11 April 2021

POCO F3 In-depth Review From A Casual User

After 5 days with the POCO F3, I can now say that it's indeed a Beast and can be considered as a flagship killer. Of course at its price point there are some sacrifices made but still the POCO F3 will give you the best value for your money.

Let's start with the design. I got the black version and it has a glass front and back protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. I was suprised to see the Gorilla Glass 5 instead of the 6 on this phone given that the POCO X3 pro launched an hour earlier had the 6. But if you look closely the Gorilla Glass 6 is actually equivalent to Gorilla Glass 5 in scratch resistance but is designed to survive multiple drops from even greater heights. So if you're not planning to drop your phone multiple times from high places then the Glass 5 should be ok. 

On the right side you have the volume rockers and the power button which also is the fingerprint sensor. This is one of the features of the phone that still bothers me even after almost a week of using it. I still get accidental touches so it's still something I need to get used to coming from more than 2 years of under display fingerprint scanner.

At the top of the phone you have the stereo speaker grills and at the bottom you have the other stereo speaker, the mic, the usb type c port, and the dual sim slot.  Sadly there's no stereo jack port but POCO included an adaptor for your audio equipment needing a 3.5mm jack port. However, the stereo speakers are loud and powerful enhancing your multimedia and gaming experience. The dual sim slot is not a hybrid microSD slot so deciding whether to get the 128GB or 256GB variant is critical because the phone's memory is not expandable.

The display of the phone is a 6.64 inch E4 Amoled display with 120hz refresh rate which really makes the phone stand out. Coming from 60hz, you'll really feel the difference when you are scrolling through different apps and playing games. At full sunlight display is still visible and only hampered by the reflection from your screen. By the way the display already has a screen protector out of the box.

For connectivity, the phone functions well. I had no issues using the phone on phone calls or even in online meetings using zoom or microsoft teams. The phone is already 5G which really is one of the major selling points for me. Whether or not your area is covered by 5G, it's still better to have a 5G phone since network companies are ramping up coverage in the Philippines. Although I noticed that there seems to be a bug on the F3 where the signal would show 4G when it's actually 5G.

In terms of software the phone runs on Android 11 with MIUI for POCO. It's a bit different from the MIUI from other Xiaomi phones but you could always customize it to your liking. I've been reading everywhere about ads on POCO phones but havent really noticed much. One update on the MIUI is the notification and control area where you have the option of making it look like the one on the iPhone.

The POCO F3 is a rebranded Xiaomi K40 but unlike the K40, the POCO F3 runs on a Global ROM which is more convenient for casual users. I am coming from the Redmi 10X 5G using a China ROM and it's a bit tedious finding solutions for app compatibilities on China ROMs. One example was Netflix wherein you cant watch in HD and have to download a different version of the app elsewhere just to watch HD and another was my Linkedin app automatically updates to the Chinese version of the app.

Battery life is good, it will last you 1 day easy for normal use and of course battery life becomes shorter for gaming. But either way good news is that it has a 33 watt charger which will take you less than an hour to fully charge your battery.

The POCO F3 has a triple camera set-up. First is a 48MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and, a 5MP Telemacro lens. On the default MIUI Camera app, you can easily switch between the main camera and the ultrawide camera while the macro camera is activated on the app's control panel. 

On its own the pictures are really good and you'll only notice the room for improvement if you compare to flagship cameras such as those in Samsung and on the Mi 11.

For videos, the camera has different modes ranging from 720P to 4k with 60fps available on the 1080P mode.

The selfie camera is a 20MP camera and for the video, I used the POCO F3's selfie cam to record myself on my unboxing video. The selfie camera has a punch-hole design and POCO F2 users that are used to full screen having a pop-up selfie cam previously might need some time to get used to the punch-hole selfie cam.

In terms of performance the POCO F3 is powered by the Snapdragon 870 5G and my unit scored more than 653k on the latest verison of the antutu app but more than the numbers I believe what's more important is the user experience. With a very powerful chip, daily tasks are quite easy, no lags whatsoever and the question really is how well it can handle heavy games.

I played PUBG for more than 30 minutes all on the highest possible settings and I must say I am very much impressed with how smooth gameplay was. I also played Genshin Impact all on high settings and never experienced any frame drops compared to my 10x 5G. In terms of the always controversial heating issue, with playing PUBG, it never really went over 42 degrees celcius. Also with Genshin Impact, highest temp I recorded was 45.8 degrees celsius. 

As far as the dimming issue raised by some users. It seems that the issue exists as I cant find any setting to keep the phone at maximum brightness. Comparing it to my 10x 5G, the POCO F3's screen is notably dimmer and sometimes you can see actual dimming if you go in and out of the game. Not really a deal breaker for me but it would be nice for later updates to address thia issue.

Now lastly let's look at the price. The price in itself is the main reason why the POCO F3 is labeled as a flagship killer. This phone is only around Php20,000 or less depending on the storage capacity and even less if you caught the eqrly bird price. It really makes you think if you should buy flagship phones above Php50,000 when you can get almost the same experience with less than half the cost. Until last December I was still using my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and the only thing I'm missing from that phone is the camera and the under display fingerprint scanner. Other than that my overall experience with the POCO F3 is actually better.

So for how much I got the POCO F3, I really cant complain. It's a really good phone, it has everything I need without breaking the bank. There are many other aternatives on the same price range but overall I cant see any better deal than the POCO F3.

So that concludes a casual user's review of the POCO F3. If I missed anything or If you want to see some more tests please feel free to drop a comment on this post. 

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