Tecno Pova 3 Review: For Gamers on a Budget

The Tecno Pova 3 looks solid with a massive screen, large battery, an attractive design, and triple camera setup. Does it raise the bar for the sub-Rs 12,000 segment devices? Here's our review.

The Tecno Pova 3, on paper, looks solid with a massive screen, large battery, an attractive design, and triple camera setup. But the thing that raises eyebrows is its starting price of just Rs 11,499. Generally, we see brands cutting costs in the segment by providing slow charging, weak processors and average cameras. But, to make it an all-rounder, Tecno has packed the Pova 3 with robust specifications. So, does it raise the bar for the sub-Rs 12,000 segment devices? Here’s our review.

Tecno Pova 3 Review: Design and Build Quality

The Tecno Pova 3 has a unique design compared to other devices in a similar price segment. The phone comes in three colour variants; blue, silver and black. The blue variant has been termed ‘electric’ by the company as it is the only colour featuring a vertical strip on the centre of the back, which consists of LED lights that glow whenever you put the phone in charging or a notification is received.

We received the silver variant that has a vertical line strip with a glossy finish, and it looked appealing to us. The shiny silver colour gives a premium look but also catches fingerprints easily. The glossy finish around the side frames makes it look like a proper gaming phone. The back is made of plastic, but it feels durable. There is no camera module that sticks out at the rear, so you don’t get to see any bumps on the back.

Despite squeezing a big battery, Tecno has managed to keep the phone 9.4mm thick. But because of its huge size, it is uncomfortable to use with one hand, and you might have to struggle while fitting it into your pocket.

There’s a speaker grille, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Type-C charging port on the bottom. The volume rockers and power button are placed on the right. The power button also works as a fingerprint sensor. The top of the phone houses a secondary speaker, while the left hosts a full-sized SIM tray.

Tecno Pova 3 Review: Display and Audio

The Tecno Pova 3 has one of the largest displays in the sub-Rs 12,000 segment. It is a 6.9-inch IPS LCD display with a Full HD+ resolution of 2460 x 1080. It supports a 90Hz refresh rate and 180Hz touch sampling rate. The bezels around the display are thin and provide a 91% screen-to-body ratio which is good for enjoying the content on such a big screen.

The addition of a 90Hz refresh rate makes the scrolling experience smooth. The display is quick and responsive, which is delightful for gamers. It gets bright enough to view content under direct sunlight.

Further, the display reproduces visuals with good sharpness and well-balanced colours. We threw a variety of content on its display, including movies, TV shows and YouTube videos, and the overall experience was good, and the dual speakers made it even better.

That’s because it has dual stereo speakers with DTS sound effects. It basically helps in making audio crisp and giving a surround effect. These are loud enough for watching content, with the bottom-firing speaker being the loudest. Tecno has put some serious thought into speaker placement, too – the top and bottom speakers are placed such that both of them don’t get muffled simultaneously by your palm or fingers when holding the phone in a landscape while gaming or watching videos.

Tecno Pova 3 Review: Battery

One of the key selling points of the Tecno Pova 3 is its massive battery of 7,000mAh, which is also the largest in this price segment. The battery backup is massive, we were able to churn out 13-14 hours of screen time. In our usage, it easily lasted two to three days.

You can charge this massive battery with the bundled 33W charger. It is refreshing to see this, as other brands are still stuck with 18W chargers in this segment, and even worse, excluding chargers altogether. Despite being ahead of the competition, the wattage seems inadequate when you put that big battery capacity into perspective. During our testing, the phone took 50 minutes to charge from 0 to 50% and two hours and 30 minutes to reach 100%, which is a long time.

The device can double up as a power bank with the 10W reverse charging support. All you have to do is connect another phone to the Pova 3 with a compatible cable – so there are no menus to navigate or any other extra steps.

Tecno Pova 3 Review: Performance, Gaming and Software

The Tecno Pova 3 is powered by the Mediatek Helio G88 processor running a Mali-52 GPU. Do note that this isn’t a 5G-enabled processor. It is available in two variants; 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage; we got the latter. The internal storage can be expanded via an external microSD card. The device features virtual RAM technology, which can reserve up to 5GB of the phone’s internal storage and use it as RAM to improve app loading times.

The device boots HiOS v8.6 based on Android 12 out of the box. The phone comes pre-installed with lots of bloatware, and it’s disappointing that only three of them can be uninstalled. Furthermore, you will have to deal with annoying spam notifications. The control panel resembles that of the MIUI 12, and the app drawer is nowhere near the stock version.

Despite packing a ton of bloatware, HiOS doesn’t lack features. It has a MOL feature that is useful for on-screen translation. There is a lightning multi-window which is essentially a floating window, peak proof darkens the area which you don’t want others to see and the smart sidebar, which consists of a few app shortcuts and tools. We tried all these features, and they work well. Unfortunately, it misses out on Material You customisation, though, which is a marquee feature of Android 12.

