Best Budget Gaming Phone Yet> NAG



The last few years have been pretty exciting for entry-level and mid-range smartphones that have hit the market. When it comes to performance versus price, Android users have a lot of options these days and for a few thousand rand you can get a brand new smartphone capable of gaming.

As a huge fan of mobile games, I’ve played everything from the cheapest gray import device to the most ridiculous high-end smartphone. We’ve come a long way in the past couple of years and one thing is for sure, you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of rand on a smartphone if you don’t want to. There are many options for a very good smartphone for around 5,000 Rand.

One of those options is from a brand you might not have heard of, POCO. Launched just two years ago as a sub-brand under Xiaomi, POCO set out to bring affordable smartphones to a global audience. In 2020, POCO moved away from its parent company and now operates independently from Xiaomi. That said, POCO still uses equipment made by its former parent company. This is not a bad thing, Xiaomi has quickly become one of the best tech brands and their smartphone hardware is, in my opinion, one of the best around.

Much like its bright yellow box with a minimalist branding, the new POCO M3 Pro makes a big statement. It has all the features you would want from a smartphone, plus a few extras to sweeten the deal. First on my list of things I really like about the POCO M3 Pro is the 90Hz refresh rate on the 6.5-inch LCD screen. Then there are the 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of built-in storage. There is also a dual SIM slot, but if you want to expand your internal storage, you will have to sacrifice the single SIM slot.

Although the screen supports 90Hz refresh rates, not all mobile games have this feature unlocked yet. One of South Africa’s favorite mobile games, PUBG Mobile, supports 90fps gaming, but the POCO M3 Pro is not yet on the list of supported devices. I expect this to change with a future game update.

Under the hood, the POCO M3 Pro is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 700 processor and that’s probably the only major differentiator between it and high-end smartphones. While MediaTek processors don’t run as fast as their more expensive Qualcomm processors, the value for money here is truly impressive.

For gaming, this processor is more than enough to give you a great gaming experience no matter what games you like to play. I put a few hours of PUBG Mobile on the POCO M3 Pro and it handled the game perfectly. Even graphics-intensive racing games like Asphalt 9 did well on this smartphone.

You will also be happy to know that this smartphone is running Android 11 with Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 user interface, so you will have the same user experience as with the company’s other devices. It’s a sleek user interface that’s even better when you’ve turned on the 90Hz refresh rate in your settings menu – yes, you have to turn it on manually, so keep that in mind if you get this phone.

Looking at the other features that we like to use most often, the POCO M3 Pro’s camera is also quite impressive. The main camera has a 48 megapixel sensor and can record 1080p video at 30 fps. Video and photo quality is impressive and most consumers wouldn’t need more pixels to capture their memories.

A sample of the 48-megapixel camera from the POCO M3 Pro

Having used the POCO M3 Pro for a few weeks now, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well it performs in my everyday life. In terms of performance it held up and I wasn’t even concerned with the plastic back of this phone it feels great in the hand and with the mark visible this phone was a bit of a conversation starter as well.

Other notable features include the fingerprint reader on the power button located on the right side of the phone, the inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack, and a USB-C charging port. I’m not much of a fan of side fingerprint readers, but it worked pretty well and unlocked the phone accurately and quickly, every time.

At just over R4,000, the POCO M3 Pro is one of the best value smartphones you can buy right now. Oh and I forgot to mention that this smartphone also supports 5G connectivity, so if you are in a 5G area, you can use the many unlimited 5G data plans available these days.


The POCO M3 Pro offers great value, whether you are playing games or creating social media content.


Price compared to features

90Hz refresh rate

Good for the game


This phone is a fingerprint magnet

Memory card and second SIM card share a slot


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