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POCO X3 NFC Review

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Xiaomi’s POCO brand has been slouching in their previous releases. But with the POCO X3 NFC, they’re trying to bring back the initial impression we had for the brand when they released the ground-breaking Pocophone F1.

Just by looking at the specs and price, you already know that it’s the best smartphone you can get for Php10,000. But the question is, how does this phone hold up? We’ve spent over a month playing with this device to form our POCO X3 NFC long-term review to give you even the tiniest information about this device and how it’s actually like as a daily driver.

Before we proceed, let me preface this review by saying that I really spent a long time using this device. Bear in mind that being a tech writer, I usually use flagship phones often. So, expect the rest of this article to have some comparisons over other flagship-caliber smartphones. Spoiler alert: the X3 NFC was able to keep up.

POCO X3 NFC Specs

  • Android 10, MIUI 12
  • Dual SIM, Dual standby
  • 6.67-inch FHD+ IPS display, 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~395
  • 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G octa-core processor
  • Liquid Cool Technology Plus
  • Adreno 618 GPU
  • 6GB RAM
  • 64GB/128 internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 20-megapixel front camera
  • 64-megapixel (f/1.9, PDAF) + 13-megapixel (ultra-wide, f/2.2) + 2-megapixel (macro) + 2-megapixel (depth-sensor) rear cameras
  • IP53 splashproof
  • Side-mounted fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
  • 4G LTE
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • NFC
  • Infrared
  • FM Radio
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4 mm
  • Weight: 215g
  • Colors: Shadow Gray, Cobalt BLue
  • 5,160mAh non-removable battery, 33W fast charging

Design and Build Quality

POCO really stepped up their game on the POCO X3 NFC, and it shows in the design. Unlike the previous Redmi-rebranded devices, this one is new and entirely “POCO”, and there’s a large logo printed on the back to prove that.

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In fact, the entire rear panel looks really distinct. Of course, it’s still polycarbonate but with multiple layers that result in this glass-like, metallic look. The unit that we have here is the Shadow Gray color, which looks really stealthy. If you want a more flashy look, you can go with the Cobal Blue option.

The large POCO logo is placed in a stripe texture in the middle, which changes in hues depending on the light. It’s in line with the unique X camera layout on the top, which is unlike what we’ve ever seen before.

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Being a glass-like plastic, the POCO X3 NFC is really shiny. This also means that it’s extremely prone to fingerprint smudges. Hold this thing once, and it’s already bombarded with fingerprint marks.

I spent most of my time with it with the free anti-bacterial case on. I’m not sure if it has any disinfecting features, but it does keep the device clean and safe from random scratches.

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POCO X3 NFC | iPhone XR

But as you know, slapping a case would only make a device thicker. The POCO X3 NFC is already 9.4mm thick and weighs 215g. Most phones only average at about 8mm and 180g, respectively.

By itself, the POCO X3 NFC already feels large and bulky. You can instantly get used to it since the sides and corners are curved to make it still comfortable in the hands.

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Its overall build and structure are actually really great for a budget phone. POCO managed to put a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on the front and a solid aluminum frame. POCO even pre-applied a screen protector for extra peace of mind.

The POCO X3 NFC even has an IP53 rating for splash protection. You can’t go swimming with it, but it should withstand being caught in the rain or accidental water spills and splashes.

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Speaking of the glass, there’s a punch-hole in the middle of its 6.67-inch screen. It sure looks clean and unique, but I wish POCO just copied everyone and placed it in the corner, so it’s less distracting.

There’s a tiny slit on the top of the display for the earpiece, which also doubles as a loudspeaker for the stereo setup. The bezels are skinny, resulting in a better screen-to-body ratio.

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We also have the volume controls and the lock/power switch on the side. The latter has a flat profile as it doubles as the fingerprint scanner. The physical buttons feel a bit plastic-y when pressed but feel sturdy enough to last.

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The SIM tray is on the other side, which can house two nano-SIM cards and a microSD card all at the same time.

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We have the noise-isolating mic on the top together with the IR blaster. While on the bottom, there’s the USB Type-C port, loudspeaker, primary mic, and headphone jack.

