[Update: February 23] POCO F3 smartphone honest real user review

I have bought my first POCO phone, the POCO F3, last week. It’s also my first 5G phone. I’ve had high expectations of this phone as all I’ve heard about POCO phones was spectacular: high-end specs, best value for money, flagship killer.

[Update: February 23] POCO F3 smartphone honest real user review

This is not a review of specs

Before buying POCO F3 I’ve read many online specs and watched a few video reviews on YouTube and made countless comparisons. That’s not the intention of this post, as you can read the reviews and see the specs on Kimovil or GSMArena or watch countless video reviews. Oh yeah, and note that POCO is a brand of Xiaomi, so you might see the model as Xiaomi POCO F3.

This is a real user review…

I have decided to share my experience with the phone as a real user, who will actually use the phone on daily basis. Not as a professional who tests the battery with a generic test, not as a web writer who emphasizes only the positive points of the phone to drive affiliate traffic. My plan is to share real user honest experience with this phone.

… that will be growing as I use the phone

I plan to expand this post each time I discover something new about the phone. So if you’re interested in long term experience with Poco F3 be sure to follow my blog or this post and visit when it’s updated. You’re also very welcome to write your experience in the comments section, no matter if it’s the same as mine or different, if it’s pleasant or frustrating. I want to connect to other owners of Poco F3 to see if we have same problems and can share solutions.

What phone did I own before Poco F3?

Just to share some background about me so you’ll know where I come from regarding phone usage. My previous phone was not widely known but very cool Cubot Quest. I love that phone and I had for almost three years. It’s a Chinese brand and the phone was the first ‘sports phone’. It was waterproof and shockproof. I tried to find a new waterproof phone that would be faster, with more memory and possibly had 5G support, but they didn’t make it yet. So I decided to buy something not waterproof (and thus not cool, haha).

Buying Poco F3

I bought POCO F3 with lower specs in terms of storage because it was cheaper. I have a model with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. Everything else is identical to the model with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. I have bought the blue color as it’s the only one that’s not so ugly (they don’t make F3 in yellow).

My purchase process went like this:

  1. I have looked at Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 5G and compared it to Realme 8 5G
  2. I have decided to buy Realme 8 5G, because the specs were better than Xiaomi
  3. The seller made me look at POCO M4 Pro 5G, because it was the same price as Redmi, and I was excited because it’s POCO (and the yellow color was something fresh that made me want to have it)
  4. I looked at the specs of POCO M4 Pro 5G and compared them to POCO F3 and was impressed how much more power I can get for additional 50 EUR
  5. I ultimately decided on POCO F3, because they had the blue color. If they only had black and grey, I’d probably go for POCO M4 Pro 5G (lame, I know)

When I was buying this phone, I knew of some negatives from the specs and reviews:

  • Not waterproof
  • Only 6 GB RAM
  • No SD card slot to expand storage
  • No notification LED (but that happens to be true with most new models)
  • Small battery with only 4520 mAh
  • No audio jack to connect the headphones
  • Not shockproof (have to be more careful with the phone)
  • No stock Android
  • Camera reviews were average, especially for night photos

But despite these drawbacks I decided to give it a try because it had also many positives over other phones:

  • 5G
  • Snapdragon processor (I figured it would use less power)
  • POCO being a highly appreciated brand
  • Antutu v9 score of over 700.000 (wow!)
  • Wide angle camera
  • At least has IP53 protection from water and dust even if it’s not waterproof
  • Good overall reviews

I made a decision, purchased the phone, and tried it. Here is my experience.

Poco F3 review

This is how I would review POCO F3 in the first few days of use:

Positive

Negative

  • Battery – it’s draining ultra fast!
  • MIUI – I hate it!
  • Notifications – way worse than stock Android 9
  • Bloatware – many useless apps I can’t remove

I’ll get into details of each point to explain what I love and what I hate. I plan to expand on this as time goes on. As you noticed there is nothing about the camera yet – so far the results are mixed.

POCO F3 and 5G support

I wasn’t even sure that 5G will work right away. My mobile provider was explaining to me that only several phone models are supported and that they plan on adding more models in the undefined future. But as soon as I put the SIM card in the phone, it switched on 5G and everything was working well. I ran the speed test and it was the biggest speed I have ever gotten on a phone: 290 Mbps download and 29 Mbps upload. Upload is not fast at all, but download speed made me excited right away.