The overall performance of the Tecno Pova 3 is good, and the SoC is capable of handling the device properly. The device can tackle light or medium usage with ease, but the moment we started using YouTube and some Google apps simultaneously, it became slow. We also noticed that the app didn’t launch instantly and took a few seconds to show the home screen.

Biometrics were snappy, and the phone was quick to recognise our fingerprints and face.

The Pova 3 managed to achieve a benchmark score of 250197 on AnTuTu. On Geekbench, it posted a single-core score of 333 and a multi-core score of 1297, which is satisfactory in this price segment.

The Tecno Pova 3 is designed as a budget gaming phone, and it does that job nicely. It can run offline games such as Dr Driving, Bus Coach Simulator, etc., smoothly. Playing Call of Duty: Mobile was fun on the device, and it maxed out on Medium and High settings.

Battlegrounds Mobile India can be played at max HDR graphics settings at High frame rate settings, but for a smooth gameplay experience, we recommend you to set it to Balanced at Ultra frame rate mode.

The device features the company’s own Panther Engine 2.0 and Gaming Space 2.0, making the gaming experience smoother.

Tecno Pova 3 Review: Camera Quality

For its price, the Tecno Pova 3 packs a decently specced camera configuration. So, you get a 50-megapixel primary camera which is accompanied by the 2-megapixel depth and AI sensors.

We feel that an ultrawide lens could have been a better alternative than these two sensors combined. An 8MP front shooter handles selfies and video calls.

The camera app is pretty simple and comes loaded with various modes, including Portrait, beauty, AI cam, Panorama, AR shot, Ultra HD, documents, slow motion, Pro, Time-lapse and a short video mode. It is the first time in the segment that we have got to see a Short video mode that comes pre-loaded with audio tracks and filters. However, this isn’t surprising as Short videos have been the most popular social media content since the pandemic.

With all that said, our photography experience on the Tecno Pova 3 was disappointing. Here’re the detailed results.

    1. The selfies on the device come out to be good. It has ample amounts of details, with the skin tone being natural. While it has kept a good focus on the ground subject, the sky is blown out. The edge detection on the final output using the portrait mode is not so impressive. As you can see in the image below, it has blurred some portion of my left cheek. Selfies in poor lighting conditions look soft and lack detail.
    2. The primary 50MP sensor is good at focusing on subjects through its AI algorithm. The pictures turned out to be good in daylight with rich details, but it struggles to keep colours consistent. In the picture below, you can see that the sky and building have natural colours while the contrast on the tree is increased because of which it becomes almost black from Green.
    3. In low lighting conditions, we observed that the pictures have a yellowish tone. In such situations, it completely loses out on details and has a lot of noise in it.
    4.  Videos max out at 2K resolution at 30fps. They have a lot of grain in them and lack detail. On the flip side, the mic quality is good and produces crisp audio recordings
    5. The front camera can also record 2K videos with good details and makes the skin tone whiter artificially. They are good enough to be uploaded on Instagram stories directly, without filters.

Tecno Pova 3 Review: Verdict

The Tecno Pova 3 delivers exactly what it promises – a solid and unique design, a large display for a better viewing experience, good dual speakers, long battery life, average performance, and decent gaming. But it has a few downsides like packing bloatware and mediocre cameras. The 33W charging also seems inadequate for a 7,000mAh battery, and the large form factor seems uncomfortable for one-handed use.

At its starting price of Rs. 11,499, it is an excellent deal for those looking for a budget gaming phone. It has something for everyone, and if you’re into shiny products, the Blue variant might be of interest to you, but we suspect it might hog a bit of battery.

If you are a binge-watcher, you may want to take a look at the Infinix Note 12 and Poco M4 Pro, both of which sport an AMOLED display. If you want to be future-proof and buy a 5G-enabled smartphone, you can go for the Redmi Note 11T 5G and the Poco M4 5G.

If you are looking for a budget gaming phone in under Rs 12,000 segment, then picking this would be a good choice. The blue variant with mini LED lights looks attractive, but it will also drain the battery, so you might like to go with the silver or black variant.

Tecno Pova 3

11,499
7

Design & Build

7.5/10

Display

7.5/10

Performance

7.0/10

Battery life

8.0/10

Camera quality

5.5/10

UI Experience

6.0/10

Audio

7.0/10

Day-to-Day use

7.0/10

Value for Money

7.5/10

What Is Good?

  • Sharp and smooth display
  • Big battery
  • Good selfie camera
  • Value for money
  • Attractive design

What Is Bad?

  • Poor rear cameras
  • Bloatware
  • Bullky

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