Overall, I admired the looks of the POCO X3 NFC. The large build lets you know that it has tons of power inside. As a bonus, Xiaomi dressed it really well to look really distinct and eye-catching.

Display and Sound Quality

We head to one of the POCO X3 NFC key features, the display department. This thing is one of the cheapest smartphones to come with a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, and even a stereo speaker setup.

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Let’s start with the screen. What we see here is a 6.67-inch FHD+ IPS screen with 2400 x 1080 pixels. I immediately fell in love with it just by the speed. Everything is just smooth and seamless with the 120Hz on. But due to some hardware limitations, the smoothness is not as consistent as those of flagship devices with a more powerful processor. Although, the 240Hz touch sensitivity does help.

I also liked how there’s an informative animation in the settings menu that gives you an idea of the difference between 60Hz and 120Hz and their pros and cons regarding battery consumption.

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But unlike the Mi 10T series, no Adaptive Mode option in here would’ve intelligently switched to 60Hz or 120Hz depending on the task at hand to let you enjoy the benefits of having a high refresh rate screen while also saving battery.

As for the color quality, the POCO X3 NFC has Widevine L1 DRM support, which lets you stream HDR10 videos on Netflix, YouTube, and other popular streaming apps.

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We left the color scheme setting to Auto, which works fine. It offers a clean and realistic color that’s acceptable for an IPS panel. The sharpness is decent, too.

Moving on, let’s talk about the stereo speakers. Unlike most budget phones with this feature, the dual-speaker setup on the POCO X3 NFC is actually great. It offers loud volume, clear highs, and audible bass. The mids are lacking, but we don’t expect it to be perfect.

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Since it has a large screen, the stereo separation is also great, creating a more immersive experience that compliments the smooth display.

The POCO X3 NFC also has Z-axis linear motor for a slightly better haptic feedback, but nothing too special. It also has Hi-Res audio for better sound and a headphone jack at the bottom. Albeit, it doesn’t come with a pair of earphones, so you might have to get one from Xiaomi themselves or anyone else.

Hardware and Performance

Just like its brothers, the POCO X3 NFC has a killer processor for the price. This handset is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G octa-core processor. Its performance is close to the midrange Snapdragon 730 and 730G that sub-Php20K smartphones have.

POCO X3 NFC benchmark scores

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The chipset comes with an Adreno 618 GPU and has Liquid Cool Technology Plus. The unit we have here is the top-tier variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. A cheaper 6GB/64GB model is also available.

As you can see from the benchmark scores, it has a powerful performance that exceeds expectations for the price. Those scores reflects on actual use. Together with the 120Hz screen, everything is just fast and seamless in this thing — from multitasking, social media, taking pictures, photo editing, and more.

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League of Legends: Wild Rift and Call of Duty Mobile settings on POCO X3 NFC

The gaming experience was mind-blowing on the POCO X3 NFC — the best experience we had on a sub-Php10,000 smartphone. Popular games like League of Legends: Wild Rift, Call of Duty Mobile, and PUBG Mobile were playable at the highest graphics settings and frame rates.

It did get warm after a couple of rounds, but it’s far from being an overheating issue. Overall, a great gaming experience.

Software and User Interface

The new POCO X3 NFC comes with Android 10-based MIUI 12. Being one of their latest releases, it shall receive the Android 11 update soon.

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In general, the device’s interface looks really clean and straightforward, which compliments its speed. You can easily swipe up from the home screen to reveal the app drawer. While the control center and the notifications tab is intuitive.

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Dark Mode is present for a more subtle look that matches the stealthy design. And if you’re heavy in customization, there are special wallpaper and themes store present in the settings menu.

On the downside, there’s no Always-On display (AOD) feature, which makes sense since it would eat up battery fast as it uses an IPS screen instead of OLED.

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I also liked how some of the settings menu (i.e., refresh rate settings) and UI elements have large icons and animations to give you a better understanding of what they do.

Bloatware and pre-installed apps are present. Like the Mi Video, some can’t be removed, while some pre-loaded apps and games can be uninstalled.

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Extra features like Game Turbo is also present, which optimizes the system before you launch a game. Plus, Video toolbox for special effects when playing a video, floating window, and second space if you’re sharing the device.

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The camera app is easy and familiar to use. Meanwhile, the Google Keyboard is easy to type on and to get used to.

