Poco F3 review
A budget triple camera on the back
The Poco F3 has a triple-camera on its back that is similar to what we got on the Poco X3 Pro, but instead of a depth sensor, we have a better macro camera with autofocus. There is also a similar 20MP selfie camera.
The Poco F3 packs a 48MP primary camera relying on the Sony IMX 582 Quad-Bayer 1/2" sensor with 0.8µm pixels, 25mm f/1.8 lens, and PDAF. Night Mode is supported on this camera.
Second is an 8MP 1/4" Sony IMX355 snapper with an ultrawide-angle 15mm f/2.2 lens. The focus is fixed; Night Mode is present here, too.
The third and final camera is a macro shooter with a 5MP Samsung S5K5E8 sensor with 1.75µm pixels and 49mm f/2.4 telemacro lens with autofocus that works between 3cm and 7cm distance.
The selfie camera has a 20MP Samsung S5K3T2 ISOCELL Plus 1/3.4" Tetra-pixel sensor behind a 26mm f/2.2 lens. The focus is fixed.
The default camera app is a typical MIUI affair - switching between modes is done by swiping left and right, and all available modes except Macro are found on this rolodex. The zoom shortcut on the viewfinder switches between ultrawide, regular 1x, and 2x zoom (digital).
On the opposite end of the viewfinder, you have a flash mode switch, an HDR switch, an AI toggle, Google Lens, and a magic wand with beauty effects and filters. You'll find some more options behind a hamburger menu, including the Macro mode, plus the shortcut to the settings. What you won't find is an option to set the output resolution for any of the cameras.
The Pro mode works with the normal camera, the ultra-wide, and the macro. Manual 48MP pictures are also an option. For the main camera, you can use up to 30s shutter speed and ISO up to 6400. For the ultrawide, the slowest shutter speed goes down to 30s, while for the macro - it's 1/4s.
Photo quality - daylight
The default 12MP photos from the main camera are good and what you'd expect from a mid-range camera. They are no match for the Redmi Note 10 Pro's 108MP high-end imager, but they are in line with what other €300 or so phones are supposed to offer.
The resolved detail is enough, and the images look crisp, but upon closer inspection, you'd notice that high-frequency detail on grass, bushes, labels, texts, and buildings' blinds is a bit too much for the processing, and it comes out soft, over-processed (not in a good way) and/or smeared.
On the positive side, the contrast is great, the dynamic range kept natural and not over the top (we saw the Auto HDR trigger once), and the colors stay true to the real scene.
There is an AI toggle, and if enabled, the camera app sometimes recognizes specific scenes like Blue Sky, Greenary, Buildings, Cars and applies stronger saturation and boosts the contrast. They aren't always great, but if they are your thing - keep this thing on then.
The camera app offers a 2x zoom switch on the viewfinder, but there is no telephoto camera, and the Poco F3 is not capable of lossless zoom like the Realme 8 Pro. Instead, the F3 does what any non-special camera would do - crops and upscales. The zoomed photos look fine on the phone, but you better not inspect their pixels.
You can shoot in 48MP, too, but don't expect some miracle. The photos are less processed hence a bit more detailed foliage, even if noisier, but everything looks artificial as it was done via some sort of smart stacking and upscaling. We aren't fans of this mode, and we don't think you should be either - it's slow to shoot, the images are large in size, and the benefits are marginal at best.
The 8MP photos from the ultrawide camera are average - they are soft, and we suspect the noise reduction is to blame. The dynamic range is okay, the colors realistic, and you can fit a lot in the frame. But we are not sure if we'd risk a mediocre photo with the ultrawide or just use the Panorama mode, take a high-res image and then just crop what we need. Yes, that's the old-school way, but it is often better than any budget ultrawide camera.
The 5MP macro camera supports autofocus and can shoot anything between 3cm and 7cm. That's still a rather limited range, and you need one super steady hand and abundant light; otherwise, the photos will come out blurry and soft.
