Tecno Pova 3 Review: Worthy option for a big screen gaming phone under a budget
Pova3 launched at a starting price of ₹11,499.
- The smartphone is aimed at gamers and is powered by Mediatek Helio G88 Processor.
- It packs in a massive 7000 mAh battery with 33W fast charge support.
AdvertisementTecno today launched the Pova 3, a successor to the smartphone that brought the brand into the spotlight. Since then Tecno has expanded its product portfolio to include smartphones at different price points. But, the Pova still happens to be sitting at the sweet spot of under ₹20k price segment, a hot category among smartphone buyers. So, does this latest iteration live up to its hype, and should you consider it? I have spent a week testing the phone and here is my comprehensive review.
Tecno Pova 3 - Price and Availability
The Tecno Pova 3 is available in 2 variants. There is a base variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage priced at ₹11,499 and the other variant packs in 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage and comes at a price of ₹12,999. You can buy the Tecno Pova 3 from Amazon India.
Design & Build quality
Tecno Pova 3 is unapologetically bulky, for the fact that it is heavily promoted for gamers. The phone is built like a tank and has substantial character around it. It is also fairly big, with a 6.9-inch display, users with small hands are likely to face issues with single-handed use. Another issue for many users might be the weight as it does feel like you are carrying a power bank. That being said, people desiring a 7000 mAh battery should not be surprised by this aspect. A bigger battery tends to make the phone heavier. Samsung Galaxy M52 faces the same dilemma.
The phone is IPX2 splash resistant, which protects it from drizzle and light splashes of water. It’s a handy feature to have on a phone that costs this much, especially If you are a clumsy user. That being said - in no way does it mean you can jump into the pool with it.
Talking about the design, the Pova 3 does look impressive in the eco black color that I reviewed. Keeping up with its gaming-centric approach, we see the subtle yet practical touches that the brand has given to the smartphone. Case in point - the sides of the Pova 3 have inverted edges for placing your index fingers while you are gaming. One might confuse them with air triggers as we see on Asus ROG phones, but they are not.
A design feature missing on the Eco Black variant is an LED strip that chimes for notifications and battery capacity. Tecno has made a bold choice of providing that feature only on its Electric Blue color. The brand says this decision was made considering everyone won’t find it fit for their taste, but I tend to disagree with it. Since I have seen the strip and how it works, I really missed it on the black variant I have. It would have added substantial charm to the device and made it more attractive. If you are considering the Pova 3, I would strongly recommend going for the Electric Blue color because of that particular feature itself. There is no price difference that would discourage you to choose otherwise.
Other design elements are generic, we get volume rocker on the left, which is tactile, and right next to them is a SIM tray. This is a hybrid slot that supports 2 Nano SIMs or one nano SIM and a micro SD card.
On the right, you will find the power lock and unlock button, combined with the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor is quick and in my experience so far, never missed unlocking the device.
AdvertisementThe bottom comprises the USB type-C charging port, speaker grill and a headphone jack. A rare sighting.
Tecno Pova 3 features a 6.9-inch FHD+ display with a 1080 x 2460 pixel resolution. A punch-hole display, it is surrounded by very thin bezels. While the specs for the display don't scream superior video quality, the performance stands its ground pretty well.
Most colors on the Pova 3 look natural, and the screen is able to retain decent details. However, the black levels are underwhelming and it does stand out like a sore thumb when you are watching videos with darker frames. During my testing, I switched between Youtube content and OTT apps. The performance was satisfactory, but nothing out of the ordinary. Simply put, if you are someone who likes to watch content on their smartphone, then the Tecno Pova 3 might fall short on your expectations.
The lack of an always-on-display is also a bit of a letdown, but given the price point, I will let it slide.
The display has a peak brightness of 500 nits, which is sufficient indoors and you can read from it easily. The situation is contrasting outdoors, where you will struggle to look at the display, occasionally placing your hand above it for shade.
