The hottest budget phone on the market as of now is the POCO M3. For as low as Php6,990, you get a 6000mAh battery, 48MP camera, a faux leather design, and an FHD+ screen. That said, what could go wrong?
Once in a while, we see a phone that stands out from the pack, not because of the features it carries, though, but because it looks different from the rest. This year, it’s the POCO M3.
Available in yellow, blue, and black, I had the pleasure of checking out the latter version for this review. And while I expected the yellow to be the best variant among the three, I did expect to love the black variant. Though the majority of my color preference is black, the M3 made the experience a little special thanks to the textured finish on the back. Other than the leather-like feel, the other best thing is that I don’t need to wipe the phone consistently to get rid of smudges.
We can’t also forget about the huge visor on the top-end portion that adds contrast to an already minimal design. It does attract fingerprints like there’s no tomorrow, but I never found that a deal-breaker. It may look like glass, but the shallow “thump” gives that plastic feeling, so it’s best to take advantage of the clear case in the box if you’re the clumsy type.
The camera module doesn’t protrude as much as other phones due to the use of a 48MP camera. One caveat, however, is there’s no ultrawide lens, in favor of two 2MP for macro and depth purposes.
Touring around the POCO M3 — the volume rocker sits beside the fingerprint scanner/power button on the right-hand side, the USB-C port and speaker grille is at the bottom, nothing on the left-hand side except for the dual-SIM tray with dedicated microSD slot, and an IR blaster, headphone jack, and two more holes for the secondary speaker up top. There’s no notification LED, which is unfortunate.
If there’s one surprising thing about the POCO M3’s build, it’s the overall heft. For a 6000mAh phone, I was surprised that it felt sleek, thin, manageable, and light in the hands. It actually felt smaller than the POCO X3 NFC. One weird thing that I noticed is that there’s a gap between the plastic frame and back panel on the right-hand side (when the screen is facing the user). Nevertheless, I encountered no quality issues.
Overall, I love the form factor of the POCO M3 that’s made better by the faux leather on the back.
POCO M3 is no bigger than most affordable phones out there. The screen size is the standard 6.53″, but with FHD+ IPS LCD. We rarely see devices with 1080p resolution, other than the Redmi 9 that launched earlier this year. But unlike Redmi 9, the typical brightness of 400nits is capable of watching HD Netflix videos thanks to the support for Widevine L1. Though not the best, I appreciate the fact that I can watch crystal-clear series from the app.
As for the brightness level, it’s more than enough indoors but struggles to be used outdoor, under broad daylight. The viewing angles are very narrow, and there’s a “flicker” bug that dims the display randomly as if reducing the brightness around 50 nits without touching the slider. It does flicker back to its original state, but the ones with sensitive eyes will surely see this weird occurrence.
Lastly, there’s a built-in screen protector out of the box, so that’s a welcome addition for a device that doesn’t come with free earphones anymore.
The use of a teardrop notch may put off some potential buyers, but it’s not really a big deal when it doesn’t cut off content as much as a pinhole cutout.
With no other sensor to test aside from the 48MP main sensor, this has been the easiest camera review I’ve done so far. The quality won’t obviously blow your socks off, but it’s enough for anyone who just wants to post something on social media. Landscape shots can provide a decent dynamic range, especially in the highlights. I also found that subjects in close proximities are the strongest suit of the M3, outputting pleasant-looking photos. It does, however, struggle to keep very close subjects sharp for some reason.
There’s Night Mode for better low-light shots, but I discovered that it only improves the textures and balances the exposure of the shots instead of brightening them. Is it a bad thing? Not really. You still get preserved details in both shadows and highlights. Portrait Mode, however, struggles to blur the background even when you crank the slider to the max.
Despite the chipset capable of supporting up to 4K video recording, POCO M3 is locked to [email protected] The good thing — there’s no jitter nor stutters. The bad thing — the overall quality looks out of a 2016 phone. On the flip end, you can capture decent 120fps slow-mos in 720p resolution.
