The 5G smartphone market is still a growing segment. And while it’s typically seen on more expensive smartphones, POCO is one of those brands bringing the next-generation connectivity to the masses. This POCO M3 Pro 5G might be the most affordable 5G-ready handset to date.
But I’m not getting into talking about the different 5G offerings available. I’m here to focus specifically on what the M3 Pro 5G can offer you if you’re on the market for a new smartphone that promises value for your money. There are four reasons why this POCO handset could be your next device.
You want access to faster, next-gen connectivity
As I already mentioned, 5G is still a growing market in the smartphone space. And I like that in this developing space, we get options like this POCO M3 Pro 5G, which can deliver speeds similar to other 5G phones on the market. Of course, this is all dependent on the telco’s coverage area.
I am using Smart’s 5G network, and for the few times I do go out, I find that it can easily tap into that network if I’m within its vicinity. If you want that slice of 5G but can’t spring for a more expensive phone, POCO offers an excellent option to consider.
POCO arms the M3 Pro 5G with a reliable set of features, including a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset with a built-in 5G modem, up to 6GB of RAM, and up to 128GB expandable storage. I am testing out the 6GB + 128GB model, but there’s also a 4GB + 64GB variant. It also has a 6.5-inch FHD+ LCD DotDisplay with a 90Hz refresh rate, 91% screen-to-body ratio, and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection.
The POCO M3 Pro 5G might not have the brightest display, but it’s still usable outdoors. This handset gets MIUI 12’s Sunlight mode, which boosts brightness a bit when you’re outdoors. As mentioned, though, it does feature a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling. POCO plans to bring an auto-switch feature for the refresh rate via a software update later this year. It will allow the phone to switch between 90Hz, 60Hz, 50Hz, and 30Hz dynamically depending on the content shown, which can also help with battery life.
As I’ve mentioned in my 24 hours story, I’ve had no trouble with the M3 Pro 5G’s performance. It gets the work I need to be done. It can pull up the apps I need relatively quickly. Of course, it won’t beat flagship-grade phones, but this handset’s daily performance should be sufficient for a lot of users. I could write quick stories on it, browse my favorite social media sites, and play games. It can handle many titles at the “mid” settings level and without much of an issue. So, casual gamers should be more than happy with what this POCO device offers.
I like that POCO M3 Pro 5G supports Widevine L1, which is needed to stream HD or Full HD content on services like Netflix. So, it lets me enjoy my favorite Netflix content in high definition.
As with other customized interfaces for Android, MIUI 12 based on Android 11 might be a mixed bag for many users. It is heavily skinned, but I don’t mind it that much. I like being able to customize the interface to suit my needs. There is an app drawer, an option to separate the Notifications from the Control Center, a Theme store, and even the option to group your apps by color in the app drawer. If you like getting into the nitty-gritty, you’ll like this feature.
I still could do with fewer pre-installed apps, though. It isn’t much of an issue with the 128GB variant, but it is tedious to get rid of most of these apps I don’t use. For the 64GB variant, this will be a bigger concern.
With a 5,000mAh battery, I could get more than a day’s use out of this handset on most days. Busy days will leave me with enough to get through the day, but I’ll need to top it up first thing. The POCO M3 Pro 5G supports 18-watt fast-charging, and it even comes equipped with a 22.5-watt charger, but, of course, charging time tops out at 18 watts. And with its big battery, it still needs around two hours to completely charge the device.
LiTT Tip #1: I didn’t know I needed to color coordinate my apps until now. If you’d like the POCO M3 Pro 5G to do that work for you, head to Settings > Home screen > App drawer and then turn on the toggle beside the Group icons by color option.
LiTT Tip #2: If you want to separate the Control Center from your notifications, head to Settings > Notifications & Control center > Control center style and then pick the New version option.
