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POCO X3 Pro (Unlocked)
See price at Amazon
About this POCO X3 Pro review: I used the POCO X3 Pro for six days running software version MIUI 184.108.40.206.RJUINXM. The POCO X3 Pro review unit was provided to Android Authority by POCO India for the review.
What you need to know about the POCO X3 Pro
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
POCO X3 Pro (6GB/128GB): £229/€269/Rs. 18,999
POCO X3 Pro (8GB/128GB): Rs. 20,999
POCO X3 Pro (8GB/256GB): £249/€299
Does the POCO X3 Pro look good?
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
The POCO X3 Pro is, for the most part, a turbo-charged version of the regular POCO X3. As such, the design differences are minimal. The company has managed to slim down the bulky profile of the X3 by 1mm, but you can chalk that down to the smaller battery.
The boldly placed POCO logo at the back is definitely an acquired taste. A fingerprint-prone glossy strip in the middle is flanked by matte racing strips on either side. Up top is a rather large camera module that harkens back to the OnePlus 7T.
You’ll find a volume rocker and power button on the right side of the phone. The former has a slightly spongy feel to it that doesn’t instill confidence. The power button, on the other hand, doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. It’s perfectly responsive in day-to-day use, and it makes for a much better solution than a less reliable in-display fingerprint reader.
The POCO X3 Pro’s iterative design isn’t particularly exciting and fails to stand out.
The adaptive refresh rate goes all the way to 120Hz and scales well across the interface and apps. For better battery life, you can lock it down to 60Hz.
Overall, the POCO X3 Pro isn’t particularly exciting. It’s an iterative build on top of the standard POCO X3 with few if any quality-of-life improvements. Sure, you get Gorilla Glass 6 over Gorilla Glass 5 on the X3, and the phone is slimmer, but that’s not nearly enough to make a lasting impression.
Does the POCO X3 Pro have good cameras?
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
Here’s where things get interesting. Despite the moniker, the camera setup on the POCO X3 Pro is a noticeable downgrade over the POCO X3. Both the primary and ultra-wide sensors have been bumped down to 48MP and 8MP respectively, from the 64MP and 13MP sensors on the regular X3. While there might be some cost savings on Xiaomi’s end by switching to the much more common 48MP shooter, it doesn’t make a huge difference in the end results.
Related: The best budget camera phones you can buy
In fact, I found them in line with those from the POCO X3. Results still aren’t the most consistent. The lower resolution ultra-wide sensor also means you won’t have much headroom to crop and edit images.
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
Calibration is skewed towards oversaturation across the board, though photos do look nice enough for social media. The boosted colors are particularly noticeable in blues and reds. The default processing pushes sharpness and contrast levels a bit too much for my taste.
The 8MP ultra-wide camera has a similar color imbalance. Additionally, the lower resolution doesn’t leave you as much room to crop in.
Low-light and indoor imaging are the few areas where the POCO X3 Pro cameras do pretty well. There’s a good amount of control over noise, though the strong digital noise reduction is visible upon close inspection. The over-sharpening noticed in daylight shots is even more evident here.
Over on the front-facing camera, the 20MP sensor is capable enough, but the processing is a major letdown. Contrast levels are boosted to unnatural levels, and there is very significant sharpening and skin retouching. Elsewhere, the macro camera is functional but its 2MP resolution won’t let you do much with the images. Video recording tops off at 4K, 30fps. The quality is decent enough though the telltale signs of oversharpening persist.
Given the sheer amount of competition in the segment, POCO really should’ve focused a bit more on imaging rather than just diving deep into performance.
Like the standard POCO X3, the POCO X3 Pro amazes with its battery life. Despite the more powerful processor and smaller battery, it shines when it comes to efficiency thanks to Xiaomi’s traditionally strong optimization. The 5,160mAh cell lasts a full day and more with ease. I regularly clocked over six hours of screen-on time from the phone with near-constant music streaming, a number of phone calls, text messages, and emails. With frugal use, you can easily expect two days of use from the phone.
