It seems a long time ago since Xiaomi spun off the Poco brand. In actual fact, it was only in August 2018 that the F1 was launched, but in smartphone years Poco fans have had rather a long wait for the next phone in the F line-up. There was an F2 but it wasn’t the affordable formula that Indian users have come to expect, so it wasn’t launched here. Now we have the Poco F3 and that is quite an affordable package starting Rs 26,499 and is also distinctive in several ways.  

This time, the new F series phone has a gaming twist to it. The design signals this straight off. The back on the carefully styled F3 GT is in a smooth matte finish with interesting lines and accents including around the camera lenses including a notification lightT. It looks muscular and heavy duty without being in-your-face about it. There’s Gorilla Glass 5 on the back and front, and a metal framing. This device looks quite well built and premium with a design that’s distinctive without being flashy- at least not in its more subtle black colour-way. You could use it without a case but it is slippery-smooth and also a little heavy so it is not difficult for it to slip.

Our review unit is the Predator Black which suits it very well. The other colour is Gunmetal Silver which I haven’t seen in person. What’s also distinctive physically about this phone is that it has a duo of trigger buttons for gaming on the right edge or on top if you turn the phone to landscape for gameplay. These clicks slider buttons do not really come in the way if you want to use the phone for other things, but during a gaming session are to be mapped to certain actions. The sides of this phone are not just slapped together around the display but have very thought out contours meant to aid grip and holding the phone during gaming. 

The F3 GT has a 6.67 inch Full HDR+ screen with the bezels all around optimised for gaming and a little dot in the centre for the front camera. Perhaps this should have been top left so it does not come into view while gaming, but it’s small enough not to be a bother. The screen has 120Hz refresh rate which should improve the gaming experience. The display is othertwise very nice and bright (1,300nits at peak) and supports HDR10+. 

The chipset used here is the MediaTek Dimensity 1200, quite the flavour of the month right now. It’s perfectly fine for practically everything. Some gamers report that the device gets stressed with the heavier processor-intensive games. Not being into anything but the lightest of games, this isn’t something I tested. 

The processor has a choice of three RAM and storage configurations — or rather, you do. The RAM used is LPDDR4X and storage is UFS 3.1. On top of Android 11, Xiaomi’s a MIUI 12.5.2 is optimised for the Poco brand. There’s almost no bloatware, though there is a Cleaner app which I would be highly wary of, and the inevitable and annoying GetApps which must be tamed right away. 

This phone has a big 5,065mAh battery with 67W fast charging, more than any phone in India right now. It’s not just a lot of battery power but also well-optimised and handled to give long battery life. There are lots of other things that show attention to detail has been paid. The fingerprint sensor is on the power button — something I actually always welcome. There’s IP53, dust and splash protection. It has JBL-tuned stereo speakers and support for lots of formats. It’s also a 5G phone supporting two bands. So a bit of an all-rounder. 

The main camera is a 64MP and with it we have an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro. The front camera is a 16MP. The cameras are fine. You get somewhat saturated images, although many like it that way. There’s also some over-sharpening which makes an image look artificial. One wouldn’t recommend buying the F3 GT for the cameras but for all the other hardware chops together at the reasonable prices offered. 

Price: Rs 26,999 for 6/128; Rs 28,999 for 8/128; Rs 30,999 for 8/256

Pros: Thought-out design and ergonomics, premium looking, good build, special gaming stylisation and buttons, big battery with staying power, great display, good performance, great pricing

Cons: Somewhat heavy, cameras average