Nice and sturdy
The POCO M3 Pro 5G comes in a glossy, mirror-like Power Black or Cool Blue in the Philippines. (Unfortunately, no POCO Yellow here.) I’m testing out the Power Black, which looks a bit more like shiny silver than black in person. Its looks give off a premium, glass-like appearance despite it being made with plastic. And yes, that sheen means it attracts smudges quite easily. Prepare to constantly wipe the back with a microfiber cloth, or just use the included jelly case to protect it. That jelly case also helps protect the protruding rectangular camera module, which could be prone to scratches since it sticks out a bit.
POCO’s logo is just slightly below that camera array to remind you who made your device. It doesn’t look like the standard POCO M3, so it’s easy to tell the handsets apart. It might be a way for the company to look for a design that sticks. But that’s just me speculating.
This phone has a bit of heft to it that makes it feel solid and sturdy in hand. It’s not too heavy that I can’t hold it for prolonged periods, but it’s just one of those slightly heftier models I’ve used recently.
Button layout seems relatively standard for POCO. The volume rocker and power button/fingerprint scanner are to the right, the USB-C and bottom-firing speaker at the bottom, and 3.5mm audio jack and IR blaster at the top. Without an AMOLED screen, the fingerprint scanner is placed with the power button. I prefer this implementation, but, of course, I wished there was an AMOLED panel here. And let’s not forget that the POCO M3 Pro 5G also comes with NFC, which allows for quick pairing and making mobile payments.
The screen is interrupted by a centered punch-hole for the selfie camera, which I’ve mentioned in my first impressions that seemed slightly more prominent in its spot. It has relatively thin bezels on the side and top and a somewhat thicker chin, which is typical of a device at its price point.
LiTT Tip #3: Take advantage of the IR blaster and turn it into a universal remote for your devices like your TV, set-top-box, AC, camera, and more. There’s an IR Remote app included in the phone.
Ready to capture your favorite memories
POCO sticks to the standard set of sensors typically found in a device in the M3 Pro 5G’s price range. There’s a 48-megapixel primary sensor, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. In front, there’s an 8-megapixel selfie camera.
You can get a lot of mileage out of the main camera when shooting in good lighting. The photos come out with plenty of detail. It quickly focuses on the subject, too. POCO’s post-processing boosts saturation a bit, but I don’t mind it. If you want a bit more natural photos, you can use the camera’s 48-megapixel mode. Typically, the primary sensor pixel bins your pictures and saves them in 12-megapixel. Of course, the 48-megapixel photos will come at the expense of bigger file sizes.
I primarily relied on the main sensor to take photos. I don’t find much use with the other two, but it has been a trend for the longest time to include more sensors to make the phones more attractive. I wished POCO kept on an ultra-wide sensor instead.
There aren’t too many modes in the camera app, but you do get the essential features. There is a Night mode for those who like taking photos in low-light conditions. It can help a bit when there’s still some light visible. If it gets too dark, experiment with the Pro mode. Selfies come out sharp with good detail in well-lit conditions.
For video, you can record up to 1080p at 30 frames per second with the rear and front and up to 720p at 30fps if you want to shoot with the macro camera. As expected, there isn’t 4K recording available for this device.
With Xiaomi’s MIUI running on this POCO smartphone, you can access privacy features like taking out the location info and/or metadata when sending photos and videos. Nifty and helps protect your privacy, too.
What’s lit and what’s not?
What’s lit about it:
- Access to 5G without breaking the bank
- 90Hz refresh rate display for smoother scrolling
- Enjoy Full HD content on Netflix
- Battery life that’s ready for a busy workday
- Well-built handset
- Decent, shareable photos
What needs the extra spark:
- Could do with fewer pre-installed apps
- Screen could be a bit brighter
- Wish for faster charging
- Would prefer an ultra-wide sensor over the two other sensors
POCO’s effort to bring 5G to the masses is a commendable one. The compromises made in this handset do not outweigh the value you get from the budget-friendly POCO M3 Pro 5G. It’s an easy device to recommend for those who want fast, next-gen speeds on a capable yet affordable smartphone.
The new POCO M3 Pro 5G retails for PHP 8,990 (4GB) and PHP 11,990 (6GB).
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