Poco M3 hands-on: One day with the most affordable Poco so far
Yesterday evening, I received the Poco M3 that I had purchased the previous day. Since this handset was launched in Romania on December 22 and there are still markets expecting it, here's my single-day hands-on experience with this affordable Poco phone. In this article, I will often compare the M3 to my Xiaomi Mi A1, which I still use and had a launch price 80% higher than the Poco M3. The basic question is very simple: How much phone do you get for the price of the Poco M3 (in Romania, this means ~US$175 for the 4/128 GB variant)?
First impressions, highlights
Although made of plastic (frame included), the Poco M3 feels solid and looks great. The back cover is not made of plain plastic but uses a leather-like texture that will not attract fingerprints. On the other hand, the transparent protective case that comes in the retail box gets dirty in a matter of seconds. The waterdrop design helps in keeping the size reasonable for a display that is over 6.5 inches in diagonal. The right side accommodates the fingerprint scanner/power button combo and the volume rocker, the 3.5 mm audio jack sits on the top, and the USB-C is located at the bottom. The SIM and microSD tray, which is able to accommodate two SIMs and one microSD card, is located on the left side. The Mi A1 still looks better after three years of use, but we should always keep in mind the price factor.
When I took the Poco M3 out of the box, it had a 47% battery charge. As I write this, I am listening to music on YouTube Music and the battery is at 4%. However, the 43% used so far provided me with over 4 hours SoT, most of it spent taking pictures, setting up various apps, running Geekbench, and so on. I wouldn't be surprised to see the massive 6,000-mAh battery providing around 10 hours SoT in regular use scenarios.
The fingerprint reader, which is located on the power button, seems awkward at first sight, especially when coming from a handset with the reader located on the back. However, I discovered it to be extremely snappy and quite easy to reach, although I continue to prefer the sensor location chosen for the Mi A1 and similar handsets.
The display is a bit dark for my taste, and the colors are a bit too hot for me. Fortunately, there are quite a few adjustments that can be used to tweak the colors. Overall, I think that the display is adequate for the price category in which the Poco M3 sits.
Camera equipment, performance, and audio
At first sight, the camera is surprisingly good. Although autofocus seems to be quite a pain, especially when shooting videos in tough light conditions, a bit of patience can lead to excellent results when shooting still images.
For example, I found the Mi A1 to be slightly better when taking shots without any effects, but the HDR mode on the Poco M3 delivers slightly better results. The Night Mode is also well implemented and theimages generated can be used on social media without problems, but a closer look reveals a lack of detail and color aberrations. The Portrait mode is all right and works better than its equivalent on the Mi A1 in low light, but it also generates very noisy images in such conditions.
Lastly, the Manual mode is better than what I get on the Mi A1, offering a rich selection of exposure time and ISO settings, although the default photo mode that chooses exposure time and ISO automatically seems to do a very good job by keeping both as low as possible in most cases.
The level of performance provided by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662-driven Poco M3 is excellent for the price (see the Geekbench screenshots that I attached at the end of the article) and I even enjoyed playing Call of Duty Mobile for a few minutes on it and everything worked smoothly. The 64 GB version uses UFS 2.1 memory, while the 128 GB version sports UFS 2.2.
The list of Poco M3 features that many more-expensive handsets are skipping way too often nowadays includes support for FM Radio, an IR blaster, and reverse charging.
Call quality is excellent in both directions when compared to my old Mi A1. The speaker volume in normal calls is noticeably higher and - at least according to my parents - my voice sounds crystal-clear on the other end, doubtfully better than when I use my old phone.
Moving on while remaining in the audio territory, I must add that the Poco M3 has two speakers that produce reasonable stereo sound. Nothing amazing after all, but very good for the price. Another good part is support for the aptX codec, something missing from the Mi A1. However, the cherry on top of the Poco M3 cake, at least in my book, is the audio output achieved via the 3.5 mm jack. The Mi A1 is great in this department and drives my venerable Koss Porta Pro just the way I like it. Without getting too much into details, I think that "better" is enough to describe what the Poco M3 can do here.
These being said, I can only conclude that the Poco M3 will be very hard to beat in its price category, at least until the coming spring. If you want to take a closer look at the photos taken during my first day with the Poco M3, including a few missed shots and some RAW ones as well (another huge plus for this phone), go ahead and grab this archive (720 MB). This other archive contains a few similar shots taken using the Mi A1 in the same location and time of the day. Finally, these two videos (1:02, 0:30) show how good (or bad, depends on how you look at it) is the Poco M3 is at night.