Poco M3 : test / review
Published on: 24-11-2020 / Modified: 24-12-2020
The Poco brand had not been used by Xiaomi since 2018 and 2020 marked the return of the brand with 3 new models. The Poco F2 Pro came first by attacking the top of the range, the Poco X3 came next by attacking the middle of the range and the little last one, the Poco M3, comes to attack the entry level with a launch for Black Friday 2020 and an announced price of 129€!
With each Poco, I have the impression that Xiaomi takes out the flattening roller to push the competition even further with ever lower prices. I'm really struggling to find credible alternatives in the same price range.
I usually think a lot before buying a phone but I bought the Poco X3 blind because I was very satisfied with the F2 Pro. I did the same with this Poco M3 and I'm curious to see what it has in store for 129€.
Manufacturer web site:
Site where I have bought the Poco M3: https://s.zbanx.com/r/D23tPcHW7g58
Structure of my testsI test the phones according to a pre-established structure (see below) to provide you with as much information as possible. Unfortunately, this takes a long time. Some tests like network performance tests take several days and for photo tests I sometimes have to wait until the weather is suitable to take pictures in good conditions. I am therefore obliged to publish the tests step by step, so I invite you to come back if the test is not complete at the time of your visit.
Price Poco M3The list below shows the prices for the Poco M3 from more than 50 sites around the world. If you are not satisfied with any price, you can subscribe to a price alert to be the first to be notified when the price drops.
The above links are affiliate links from companies such as Amazon, Gearbest, Aliexpress,... If you appreciate my work, I would be grateful if you could purchase these products through these links. It costs you absolutely nothing but I get a small commission that allows me to buy the material I test. Thank you very much!
Timeline27/11/2020 I order the Poco M3 on Aliexpress at introductory price
18/12/2020 I finally received the Poco M3, so I can start testing it.
Why this phone?As I wrote above, I tested the Poco F2 Pro and the Poco X3 earlier this year. I really liked both phones, the price/performance ratio is absolutely unbeatable. These two Poco's have pushed the limits of what you can get for this price. The Poco M3 comes with an even lower price, so it will be available to an even wider audience.
Beyond the price of the Poco M3, its features are close to the Redmi Note 9, these two phones have a lot in common. They are the same size but the Poco is a little thicker to accommodate a larger battery. The screen has the same size and resolution. The performance is similar even if the architecture is different. It is also possible that the Poco will take over the camera from the Redmi, if this is the case I hope it won't take over the poor colour management of the latter.
The Poco therefore looks like a Redmi Note 9 with a higher battery capacity. The comparison could therefore be interesting.
Xiaomi uses the colour orange for its phones and to differentiate itself from the main brand, Poco uses yellow. The box is therefore yellow and contains the phone, a transparent cover, a manual, a needle to open the sim drawer, a charger and a USB cable.
First configurationThe configuration of the Poco M3 is identical to the other models of the brand, Xiaomi has just added a possibility to exit the configuration quite quickly in case you want to make an urgent call. You can set up your e-mail box and fingerprint later.
Xiaomi has recently introduced an additional question to encourage you to sign up for the Xiaomi Cloud. They are becoming more and more insistent.
The Poco M3 is an entry-level phone, so don't expect a glass or metal back. The Poco M3 is made of plastic and the back of the phone is covered with a texture that reminds me of a crocodile skin. I hadn't seen this kind of texture for almost 2 years. This doesn't affect the quality of the phone, the Poco M3 doesn't follow the trend that phones should be shiny with all kinds of lighting effects. The advantage of this kind of texture is that it doesn't slip.
The Poco M3 has a slightly peculiar configuration on the back with a photo block on the left but which is extended by a smooth surface across the entire width of the phone. Every Poco launched in 2020 is different, I have the impression that Poco has not yet found the ideal format to represent the brand with its own identity. I have read many reviews of this format, I personally have nothing against it, this phone is just different and the choice of Poco does not affect the use of the phone. So it's all a matter of taste.
As for the rest, the Poco follows the market guidelines with a jack connector at the top of the phone, an infrared sensor, a USB C port and a mono speakerphone at the bottom of the phone. The fingerprint sensor is on the side like the Redmi Note 9S and the Poco X3. The SIM drawer can hold two SIM cards and an extra micro SD memory card (not at the expense of the SIM cards).
The finishes are not of the premium type but overall I think the Poco M3 is pretty good.
The information below comes from the Device Info HW application. The application provides detailed technical information about the tested phone.I tested the Poco M3 in its 4Gb/64Gb version. The full features are available in the screenshots below this paragraph.
