Need an Affordable Gaming Phone? Check out the POCO F3!

Gaming phones are an interesting bunch. They are developed and designed to come with the same hardware, processors, and specs you’d see on a “regular” flagship smartphone, although in the process, certain gaming-centric features are added to the device, like cooling systems, extra trigger buttons, and even RGB lighting.

However, a lot of these phones are expensive, and due to the extra features and bundled accessories, cost nearly the same as any other flagship on the market.

If you’re only after certain key specs though, like a fast-enough chipset, enough RAM and battery, then you can always opt for a more affordable phone with only the “bare necessities,” if all you want to do is to be able to play games effortlessly.

With that said, there are a lot of affordable Android phones out there which come with some great specs and a relatively wallet-friendly price tag. One such phone is the POCO F3 – originally launched back in 2021, the device is still officially sold by Xiaomi and other retailers, and it offers some eye-catching hardware. Let’s take a look!

Bright and Bold

The POCO F3 comes in a design which at its core resembles a lot of other smartphones nowadays – slim bezels, a hole punch camera in the display, and it even features Gorilla Glass on both the front and back, with a plastic side rail that goes around the edge of the device. It has a very glossy look to it, but all in all does feel solid in the hand, which is reassuring considering the amount of handling it’s going to get from all those gaming sessions. It’s also splash and dust resistant with an IP53 rating.

The main highlight of the front of the handset is the large 6.67-inch display, which is sharp and bright, thanks to the 1080×2400 pixel resolution, and 1300 nits brightness level. Games are going to look great on this, especially with the 120Hz refresh rate and deep color contrast, courtesy of the AMOLED screen.

It’s the Inside that Counts

Let’s talk about what makes this phone tick – beating inside the POCO F3 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 5G chipset, and you can get the phone either with 6 or 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage, or 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

Now while the Snapdragon 870 isn’t exactly a “new” chip (currently outclassed by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and 888), it isn’t a bad one either. It’s actually used in some of Xiaomi’s BLack Shark 5 gaming phones for example, which says a lot about its relevance as performance-oriented chipset.

With that said, gaming was a breeze on the POCO F3. All the games I installed ran well, and even Trial of Mana (originally a console title) was absolutely smooth on the phone. Lag was basically non-existent, although one thing to keep in mind is that the phone does get a bit warm during gameplay, but that’s pretty much to be expected on most phones nowadays (unless of course you’re gaming on one of those ASUS ROG handsets). There’s a bit of minor slowdown sometimes while navigating the user interface, but this is mostly due to MIUI, Xiaomi’s heavily-skinned version of Android. There’s a lot of additional MIUI apps as well (some of which we doubt are actually needed) but if specs are your major concern, then this shouldn’t be much of an issue for you.

Battery life was alright too, although if you’re gonna be gaming a lot on the phone, then the 4520 mAh battery might need a bit more frequent charging (maybe at least once throughout the day). It would have been nice to see a 5,000 mAh unit on this phone, but as I mentioned earlier, the POCO F3 is on the more affordable side of the spectrum, so some specs had to be cut back.

Other Features

Now that we’ve covered the performance side of things, let’s go over some of the other features on the F3. The back of the phone comes with a triple camera set-up consisting of a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 5-megapixel macro lens. The hole punch in front houses a 20-megapixel selfie camera, which should be more than enough to get decent quality on video calls and whatnot.

The cameras have decent quality, and dynamic range was mostly on-point, although nothing exceptional like you’d see on Google Pixel phones or iPhones. And while video quality wasn’t anything extraordinary, video stabilization was impressive and worked nicely.

There are some unfortunate omissions, sadly – the 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD card slot are nowhere to be found, as is the trend with a lot of modern phones. On the other hand hand, the phone features a stereo speaker set-up, as well as a conveniently-placed fingerprint reader on the righthand-side power button.

How Much is It?

As of now, the POCO F3 costs £350, although it occasionally goes on sale for as low as £250. This places it in mid-range (almost budget) territory, given that most high-performance Android phones go for £500 and up. At this price, it’s a definite steal.

Of course, if camera performance or a clean version of Android is something you prioritize, then you’ll probably have to look elsewhere. However, as far as specs-to-price ratio goes in terms of smartphones, then the POCO F3 is a terrific consideration.

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