POCO X3 Pro vs Redmi Note 10 Pro Max: gaming or camera?

Performance monster goes up against camera beast

If you are looking for phones below Rs 20,000 today, you will be hit by an array of options. But two of the most prominent are likely to be the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and the POCO X3 Pro. While the former comes with a brilliant display and remarkable good cameras, the latter brings a flagship-level chip to the price segment. But which of them works best for you? Let me try to break it down:

Design and appearance


This would seem one-sided on paper – the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s premium glass front and back (pictured above) and an 8.1mm slim and light (192g) frame on one hand (with a special bronze shade), and the POCO X3 Pro’s plastic back and slightly thicker (9.4 mm) and heavier (213g) frame (seen below) on the other. And well, if you like conventional design, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is the one for you. However, the fact is that in terms of standing out from the crowd, the POCO X3 Pro does do a slightly better job with its huge changing-colour-in-the-light logo in the middle of a dual-tone kind of finish back and a slightly spherical camera unit. It is a very polarising appearance. I am going for the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max here but I can see some getting tempted by the POCO X3 Pro. Although both phones are splash resistant (IP53), the POCO X3 Pro has Gorilla Glass 6 protection on the front, while the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has Gorilla Glass 5!


Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Display


This again would seem a no-brainer on paper. And again, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max seems to hold a clear edge. While both phones have 6.67-inch full HD+ displays with 120Hz refresh rates, the Note 10 Pro Max has a Super AMOLED one, while the POCO X3 Pro has an LCD. However, there is some fine print – the X3 Pro’s display is a “smart display” whose refresh rate keeps changing with the content appearing on it, while the Note 10 Pro Max’s refresh rate is fixed at either 120Hz or 60Hz. Does this make a huge difference in actual usage? Well, I could not tell, but when it came to battery life (more on which later), it did seem to count. Also, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s display has that classic slightly oversaturated AMOLED look which makes for bright and poppy but slightly unrealistic colours, which some might not like. Once again, I am voting for the bright, super AMOLED of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, but the difference is not a massive one.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Processor


This actually IS a no-brainer. The POCO X3 Pro comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 860 processor which is an upgrade of the 855 flagshop, and it is pretty much in a different league from the mid-segment Snapdragon 732 on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Yes, the 732 is a very capable chip, but this is like comparing a middleweight boxer with a heavyweight one. Only one winner here.

Winner: POCO X3 Pro

RAM and storage


Both phones have 6GB / 128GB and 8GB / 128GB RAM and storage variants. The Redmi Note 10 Pro Max adds a 6GB / 64GB variant to the mix as well. While both phones use LPDDR4X RAM, the POCO X3 Pro uses UFS 3.1 storage which is much faster than the UFS 2.2 on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Both phones come with expandable memory via a microSD card slot, but while the Redmi Note has a dedicated slot for it, the POCO phone will make you give up one of the two SIM card slots for it. Speaking in terms of performance, I would say the edge is with the POCO X3 Pro here thanks to the faster storage, but some people (more mainstream users) might prefer the convenience of a dedicated memory card slot.

Winner: POCO X3 Pro

Cameras: Rear


If the processor battle was one-sided, the camera battle is similar, only with the sides reversed. Both phones have quad-camera arrangements, but the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max’s (108MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro and 2MP depth) outguns the POCO X3 Pro’s (48MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP wide and 2MP macro). The POCO X3 Pro’s 48-megapixel camera does remarkably well, actually, but I felt I was getting just that bit more in terms of detail from the Note 10 Pro Max. Mind you, both were neck and neck in the video department, and the X3 Pro was actually working faster than the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max in terms of processing high-resolution shots. The Redmi’s macro sensor however is way superior to its counterpart on the POCO, although the POCO seemed to do portraits slightly better. It is a close call but those megapixels on the main and macro sensor do make a difference.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Cameras: Selfie


If the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max has an advantage over the X3 Pro in the rear camera department, the X3 Pro edges it out when it comes to selfies. I felt the Note 10 Pro Max’s 16-megapixel selfie camera was a good one, but the 20-megapixel one on the POCO just seemed to handle detail and edges (in portraits) a little better. The POCO’s colours were also a lot more realistic than the Note’s, which insisted on smoothening my skin a little more and brightening it up! I can see some people preferring that, but I am voting for the selfie camera that makes me look more like me.

