Tech News- Poco X3 Pro long-term review

Pro phones are everywhere these days, but what does a cheap Pro phone actually get you? Well, in the case of the Poco X3 Pro, more performance than the X3 NFC, but lesser cameras, at least on paper. That’s an intriguing tradeoff for sure, add in the very intriguing price, and we were very interested in how this device would do when we used it for a long period as our one and only smartphone.

The price point is very similar to that of the X3 NFC, but with a chipset that promises much better performance and smoothness. Does that make the theoretical camera downgrade worth it? We set out to find the answer to this question as well as many others in this long-term review, as we liked the Poco X3 NFC very much when we put it through the long-term review process. We were wondering if the Pro is a straight-up upgrade or more of a sidegrade, where you win some, you lose some.

So let’s find out. The Poco X3 Pro definitely doesn’t stray very much from the formula that made the X3 and X3 NFC so successful, right down to the identical dimensions and weight. The design is also exactly the same, but the back’s finish and the colors have been altered – we’re anxious to find out if these can be counted as improvements or not.

Poco has been on a roll lately, churning out a bunch of devices that all seem to be an incredibly good value for money, and perhaps none other so much as the Poco X3 Pro, which brings unheard-of performance in its price class.

Poco has always been proud of how much more performance bang for your buck you’re getting with its various handsets, and we’re here to really put this claim to the test in an in-depth look that’s colored by our experience of using the X3 Pro day in and day out for an extended period of time. Join us over the next pages of this long-term review to find out if Poco has once again created a winner.

Design, handling

The Poco X3 Pro can reasonably be called the X3 NFC’s twin since the two have the exact same looks, the same dimensions, and weigh the same 215g. Speaking of weight, like with the X3 NFC, you’ll always be aware that the X3 Pro is in your pocket; there’s no way around that. For this reviewer, such a weight is about as much as we’d say is still fine for decent handling, but going over it would definitely cause some problems.

The Poco X3 Pro is also quite large, not just heavy, and so the usual long-term review caveat applies here even more than for most phones – if you have small(er) hands, you’ll find that you constantly need to use both of them to handle the phone. If you have larger hands, one-handed use is still manageable, but like with weight, we’re right about at the limit of that here – any more width or thickness would definitely have made this device unwieldy.

Where the X3 Pro differs from the X3 NFC ever so slightly is in the colors, our Frost Blue review unit is a different, lighter shade than the Cobalt Blue of the Poco X3 NFC. Not just that, but the finish on the back has changed, and now the middle part housing the huge Poco logo is the only one that’s glossy, with the sides having a very nice matte finish. It’s still plastic all over, but the new finish almost makes you feel like it could be glass. Almost.

This change makes the Poco X3 Pro even nicer to handle than the X3 NFC, and we’re grateful that this level of attention to detail went into the design. A neat side effect of the matte parts is that they don’t collect fingerprints nearly as much as the glossy middle section – although that glossy middle section does make the phone less slippery than if it would’ve been all matte. It really is the best of both worlds here.

What we still can’t say we love, or even like very much, is the gigantic wordmark. The way it’s etched into our blue review unit makes it stand out less than if the letters were ‘filled’, as it were, since you basically only have their outlines popping out. It’s still a very loud design, for lack of a better word, and one that is quite far away from understated. You may enjoy this or just put up with it because of all the other goodies the phone packs. It’s up to you.

Speaking of packing, the box in which the Poco X3 Pro comes also has a simple case for you to use, which isn’t as flimsy as a lot of others we’ve seen in the past. That said, it’s not the most sturdy-feeling bundled case either, but it’s pretty close.

The only annoying thing about it is that, as we’ve seen for most phones coming out of the Xiaomi / Redmi / Poco stable this year, it has a flap for the USB-C port, which makes plugging in the charging cable a hassle every single time. We’re going to continue to recommend you just cut it off if you’re going to use this case, and spare yourself a lot of fiddling.

The second slightly off-putting thing about the case is the same we’ve said for the one bundled with the X3 NFC, and that’s the fact that dust will tend to gather in between the camera island and the case’s camera cutout. The latter is circular even though the former isn’t, which means there’s a gap there, and a significant one at that – perfect for dust to settle into.

The design of the camera island is still unique – we haven’t seen something like it on any other phone that isn’t the X3/NFC, and that’s about the most we can say about it. In a world filled with left-aligned vertical camera bumps, this one goes its own way, and because it’s centered, it means the phone actually doesn’t wobble when you’re trying to type, and it’s sitting on a desk. That’s a nice bonus.

Overall, the Poco X3 Pro is a very familiar package if you’ve ever seen or handled the Poco X3, and while we’re not fans of the back’s design, we are fans of the improvements to handling that arise out of making the sides of the rear matte. The Poco wordmark is still huge, and the camera island… not the nicest to look at, but at least it means the phone doesn’t wobble when typing. The all-plastic build, including the finish of the frame, is not a huge minus at this price point, and while handling is on the verge of being impaired by the handset’s sheer size and weight, it doesn’t cross the threshold, at least for this reviewer. It is close, though.

On the front, there’s Gorilla Glass 6 now, which is newer and supposedly better than the Gorilla Glass 5 of the Poco X3 NFC, but otherwise, the look is the same, with the screen taking up most of the area, and the centered hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera. It’s a design you’ve probably already seen countless times before, and so we’re not going to dwell on it. This is what modern smartphones look like from the front, and the Poco X3 Pro doesn’t disappoint. If you peek at it closely, you’ll notice the chin, which is bigger than the other bezels, and that’s because the phone uses an LCD screen, but more on that in the dedicated section of this review.

