screen brightness set at full. The Poco lost 7% during this time. The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite’s less fluid, dimmer display lost 11% during the same test.

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According to the Poco F3’s official statistics, you can get 268 hours of standby, 10 hours gaming or 14 hours of video, and 149 hours worth of music from the battery.

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You get a 33W charging cable in your box, just like many Xiaomi phones. Although it isn’t particularly uncommon, the charger can juice up to 100% in under an hour. There is no wireless charging.

Do I need to buy the Xiaomi Poco F3 or not?

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The Poco F3 in one hand. (Image credit: TechRadar)  

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