POCO F3 5G review: flagship killer redefined?
The Pocophone F1 three years ago was already very worthwhile as an online-focused subsidiary. Three years later we have now reached the POCO F3 5G.
For a recommended retail price of only 349 euros, it offers a 120Hz Samsung E4-Amoled display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC and much more. You can find out how it fared after our test in this review.
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Design - better than you think
The POCO F3 employs a similar design language as that Xiaomi Mi 11 on: Small circles in large circles for the camera module. You definitely have to say positively that they have now created a uniform design without inspiration from other companies. Since the elongated module of the POCO F3 fits the smartphone itself more in terms of its aspect ratio, I find it even more harmonious. The camera does not protrude as far and inappropriately as on the Mi 11, but looks like it is made of one piece.
The back of our test device is made of black glass. Although it looks quite high quality, it magically attracts fingerprints due to the high-gloss finish. Personally, I would prefer the clean, white model for this reason. The frame on the side is made of plastic, but feels much higher quality than, for example, in the semi-matte surface Samsung Galaxy A52 or Find x3 lite on. It must also be positively emphasized that Xiaomi has managed to control the weight under 200 grams and the thickness under eight millimeters. With the right curves, it is quite comfortable and light in the hand.
Of course, you can also see the obligatory compromises for a mid-range smartphone. The transitions to the flat display with a transition frame made of plastic could be better solved. Sometimes they even feel sharp-edged. Of course, the market position of the POCO F3 can also be seen on the front. The punch hole is really extremely small with the smallest size on the market and runs into the notification bar in its original size, but you have to admit that the edges around the display are not extremely narrow. We should rather pay attention to the quality of the screen in the middle class.
Display - otherwise excellent
This year smartphone displays have developed a lot, especially in the middle class, because there are many Amoled displays with high refresh rates at low prices. The POCO F3 even goes to the limits on paper: Samsung E4 backlight material, 1300 nits peak brightness, 120 Hertz repetition rate, AMOLED panel.
According to my real test, it is really a very good display in terms of quality. The resolution of 1080p is still completely sufficient in everyday life thanks to a Samsung Pentile matrix and 120 Hertz is something that you cannot get away from, as everything about scrolling and animations feels much more fluid. The brightness is at a top level and there is no unclean noise in the dark. Each panel is individually calibrated by Xiaomi for the best color experience before delivery.
Apart from the material, which causes rainbow-colored discoloration when viewed from the side, and the resolution, this is a flagship-worthy display. Yes a OnePlus 9 is a little further ahead with flexible material on a flat screen and offers better viewing angles. Yes a Xiaomi Mi 11 supports 1440p resolution and DC dimming, but these two smartphones also cost twice as much as the POCO F3. You won't find a better display at its price.
Other - Has everything you need
The advantage of Xiaomi has always been that they build all the functions they can think of into their smartphones. For a smartphone in the price range of the POCO F3, this is a clear advantage. So you don't miss NFC for contactless payment, infrared for controlling a television, WiFi 6 for faster internet or Bluetooth 5.1. the vibration motor is also a linear X-axis motor. It gives very light, pleasant haptic feedback. Even if the software tuning still shows a difference to the Xiaomi Mi 11, for example, the POCO F3 only feels more pleasant than a vibrations Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and OPPO Find X3 Pro on, this is due to the hardware difference.
Within the middle class, Xiaomi is already quite advanced with the installation of stereo speakers for three-dimensional sound. The ones in the POCO F3 even sound really convincing, even in comparison to higher-ranking smartphones such as the OnePlus 9, the difference can hardly be found.
The only thing worth mentioning is the USB-C connection with a transfer rate of USB 2.0.
The POCO F3 uses a fingerprint sensor on the side, which, like the iPad Air 4 and other Xiaomi smartphones, does not go into the frame, but protrudes like a normal power button. It convinces with its high-quality processing, which is in the Proproduction requires more effort. Even if the lateral solution may not appear as modern as the fingerprint sensors in the display, it is completely superior in terms of speed and even faster than a Mi 11 Lite or Redmi Note 10 Pro. It only requires a very quick tap and you're already in the interface. This is very convenient to use in everyday life.
Software - Another MIUI 12
People who know me know that I am a huge fan of Xiaomi's MIUI 12 user interface. This is due to a large range of functions, the effort in small details, but especially the optics and the animations. Since the POCO F3 is a POCO smartphone, the POCO launcher is preinstalled. Personally, I don't like it at all because it slows down the animations a lot. An application simply disappears in the middle of the screen when it is closed. For me, this destroys one of the most important arguments for MIUI. People who don't like long animations should please.
Apart from that, MIUI 12 is still the typical MIUI 12. It is characterized by an easy-to-understand look made up of modules, many additional functions such as floating windows, but also a little lack of optimization. The bugs with, for example, crashing applications, which were initially heavily reported, I did not notice with the current software version MIUI 12.5. You can still read about a few small ones Proproblems like the dimming of the screen, but they didn't bother me. The behavior was pretty stable.
