The POCO X3 GT has a huge battery and flagship-level haptics for $299
POCO has a new phone for the Middle Eastern, Latin American, African, and Southeast Asian market, and surprise, surprise — it’s a rebranded version of an existing device Xiaomi had already released elsewhere. In this case, the confusion factor is even higher, because the “new” POCO X3 GT is a rebranded version of the Redmi Note 10 Pro, but not the global Redmi Note 10 Pro that I tested back in March. Instead, the POCO X3 GT is a rebrand of the China-specific version of the Redmi Note 10 Pro.
Marketing shenanigans aside, the POCO X3 GT is yet another very capable value offering. In my opinion, even more so than OnePlus/OPPO/Realme, Xiaomi and its sub-brands have figured out the right compromises to make to shave cost while still delivering the stuff that matters.
About this hands-on: Xiaomi HQ sent me a POCO X3 GT on July 24. Xiaomi did not have input in this article.
POCO X3 GT: Specifications. Tap/click to show.
POCO X3 GT: Specifications
|Specification||POCO X3 GT|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|SoC||MediaTek Dimensity 1100|
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery & Charging|
|Security||Side-mounted fingerprint scanner|
POCO X3 GT: Hardware
The POCO X3 GT’s hardware feels paradoxical to me — someone who has the privilege of handling all the latest flagships — in that it feels at once budget and premium. For example, taking the device out of the box for the first time, my hands and eyes immediately noticed the plasticky body with an odd fingerprint magnet coating. Looking at the camera lenses, I can already tell it lacks a zoom lens. But then I booted up the device and I’m greeted by a vibrant, relatively thin-bezelled screen with buttery smooth animations.
Typing, too, brings an immediate satisfying sensation as the X3 GT uses Xiaomi’s “X-axis linear motor,” which in regular terms means very precise, punchy haptics. I’m tempted to say it’s premium flagship Android level haptics, though I do find the Galaxy S21 Ultra‘s to be a tiny bit better.
The plastic frame feels … plasticky, lacking that satisfying “cold to the touch” feel you get when picking up a device with aluminum (or stainless steel) railings. The frame houses speaker grills at the top and bottom of the device, meaning you can get true stereo sound with equal output from both sides.
The X3 GT feels light (193g) and easy enough to hold, but as someone spoiled by handling the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, I find the edges of the screen sharp because they do not curve and blend seamlessly like the Mi 11 Ultra. I concede I’m being nitpicky here, but I’m just giving my experience as someone who handles all types of phones — the POCO X3 GT has bits that feel premium (those speakers are excellent) and then bits that remind me “oh yes, this is a budget phone.”
Inside the device is a MediaTek Dimensity 1100, a six-month-old chip that’s part of the Taiwan chipmaker’s flagship SoC series. While it sits below the Dimensity 1200 in the pecking order, it is still a 6nm SoC with integrated 5G and a respectable GPU. You also get UFS 3.1 storage but the RAM is LPDDR4X instead of the latest LPDDR5.
Overall I think POCO made the right decisions on which corners to cut. Sure, a privileged flagship user like me scoffs at a plasticky build, but most people put a case on their phone anyway (there is a case that comes with the packaging here too). A great haptic engine and high refresh rate screen, meanwhile, bring tangible, immediately noticeable benefits over lesser mid-tier offerings from other brands.
POCO X3 GT: Software
The POCO X3 GT runs Android 11 with MIUI Global version 12.5.2 on top. This version is marked as “MIUI For POCO” in the settings, and I see some slight deviations from the standard MIUI 12.5 running in my Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.
The biggest change is that the software by default removes the shortcut toggle buttons from the notification panel. Instead, shortcut toggles are now placed in its own iOS Control Center-like pane that requires swiping from the top-right part of the screen. Swipe from the middle-top or left-top of the screen, or swipe from anywhere in the middle of the screen will bring down the notification panel as usual, but it looks empty now when there are no notifications.
I’m not a fan of this change — I think Android’s notification panel is fine the way it is — thankfully there is an option to go back to the traditional panel.
Overall the software features the usual whimsical and thoughtful Xiaomi touches. I particularly like the ability to grab a partial screenshot (with the shape of my choosing) with just a three-finger long-press. But the broken one-hand mode that only works with on-screen navigation buttons (and not swipe gestures) is still present in the settings.
POCO X3 GT: Cameras
The POCO X3 GT’s camera system is more than serviceable, and above average for a lower mid-tier device. The 64MP camera is fast to focus and produces punchy photos during the day. The 8MP ultra-wide is objectively weak hardware, but Xiaomi’s software smarts can help churn out a nice photo. Particularly after sunset; the ultra-wide produces soft, mushy photos if shooting in auto mode, but night mode improves matters significantly.
There’s a third lens — a 2MP macro camera — that produces decent close-up shots, but you still can’t get as close as the macro mode of a Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. These 2MP sensors are mostly marketing gimmicks. Around the front, the selfie camera does a fine job but struggles shooting against backlight.
Where the POCO X3 GT’s camera really shines is in the additional shooting modes that have been a stable of Xiaomi phones for the past few months, the excellent clone photo/video mode is back — allowing the user to quickly capture trick photos/videos that show the same person two, three or four times. And the AI Sky editor is back too.
POCO X3 GT: General Performance
I did not encounter any issues with the POCO X3 GT or the Dimensity 1100 in particular during my days of testing. The phone handled graphically intensive games like Modern Combat Versus without issues. The excellent stereo speakers and flat-screen made the device excellent for gaming or watching videos. As mentioned, the top-notch haptics really adds to the experience that I’m using a well-built phone.
Battery life has also been good — it can last me an entire 14-hour day out and about and finish with over 20% battery left to spare.
While phone reviewers and tech media alike may be annoyed at the rebranding strategy that results in confusing phone names, there’s no arguing that Xiaomi makes some of the best, if not the best, value smartphones on the market right now.
At a starting price equivalent to around $299 for the 8GB RAM, 128GB storage model, the POCO X3 GT has one of the best screens, battery size, and haptics in this price range.