Winner: POCO X3 Pro

Gaming


We could almost repeat the processor section here. While the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is adept enough at handling casual games and will even let you get through the likes of Iron Blade and Asphalt at middled-out settings, the POCO X3 Pro plays high-end games at maxed-out settings. The difference is stunning. Yes, the Note 10 Pro Max’s display does seem a little brighter and more colourful especially for games like Crash Test Bandicoot, but it cannot be called a gaming phone. The POCO X3 Pro can. Game over.

Winner: POCO X3 Pro

Multimedia and multitasking

This gets very interesting. Although the POCO X3 Pro’s processor gives it a definite speed edge over the Note 10 Pro Max, this difference is not always immediately obvious. Get into heavy multitasking or do stuff like video and image editing and the X3 Pro comes across as definitely nippier. That said, the brighter and more colourful display of the Note 10 Pro Max is much better for watching videos and films. Both phones have stereo speakers and while they are largely similar, I felt the POCO X3 Pro had a slight edge in volume terms. The processor wins it again for the POCO X3 Pro here, but if you are a binge watcher, the Note 10 Pro Max might be the better option.

Winner: POCO X3 Pro

Software


Both phones run MIUI 12 on top of Android 11, showing their Xiaomi heritage. But the POCO X3 Pro has the POCO launcher on top of it and proudly proclaims the absence of ads in its UI. Xiaomi too has cut back heavily on ads and bloatware and this is evident in the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Which UI you prefer is a matter of taste. I am calling this a tie, really, thanks to Xiaomi’s recent UI cleaning-up efforts.

Winner: Tie

Battery

The POCO X3 Pro wins this surprisingly comfortably. Perhaps the brighter display of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and its fixed refresh rate take a heavier toll of its 5,020mAh battery, but the fact is that I got slightly more than a day with the Note 10 Pro Max on 120Hz refresh rate, while the POCO X3 Pro lasted close to a day and a half on its slightly larger 5,160mAh battery at the same refresh rate. Mind you, in general usage, many might find the POCO X3 Pro lasting slightly lesser because they will be using it for hefty gaming – an option not available on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max. Both phones come with a 33W charger, but interestingly the POCO seemed to charge a little faster (a little more than an hour) than the Note 10 Pro Max (about an hour and twenty minutes). Another win for the POCO X3 Pro here.

Winner: POCO X3 Pro

General usage


Neither phone comes with 5G connectivity, but then neither does India. In other regards, the phones match each other broadly. Call quality seemed a little better on the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, and well, its slightly smaller and lighter frame makes it easier to use generally than the unashamedly large POCO X3 Pro. The X3 Pro’s faster processor makes its presence felt in heavier tasks but in routine usage, there is no discernible difference between the two phones. So well, I am scoring this one for the Note 10 Pro Max, mainly for its being a little easier to handle.

Winner: Redmi Note 10 Pro Max

Price


In terms of price, both phones start at the same price – Rs 18,999. However, while the POCO X3 Pro comes with a 6GB / 128GB variant, the Note 10 Pro Max has a 6GB / 64GB variant. The Note 10 Pro Max’s 6GB / 128 GB variant is priced at Rs 19,999 and its 8GB / 128GB variant comes for Rs 21,999, while the POCO X3 Pro’s 8GB / 128GB variant comes for Rs 20,999. If money is tight, the POCO X3 Pro is a clear winner here.

Winner: POCO X3 Pro

Go POCO, or make a Note?


So which of the two should you go for? Well, it is rather simple – if you are not looking at gaming and heavy-duty performance, then the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max is the phone for you. It has a display which many will prefer and I think a better rear camera set up, as well as a more conventionally pleasing design. Bring gaming and performance into the room, however, and the POCO X3 Pro’s Snapdragon 860 pretty much takes my vote. The fact that the Snapdragon 860 is a much newer processor also gives the phone a slightly longer potential life span on paper. It is a classic beauty vs beast decision. And in most cases, you are unlikely to end up regretting picking either!