CPU / GPU Performance
The Poco M3 is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 CPU, this processor is also used in other phones such as the Nokia 5.4, the Oppo A73, the Realme 7i or the Motorola G9. This CPU is also comparable to the Mediatek Helio G70 CPU found in the Redmi Note 9.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 is an entry-level CPU, so it does not offer formidable performance but this is not a problem as the Poco M3 is positioned at the entry level. This CPU offers sufficient performance to use the Poco M3 on a daily basis without major problems. I have noticed some slowdowns when many applications were open at the same time but overall the Poco M3 works quite well.
The Poco M3 is equipped with a Qualcomm Adreno 610 GPU which is also used in the Nokia 5.3, Motorola G8 Power or Redmi Note 9. This GPU is also an entry-level GPU but like the CPU, it offers enough performance to run the Poco M3 without problems. The Poco M3 is not a gamer oriented smartphone like the Poco X3 but simple games will not be a problem.
Benchmark Antutu/3DMarkI scored 185,000 points with Antutu, this puts the Poco M3 at a Redmi Note 9 level. The price positioning of the Poco is lower than the Redmi, the price/performance ratio is therefore favourable to the Poco.
To test the performance in game, I download the mobile PUBG game and evaluate the in-game experience, graphics level and depth of vision. This game is quite demanding and should help you evaluating the performance of a phone.
The Poco M3 is not intended for a gaming audience but it does very well on PUBG Mobile, this is at the expense of the fluidity of the image and the level of detail of the textures. These are normal degradations for a phone of this type and it will not prevent you from playing this kind of game as long as it offers a low graphics mode.
Network performanceThe Poco M3 supports most of the 3G/4G frequencies used in Europe, and has become a standard at Xiaomi where 2 years ago this was not the case at all. The B28 / 700 Mhz frequency is also available.
Signal 4G (before december 2020)
The ability to pick up the network correctly is an essential element for a phone but it is only very rarely measured. To measure a phone's ability to pick up the network, I perform a large number of measurements on the same cells to be able to compare phones under similar conditions. The signal is measured in dBm, a value of -90dBm indicates a worse signal than -70dBm. These measurements are therefore taken under real conditions and not in a laboratory, they are not scientific but give a good indication of performance.
Signal 4G (from December 2020)
I decided to change the methodology for measuring the network because I noticed that the configuration of the mobile network changes over time. This makes it more difficult to compare phones because the conditions are no longer exactly the same.
To overcome this problem, I set up a device that captures 24 hours a day about ten parameters from the mobile network (ex: cell id, rssi, rsrq, snr, frequency,...). I then place the phone next to the device for 24 to 48 hours taking the same measurements so that I can compare them.
Overview of the phones tested with this methodology
The Poco M3 is the 8th phone I have tested with my new 4G test protocol and it is clearly the best. I usually get quite average results with Chinese brands but here Poco did very well.
I took over 1000 measurements comparing the results with my reference device. For the first time I have a phone that scores better than my reference device.
On the following graph you can see that the Poco measurements are almost identical to the measurements of my reference device. The results are so close that at first I thought it was an error in the manipulation of the data but after several checks I came to the same conclusion.
The Poco M3 is currently the best phone in terms of network sensitivity.
To test the download speed, I have identified some 4G cells offering good performance where I test all my devices several times to see what download and upload speed they can achieve.
Wifi performanceTo test a phone's ability to receive the network properly, I take measurements near my router and then remotely (and always at the same place). This gives me an average in dBm where a value of -90 dBm indicates poorer performance than a value at -30 dBm.
I got a -21 dBm signal near my router and a -63 dBm signal at a distance. The Poco M3 is not the best in terms of wifi sensitivity, it is not bad either, it is somewhere in the middle of the ranking.
To test the speed in Wifi, I connect to my router in 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz (if available) and use the Ookla application to measure the speed.
To test the quality of the GPS signal I use the Offline Maps application and I make the same train trip in pedestrian mode. Why? In pedestrian mode, the GPS does not artificially correct the signal to stick to the road, it has no markings, so you can see the actual position. I then use an application to measure the accuracy of the signal.
I obtained a GPS signal accuracy of 4 metres, which is below average. The first "fix" with the GPS network was also quite long.
The Poco M3 does not seem to offer dual GPS because I only see one frequency per network.
Battery rangeThe Poco M3 has a huge 6000 mAh battery, which is clearly above average. This battery offers an autonomy of 2 to 3 days in normal use but it is not the most efficient battery.
