The entry-level smartphone market may not be as exciting as the mainstream or mid-tier market, but it’s still amazing to see what features you can get at relatively low prices today. Today we’re going to be testing the Poco C3, which is Poco’s first Sub-Rs. 10,000 smartphones in India.
With prices starting at Rs. 7,499, the Poco C3 has a large display and battery, triple rear view cameras, and a game-oriented SoC. The main competitors are the Redmi 9A and the Realme C11. Does the Poco C3 offer better value for money than the competition? Time to find out.
Poco C3 design
The Poco C3 is a pretty big phone. It measures 9mm in thickness and is also quite heavy at 194g. I definitely struggled to use it comfortably with one hand. The build quality is decent, however. The back and side frames are made of plastic and the edges are rounded on all sides. Poco claims the C3 has a P2i coating designed to protect it from accidentally splashing water. I have the light green color which honestly looks more blue than anything else. It is also available in matte black and arctic blue. Most of the back has a textured pattern that holds the phone in place better and prevents fingerprints from being easily captured.
The buttons have good feedback and there is a headphone jack and a micro-USB port. I’m not overly excited about the lack of a USB Type-C port, but that’s what you can expect in this segment. The SIM tray can hold two nano SIMs and a microSD card. There is no fingerprint sensor on this phone, which again is not guaranteed on phones on this budget. While you get face recognition that’s slow, it works with a face mask too.
Poco offers a large display, but of course only with an HD + resolution (1600×720). It is a 6.53 inch LCD panel with panda glass to protect against scratches. The display is not very vivid and the brightness is barely sufficient indoors. However, the screen is washed out quite a lot, making it difficult to use in sunlight. The display also has thick bezels all around, especially on the bottom. There’s a dewdrop notch for the selfie camera.
The contents of the box are pretty normal. You will receive a charging cable, a 10 W charger, a SIM eject tool and some documentation. There is no case or headset. Overall, the Poco C3 seems like a well-built phone for the price, although it’s a bit heavy and unwieldy to use with one hand.
Poco C3 software
MIUI 12 runs on the Poco C3. Unlike Redmi phones with MIUI, Poco claims that its version has been customized so that it does not display ads or promotional content. So far, the company seems to be keeping this promise. During the review period, there were no ads or unwanted warnings clogging the notification shade. I have occasionally received a notification from GetApps, Xiaomi’s curated app store, but they should usually notify me of updates to the apps they have installed.
That being said, the MIUI 12 experience looked familiar to me. You still have a number of apps like Zili and Little Games pre-installed, but these can be uninstalled.
Poco C3 specifications and performance
The Poco C3 uses the MediaTek Helio G35 SoC, which can be found in many phones in this segment, including the Realme C11 (review). The base variant of the C3 has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage and costs Rs. 7,499, while the higher one has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage for Rs. 8,999. Other functions are dual 4G VoLTE, WLAN, Bluetooth 5, GPS and FM radio.
I have the 4GB version so I was expecting a relatively smooth experience, but unfortunately it wasn’t. It’s not just the Poco C3, however; Every smartphone I’ve come across based on the Helio G35 SoC, like the Redmi 9, Realme C11, Realme C12, and Realme C15, has poor performance regardless of the amount of RAM. There’s an inherent lag in pretty much everything from the UI animations to multitasking. MIUI is still very user-friendly, but the experience is not as smooth as that of phones with more powerful processors, the price of which is only a few thousand rupees higher. In a way, this is the story of most Android phones around the Rs. 7,000 price points for now.
The games went decently well, but you need to lower your expectations. For example, games like Call of Duty Mobile scaled well on the Poco C3 and the gameplay was relatively fluid, but with greatly reduced graphics quality. However, titles like CarX Drift Racing 2 struggled to run at constant frame rates. The single speaker near the micro-USB port gets decently loud. Videos don’t look too good because of the dull display, so it’s not a great experience to watch.
The only area where the Poco C3 really excels is in battery life. The Poco C3 has a 5,000 mAh battery that can easily last two full days with medium to light use. Even with a lot of play, I was able to get through another day and a half, which is very good. My only criticism is the long time it takes to charge the battery. With the included adapter, the C3’s battery was charged to just 37 percent in one hour, and it took almost three hours to fully charge.
Poco C3 cameras
The Poco C3 prides itself on having three rear view cameras, which we don’t see too often in this segment. You get a 13-megapixel primary camera, a 2-megapixel depth camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. There is a 5-megapixel front camera for selfies. The camera app has the usual basic shooting modes, Auto HDR and AI scene detection. There is no special low light shooting mode.
Footage taken during the day was decent, with pretty good detail and color. HDR wasn’t always handled very well, however, as highlights were often overexposed. Close-ups had good details as long as there was enough light, but again the highlights tend to be blown out when shooting under sunlight. The macro camera has a large shutter lag, which is why most pictures will usually be slightly blurred unless you remain extremely still. Portrait mode does a good job too, but there’s no way to adjust the amount of blur while shooting.
Photos taken in low light had poor details and generally poor exposure when there wasn’t enough light. This result was expected given the narrow aperture of f / 2.2 and the entry-level positioning of the Poco C3. The phone can record videos up to 1080p 30fps but without stabilization. Videos recorded during the day were of strictly average quality and were very dim in low light.