The shots we took are okay, but nothing special - they are average in detail and somewhat soft, noisy, not that contrasty, and the colors are a bit dull. The issue is that we needed to snap about a dozen photos of the subject in order to get one or two good images.
The Poco F3 doesn't have a depth sensor, and that's probably one of the reasons why the subject separation when shooting portraits isn't as good as on the Poco X3 Pro or the Redmi Note 10 Pro.
The 12MP portrait shots are as detailed as the regular ones and with convincing blur, but certain haircuts can trip the algorithm.
The 20MP selfie photos are taken by a Quad-Bayer camera, yet we don't get 5MP photos here. The camera outputs 20MP stills, so there is surely some upscaling involved.
Nevertheless, the selfies are very nice. They may not appear tack sharp if examined from up close because of the upscaling, but skin tones come out great, and the color and contrast are very good, too.
Another good thing is that even if the focus is fixed, you get some leeway of the focus plane, and there is no problem shooting at different arm lengths.
You can do portrait selfies, too, but those are a mixed bag. The separation isn't that good, and clipped ears and/or hair happens often. The simulated blur is okay.
Photo quality - low-light
The main camera takes very good low-light photos - especially for the class. There is nicely balanced exposure, very-well kept color saturation, and good contrast.
The Night Mode takes about 2 seconds to complete and saves a bit brighter photo with slightly more detail revealed in the shadows. The images also look a hair sharper and cleaner. That being said, when comparing these side by side - the benefits are really minor but that's because the regular low-light photos are very good to begin with.
In contrast to the main camera, the 8MP ultrawide photos taken at night are abysmal in quality. They are dark, extremely soft and with heavy noise reduction applied.
The Night Mode for the ultrawide camera offers bright photos, and you can see everything on them. Their quality is still poor, though.
Finally, here are some shots taken with the dedicated Long Exposure mode - they look quite nice on the phone's screen, but the quality isn't that good.
And here are photos of our usual posters taken with the Poco X3 Pro. Here's how it stacks up against the competition. Feel free to browse around and pit it against other phones from our extensive database.
The Poco F3 captures videos up to 4K@30fps with its main camera, though 1080@60fps and 1080@30fps are available as well. The ultrawide snapper and the macro camera are limited to 1080p@30fps.
Electronic stabilization can be enabled on the primary and ultrawide cameras, and it works on all resolutions and frame rates. There is no SuperSteady mode on the Poco F3, though.
The Poco F3 features three microphones, which capture 360-degree surround sound. They are also used for background noise removal, as well as audio zoom - if you need to focus better on your talking subjects.
Let's talk about the primary camera. The video bitrate is 40-42Mbps in 4K, while audio is recorded in stereo with about 320Kbps bitrate.
The videos come out great. There is plenty of detail, nice colors and contrast, and while we've perhaps seen better dynamic range, it's quite okay here, too.
The 4K night videos are poor in detail, with many clipped highlights and extremely high noise levels.
The quality of the 1080p footage from the ultrawide camera is not much better than that by cheaper phones. There is too much contrast, and the footage is oversharpened.
EIS is missing where it should matter the most - the macro camera. It saves nicely detailed and colorful 1080p videos, but the camera shake will take away all of a macro video's coolness.
And here is the Poco F3 in our video sample database, where you can compare it directly to all other phones we've reviewed.
I have already got F3 almost 3 weeks and it is complete beast. Chipset, stereo sound & screen quality, 120Hz rate, Audio zoom in video mode and some features are perfect for this price range. Only problem is unstable MIUI. It needs new stable upd...
- 28 Nov 2021
I bought Poco F3 8/256 and it is fast and great. There is no better mobile phone for ~300$.
- 21 Nov 2021
I got the F3 and my wife got the X3 Pro solely for the 3.5mm headphone jack. Both look and perform reasonably well considering their prices. You can't go wrong with either of them, unless you're looking for a real flagship. The screen of th...
- 19 Nov 2021