Equipment class E ("Mercedes" scale A, B, C, E, S)
Rating scale 1-6 (6-excellent)
Here we go
The POCO brand was established a few years ago to brand products with the best price-performance ratio. The first and for a long time the only phone in this series undoubtedly deserved this title. Now in the POCO stable we have a number of models and the most efficient of the latest is POCO F3 5G. Compared to the recently reviewed Mi 11i model, it moves the compromise a little further, but it is cheaper by as much as PLN 1,200, being very similar to it, both in terms of performance and capabilities, but also quite literally, in terms of appearance. Having the ability to use both phones at the same time, I will try to answer which one is the right choice depending on our requirements.
The main pros and cons of POCO F3 5G
Advantages of POCO F3 5G
Cons of POCO F3 5G
How do we evaluate design? – grade 4
In terms of design, to say that POCO F3 and Mi 11i are similar would be an understatement. These phones are just identical as two drops of water. I looked carefully and did not find any differences between them, apart from the inscription - respectively POCO on a cheaper model and Xiaomi on a more expensive one. Considering that POCO is PLN 1,200 cheaper and offers exactly the same build quality, this can be considered its advantage. Nevertheless, I do not like the idea of putting two different models from completely different price shelves into exactly the same housing. In addition, I have the same reservations as before - a plastic frame, no headphone jack, not too high standard of housing sealing IP53. However, it is easier to forgive in a model that is much cheaper and does not aspire to be almost a flagship.
Just like in Mi 11i, the fingerprint reader is located in the power button and is very fast and effective - fast enough to register any accidental touch, and therefore I recommend switching unlocking from touching to pressing the power button. This eliminates unwanted interactions. After changing the settings, such a reader is more convenient for me than the version on the screen, because it is easier to feel it under the square.
POCO F3 also has two stereo speakers with separated left and right channels. Who likes to listen to podcasts or multimedia, e.g. while working in the kitchen, will be happy with POCO, because the sound quality is satisfactory. Both the screen and the back of the housing are made of Gorilla Glass 5. Unfortunately, the mirror housing makes every trace of touch or lint very visible. I definitely prefer frosted glass, such as those in Mi 11.
What do we think about the display? – rating 5
According to the specifications, the screen also has the same parameters as the Mi 11i - AMOLED with a diagonal of 6.67 inches, FHD+ resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, 20: 9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 395 PPI. Noteworthy is the refresh rate of 120 Hz and touch registered in 360 Hz - this makes this smartphone pleasant to use.
The screens are actually very similar to each other, but when shooting in sunny weather, the Mi 11i screen was brighter and a little more readable for me, even though both had the same settings and automatic brightness, which was set to the maximum value. It wasn't a big difference and in less harsh lighting the difference was not noticeable at all. In my opinion, they are either not the same panels, or they are controlled in a different way.
Apart from the differences, the screen looks great in POCO F3 and is one of the important factors that makes this phone pleasant to use. The colors are saturated, the blacks are deep, the viewing angles are very good, and the fluidity is excellent.
As in the Mi 11i and other phones with the MIUI overlay, we will find here a reading mode with an additional option to make the screen look like paper, several color schemes, and a choice between 60 and 120 Hz refresh rate.
The only difference is in the SI Image Engine section, where instead of 3 items there are only 2 -SI HDR and MEMC that improves video smoothness. Relative to Mi 11i, there was no super resolution, i.e. upscaling.
Specification and operating system - 5+ rating
POCO F3 has a Snapdragon 870 processor clocked at 1 x 3.2 GHz + 3 x 2.42 GHz + 4 x 1.80 GHz. This is a unit based on the previous generation and instead of 5 nanometers like the latest Snapdragon 888 model, it is still made in 7 nanometers. However, it is still a very powerful processor, even slightly more efficient than last year's top model and the differences from the 888 are not big at all. The processor supports 6 or 8 GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of memory for the system and files, depending on the version. It is worth considering at this point, because in POCO we will not expand the memory with a micro SD card - it is not supported. The cheaper version costs PLN 1599, and the more expensive PLN 1799. Although it is a new model, Xiaomi has already had a promotion for POCO F3, in which it discounted both versions by 10%.
Benchmark results are as follows:
In the Antutu benchmark, the Snapdragon 870 is only 12% short of the latest and most powerful 888. The price difference between the two models is PLN 1,200 - we lose 12% of performance saving 44% of the price. Considering that POCO F3 does not lack computing power in even the most demanding applications, this is an extremely favorable compromise.
The communication package supports the latest standards - 5G, WiFi 6 (ax), Bluetooth 5.1, NFC and infrared port. In the latest processor, only Bluetooth 5.2 is the newer standard.
Location is carried out using a set of GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS and NavIC.
The sensor set includes accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, light intensity sensor, digital compass and color temperature sensor. Mi 11i lacked a barometer.