The fingerprint sensor on the Poco X3 Pro is still side-mounted as it was on the Poco X3 NFC, in fact, it’s in the exact same position, but the experience of using it is much improved. This sensor is incredibly accurate and reliable, much more so than the X3 NFC’s was when we were long-term reviewing that phone. It really is a night and day difference. Whereas with the X3 NFC’s scanner we struggled to get it to recognize our print from the first try about a quarter of the time, on the X3 Pro we had no issues in about 95% of cases. That’s a huge improvement, and the X3 Pro’s fingerprint sensor is almost on par with the Poco F3’s, which so far is the best side-mounted scanner we’ve ever used in a phone that we reviewed long-term.

This makes unlocking a much more seamless and much less fiddly thing than it was with the X3 NFC, and while we don’t know what exactly changed between generations, we’re happy that this has been improved, as it was one of our main niggles with the X3 NFC. The Poco X3 Pro’s sensor is still not quite as accurate on the first try as the Poco F3’s, but it is right now the second-best side-mounted one we’ve used in a phone we reviewed long-term, and that’s high praise because before the Poco F3 came about we were almost convinced the issue had to do with this reviewer’s fingers, or something like that. Turns out the fingers were fine, the side-mounted sensors (especially on Xiaomi / Redmi / Poco phones) were simply not that good. Well, now they are.

-The usual caveat applies here, and that is that when enrolling your fingers you should make sure you cover as much finger area as possible. As on any other Xiaomi / Redmi / Poco device, in Settings you can pick whether to unlock the phone upon a touch or a press of the button, and we always go with the latter option because it makes accidental unlocks while taking the phone out of a pocket much less likely. It also somehow feels more natural to press the button in order to turn on the screen, and the fact that this also unlocks the phone is a nice cherry on top.

As you might imagine, there’s face unlocking too, but because the fingerprint sensor is so fast and reliable we never resorted to using that. By the time the face would be scanned the fingerprint sensor would already have unlocked the device. Also, since it’s only using the camera, face unlocking is much less secure – although we did check and it doesn’t unlock when your eyes are closed, so at least there’s that.

Speakers, vibration motor
The Poco X3 Pro’s speakers are… well, there’s two of them. We call that a win in our book. Quality-wise, they’re nothing to write home about, which isn’t to say they’re bad. They’re just not among the best, and that’s no surprise really given how much this phone costs. But the mere fact that it has dual speakers at its price point is to be commended.

In terms of loudness, while these are certainly nowhere near the loudest we’ve ever heard, we also never felt the need for more volume – but you might, especially if you want to use them in crowded, noisy environments. Otherwise, they’re perfectly adequate in their volume range, in our subjective opinion.

Something similar is what we have to say about the phone’s vibration motor too. It’s not the worst we’ve ever felt, it’s definitely not among the best, but it gets the job done without being annoying. There’s nothing wrong with it, really, it’s just that there are much better feeling ones out there.

Then again, those are all to be found in phones that are at least 2-3x more expensive than the Poco X3 Pro, and that definitely needs to be taken into account. So while we can’t praise the vibration motor per se, we can be happy about the fact that it’s not bad – there definitely are worse ones in phones at this price point.

Bluetooth reconnections to previously paired accessories went smoothly most times, with a success rate of around 80-85%. This has traditionally been an issue with cheaper phones, and the cheaper the phone, the more manual reconnects needed. The Poco X3 Pro did well in this regard, while there is still definitely some room for improvement.

Wi-Fi was another thing, though. We’ve had constant issues with stuff not loading when connected to our 5GHz network in specific spots where almost all other phones can hold onto the signal with absolutely no issue. In fact, the only other device that did something similar – and in the exact same spots – is the Redmi Note 10 Pro, as we noted in that handset’s long-term review. The symptoms are the same – while the phone says it’s connected to Wi-Fi, showing about 50% signal, no data is traveling in either direction.

After a while (usually at least 5 minutes, but sometimes much more), it figures this out and switches to mobile data. Before it does that, the only “cure” is to turn Wi-Fi off and then back on again – but if we remain in the same spot, the exact thing described above will inevitably happen again, after anything from 5 minutes to half an hour.

We don’t know what exactly is going on here since this is only the second phone to do the same thing in the same spots, but if you rely on Wi-Fi and there are places where signal levels aren’t great to begin with, you might find yourself in a similar unfortunate situation to what we went through.

Display quality
The Poco X3 Pro has the exact same screen as the Poco X3 NFC, and so everything we said about that one applies here too. The only difference is the glass on top – the X3 Pro gets the newer (but not newest) Gorilla Glass 6, whereas the X3 NFC had to make do with Gorilla Glass 5.

The display quality is exactly the same, though. This means it’s good for an LCD, but nowhere near the best ever – that title, to this day, is still held by the panel inside the Mi 10T Pro from last year. It being an LCD means it comes with the disadvantages of that technology compared to OLEDs, namely lesser blacks and some backlight bleed. These are inescapable because of the tech, so you need to keep them in mind. If you’re thinking of switching to the Poco X3 Pro from a device with an OLED panel, make sure you won’t be missing those inky blacks too much before you pull the trigger.

By Auther