With the display on at 100%, I got a battery life of 842 minutes, that's a good score but I have tested other phones that offer better battery life with a lower capacity battery. This can be explained by the brightness of the screen which is above average.
With the display on at 50%, I obtained a battery life of 1898 minutes, this is also a good score but here again I have tested other phones that do better with a smaller battery.
The consumption according to the lighting of the screen is therefore almost linear, the consumption at 50% is almost half of the consumption at 100%. So there are no surprises here unlike some phones where I have a much higher ratio.
The Poco M3 took 217 minutes to fully charge the battery, which is an average score. Charging speed is higher in the first percentages of the battery and slows down in the last 10 percentages.
Photo camera testTo test the quality of photos produced by a phone, I do a technical test (resolution, sharpness, chromatic aberration,...) in studio (identical conditions) to evaluate the technical part objectively. From the second half of 2020, I built my own laboratory to take completely objective technical measurements. I then take pictures in real conditions to see how the camera performs. I then evaluate these photos according to my criteria but I publish the photos so that you can evaluate the result according to your criteria.
HardwareThe Poco M3 is equipped with a Samsung S5KGM1 sensor that is also found in many other phones such as the Redmi Note 9 where the image processing was catastrophic. However, this sensor has proven itself on other models by offering good photo quality, so I hope that Xiaomi has not made the same mistake with this Poco M3.
The default photo application of the Poco M3 is identical to the other Xiaomi phones running MIUI 12. Xiaomi gradually simplified the photo application because it had become complex to use with too many choices on the same screen. However, there is still the same problem of displaying the parameters over the photo, these parameters are unreadable if you are photographing a very bright scene.
Photo test / studio
I usually test the studio photos before taking pictures outdoors but this time I did the opposite. The outdoor photos are available later in the article. The studio photos are not good, the colour processing is very bad, the exposure time is not good either and it is clearly a software problem as I was able to get a much better result in PRO mode as on the photo below.
I tried almost all the photo modes (AI, HDR, night,...) and each time the exposure time and colour management is not good. It was the same thing with the Redmi Note 9, it's really deplorable because the sensor is able to produce good photos (example in PRO mode).
Fortunately I got better results outdoors.
Photo test / sunny
Before taking my first outdoor pictures, I had some apprehensions related to the bad experience of the Redmi Note 9 which uses the same camera. Fortunately, the Poco M3 brings some improvements but not all problems are solved yet. I really felt like I had to play a balancing act to find the right compromise for the photos. On the first photo I gave priority to the sky and the sky is correctly rendered whereas everything below the horizon line is a little too dark. By focusing below the horizon line, I have the opposite. The Poco M3 therefore has a too limited dynamic range which will often generate overlay for the sky or underexposure for the ground.
Can this problem be avoided? Yes, there are several solutions. The Poco M3 has AI, HDR, night, ... modes. These modes are designed to correct this type of problem. For each photo I have tried the different modes and the result is really very different.As a general rule, AI tends to force the colours and I find that the result is not good. HDR on the other hand does much better but tends to produce slightly under-exposed photos, so you need to target an area that is neither too light nor too dark. All this is obviously too complicated for the average person and I think it's a shame because the camera is capable of producing beautiful photos if you're willing to make some effort.
Fortunately there is an easier solution than the trial and error game with the different photo modes available. The Poco M3 works with Gcam!
First of all, here is a photo taken without Gcam and with HDR+AI activated:
With Gcam without special settings:
The result is therefore quite good for a phone in this price range. I don't understand why Xiaomi let this quality problem pass because it is not a hardware problem, it is a (bad) choice in the software. So I'm not going to give a good rating to the photo even though it is possible to produce good photos with Gcam or PRO mode because I think that a consumer phone should be able to be used without any modifications on the part of the user.
Photo test / cloudy
Not yet available / tested
Test photo / night
Not yet available / tested
The Poco M3 does not have video stabilisation, which is no surprise, I have not yet tested effective stabilisation in this price range.
Video normale conditions
The Poco M3 is capable of producing 1080p video at 30fps. The video produces colours that are a bit too warm, the trees should not be so orange and the dynamic range is not very high because the sky is often overexposed. The change of exposure is visible but quite fast.
The Poco M3 produces videos with a quality equivalent to what we find in this price range there.
Video low light
Not yet available / tested
Audio qualityTo test the quality of the phone's audio output, I connect the device's audio output to a measuring tool, then play sounds on all frequencies and measure the differences between the original sound and the sound produced by the phone. In this way I measure the phone's ability to correctly reproduce all sounds.