The POCO X3 Pro lags behind in peak charging speeds, but the long battery life ensures you don’t have to plug it in too often.
When it comes time to charge the phone, the X3 Pro falters a bit. 33W isn’t nearly best in class, and it takes almost an hour to fully charge the phone. The realme X7, in comparison, offers 50W charging. As you’d expect for the price, there’s no wireless charging support.
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
Despite being positioned as a semi-successor to the POCOphone F1 in some regions, the POCO X3 Pro isn’t packing the absolute best processor on the market. Instead, it bows to the realities of the current market by focusing on value, while still delivering on the promise of power. The Snapdragon 860 might not be the best in the business, but it is still a very powerful processor. A reheated version of the Snapdragon 855 Plus, the 7nm chipset has the exact same core configuration and graphics chip as the 855 Plus. It remains just as capable today.
It’s not quite a flagship, but the Snapdragon 860 gives you a lot of grunt for your money.
The interface is well optimized for the hardware, and the phone remained silky smooth throughout my time with it. The phone also excels at gaming with top titles like Call of Duty: Mobile running just fine with settings cranked up to the max. Genshin Impact runs well too, though you’ll have to turn down the resolution and some of the effects to get a solid 60fps. The phone didn’t heat up excessively in my experience.
Updates: POCO has a mixed record with updates. The company has a slower cadence for updates, even though it delivers on its promise of two major update cycles.
5G support: The POCO X3 Pro ships without 5G support which is a rather big miss. While networks are yet to roll out in India, it is particularly important for global markets where 5G rollouts are well on the way.
IP53 rating: Not many affordable smartphones include an IP rating, so it is nice to see here. It’s not a full-blown IP67 rating for complete protection from dust and water, but the phone should survive dusty environments or a mild drizzle.
The POCO X3 Pro’s laser focus on performance comes at a cost.
For that big-league chipset, POCO has sacrificed essentials like a superlative camera, a high-quality AMOLED display, and to a degree, the design. It’s not a bad phone, but rather a niche phone that’ll appeal to frugal gamers, or those who want to pack processing heat on a budget.
You're reading Poco X3 Pro Review: Power Packed, But No All
Set Microsoft’s Surface Pro (2023) next to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4, and I defy you to tell the difference. With the same dimensions and weight, the two are virtually indistinguishable—a kickstand that reclines further and a few cosmetic changes are all that separate them. What sells the new Surface Pro, though, is on the inside: a dramatic upgrade to the processor and graphics that propels it to the head of the 2-in-1 class.
Microsoft demands a hefty premium for that kind of performance, though. (For full specifications and prices of the new Surface Pro, see our separate article.) Not only is the fancy Alcantara-bound Signature Type Cover sold separately ($160), but the more sensitive Surface Pen is as well ($100). Add that to the whopping $2,199 that Microsoft asks for our review model, and you have to ask yourself, do I really want a Surface tablet, or could I save upwards of $700 buying a slightly heavier notebook?
Mark Hachman / IDG
Quick—can you tell the Surface Pro 4 from the new Surface Pro (2023)? The new one’s on the left.Subtle changes distinguish the Surface Pro (2023)
The Signature Type Covers are pleasingly fuzzy, though the fabric tends to compress a bit, especially on the bottom, and collect dust. The color options are nice: platinum, burgundy, and cobalt blue, as well as the standard black. The new $100 Surface Pens ship in the same colors.
The specifications should sound familiar. The new Surface Pro measures 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches, the same as the Surface Pro 4, and weighs between 2.37 and 2.41 pounds. Our calipers found the Surface Pro 4 to be 0.327 inches thin, versus 0.345 inches for the Surface Pro.
Mark Hachman / IDG
A cleaner exhaust grille is one of the subtle touches that distinguishes the new Surface Pro (2023). Oh, and there’s a headphone jack, too.