Performance - central strength
The story of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC has turned out to be a bit awkward this year. That's why Qualcomm introduced one for the first time Proprocessor for the upper class, the Snapdragon 870. The main advantage of the POCO F3 is the use of this strong Prozessors, which not only brings currently liquid 120Hz to the screen due to its high performance, convinces in games, but can also offer a high degree of future security. Of the Processor is ultimately the aspect that decides whether a smartphone with its reserves can still be used after three years, for example. This can be seen from the fact that older smartphones that still have a good reputation all use a strong SoC.
Despite the already emphasized high everyday performance even without the splendor of the 120 Hertz MIUI 12 animations, it must be mentioned that the software still has room for improvement when it comes to keeping the high refresh rate constant. By installing a 90 or 120 Hertz screen, you are automatically responsible for bringing it onto the screen so that the user has visible added value. However, some apps are limited to 3 images when using the POCO F60 pro second locked. This feels very uncomfortable when using it. In this area, you still have to count on Samsung. Only smartphones from OPPO with ColorOS stayed in my head worse than the POCO F3.
However, I have to criticize again that the basic version of the smartphone starts at 6 gigabytes of RAM, which in my experience is not sufficient for smooth multi-tasking with the MIUI 12 user interface. From the fifth application on, intermediate statuses are closed in the background. So I rather recommend the version with 8 gigabytes of RAM.
Battery - average
The POCO F3 5G relies on a battery capacity of 4520 mAh. Without the Snapdragon 888 as Proprocessor, the runtimes are noticeably better than with the Xiaomi Mi 11, but you still have to consider the bright 120 Hertz display with high performance. In reality, I get 5,5 to 6 hours of display use in everyday life. These are worse scores than comparable, larger-capacity competitors like this Redmi Note 10 Pro. You can get over a day with the POCO F3, but nothing more is possible.
If the battery life is not that long, you will of course have to help with charging. Here, the smartphone supports a speed of a full 33 watts, perhaps the best 33 watts on the entire smartphone market, as it takes just as long to fully charge as a 55 watt from home. The downside of low wattage is much more about quick refueling with lower wattage Procents. In everyday life, you don't count the minutes until it is fully charged. From this perspective, 33 watts are still perfectly fine and the POCO F3 shows no weaknesses.
Camera - saved, but only on paper
The camera is the point on paper where the POCO F3 5G was finally able to save. The Sony IMX582 sensor as the main camera is the same sensor as from the mid-range smartphone Xiaomi Mi 9T from 2019. The advantage is that Xiaomi does not install an unnecessary camera. Both the ultra wide angle camera for longer focal length and the best quality macro camera on the market are good to use.
During the day, I would rate the behavior of the main camera as very neutral, because it is not particularly saturated, but rather realistic. The sharpness is perfectly fine. Even in poor lighting conditions, the recordings are still passable and significantly better than one would expect from this sensor. Of course, you can still see the difference to higher-ranking smartphones, but these are smaller than you might think.
In comparison, the ultra-wide-angle camera is less surprising. During the day it offers more field of view, but for quality reasons I recommend using the main camera in poor light conditions.
Conclusion - why unrivaled?
You can say that the Xiaomi flagships are not quite as successful due to the lack of balance, but then you simply have to confess their victory in the middle class in the price / performance ratio. The POCO F3 5G is the most important representative of this, because it exactly meets the requirements and hopes for Xiaomi in this price range, and even adds a few extras.
The quality of the entire design is of course not yet on the level of a Xiaomi flagship, but it is not cheap in terms of looks and feel. In fact, I think it looks pretty good. The display is a great strength of the POCO F3. Apart from the material and the resolution, this is a display that could be sold for three times the price. Who cares for a flexible OLED or 349p for a recommended retail price of 1440 euros? The camera is a smear on paper, but it does pretty well in our test. In addition, you don't miss a flagship-worthy vibration motor and good stereo speakers. When it comes to the most important point, the SoC, which ensures a high degree of future security, the POCO F3 has also gone a step further, because the Snapdragon 870 is a drilled out 865 Plus from last year and thus not just a league higher than the Snapdragon 765G, 732G or 750G, which use the competition.
All in all, I am very enthusiastic about the POCO F3 5G, because you don't see such a good mid-range smartphone every day. Apart from the lack of a high-quality design, it would be absolutely no for me Problem to use the device with flagship requirements as a daily companion. I don't even want to talk about buying advice. From 300 to 400 euros I can recommend it without hesitation, especially if you don't know exactly what your requirements are. However, I would rather recommend the version with 8 gigabytes of RAM, which offers significantly more reserves for multi-tasking.