Poco F3 Review: Superb display with mediocre camera

The Poco F3 is the rightful successor to the 2018 “flagship killer” F1. Last year’s F2 Pro was a tad too expensive at $899.

In contrast, the F3 starts only from $549. Yet, it features Qualcomm’s near-flagship processor Snapdragon 870 5G with a 6.67-inch HDR+ AMOLED display. This display has a fast 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate.

PRICE: S$549 (6GB RAM/128GB), S$599 (8GB RAM/256GB); available in Lazada and Shopee
PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
DISPLAY: 6.67-inch FHD+, 2,400 x 1,080 pixels, 120Hz
OPERATING SYSTEM: MIUI 12 for Poco (Android 11)
REAR CAMERAS: 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle, 48MP f/1.8 wide-angle, 5MP f/2.4 tele-macro
BATTERY: Non-removable 4,520mAh
WEIGHT: 196g

Apart from the 20-megapixel (MP) front-facing camera, the F3 packs a rear triple camera system consisting a 48MP wide-angle camera, a 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera and 5MP tele-macro camera.

The Poco F3 looks really sleek. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Available in three colours of white, blue and black, the F3 comes in two RAM/storage variants of 6GB RAM/128GB and 8GB RAM/256GB. We reviewed the 256GB black variant.

If looks is everything to you, the F3 definitely wins. It has a sleek glossy back that exudes coolness.

The black model’s back is so glossy that it is virtually a mirror. So, you can use it to check if your hair is messy.

The F3’s rear is like a mirror. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Consequently, the phone’s back is a fingerprint and smudge magnet. Any slight touch will elicit a smudge. Thankfully, the box includes a clear silicone case that you can use from day 1.

+ Gorgeous display
+ Good performance
+ Great value for money
+ Sleek design

– Cameras can be better
– Does not support wireless charging
– No water resistance
– Lacks expandable storage

The volume rocker and the power button are sited on the phone’s right side. As such, you can control everything with your right thumb.

The power button also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. And it is almost instantaneous when used to unlock the phone.

While the sides of the phones are curvy for a comfortable grip, I like that the display itself is flat. Thus, there are no accidental touches from the base of your thumb when holding it.

Not to mention, the 6.67-inch screen is gorgeous with very thin bezels. Only a punch-hole “spoils” an otherwise all-screen front. Any content displayed on it looks much better with colours “popping” out.

The F3’s display is gorgeous. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

By default, the display’s refresh rate is set at 60Hz. However, you can set it to 120Hz for smoother scrolling of web pages as well as less screen tearing when playing games. But the faster refresh rate means the battery life will take a hit.

On the downside, the smartphone does not have any water resistance rating and does not support wireless charging. Guess something has got to give for its affordable pricing.

In terms of performance, the Poco F3 scores 986 (single-core) and 3,253 (multi-core) in the GeekBench 5 benchmark tests. Unsurprisingly, it surpassed its predecessor’s scores of 904 (single- core) and 3,362 (multi-core).

In fact, it is almost on par with the likes of Samsung’s flagship S21 Ultra that scored 939 (single-core) and 3092 (multi-core).

For your daily browsing of Facebook feeds, Instagram content and TikTok videos, the F3 is more than good enough. Playing games of any genres, from PUBG Mobile shooter to Pokemon Go augmented reality game, is also no issue for the F3.

On the downside, it does not come with expandable storage and even the higher-end review model only has 256GB of internal storage.

The biggest downer of the F3 has to be its camera system. With only a wide-angle and an ultra-wide-angle camera, it does not have any telephoto camera for times when you need to zoom into a subject.

The images shot by the 48MP wide-angle camera and 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera are great in good lighting, but they lack the sharpness and details found in flagship smartphones like S21 Ultra or iPhone 12 Pro.

And the bokeh effects offered by the tele-macro camera are decent but not magnificent.

The portrait shots are decent. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Again, the shots taken using Night mode are acceptable but lack the dynamic range and sharpness offered by the flagship smartphones.

You can see clear pixelations in the dark areas with photos shot in Night mode. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Overall, the photos delivered by F3 are up to the mark for its pricing. But it does not quite reach the mark set by flagship smartphones.

In our video-loop battery test in which we loop a 720p video with display set at maximum brightness and 120Hz refresh rate, the F3 lasted 8 hours 45 minutes. This is pretty good.

By comparison, Oppo’s flagship Find X3 Pro lasted 10 hours 32 minutes, also with a 120Hz display.

But on normal usage like of checking emails, reading news feed and scrolling through Facebook and Instagram through the day like every Singaporean does, I found that the F3 still has around 20 per cent battery life by the time I put the phone to charge when I go to bed.

If you are not too concerned about picture quality, the Poco F3 is the 5G smartphone to get with its sleek design, zippy performance and affordable pricing.

DESIGN: 8/10
OVERALL: 7.5/10

Trevor Tan

Started out with dreams to become a street photographer, Trevor Tan somehow became a tech journalist with over 16 years of consumer tech experience. Maybe he plays too much video games and buys too many new gadgets.
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