As tested, our version—with a 2.5GHz Core i7-7660, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of speedy NVMe storage—weighed 1.74 pounds for the tablet alone, and 2.40 pounds with the Signature Type Cover keyboard. That’s the same weight and dimensions as the Surface Pro 4, already one of the lightest Windows tablets on the market. And don’t forget about the integrated Iris Plus Graphics 640 on the Core i7 model (HD Graphics 620 for the Core i5), which adds some real oomph.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The microSD slot returns to the new Surface Pro, hidden behind the kickstand.
Internal differences are slight as well. Both tablets contain 802.11ac, along with Bluetooth 4.0 for the SP4 and Bluetooth 4.1 for the new Surface Pro. The benefits of the upgraded Bluetooth will become more apparent once Microsoft releases the planned Surface Pro with LTE variant later this year, as Bluetooth 4.1 signals don’t interfere with LTE.
Mark Hachman / IDG
No USB-C connectors here.
Fortunately (or not, depending upon your perspective) Microsoft sticks with the traditional Surface I/O complement: the Surface connector, a miniDisplayPort connector, and a full-sized USB-A connector. A microSD card slot hides under the kickstand, as before. The Surface connector allows Surface owners to attach peripherals that they’ve already owned, like the standalone Surface Dock and charger. I think that’s a smart decision, whereas the Samsung Galaxy Book’s wholesale commitment to USB-C is a mistake. In any event, you know what you’re buying when you purchase a Surface.A mini-Surface Studio
Mark Hachman / IDG
The new Surface Pro (2023) reclines further than the older Surface Pro 4. Fortunately, the hinge is strong enough to take your palm’s weight, though it can sag a bit.
Both the increased keyboard pitch and the Surface Dial integration are designed with inking in mind, either using the existing Surface Pen or the upgraded model. I didn’t notice the Dial slide down the screen as it does on the Studio, though it simply takes up a bit too much real estate to be as useful as it is on Microsoft’s massive all-in-one.
Though Microsoft upgraded its Surface Pen to increase the levels of pressure to 4,096, it did so by making the Pen slightly less useful. The new Pen does away with the pen clip. Instead, Microsoft depends on the magnetic strip on the side of the Pen to secure it, which simply proves impractical over time. I still wish there were a pen loop!
Otherwise, the upgraded Pen still uses a AAAA battery with a one-year lifespan. Just as importantly, it retained its ability to “erase” digital ink, a feature not every stylus includes. It inks just as well as the original Pen and comes with “tilt” support as well, generating a broader ink stroke. Microsoft’s new Pen also reduces inking latency to 21 ms. That was impossible for us to confirm, but digital ink flows off the Pen without any noticeable lag—more important as Microsoft makes pen navigation a more integral part of Windows.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The new Surface Pen is just as comfortable to hold as the new model. Remember that the upcoming Fall Creators Update includes a “Find My Pen” feature.
Mark Hachman / IDG
I enjoy the surface Dial, but it feels a little forced upon the Surface Pro.Performance: Blazing fast, but at a price
Here’s one of the most impressive features of the new Surface Pro: From a graphics perspective, it offers the performance of the original Surface Book, together with its custom, discrete-GPU base. It vastly outperforms the two-year-old Surface Pro 4—though with a few caveats.
For one thing, our older Surface Pro 4 used a Core i5, rather than a top-of-the-line Core i7. And the performance increases, as impressive as they are, are largely confined to graphics-intensive applications. In the generic PCMark 8 Work benchmark, for example, I noted just a 10 percent improvement over the Surface Pro 4. From a performance standpoint, then, upgrading from the Surface Pro 4 to the Surface Pro makes sense only if you plan to use the Surface Pro for games, image rendering, or similar tasks.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro (2023) is powerful enough to smoothly play some older games, like Batman: Arkham City.
Still, the Surface Pro isn’t a machine that just checks the boxes, using components with minimal performance in the service of simply filling out a spec sheet. Looking back over our database of tested products, for example, its internal Samsung KUS040202M-B000 NVMe provides among the fastest read speeds we’ve tested: 1,702 MBps, according to the CrystalMark 5.0.3 benchmark.
