Earlier this year, we reviewed the Poco X3 Pro. This was a smartphone that delivered some insane performance for the price. The Poco X3 GT is more of the same. It is the first Poco smartphone equipped with a 6nm chip among other high-end specifications, priced at a modest Dh1,199.
Design and build quality
Like many smartphones in this price bracket, the design of the Poco X3 GT is nothing impressive. Our unit is the Stargaze Black version although it is also available in Wave Blue and Cloud White. We feel the contrast between the camera module and rear colour on the latter two variants gives off a better look. The rear of the smartphone is glossy which means it picks up both dust and fingerprints easily. It is made of plastic, just like the frame of the smartphone making for a slightly less premium feel in the hand. However, with IP53 certification, you do get some degree of water and dust resistance.
This being quite a large smartphone, it is not for everyone. We feel that only after you get used to it will the 193g weight and 8.9mm thickness start feeling comfortable. But at least Poco has ensured that its frame is curved off which means it will not prick you in the palm. Another design feature we like is the placement of the power and volume buttons. These are placed low on the right edge to accommodate for natural grip, allowing you to unlock the smartphone or control volume with ease.
On the top edge, you find the secondary microphone, an IR blaster and a dedicated holes for the speaker experience. This is a particularly nice touch that we will elaborate on in a later section. The left edge houses the dual nano-SIM tray whereas the bottom sports the primary microphone, the second speaker and the Type-C USB port for charging. Unfortunately, you do not find microSD expansion support or a 3.5mm headphone jack here which is a disappointment considering these are staple features of smartphones at this price point.
Display and multimedia
For build quality, the Poco X3 GT might get the short end of the straw. However, when it comes to display, the company has made the right choices. Firstly, you find Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection here making the display more durable to drops and scratches. It is a 6.6-inch FHD+ punch-hole panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate and HDR10 support.
While this makes for smooth performance, the panel is still an IPS LCD. This means general usage whether indoors or outdoors will be good but not great. It will still suffer from a lack of contrast, vibrancy and pop when watching multimedia content. Especially when the Redmi Note 10 Pro ships with a 120Hz AMOLED display, this could be considered a drawback for multimedia fans. But as we will see, the processor on the X3 GT makes up for this. One area that we thought was impressive about the Poco X3 GT was the speaker experience. The dual-speaker setup powered by Dolby Atmos was great both for podcast listening and video watching. Some might sense a lack of bass from the setup at times however this is not too much to complain about. The duo of speakers get loud and are enough to fill up a room.
Performance and user experience
Inside, the Poco X3 GT sports a MediaTek Dimensity 1100 chip, with our unit equipped with 8GB RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. On AnTuTu Benchmark, the smartphone scores 587,985 whereas on Geekbench 5, it registers a 744 single-core and a 2,932 multi-core score. These scores line up fairly well with real performance. The Poco X3 GT drives the 120Hz refresh rate well through both lightweight and heavy tasks. This was something the Poco X3 Pro struggled to do, with it regularly dropping frames in animation. However, we are happy to report that these issues have been ironed out on the X3 GT.
The fluidity when navigating through the user interface is great and so are the touches that MIUI 12.5 brings on-board. For example, the ability to quickly access a floating window version of an application or use split-screen without being limited by hardware is fantastic. Combined with the subtle but premium feeling haptic feedback, you almost forget that this is a budget smartphone. Our previous issue of jumbled up notifications also seems to be fixed with this version of MIUI.
But the software on top of Android 11 is far from perfect. For instance, there are glitches in the user interface if you quickly try to switch between applications. The previous application remains on screen no matter how much you hit the back button with the only fix being a restart. Opening up certain applications such as Snapchat leads to a half-baked animation. And more often than not, you face touch animations on various elements of the user interface that are not supposed to be there. For example, when you touch the back button and then remove your finger, the animation signifying the button has been touched still remains.
These little issues build up to make an experience that becomes frustrating at times. Much like how MIUI has improved in the past, we hope these issues are taken into consideration for future releases. The last software update on the smartphone was in June, so it is high time that Poco gets its act together on this front. Moreover, the issue of advertisements is something that will remain. To avoid this, we always try to avoid opening stock applications which come pre-installed as bloatware. This way, you can avoid any spam notifications. You also have to be vigilant when giving permissions to certain applications as those too can cause advertisements to pop up. But if you stay on top of these things, the advertising on the smartphone should not bother you.
We put the X3 GT to the test by playing PUBG. Here, we were able to play at the ‘Smooth and Extreme’ graphic preset taking advantage of a fluid gaming experience. The nature of the game though is that with a lot of things happening, we also got to put to the test the long-term endurance of the smartphone. We noticed that after 45 minutes of playing, there were hints of lag spikes that we faced. This is mainly because the smartphone heats up near the camera region when gaming. And over prolonged use, this results in a decrease in performance. While this does not hurt much as a casual gaming enthusiast, those who aim to push the smartphone to the maximum will need to keep this in mind.
Equipped with a triple-camera setup, the experience on the Poco X3 GT is good. The primary 64MP sensor is set to take 16MP images by default. Here, dynamic range and colours remain good but while pictures are great on the small screen, they do struggle with quality on the large screen. To tackle this, you find a 64MP mode where pictures do show an improvement in detail. Especially when you want to take pictures involving 2x zoom, switching to this mode is recommended.
There 8MP ultra-wide angle is offers a wider perspective of your view. Often times, by doing so, you will notice some distortion at the edges from the camera. However, for this price tag, you cannot be too disappointed. Likewise, the 2MP macro sensor is just there for the absolute basics when taking pictures approximately 4-5cm away from a subject.
During night photography, the main sensor on the smartphone uses Auto Night Mode. This is triggered due to low-light however, we often found that the camera did not always resort to using this. Thus, for the best detail in low-light pictures, we would recommend using night mode. Similarly, using night mode on the ultra-wide angle camera is a must for detail.
We were not too impressed by the selfie camera of the X3 GT though. This is a 16MP sensor which is good on paper. However, it struggles in challenging dynamic range scenarios. Pictures end up looking washed out and lack dynamic range so this is an area that needs improvement.
No matter what you throw at it, the Poco X3 GT excels when it comes to battery technology. There is a 5,000mAh cell inside which supports 67W fast charging support. We can easily say that the X3 GT will last for 1.5-2 days on average use with a single charge. With heavy usage, the battery barely dipped to below half capacity by the end of the day, delivering a healthy 8-9 hour screen-on-time. The great thing about this was also that the battery readings stayed fairly level when the smartphone was used on 5G.
Furthermore, the 67W charging support means a full charge in about 45 minutes. This means limited downtime even when you are out of charge. And thankfully, the charging brick and cable to do this are provided in the box of the Poco X3 GT.
With so many closely contested devices from Poco at this price, it is difficult to understand the exact market segment the Poco X3 GT is aiming at. Its speaker setup, display, battery life and camera is excellent. But compared to the Poco X3 Pro, the improvements are incremental at best. Priced slightly higher than the Poco X3 Pro, you are paying extra for 5G connectivity, a slightly better camera experience and a comparatively more durable body.