AdvertisementBut all's not bad, especially if you are a gamer. Tecno Pova 3 comes with a max refresh rate of 90Hz. This might not be as drastic as the 120Hz that we see on other phones, but combined with the 180Hz touch sampling rate, the performance is second to none. Especially, when combined with the 6.9-inch canvas of a display. I switched to Pova 3 as my primary gaming phone last week, and the experience was wholesome. Games like BGMI feel fluid and the quick touch response adds to the performance. I also played Asphalt 9 on it and the performance translated to this title as well. Overall, if you are a gaming enthusiast then Pova 3’s display will not disappoint you.
Strictly speaking in terms of gaming, here I should also highlight the haptic feedback on the device - it’s apt and adds to your gaming experience. It won't numb your hands, but the subtle vibration adds a more personalized touch.
While the display makes up for gamers, a casual user will be redeemed with the speaker set-up on board. Packing in dual speakers, Pova 3’s hidden USP is its audio prowess. The audio output is loud and clear. To give you an example - I streamed a Youtube tutorial on the phone and kept it at a respectable distance. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any need to pair my Bluetooth earphones.
Software & UI
Tecno Pova 3 runs on Android 12 out of the box which is paired together with HiOS 8.6. This was my first interaction with Tecno’s edition for the Android skin, and my experience is mostly good. Unlike the competition, the HiOS drifts further away from the ‘stock’ Android experience. I am in favor of that, the charm of an Android device is in fact how a brand can execute it differently.
Let’s talk about the pros for the OS first. Starting with minimal bloatware, the Pova 3 ignores the pack of short-format content-streaming applications. What it does come with is Boom Play- online music streaming application which has an exclusive library of music that can be downloaded for free. While I am not a big fan of it, I can see a certain section of consumers using it, those who don’t want can uninstall it. Otherwise, there are minimal ads, and once you set them to not show up again, this problem is also solved.
If you are switching from a Xiaomi or Samsung device, then the layout might take you some time to adjust. Case in point - the app tray appears in a list, which might seem odd at first, but it does grow on you. Initially, I wanted to switch to a launcher, but I chose otherwise.
There are other user-friendly features like lightning multi-window, which is a delight given the massive screen. You can clip applications to a corner while you work on another.
HiOS also packs in different applications which will come in handy for specific use cases. Like a video editor, which might not have the best of tools, but if you want to make some basic edits like cutting and adding music, it will not disappoint you.
The dedicated game mode on Pova 3 is insightful. Clicking on the Panther engine icon, you are greeted with an over-the-top animation but post that it's a versatile menu. It shows you thermals like the phone temperature, it also lets you customize your notifications and even set a health reminder to take a break. The panther engine solution is a commendable addition on this budget and elevates your gaming experience.
But of course, it's not perfect. There are certain aspects which are not necessarily good. Like the Hi-translate, where the vision is good, an application that lets you translate into any language with ease. However, the UI is buggy and ultimately it comes across as a poor man's Google translate.
Simply put, for UI if you are open to exploring an unconventional territory then Tecno Pova 3 might surprise you. But if you believe in - ‘why to fix if not broken’ and want to go for a more conventional approach, then you should skip it.
Tecno Pova 3 is powered by a Mediatek Helio G88 processor, almost a year old SoC, the G88 is a 4G chipset. We are today at a crossroads for the inevitable 5G rollout in India. As I write this review, the Union cabinet has approved 5G spectrum auctions. Yes, a complete transition might take a couple of years, but I personally believe your hardware should be future-ready. The competition understands it and hence we see a 5G enabled smartphone from Xiaomi, Realme and even Samsung under ₹20,000.
Tecno missed the train for me on this one. That is one clear disappointment that I wanted to mention before, I progress to the performance.
The G88 has run circles in the industry for a while and made a name for its output. The result is no different here, for the fact that the Android 12 and HiOS combination only elevates the experience. From the first boot-up, I have not seen a lag or a frame drop on the device. I am yet to notice any bugs or sloppy boot-ups.