This test is intended to test the device's ability to correctly reproduce all frequencies. The white line in the middle of the graph is the ideal situation and the other colors come from tests on different phones. A deviation from the reference line indicates a deviation from the ideal situation. To see good sound at all frequencies, it is therefore necessary to get as close as possible to the reference line.
The Poco M3 is capable of reproducing most frequencies correctly, it is better in low frequencies than the Poco X3 but it stalls faster in high frequencies. The sound quality of the M3 is less fine than the X3 but in this price range the result is very correct.
This test is designed to test a phone's ability to play sounds at different volume levels. Here too, the phones must be as close as possible to the reference.
The Poco M3 offers powerful sound, and this power comes at a price in terms of sound quality. When pushed to the limit, the Poco M3 has quite a lot of sound distortion. If I keep between 80 and 90% of the volume, the sound is still powerful and the distortion is much more limited.
This test aims to identify if the device under test is able to reproduce sounds without too much noise. A high score indicates a low parasite rate, a lower score indicates a higher presence of parasites.
I haven't noticed any sound interference problems, the Poco M3 produces good sound up to 80/90% of the volume.
Screen qualityTo test the screen, I use a colorimetric probe that measures the color accuracy of a screen, as well as other parameters to see if a screen is able to correctly reproduce an image. I also test the brightness level to determine if the screen will be able to display an image in full sunlight.
I think the Poco M3 uses the same screen as the Redmi Note 9 as it has many similarities. I had a good colour matching score with the Redmi Note 9 but my first test of the Poco M3 resulted in a poor score. I had forgotten that Xiaomi had a tendency to set their phones to a colour profile that was too saturated and by bringing the colour profile back to a standard mode, I got one of the best colorimetries for this type of screen. The Poco M3 screen not only offers good resolution but also very accurate colorimetry.
Brightness / Contrast
The Poco M3 offers a maximum brightness of around 390 cd/m² but with the "sun mode", this brightness can rise to 440 cd/m². So you should be able to use this phone outdoors on sunny days but I think you may need to tilt the screen to avoid glare and poor readability.
BiometryMost of the Xiaomi/Poco/Redmi phones I have tested over the past few months have had a fingerprint sensor on the side. Before this type of sensor appeared on the market, I preferred phones with a fingerprint sensor on the back but since Xiaomi introduced a side sensor, I prefer this type of sensor. This sensor is well positioned for the thumb and is fast (even on the Poco M3 which is a slower phone).
Encoutered bugsNot yet available / tested
Accessories Poco M3
Compare Poco M3 with the others
Test / Review conclusion
I still have to test the camera at night but as this is probably not going to change the conclusion, I allow myself to draw the conclusion before finishing my test.
The Poco brand hit hard in 2020 with the Poco F2 Pro to shake up the top end, the Poco X3 to shake up the mid-range and now the Poco M3 to shake up the entry level. The three new Poco models didn't come with any new features or big innovations, that was probably not the point. Poco has assembled phones with a very interesting price/quality ratio and this Poco M3 has done just as well as the first two models.
It's an entry-level phone, so you can't compare it with a phone costing more than 200€. If I compare it to other phones around 100€, I can't see anything that could oppose the Poco M3. There are credible alternatives on some aspects of my tests but overall the Poco scores better.
For just over €100, the Poco offers good autonomy, a good screen, good network sensitivity and sufficient performance to take full advantage of all the phone's features.
The Poco M3 is clearly not a performance machine and this is sometimes felt in use, but in this price range it's normal. The level of finish is not exceptional, the Umidigi A9 Pro does much better but it is also a matter of taste.
The camera of the Poco is not exceptional but again, in this price range, the quality of the photos is quite good. Gcam works on this phone, so you can take full advantage of the sensor's qualities by using your own settings. Thanks to the raw RAW and/or Gcam mode, you can take really interesting pictures.
So the conclusion is quite simple...The Poco M3 is not perfect but for around 100€ you won't find such a versatile phone.
Value for money
Good battery life
Photos in RAW mode and compatible with Gcam
Average performance for games
Average wifi performance
Alternatives to this product
The Poco M3 offers a performance comparable to the Redmi Note 9 but costs less and scores better overall. The Umidigi A9 Pro is probably the closest phone to the Poco, it offers a better finish but overall it scores lower than the Poco.
The Poco has therefore succeeded in establishing itself as a reference in this price segment.