POCO X3 Pro review: The undisputed value champion of 2021

POCO X3 Pro review
(Image: © Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

Bottom line: The POCO X3 Pro delivers blistering performance in the budget segment, easily beating every other phone in the category. You also get two-day battery life and 33W fast charging, a smooth 120Hz LCD panel, stereo sound, 3.5mm jack, IP53 water resistance, and Android 11 out of the box. If you're looking to upgrade to a new budget gaming phone, look no further.

Pros

  • +

    Outstanding battery life with 33W charging

  • +

    Class-leading performance

  • +

    Stellar 120Hz LCD display

  • +

    Stereo sound

  • +

    3.5mm jack, IP53 water resistance

Cons

  • -

    Bulky

  • -

    No NFC in India

Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

POCO burst onto the scene three years ago with the POCO F1, with that phone offering a value package that is yet to be matched. The F1 wasn't a perfect phone by any measure — it had display and build quality issues, and it had plenty of software buds — but the fact that you could get flagship-tier performance from a phone that retailed for under $300 immediately endeared the enthusiast community to the F1.

POCO is now trying to recreate that with the X3 Pro. The phone is a turbocharged version of the POCO X3 that debuted at the end of last year, and the key highlight is that it is powered by a Snapdragon 860 — a higher-clocked version of the 2019 flagship Snapdragon 855+ chipset.

The flagship chipset immediately makes the X3 Pro stand out. The phone is available in India for just ₹18,999 ($260) and is set to go on sale globally for under $300, and there aren't any other phones in this category that come close to the performance figures of the X3 Pro. In short, this is one of the best cheap Android phones you can buy.

The phone also switches things up on the camera side, now featuring a 48MP primary lens — the regular X3 has a 64MP module — and an 8MP wide-angle lens. With the standard X3 targeted as a mainstream device, it's clear that Xiaomi is positioning the X3 Pro as a gaming-focused phone, so let's find out if the device holds up to its promises in real-world use.

About this review

I'm writing this review after using the global version of the POCO X3 Pro for a week on Jio's 4G network in Hyderabad, India. The phone was running MIUI 12.0.2.0 (RJUEUXM) based on Android 11 out of the box and received an update to MIUI 12.0.4.0 on day one.

POCO X3 Pro: Price and availability

POCO X3 Pro review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The POCO X3 Pro was unveiled on March 23. The phone is now up for sale in India, and it is available in two configurations: a 6GB/128GB edition that costs ₹18,999 ($260), and an 8GB/128GB model that retails at ₹20,999 ($285).

POCO is also set to kick off sales of the X3 Pro in the UK and other European markets in the coming weeks. The phone will be available with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and the base 6GB/128GB version will debut at €249 ($295) with an introductory price of €199 ($235). The phone is available in Frost Blue, Phantom Black, and Metal Bronze color options.

POCO X3 Pro: Design and display

POCO X3 Pro review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The POCO X3 stood out last year because it introduced an original design and wasn't a rebranded Redmi phone. Xiaomi is reusing the design here, and the POCO X3 Pro doesn't differ from the standard version on the design front. You still get a large phone with a massive battery, and the POCO branding at the back is just as prominent. With dimensions of 165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4mm and a weight of 215g, the X3 Pro is one of the largest and heaviest phones in this category.

The POCO X3 Pro is big, bold, and bulky — this is not a phone for one-handed use.

I have the Indian version of the POCO X3 — which includes a 6000mAh battery — and next to it the X3 Pro feels lighter and easier to use. The latter weighs 10g less, and that makes a significant difference in day-to-day use.

As for the design itself, you'll find a polycarbonate back with a textured stripe running down the middle, and with the POCO logo situated within the texture. The textured section has a subtle gradient finish, and it has a glossy coating whereas the sides have a matte finish. The four camera modules and LED flash sit within the rear camera enclosure, and the circular housing along with the two-tone finish give the phone a bold look.