In the following graphs, we’ve compared the new Surface Pro (2023) to several Windows tablets, ultrabooks, and laptops, with a range of processors and graphics options. We’ve highlighted the new Surface Pro (2023) in bright red, and the Surface Pro 4 in a darker red. We’ve also used different colors to showcase the Microsoft Surface Book, both the original 2023 edition (yellow) and the 2023 Performance Base (orange). Otherwise,
IDG IDG IDG IDG
We also test how the processor fares over time using the Handbrake benchmark, which transcodes a major Hollywood film from a MKV format into something that could be watched on a plane. Again, the Surface Pro is at the top of the heap.
Finally, we tested using 3DMark’s SkyDiver, a traditional benchmark for midrange laptops and some gaming PCs. Microsoft’s choice of the Core i7/Iris Plus combo works great here, though Microsoft’s Surface Book with Performance Base still rules the roost. But look at how the new Surface Pro tablet beats the original Surface Book!
Benchmarks are benchmarks, though. Don’t expect to be able to play the latest Battlefield game at its highest detailed settings. I’m a fan of playing older single-player games on the cheap, though, and games like the original Tomb Raider reboot topped 42 frames per second on 1080p/High settings. Batman: Arkham City also generated 48 fps on 1080p settings, with even better frame rates when you dialed down the resolution a bit. My only concern is how the thermals would hold up over prolonged gameplay.
Of all the surprises that the Surface Pro (2023) offered, one of the most interesting was in battery life. Given that the dimensions of the new Surface Pro left little, if any, room for additional battery cells, it still surprised me that its 45Whr battery ran down over the course of eight hours, substantially more than the Surface Pro 4.Conclusion: The competition is catching up
We’re obligated to point out these flaws. On balance, however, Microsoft has crafted a winning Windows tablet. The new Surface Pro is pricey, though a $999 Core i5 version Microsoft sells may be far more affordable. The Surface Pro absolutely excels under short, bursty applications, though performance tends to suffer when the fan kicks in. Though the battery life falls short of the 13.5 hours Microsoft promises, it’s still better than the older Surface Pro 4.
I thought about whether the new Surface Pro (2023) deserved a full four stars, and finally decided against it. True, other tablets lack the Surface Dial integration and don’t lean back quite so far. That, for me, doesn’t change the game. Microsoft has simply made an improved Surface Pro 4 for Surface Pro 4 fans. Meanwhile, through each successive generation, competition has grown more intense. That’s fine—Microsoft intended to break trail with its Surface devices, but always acknowledged that it was leading other hardware makers into the market.
It’s possible that Microsoft may simply offer incremental improvements to its tablets going forward. That’s left a window of opportunity to the competition. I endorsed Microsoft’s leap into the Surface Pro 3, and still believe that the Surface Pro 4 represents Microsoft’s best Windows tablet. At the time, however, I wondered whether the others would catch up. They have. I still recommend the new Surface Pro (2023), but I’d also encourage you to check out the competition.
Two-day battery life
Dazzling 120Hz screen
Slim and sleek build
Mixed camera performance
Cluttered MIUI OS
Poor speakerOur Verdict
There’s no denying that the Poco X5 offers a lot for the money, but you can get similar specs for less with a phone from the previous generation.
Poco’s 2023 X-range phones are here, and the cheaper of the pair is the Poco X5. Launched alongside the Poco X5 Pro, this phone comes complete with a dazzling 120Hz AMOLED display (a first from a base X-range Poco phone), fast-charging technology and a 48Mp triple camera set-up.
But is the phone still good value for money, especially considering its place in the highly competitive mid-range space? I’ve spent some time with the Poco X5 to see how it handles everyday use.Design & build
Three colour options
3.5mm headphone jack
The Poco X5 comes with an understated yet sleek finish – a welcome relief from the days when Poco used to blaze its logo on the entire back. The phone is 7.98mm thick, and weighs just 189g, so it’s relatively slim and lightweight and doesn’t feel heavy to hold.