Overall, the POCO X3 NFC interface complements the fast and stealthy hardware, and since it’s a new device, you can expect updates to arrive in the future.

Security

The POCO X3 NFC comes with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which works fast and reliably during our testing. It also uses the 20-megapixel selfie camera for the face unlock, which also worked seamlessly during our testing.

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Software-level security features are also present. Privacy features are here, as well as emergency alerts, SOS, and more.

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Camera

Since the POCO X3 NFC already covered the key bases, we weren’t expecting too much from its cameras. Still, it exceeded our expectations.

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It has a 64-megapixel main camera with an f/1.9 aperture, 13-megapixel ultra-wide, and the usual 2-megapixel macro and depth sensor. While on the front, we have the 20-megapixel sensor for selfies.

I’m really surprised with the first image we got out of the POCO X3, even though it was taken in a low-light scenario (see first sample below). In most scenarios, especially in daylight, the images have high detail, a clean dynamic range, and nice colors.

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64-megapixel main camera
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64-megapixel main camera

The ultra-wide lens looks similar, albeit with less detail. The wider field-of-view is great for group shots, tall buildings, and other subjects that you can’t regularly fit in a single frame.

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13-megapixel ultra-wide
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13-megapixel ultra-wide

Low-light shots look relatively clean, but we suggest you use the Night Mode feature if you can for a brighter image.

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Low light
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Night Mode

Meanwhile, both the 2-megapixel macro has terrible focus, so you might be better off using the main camera and crop it later to zoom in. The depth sensor allowed the POCO X3 NFC to take portrait images with clean foreground-background separation on the upside.

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Depth sensor

Lastly, we have the 20-megapixel front-facing camera. It’s sharp enough with decent skin tones and exposure. It should be enough for taking selfies, video calls, and amateur vloggers.

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20-megapixel

Connectivity

It may not be its flagship feature, but it’s obvious in the name that this device has NFC. It’s useful for wireless payment, NFC-enabled accessories and can even help reload your beep card.

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The POCO X3 NFC also has dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, and the standard-issue IR blaster that lets you control non-smart TVs, air conditioners, and other infrared-enabled appliances. The only problem is, I can’t get it to work with my Fujidenzo airconditioner. This may also be a problem if your appliance is from a lesser-known brand.

Battery

A fast and powerful smartphone is useless if the battery drains fast. Thankfully, that’s not an issue with the POCO X3 NFC. This thing comes with a generous 5,160mAh battery, which will give you about 6 hours of screen-on time.

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That translates for an entire day of moderate to heavy use. But on slow days, I was able to stretch it to two days with casual web browsing, listening to music, and minimal video streaming.

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If that’s not impressive enough, the POCO X3 NFC also has 33W fast charging support, which can fully charge the device in only about an hour to an hour and a half.

Verdict

Well, it’s pretty clear, the POCO X3 NFC is the best smartphone you can get in the sub-Php10,000 category. It could pass as a daily driver, even for someone who’s a flagship smartphone user, which says a lot.

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Xiaomi covered all the key bases on this one. It has a killer performance, impressive battery life and charging speeds, and flexible cameras. As if that’s not enough, POCO threw in some extras like a fast display, stereo speakers, and a unique and attractive design.

We’ll be nitpicking if we want to talk about its cons. For starters, it would be better if the remote app has support for lesser-known appliance brands. Also, the overall build is quite large and bulky, especially if you’re used to smaller phones.

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Still, the POCO X3 NFC is the best smartphone you can get for the price without a doubt. Heck, even if you’re planning on spending Php15k and up, we suggest you save that money and get this one instead.

POCO X3 NFC pricing and availability in the Philippines

The POCO X3 NFC has an official price of Php10,990 for the 6GB/64GB model, while the one that we reviewed is the 6GB/128GB model, which retails for Php12,990. It’s been available in the Philippines since September, which you can get on Xiaomi’s online and offline stores nationwide.

Pros

  • Feature-packed display
  • Unique design with water protection
  • Powerful processor
  • Flexible cameras
  • Stereo speakers
  • Long battery life with fast charging
  • Great value for the money.

Cons

  • IR blaster support for lesser-known appliance brands could be better
  • Quite large and bulky

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