The sides of the phone gently curve as it meets the mid-frame, and that makes holding and using the X3 Pro that much easier. The frame itself is also made out of plastic and has a glossy finish. Like recent POCO phones, the X3 Pro also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor that's baked into the power button, and you can easily locate the module thanks to the indent on the right.

The volume rocker is also on the right, and there's an IR blaster up top and a 3.5mm jack at the bottom. The phone has a hybrid SIM card tray that lets you use either two SIM cards or a single SIM along with a MicroSD card.

While the X3 Pro is heavier than most phones in this segment, Xiaomi nailed the basics: the curves at the back ensure a great in-hand feel, and the camera module doesn't protrude too much from the chassis, so there's no wobble when using the phone on a flat surface.

POCO X3 Pro review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Coming to the display, the POCO X3 Pro has the same 6.67-inch IPS LCD panel as the regular X3. The screen has an FHD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, and while Xiaomi has a nifty adaptive refresh rate tech on the Mi 10T series, that particular feature hasn't made its way to the POCO X3 series.

By default, 60Hz refresh is selected out of the box, and you can switch to 120Hz from the settings. There is a big difference when switching over to 120Hz, but there is noticeable ghosting at times. Xiaomi offers plenty of customizability for the panel, and you can change the color balance, schedule dark mode, and use the text-focused reading mode.

The X3 Pro has thin bezels at the top, but the bottom bezel is noticeably wider, and there is a hole-punch cutout. You'll find a wide earpiece just above the panel, and this doubles up as the secondary speaker. The stereo sound is loud and detailed, and it makes playing games or watching movies that much more enjoyable on the X3 Pro.

As for the panel itself, it is one of the best LCDs you'll find in this category. It has vibrant colors and excellent contrast levels, and I didn't have any issues using it under harsh sunlight. The screen is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 6, and the phone comes with a factory-installed screen protector.

POCO X3 Pro: Performance and battery

POCO X3 Pro review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The marquee feature on the POCO X3 Pro is the Snapdragon 860 chipset. Although it's technically a new chipset, it is nothing but a rebranded Snapdragon 855+, and as such you'll find a single Cortex A76 core at 2.96GHz, three Cortex A76 derivatives at 2.84GHz, and four Cortex A55-based cores at up to 1.78GHz.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SpecsPOCO X3 Pro
SoftwareMIUI 12 based on Android 11
Display6.7-inch (2400x1080) 120Hz IPS LCD
Chipset2.96GHz Snapdragon 860
RAM6GB/8GB
Storage128GB/256GB
Rear Camera 148MP ƒ/1.8 (primary)
Rear Camera 28MP ƒ/2.2 (wide-angle)
Rear Camera 32MP ƒ/2.4 (macro)
Rear Camera 42MP ƒ/2.4 (portrait)
Front Camera20MP ƒ/2.2
ConnectivityWi-Fi ac, BT5.0, NFC
Battery5160mAh | 33W
SecuritySide-mounted fingerprint
ColorsFrost Blue, Phantom Black, Metal Bronze
Dimensions165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4mm
Weight215g

There's also the Adreno 640 GPU, and it is much more powerful than any of the Adreno 61x or 62x designs we've seen in this category of late. Qualcomm's decision to relaunch the chipset for 2021 is a smart move. The Snapdragon 860 has a built-in 4G modem, and the chipset is ideally suited for device makers that are looking to maximize the performance without switching over to a 5G-enabled platform.

What that means on the POCO X3 Pro is class-leading performance. The Snapdragon 860 is essentially a two-year-old chipset at this point — that's why the phone has Bluetooth 5.0 while the standard X3 has Bluetooth 5.1 — but it delivers standout performance where it counts. Thanks to the Adreno 640, the phone cruises through titles that handle over 60fps, like Dead Trigger 2.

In fact, the POCO X3 Pro crushes every other device in this category by some margin — outmatching the Snapdragon 732G-based Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, MediaTek Dimensity 800U-toting Realme X7, Helio G95 on the Realme 7, and the Snapdragon 720G on the Galaxy A52. Whether it's single or multi-core scores in Geekbench or 3DMark synthetic GPU tests, the X3 Pro handily beats its rivals.