The slightly metallic finish catches the light well, but it is prone to picking up fingerprints
It comes in either blue, green or black, which I tested. The device is made from plastic with a Gorilla Glass 3 front, which doesn’t exactly scream high-end. The slightly metallic finish catches the light well, but it is prone to picking up fingerprints and smudges throughout the day.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
On the plus side, it is less susceptible to scratches or damage than a phone with a glass rear. Plus, it comes with an IP53 rating, which means it also protected from some dust and light rain – but it is not waterproof. Poco throws in a free clear case in the box for extra protection.
The Poco logo is still present, just tucked away more neatly adjacent to the camera bump, which produces quite largely out the back. This does mean that the phone doesn’t lay fully flat on a desk.
The Poco X5 has a USB-C port for charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as dual-SIM slot, which can either be used for two SIMs, or one SIM and a Micro-SD card. The phone uses a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the power button, which I found to be largely reliable.Screen & speakers
6.67in FHD AMOLED display
120Hz refresh rate
The phone comes with a dazzling 6.67in FHD AMOLED display, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It comes with DCI-P3 wide color gamut, and a claimed peak brightness of 1200 nits.
Many other mid-rangers sacrifice a high refresh rate, so this is a big plus for the Poco X5
Colours are vivid and bright on the Poco X5, meaning it’s great for streaming videos and browsing through images. It certainly doesn’t feel like a lower mid-range phone in this regard. Poco also offers an adjustable colour temperature option on the display to suit your preferences.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
There is a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, but you can also opt for 60Hz if you’re looking to conserve the battery life. This is combined with a touch-sampling rate of up to 240Hz.
This results in quick and responsive navigation, both when scrolling social media and doing some light gaming. Many other mid-rangers sacrifice a high refresh rate, so this is a big plus for the Poco X5.
There is one single speaker located on the bottom of the phone, which means that sound is on the weak and tinny side. The lack of audio processing software means that music lacks bass and depth – though on a phone of this price point, premium audio is a luxury.Specs & performance
The Poco X5 runs on a Snapdragon 695 chip, the same processor seen on the Poco X4 Pro. You can pair this with either 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, or 8GB RAM and 256GB worth of storage. The additional microSD slot can extend internal storage up to 1TB.
Overall, this phone has capable performance. I used it for social media, YouTube, Twitch and general browsing, and it handled everything largely well. However, some apps do have the odd stutter here and there. For example, videos on Facebook often take time to load, and rebooting the device often results in some slow starts.
The phone achieved similar performance scores to the likes of the Realme 9 and the OnePlus CE 2 Lite:
Like other Poco X devices, it is capable of some gaming, but don’t be expecting the highest levels of performance. I was able to play Genshin Impact on the second-lowest graphics settings, but even then I experienced some lag and low frame rates. More casual titles such as Animal Crossing Pocket Camp worked just fine.
5G connectivity comes included, as does Bluetooth 5.1.
Hannah Cowton / FoundryBattery life & charging
33W fast charging
No wireless charging
In the box you get a 33W fast charger. This will take you from zero to 58% in just 30 minutes, with full charging taking around an hour.
By today’s standards, this isn’t the quickest – phones from the likes of Realme and Oppo certainly offer speedier charging bricks.
Whatever the X5 lacks in super speedy charging is made up for with that big 5000mAh battery. Even when running the refresh rate on 120Hz, I was able to use it for roughly around two days, snapping pics, doom-scrolling on Twitter and watching livestreams.
In our usual PCMark battery test, the phone managed a middling 10 hours and two minutes.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
If you make use of the battery saving modes, and generally are a little more conservative with usage, then you could stretch the Poco X5 even further.
There isn’t any wireless or reverse charging included on the phone, but that is typical for a phone of this price.Cameras & video
Decent main 48Mp main camera in good lighting
Unimpressive in low light
So-so secondary lenses
The Poco X5 comes with a triple rear snapper, led by a 48Mp main camera with an f/1.8 aperture. This is joined by the secondary lenses, an 8Mp wide-angle with a 118-degree field of view, as well as a 2Mp macro lens with an f/2.4 aperture.
