Poco X3 NFC Review

- Introduction -
- Physical features -
- Audio -
- Display -
- Bootloader unlocking -
- Repairability -
- Custom ROM & Kernel Availability -
- Other issues -
- Conclusion -

Introduction

The Poco X3 NFC - the last Xiaomi / Poco PDA I'll probably want to take, if I'm not counting the X3 Pro (which I already obtained).

Physical features

The X3N is a bulky & thicc PDA (compared to most PDAs I've used) with the best grip a big-handed being like me could ever ask - with or without a case (mostly without a case).

On the top section, there's the secondary mic, an IR blaster, & what appears to be a hole for the top speaker.

USB-C charging port, speaker, headphone jack, & primary mic on the bottom corner, with the headphone jack at bottom-left corner. The jack's position isn't the best, but at least it's there.

Left section contains only the hybrid dual SIM tray.

Right section is home to the volume & power buttons. The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner.

Front side is reserved for the 6.67' 20:9 LCD, earpiece, & a front camera in the top-center section of the display. The earpiece grill also hides a notification LED.

The back holds the rear cameras. My issue with the back panel is that there are some flexing when pressed at some areas, which unfortunately cheapens the already cheap (but kinda good) feel.

For materials, Gorilla Glass 5 out front (plus a free pre-installed screen protector if you got it brand-new), with aluminium-ish plastic sides & glass-ish plastic back. I'm giving them an "ish" since they look the part, but don't feel like those aforementioned aluminium & glass - this doesn't feel cold like those 2.

The X3N may also use screen protectors from of Poco X2 / Redmi K30 (this includes the "Pro" variant / Poco F2 "Pro").

As an additional note (and/or a side effect of compartmentalization on the X3), the X3N can use some of the X3P's parts without issues & vice versa (see the 24/8/2021 blogpost for more details).

Audio Quality

The X3N has a bottom loudspeaker + earpiece / top speaker stereo combo & a headphone jack.

The speaker quality is very good - the top speaker competes with the top speaker well enough that it doesn't feel drowned out, but it'll also vibrate the back, which you'll feel the most when the X3N's not covered with a case.

The headphone jack quality is passable. Loudness wise, it squarely falls into "average" territory.

Display

The 6.67 inch 20:9 120hz LCD with a centered punch hole is pretty good, even though it's barely usable out in the sunlight at max brightness. Sure, that centered hole sucks, but that smooth 120hz screen somewhat makes up for it - no amount of smoothness will make up for a hole in the middle of the screen, unfortunately. But still, it's a nice panel, with decently uniform backlighting aside from the shadow caused by the camera hole.

One thing to note about the X3N's display is that it lacks adaptive refresh rate by default, which means it won't randomly adjust the refresh rate on usage unless the feature is added into the ROM you're running.

Bootloader unlocking

No changes from the F1 (except for wait time), so it's still the worst bootloader unlock protocol, no questions asked. You need a Xiaomi account, have to submit your phone number to Xiaomi servers, and use a proprietary Windows-only application to unlock its bootloader. That, combined with 168 real-world hours (maybe even more, up to 2 weeks at worst - and yes, it's longer than the F1, as far as I can remember) of wait time (which gets triggered somewhere around the unlocker app as far as I remember), makes it the worst.

munchy's bootloader unlock video for Poco F1

Repairability

Repair difficulty on the X3N is in line with most glass-backed PDAs (except the back is plastic, reducing the risk of it breaking as it's opened up), even though the camera lens aren't stuck to the back panel. The screws used for the external plastics are all similar, allowing you to get away with not remembering which screw hole a screw would belong to.

Once the panel's heated up & removed, it feels somewhat like the F1, except that 3 of the 4 rear cameras are stuck on the lens & the USB-C port is on the same board as the headphone jack (at least neither are soldered on the main board), forcing a replacement of both if either stops working.

PBKreviews' teardown video

Custom ROM & Kernel Availability (as of 23/7/2021)

In terms of custom ROMs, the X3N can be a bit inconsistent with the vendor partition, as listed below :

And, here's a list of ROMs with SELinux switchers that should be avoided for the X3N :

For kernels that run with OSS-vendored builds, here's a list of what's available :

Other issues

Generally, there's not much problems with the X3N, aside from:

As for avoidable problems, we got :

Conclusion

The X3N is basically a F1 that trades performance for better build, display, battery, & audio (and add NFC if you don't get the Indian variant). That's it. In my opinion, the Indian X3 (karna) is better since it has a bigger battery capacity, even though you pay for it with an even thicker body & removed NFC.

That said, I may not be able to gladly recommend the X3(N) because of the bootloader protocol & the existence of the X3 Pro, which is literally a powered up X3N. However, one advantage the X3N has over the X3P is brigudav's TWRP, which has a convenient prebuilt script (that only works on the X3N) to remount super partition (system, vendor, product) as rw (overall, this is a better approach than converting the entire ROM to rw - you get rw when you need it & the ROM remains stable, whereas converting the ROM to RW may cause stability issues).

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