POCO F3 works under the control of Android 11 with security from April 1, 2021. The MIUI 12.0.5 overlay is applied to the system, modified for POCO. The differences are visible, but mainly aesthetic - the icons are round instead of square, a different set of icons is drawn on the desktop - instead of the Control Panel, there are shortcuts directly to the Cleaner function and a speed boost. There is also an active application drawer, which in Mi 11i is turned off by default and this is where the Control Panel icon is hidden.
However, the functionality remained mostly the same. There are floating windows functions, useful shortcuts for launching the camera by double-pressing the volume down button and launching the flashlight by double-pressing the power button. There is a second space, video tools and game turbo. The MIUI overlay has evolved in the right direction, but Xiaomi is still romancing the placement of ads in some system tools known as "proposals". Despite this, the MIUI overlay has gained my sympathy over time.
What kind of photos does it take and what kind of videos does it record? – grade 4
One of the most important differences between POCO F3 and Mi 11i concerns the main camera. POCO F3 has the following cameras:
As you can easily see, the wide-angle, macro and selfie cameras are exactly the same as in Mi 11i. No significant differences are to be expected here. The main camera, on the other hand, has a resolution lower by more than half, but it is also a different matrix with a different dimension. What does matrix change mean in practice? Digital zoom, even 2x, is easy to distinguish from photos without digital zoom. That doesn't mean it's unusable, but the one in the Mi 11i has noticeably better quality. In my opinion, night photos are also a little better in the more expensive model, although both are heavily digitally processed due to the lack of optical stabilization. In POCO F3, 8K and 4K video recording in 60 frames per second is also not available. Interestingly, in POCO F3 it is impossible to switch between cameras during video recording, even when recording in FHD resolution, to which the wide-angle camera is limited. In Mi 11i, a smooth transition is possible as long as we record in 1080p.
I consider the quality of the photos to be good and usable in most conditions and applications, although optical stabilization would undoubtedly help raise the bar a bit here. Compared to the competition, POCO and other Xiaomi phones stand out with a surprisingly good macro camera, which is identical in many models - from the inexpensive POCO to the flagship Mi 11 Ultra for almost PLN 6,000. Other cameras perform their function both during the day and at night. However, this is not a quality that stands out especially against the background of the competition. The 4K video quality is very good, with effective stabilization.
The list of camera modes are: Photo, Video, Pro, Portrait, Night, 48m, Short Video, Panorama, Document, Videoblog, Slow Motion, Time Lapse, Dual Video, Movie Effect, Long Exposure, and Clone. This is the same set as in Mi 11i and many other smartphones with the MIUI overlay. I would like to point out that the PRO mode allows you to shoot with each of the cameras, the automatic macro mode, although performed with a separate, dedicated camera, is hidden in the settings of the main camera, i.e. an ordinary automatic photo. The camera has the option to improve the color due to AI and live view filters. The camera app is feature-rich but a little chaotic instead of focusing on the essence itself. If someone enjoys experimenting with modes, I recommend movie effects, which allow you to easily try out the vertigo effect and others.
How long does the battery last? – rating 5-
The battery parameters are the same as in the Mi 11i, which again can be read as an advantage for POCO F3, which is a clearly cheaper phone. The battery capacity is 4520 mAh and the charger power is 33W. During video playback tests, both phones discharged at exactly the same rate despite the different processors. This means that when streaming YouTube with the screen refresh set to 120Hz and the brightness set to half, the POCO F3 offers between 16 and 17 hours of uninterrupted viewing. The charger allows you to charge nearly 70% in half an hour, and to fully charge it takes less than an hour. There is also no wireless charging in POCO F3.
Although both phones seemed identical under a uniform load, during varied use of the phone for everyday activities, POCO F3 discharges noticeably slower than Mi 11i. As if a more powerful processor burdened the battery more even with mundane and undemanding tasks - another plus for POCO.
Our final rating
Just like Mi 11i is not much different from Mi 11, but it is noticeably cheaper, POCO F3 is slightly different from Mi 11i, but the price difference is much greater - PLN 1200, because POCO F3 costs PLN 1599 or PLN 1799 depending on the version, for it's Mi 11i, respectively 2799 and 2999 PLN. While there are performance and screen differences, they're really hard to notice in use unless you're comparing the two phones side-by-side. POCO F3 has a weaker main camera than Mi 11i, the processor is not the best but almost the best, the screen on a sunny day seems a little less bright. However, there are definitely more common features - identical design, the same battery and charger, the other 3 cameras without the main one, or the system overlay used. Since there are few changes and the price is significantly lower, it is not difficult to guess that POCO F3 is an even more profitable choice.
POCO F3 is betting on performance as a way to knock out the competition. I have to admit that it's easier for me to accept compromises in a phone for PLN 1599 than in a model almost twice as expensive, which is why the plastic frame or the lack of memory card support does not hurt me so much here. As with many other proposals from Xiaomi and POCO, you can find phones with fewer compromises, with better cameras and distinctive design, but they will almost always be more expensive and less profitable to buy.
I only regret that the manufacturer did not want to differentiate the POCO F3 and Mi 11i models with design - now both models look exactly the same.