Also note that if you have a limited mobile plan this sort of testing might come at a cost: the test has used more than 0.5 GB of data for one run. So be careful that you don’t use all your data while testing.

[Update: February 23] POCO F3 smartphone honest real user review
Speed test done with fast.com on 5G network

POCO F3 charging speed

The specs say 33W fast charging, but that didn’t say much until I’ve tried it. It’s so fast you can actually see the percentage go up as you watch! The battery charged in less than an hour. But the most impressive are short charge cycles, where you can see the real speed. I had a shower and the phone charged 25%. I went to pee and the phone charged 7%. I had breakfast and the phone charged 75% percent. It’s insane and very useful!

Here are some actual charge times I have experienced in the first week of use:

  • charged for 20 minutes and gained 34%
  • charged for 18 minutes and gained 26%
  • charged for 48 minutes and gained 81%
  • charged for 51 minutes and gained 80%
  • charged for 39 minutes and gained 75%
  • charged for 2 minutes and gained 7%

Note that these times are all with 5G on, usually also with a WiFi hot spot on, and sometimes while using the phone while charging (screen on).

At least to me, that was impressive to see.

Speed

The phone has a Snapdragon processor and that was supposed to be better than Mediatek that I had before. And most of all, Antutu score was over 700.000, so I was expecting it to be fast and responsive. And it is! Almost no waiting, all the taps act at once, all apps open swiftly and app switching works well too. There are some slowdowns in the Phone app, but that’s probably not because of the processor.

Overall, amazing speed and responsiveness.

Fingerprint reader

It’s on the side of the phone, which needs some to to get used to if you’re expecting it on the back. However, if you register the right fingers (both thumbs and both index fingers) it will unlock almost every time when you hold your phone in the hand (and unfortunately also sometimes when you try to put in the the pocket). The reader is so fast that the phone unlocks the moment you hold the phone. It’s nice not to think about unlocking it, but instead just holding the phone.

The phone has also camera unlock, which unlocks very easy and fast, even in bad light. I still have to test it if it really unlocks only on my face or can I use my relatives faces too.

Battery

The battery seemed awesome until I put the SIM card in. And it seemed awesome until I turned 5G on. And it seems okay until I turned hotspot on. And it still seems awesome when in flight mode, when in super saving mode or when the phone is sleeping.

But when I’m using the phone the battery drains so fast. Low usage is okay and would make the battery last for a whole day. But when I start making video calls, or when watching streaming videos, or when using 5G hotspot, the battery lasts only several hours (AccuBattery Pro app says it lasts 6-7 hours of screen on time).

I’m so disappointed over the battery life. I had a three years old phone and the battery was wearing out already. I buy a new phone and the battery is even worse! You can imagine the frustration.

Sure, I could turn off 120 MHz screen refresh rate, I could turn off 5G, I could switch to dark mode, turn off portable hotspot, turn off location services, don’t allow apps to autostart and all the suggestions I’m getting from the “Fix battery usage issues” app that is included in the Settings app. But why would I buy a 5G phone with a good screen if I have to turn all the features off?

I think POCO knows the battery lasts too little and that’s why they have included “Fix battery usage issues” app in the Settings app in the first place.

So disappointed.

[Update: February 23] POCO F3 smartphone honest real user review
Battery optimizations

Bloatware

There are many apps preinstalled on F3. some of them are useful, some of them are not. I have immediately removed Netflix and 6 games – luckily I was able to remove them just by dragging them to trash can from the app drawer.

Here is the list of apps that was already pre-installed. Some are Google apps, some are Xiaomi apps, some are potentially useful.

  • Compass
  • Google One
  • Google Podcasts
  • Mi Remote (it doesn’t work with my Tesla TV)
  • Mi Video
  • Music
  • Netflix
  • Notes
  • Poco Companion
  • Recorder
  • Screen Recorder
  • Security
  • Services & feedback
  • ShareMe
  • Themes
  • Weather
  • YT Music

Most of the apps from this list can’t be removed. I can’t remove Google One app, Notes app, ShareMe app, Services & feedback app,…

The phone also comes with the standard pack of Google apps (Gmail, YouTube,…) and useful apps like Camera, Gallery and similar.

I was excited to see that the Dialer app is stock Google app, but I was disappointed how basic it is.

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