Simply put, there isn't another device that comes close to the performance of the POCO X3 Pro. You're basically getting flagship-tier performance, and the fact that the phone is available for under $300 makes it a very attractive option.

There is no other phone in this segment that comes close to the performance of the POCO X3 Pro.

The X3 Pro handles day-to-day tasks without breaking a sweat, and it lets you play the most demanding of Android games without any lag or slowdowns. If you're looking to pick up a budget-focused phone for gaming, the POCO X3 Pro should be at the top of your list.

One of the ways Xiaomi was able to save costs with the X3 Pro is by limiting the number of LTE bands on the device. The Indian version of the POCO X3 Pro has LTE bands 1/2/3/5/8/38/40/41, and while that's adequate for 4G use in the country, it does limit the X3 Pro's potential for global roaming — not that it matters in these turbulent times. The global variant includes LTE bands 7/20/28 in addition to what the Indian model offers.

An interesting addition on the X3 Pro is IP53 dust and water resistance. While that doesn't mean you can submerge the phone, it is protected against dust ingress and sprays of water. It's great to see Xiaomi add some level of ingress protection to its phones. Talking about things that Xiaomi got right on the X3 Pro, the side-mounted fingerprint reader is fast and reliable in day-to-day use.

POCO X3 Pro review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The phone has Wi-Fi ac connectivity, and like the regular X3, the X3 Pro misses out on NFC in India. That said, the global version I'm using does have the feature, so this particular limitation is only for the Indian model.

As for battery life, the X3 Pro comes with a 5160mAh battery with 33W fast charging — the same as the X3 NFC. The phone consistently offers over a day's worth of battery life even with heavy use, and I had zero issues in this particular area.

The massive battery means you don't need to worry about plugging in even after marathon gaming sessions, and when you do need to charge the phone, the bundled 33W charger takes 30 minutes to go from zero to 55% and a full charge in just over an hour.

POCO X3 Pro: Cameras

POCO X3 Pro review

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Like most phones these days, the POCO X3 Pro has four cameras at the back: you'll find a 48MP Sony IMX582 primary lens, 8MP wide-angle lens, and a 2MP macro along with 2MP portrait lenses. There's a 20MP camera at the front, and like previous years, it is a fixed-focus lens. As I've stated numerous times in other reviews, the 2MP fixed-focus macro lens is there just to round out the spec sheet, and is not really usable in most scenarios.

The camera interface itself should be immediately familiar if you've used a Xiaomi phone in the past. All the shooting modes are easily accessible, and you have toggles for HDR, flash, timer, AI, Google Lens, and switching between the various lenses. The macro mode sits behind the action overflow menu, and you can add shooting modes to the ribbon by heading to the More tab.

Like the standard X3, the X3 Pro lacks 4K video at 60fps, with the option limited to 1080p. The Snapdragon 855+ easily handles 4K recording at 60fps, but with Xiaomi positioning the phone as a gamer-focused option, it didn't leverage this particular feature.

As for the photos, the X3 Pro relies on four-to-one pixel binning to produce 12MP shots — you can also use the full-res 48MP mode should you wish to do so. You get great photos in well-lit situations, with balanced dynamic range and accurate colors. The camera does a decent enough job in low-light scenarios as well, but the resultant photos are overly processed and miss out on details.

You can fix this particular issue by using the dedicated night mode; while it doesn't lead to noticeably better shots, at leas the images have better detail and decreased noise levels. The 8MP wide-angle lens also does a decent job in daylight, but it just doesn't measure up in artificial or poor lighting.

The cameras on the X3 Pro don't hold up against the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, and even the standard POCO X3 takes better photos in a few situations. Xiaomi isn't positioning this phone as a camera-focused option, and that is evident in the resultant shots.

POCO X3 Pro: Software