The variant with me packs in 6GB of RAM which can be bumped up to 11GB using RAM fusion if you are gaming intensively. That being said the default 6GB of memory is sufficient for most of the tasks and holds up applications in it as well. I have not used the 4GB variant but I would suggest that if you can bear a bump in expenditure go for the 6GB variant.
The internal storage on the device is 128GB out of which 20GB is used by the OS. This is ample for most of the users. But you can expand it upto 1TB with a micro SD card if you need more storage.
Maintaining consistency, the gaming performance on the phone is top-notch. BGMI in HD settings is as fluid as one can get. I played back-to-back sessions of the game, and so far the phone has not given up on me.
And when I say give up - it's also in terms of battery performance. For a casual user, it will be very difficult to kill this device. The massive 7000 mAh battery is very well optimized and for a light, user should easily last well over 2 days.
If you are someone who will be playing graphic-intensive games continuously, even then the battery won’t die by the end of the day.
You might not tire yourself out while killing the battery, but chances are for you to lose the patience while charging it. The 33W power adapter in the box charges the Pova 3 to 50% in about 45 minutes during my testing. But a full 0-100% charge needs at least 2 and a half hours, which is not bad given the battery size.
In my experience, it would be better to plug it in overnight so that you are not in for any surprises the next day.
Tecno also provides a reverse charging feature on the Pova 3, which means it can charge up other devices with a 10W voltage. Yes, you can help your friends to charge their phones in an emergency situation. But a more practical use case is charging your earphones or truly wireless buds if they run out of juice during a commute. This happened to me, so I can vouch for this from my experience.
Tecno Pova 3 features a triple rear camera set-up. The primary sensor is a 50MP shooter with F1.6 aperture. Then there is a 2MP depth sensor and finally an AI lens.
The primary camera on the Pova 3 is better than my expectations. Especially in well-lit settings or natural lighting. The pictures come out sharp and crisp with a respectable amount of details.
The color reproduction can be off sometimes, especially if you have the AI beauty filter on. With your skin looking plastic and unnaturally smooth. Dark colors like Red, or Navy blue look undersaturated and with the AI filter, they shift further away from the natural tones.
There is a super night mode on the camera, which does help when you are clicking pictures at night. The results look a tad bit better than what we see with normal mode.
But, the distorted and grainy quality remains intact.
Since there is no ultra-wide lens on the phone, you cannot open up the frame and are limited to just zooming in. The 10X zoom does not deliver clean results, with the image quality taking a nosedive.
The video performance is decent. The camera shoots a max of 2K resolution. The video stabilization is not impressive and the output can be shaky sometimes. So if you are a creator looking for a device to Vlog or just shoot in general then this camera is not for you. Audio recorded by the in-built mic though is pretty decent.
But if you still want to, it's important to highlight some interesting features in the camera app. You can apply filters on your frame, some of which look good.
There is an AI body shape feature, which I won’t promote but it is there. You can also change the layout from 1:1 to a full-frame or even 4:3.
The 8MP front camera is definitely worth talking about. Unlike the primary camera which falters sometimes, the front camera is consistent. The images look sharp and are worthy of your social media feed.
The AI features come in here as well and you can do a digital touch-up of your face if you want to.
The front camera also features dual flashlights which are more useful than I thought. Not just for casual selfies but a serious use case for content creators can be for going live. You can ditch your ring lights if you want to with this one.
The video performance is better than what we see with the primary camera, with the output being more crisp and color accurate.
The Tecno Pova 3 to me is a device for the youth, more specifically students. A consumer group that does not want to spend a lot of money but expects the most out of their investment. It is the same group that will slide past the adjustments they have to make with the design or the OS. Since it sports a big screen, long battery life and good gaming prowess - it fits with what the youth mostly demands from an affordable phone.
But if you are someone who doesn’t want a huge battery and display and can compromise for a more reliable name, then you can look at more conventional options like Samsung Galaxy M32 in this budget or Redmi 10 Prime.
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