Mobiles & Tablets

Poco M3: Value for money on all fronts

Mala Bhargava | Updated on February 11, 2021

This phone succeeds a bestseller and brings improvements, including a bigger battery that is lighter

Poco M3 has some big shoes to fill. Its previous gen, M2, became the best selling phone online across all brands and on all platforms. But the M3 has been given all the weapons it needs to beat the M2 at its own game, not the least of which is a better price. Even without that, there would have been plenty in its favour, including a whacky new design.

The Poco M3 came to me dressed in its signature Poco Yellow. My first amused thought was that it looked like a little school bus. Well, it’s almost the same eye-catching shade and it has a big camera compartment that stretches from one edge to the other — not a big camera, but a big design element. That segment is all black and looks for all the world like the window in the bus. But before I get carried away with that bit of fancifulness, let me say that the M3 is a really youthful, playful, nice-looking gadget and a refreshing change from all the other glitzy phones around.

 

The back is made of some kind of leathery material that looks and feels good, gives you a good grip, and manages not to show any fingerprints and smudges. It’s bright and attractive but if it’s too much for you, you can opt for one of the other colours: Power Cool Black or Blue. I think I would choose the little school bus if I were buying this phone.

Poco M3 smartphone launched in India

The Poco M3 looks really big — probably because of the clean expanse of bright colour — but it isn’t particularly bigger than most phones today and even manages to stay surprisingly light given that it has an enormous 6,000mAh battery. You don’t see that everyday! It should do very well for someone who talks endlessly on the phone and doesn’t want to be bothered having to recharge in the middle of the day. If you’re a light user, it’ll probably last several days. It supports fast charging at 18W and 00 applause please — there’s a 22W charger in the box.

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For everyday purposes

This phone has a 6.53-inch FullHD+ (1080x2340) LCD display, better than is typical for this price. There’s a small curvy notch which one can forgive and forget. The display is nice enough and has quite deep blacks and rich colours and you only remember it’s an LCD when you look at a white background. It’s perfectly workable for everyday purposes if you’re on a budget. It also has stereo speakers though they sound exceedingly tinny. It even has Gorilla Glass 3 protection. Also, before anyone thinks of complaining, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and Xiaomi’s famous IR blaster. Wise move. There’s even a power-button-mounted fingerprint sensor. It took me a longish battle to register my fingerprint but once done, it turns out quite fast enough to unlock. Now none of the people not living in my house can just try getting into the phone.

The Poco M3 works on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662. It’s a mid-range processor with eight cores and a speed of up to 2.0GHz. It pairs up with GPU Adreno 610. As someone accustomed to reviewing the fastest snappiest phones, yes, there’s obviously a difference in the way this budget phone will work. There’s that evident pause before switching from one thing to another; a bit of stutter while scrolling; a slight hesitation before something loads — but that’s only as much as is expected. Something faster will obviously cost more. For basic tasks it does the job as long as you give it some patience. The SoC is working with 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM which is more than usual for this segment where you’ve been getting 4GB mostly. There are two storage variants: 64GB and 128GB plus expandable memory. There’s UFS 2.2 storage on the higher end model versus 2.1 on the lower end one.

Killer deal

The software on this phone is Android 10 for now, with a promised upgrade to Android 11. With that is Xiaomi’s MIUI12 specifically tuned up for a Poco device. MIUI isn’t one of my favourites but many like it just fine. There are plenty of preloaded apps and annoying push notifications from GetApps though this phone isn’t ad supported. 21.5GB or so is taken up by what’s already on the phone, and I was only able to bring it down by 1GB after uninstalling things that would let me uninstall. On the other hand, there are things like an FM radio and themes that users in India are fond of.

No one would have believed the level of cameras one gets on a budget phone now. The primary lens is a 48MP and while we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that megapixels necessarily make for great images, the camera does OK. It’s decidedly fuzzy in low light despite a night mode. We’ll ignore the 2MP accompaniments. The front camera is an 8MP.

Overall, the Poco M3 is a killer deal for the price it comes at. It remains to be seen whether the competition lets it rest on its laurels. Don’t buy it for the cameras, but do buy it for the price and for basic tasks, specially all-day calling.

Price: ₹10,999 and ₹11,999

Pros: Great specs for this price category, unique eye catcher design, good performance and cameras for the price, huge battery and good battery life, total value, great price

Cons: Fuzzy pics in low light, tinny sounding speakers

Published on February 04, 2021

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