The 8MP selfie camera can get you decent shots, but you need really good lighting to maximize its capabilities. There’s no stabilization when video recording, but that’s to be expected for a device of this caliber.
POCO M3’s camera is definitely a step up over the Redmi 9, which I think is the better version of the device. Although you can now get decent photos, you still live in 2018 when ultrawide lenses weren’t a thing.
Based on my experience with the POCO M3, the device’s weakest link is the chipset. The Snapdragon 662 offers minimal improvements over its successor, the 665, but the upgrades can barely be felt — regardless if it’s gaming or regular tasks.
To be fair, I was still able to play the new mobile game Slam Dunk at nearly 60fps all the time, but you need to crank down the settings to medium or low. However, I didn’t need to change the settings for most of my games, which include Wild Rift, Mobile Legends, PUBG, and CoD, as the default setting of the respective games were very accurate.
I had the 64GB model that gave me 45GB free space out of the box, so it’s best to get the 128GB model if you’re a heavy user or planning to keep the POCO M3 for a long time.
When it comes to regular use, most of you might notice that the experience is fairly slow. Though bearable, this also might put off users coming from, at least, the Redmi 9 with Helio G80.
In other words, the performance is made for kids or users who just want a backup phone.
|Geekbench 5 Single-Core (CPU)||305|
|Geekbench 5 Multi-Core (CPU)||1328|
POCO M3 easily is the longest-lasting phone I’ve ever used. With hours of gaming and regular social media use, I clocked in eight hours of screen time with more than 12 hours of standby time. If I was conservative with my usage, I can definitely go up to 10 hours, especially when watching videos.
The 18W charger still needs three hours and 15 mins to go from zero to full, but that’s none issue when you can use POCO M3 for at least a day and a half. And yes, it’s already using USB-C.
|Battery Endurance||45 hrs|
|Charging Time (0-100%)||3 hour 15 mins|
|Average Screen-on Time||9 hours|
The audio jack is located up top and works like every other headphone jack.
The company is marketing POCO M3 with dual-speakers, and true enough — there are indeed two here. Unfortunately, the other speaker near the earpiece is barely noticeable, even with the volume slider maxed out. It ever-so-slightly improves the audio experience, but you might as well treat this phone as a single-speaker device.
POCO M3 retails for Php6,990 and Php7,990 for the 64GB and 128GB models, respectively. I think the device is worth it if you can purchase it at their special prices — Php5,990 and Php6,990 — which almost always happen every month.
The company did provide us a phone that brings a lot to the table for very little money, but the biggest caveat — for anyone planning to use the POCO M3 as a reliable work phone or daily driver — is the aging performance that has been found wanting. While you can opt for narzo 20 which retails for Php7,990, you do have to settle for an HD+ screen in exchange for better performance.
POCO M3 specs, price, availability in the Philippines
- Display: 6.53″ IPS LCD FHD+ 400 nits, Gorilla Glass 3, L1 Widevine certified
- Design: textured back, all-polycarbonate
- Dimension and Weight: 162.3 x 77.3 x 9.6 mm, 198g
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 (11 nm)
- CPU: Qualcomm® KryoTM 260, Octa-core CPU, up to 2.0GHz
- GPU: Adreno 610
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 64GB/128GB UFS 2.1 (2.2 for top model) expandable
- Main Camera: 48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.55″, 0.7µm, PDAF
2 MP, f/2.2, 118˚ (ultrawide), 1/5.0″, 1.12µm
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)| video up to [email protected]
- Selfie Camera: 8MP 1.12μm pixel size, f/2.05 | up to [email protected]
- Connectivity & Ports: 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, USB-C, audio jack, Infrared port,
- Security: face unlock, side-mounted fingerprint scanner
- Battery: 6000mAh(18W)
- Audio: dual-speakers
- OS: Android 10, MIUI 12
- Colors: Cool Blue, POCO Yellow, and Power Black,
- Price: Php6,990 and Php7,990
- Release Date: November 27 2020 (Philippines)