The Poco M3 is Poco’s new smartphone to enter the Indian market. The company has put it in the price segment of sub-Rs.15,000 to compete with the likes of Redmi 9 Power and Moto G9 Power. It is the successor to the Poco M2 and has some upgrades in the form of a larger battery, more RAM, and improved cameras. Is that enough to make it better than the competition? Check out the full review to find out.
Poco M3 design
The Poco M3 is about the same size as the Poco M2. You’ll get a 6.53-inch screen with a dewdrop notch at the end. The bezels are thick all over, but this is appropriate given the smartphone price. Poco used the plastic body for the M3, and it feels sturdy enough. The back panel has a textured finish that helps keep fingerprints away and helps to grip the handset.
Poco has bumped up the battery capacity on the M3 and has a 6,000mAh battery compared to the 5,000mAh battery on the Poco M2. As a result, the smartphone now weighs 197g, and this is noticeable when you’re carrying it. Poco has curved the back of the smartphone along the sides, making it easier to carry.
Power and volume buttons are on the right, well placed, making them easy to reach. The fingerprint scanner is built into the power button. These buttons also offered strong clicky feedback that prevented second guesses. The SIM tray is on the left side, while the 3.5mm audio jack and the IR transmitter are on the top, along with the secondary speaker. The Poco M3 has a USB Type-C port at the bottom of the frame, along with the primary microphone and the speakers.
The back of the Poco M3 is well built and makes your smartphone look more premium than it really is. The raised camera module has a black piano design feature around it that runs across the back of the phone and has a big Poco logo. Although this looks fine, it’s the only place on the Poco M3 to pick up fingerprints. This also stops the handset from rocking too much when it’s lying flat on a table.
You’ll get a 22.5W charger in the box along with a clear case. Poco also pre-applies the M3 screen protector. There are three color choices: Poco Yellow, Cool Blue, and Power Black. For this study, I had a Poco Yellow model, and its bright color attracted attention.
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Poco M3 specifications and software
The Poco M3 is one of the few sub-Rs. 12,000 full-HD+ panel smartphones. Most manufacturers offer HD+ resolution in this price range, with the Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power (Review) being another exception. The 6.53-inch display on the Poco M3 has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio that makes it tall and narrow. Poco provides Corning Gorilla Glass 3 support with a neat touch.
As far as hardware is concerned, the Poco M3 is operated by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor, which is a popular option at this price. The Redmi 9 Power and the Moto G9 Power are also being powered. You get 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM on your M3, combined with either 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage or 12GB of UFS 2.2 storage. I had a base edition of 64GB of storage priced at Rs. 10,999 for this study. The higher version is priced at Rs. 11,999. It’s a bit strange that the storage models have two different requirements. Given the slight price gap between the two, there is very little reason to select the basic version. Space is expandable by up to 512GB with a dedicated microSD card slot. In terms of connectivity, the Poco M3 is fitted with Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi, dual 4G, and five navigation systems.
You’re going to get MIUI 12 on top of Android 10 on the Poco M3. The UI is quite similar to the MIUI on the Xiaomi phone, with some slight changes. This smartphone was running an Android Security Patch in December, which is recent enough. The Poco M3 was supposed to be free of advertising in the UI, unlike its Redmi siblings, and I didn’t find anything during the review era. There were also no spammy alerts that would tip the scales in favor of Poco over Xiaomi. However, you still get a decent number of pre-installed Poco M3 apps like Facebook, GetApps, Netflix, LinkedIn, Mi Credit, Mi Pay, and a few games. All of these, except Mi Pay, I can uninstall.
If you’ve used a Poco or Xiaomi smartphone in the past, the UI will be very familiar. Even if you were switching from another unit, you wouldn’t have to face any big issues here. By default, the Poco M3 uses three navigation keys, but you can easily switch to swipe-based navigation. Other motions, such as the three-finger slide to take a screenshot, are also present.
Poco M3 performance and battery life
The Poco M3 ran without any complaints for the whole week I’ve been using it. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is easy to reach and activate the device easily. You also have the option to set up face recognition, and it worked well. I could quickly multitask between applications, and with 6GB of RAM, the phone could juggle between a few apps before annihilating them in the background. The display on the Poco M3 is good enough to be readable indoors, but I found the brightness to be slightly lower when outdoors. When watching videos, stereo speakers improve the overall experience.
I have run the normal benchmark tests to see where the Poco M3 stands in comparison to competitors. In AnTuTu, the Poco M3 scored 180,594 points in the same range as the Redmi 9 Power. It was also able to score 5883 points in PCMark Work 2.0. The Geekbench 5 single-core and multi-core tests scored 312 and 1,340, respectively. The Poco M3 managed 31fps and 12fps in the GFXBench Car Chase and Manhattan 3.1 graphics tests, respectively.
I played Call Of Duty Mobile on the Poco M3, defaulting to High Graphic Quality and Medium Frame Rate. The game was playable without any stutter, but the rear got a little warm around the camera module. I’ve been playing the game for 10 minutes and found a 3% decrease in the battery. The battery drain is slightly higher, but because of the large battery, you should be able to play for quite some time before you need to charge your phone.
With my use, the Poco M3 will easily last a day and a half. The phone went on for about 16 hours in our HD video loop test. The charge of the M3 using the supplied charger reached 28% in 30 minutes and 54% in an hour. Charging the phone took 2 hours to complete.
Poco M3 cameras
The Poco M3 is fitted with a triple rear camera consisting of a 48-megapixel main camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. It has an 8-megapixel shooter in the dewdrop notch for selfies. The software for cameras is quick and easy to use. All settings are well laid out, but you still need to go to the sub-menu to use the macro camera, something Poco hasn’t changed yet. The camera app has AI built-in, and when it’s activated, it can recognize what the phone is pointing to and apply the settings accordingly.
The images taken with the Poco M3 turned out to be fine. The phone managed decent shots in the daylight, but I had to set HDR to Auto every time I re-launched the camera app. Remote artifacts had good detail in brighter places, but the shadows lacked clarity. Close-up shots were average, and I had to wait for the phone to lock the focus at times. The Poco M3 managed to isolate the subject from the context and to apply a soft depth effect.
In portrait shots, the Poco M3 was able to detect a good edge. It’s capable of recognizing people as well as objects, and it lets you set the degree of blur before you take a picture. The Macro camera lets you get closer to the subject than the main camera. The production has a lower resolution and a much lower level of detail. The low-light performance of the camera was below average and I could see the grain in the output. With Night mode enabled, the phone will take about four seconds to capture a picture. The performance in Night Mode has better detail, and grain is more under control but looks over-sharp.
Selfies taken with the Poco M3 were just average and the color tone was a little off. You do have the option of taking portrait shots, which had strong edge detection. Low-light selfies were also average, and unnecessary smoothing was applied. Video recording tops out at 1080p for both the main camera and the selfie shooter. There is no stabilization, resulting in blurry footage.
The Poco M3 is a smartphone if that’s important to you. It offers a capable 6GB RAM processor and delivers good performance. Gaming and multitasking are convenient, and the 6,000mAh battery has strong battery life. On the other hand, the performance of the camera is not its strongest suit. If you’re on the market looking at Xiaomi Redmi 9 Power (Review), the Poco M3 is roughly the same bundle with more RAM and no ads. If you want more alternatives to consider, check out our list of the best smartphones under Rs. 15,000.