The X5 can produce sharp and detailed images on shots taken outdoors with good lighting conditions. Colours do not look oversaturated or washed out, as you may find on other devices of a similar price.
Like other Xiaomi phones, the Poco X5 uses pixel-binning technology. Snaps do look good both when using the full 48Mp resolution camera, and when taking photos on the standard mode which are condensed down to a 12Mp output.
The same cannot be said for lower light conditions. Textures become much fuzzier and blended, and it’s hard to focus on the subject that you’re pointing at. Night mode adds some colour, but the final image looks like a faded vintage photo (and not in a good way).
The zoom capabilities are also unimpressive on this phone. Whilst details are still clear on X2 zoom, colours on the grass and sky in the test shots appear much more insipid. Zooming in even further results in extremely blurry images.
The X5 can produce sharp and detailed images
Things are even less sharp on the 8Mp wide-angle lens, which performs even worse under low light. However, for large landscape shots during the day, it is sufficient.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
On the front, there’s a 13Mp snapper with an f/2.45 aperture. Like the rear cameras, performance isn’t too bad outdoors or with good lighting. However, dimmer conditions result in poorer textures and muted colours. The bokeh effect on portrait mode also struggles with hair textures, particularly waves and curls.
In addition, Poco automatically adds a slight ‘beautify’ filter to selfies, which can be turned off or made stronger. In short, this erases facial blemishes such as freckles, and makes it look as if you have make-up on.
This shouldn’t be enabled as standard. Not only does it give a slightly false finish, but it also plays into unrealistic beauty standards set by Instagram filters. Poco should consider having this feature optional on future phones.
Video is available either in 720p at 60fps, or 1080p at 30fps. However, there is no auto stabilisation software present, so beware if you have shaky hands.
The Poco X4 comes running on MIUI 13.0.2, Xiaomi’s skin of Android 12. This isn’t the latest Android version, but many mid-range phones still run on this OS at the time of writing. Oddly, you can get MIUI 14 on the X5 Pro, although changes are largely minimal.
Xiaomi’s MIUI is an acquired taste, and if you’re a pure Android enthusiast like me, then you may find the changes jarring. The drop-down menu is split into two halves, like on iOS. If you swipe down from the left-hand side, you’ll get your notifications, whilst on the right you’ll access the quick settings.
General navigation can be a bit confusing. For example, on the camera app the macro mode is hidden away the section where you crop photos, rather than in the ‘more’ section like it is on other devices.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
On the plus side, you can multitask on the phone with floating windows and set up two separate profiles on the device through Second Space. There is also a dedicated Game Space mode which will close background apps when playing a title to help improve performance.
The biggest annoyance of a Poco phone is the amount of pre-loaded apps cluttering up the interface. From a very pointless Poco store app, to Aliexpress and strange games such as Tile Fun, you’ll likely be taken aback by the number of things on the phone as soon as you launch it out of the box.
At the time of writing, we don’t yet know how many years of security and software updates are promised for the Poco X5.Price & availability
The Poco X5 is available to buy now from the Poco website, priced at £279/€299 for the 6/128GB version, and £319/€349 for the 12/256GB one. If you buy it before the 13 February 2023, you can grab £30 off the standard price.
Typically, Poco doesn’t sell its phones in the US, but American readers should be able to import it from the likes of AliExpress.
There’s no denying that once again, Poco has produced an affordable phone for the price, with a solid build, a big battery life, an impressive display and a decent main camera in daylight.
That said, the processor is the same one offered in the Poco X4 Pro, which also comes with a higher-spec camera and faster charging. More importantly, the RRP of this phone is cheaper than the X5. Therefore, you’ll get more bang for your buck with the Pro version of the previous generation.
Alternatively, you could step up to the more mid-range Poco X5 Pro, which comes with an upgraded processor, double the charging speeds and a better camera that produces much clearer shots in low light. However, this clocks in nearly £100/€100 more than the X5.
You can look at other options in our chart of the best mid-range phones.
Hannah Cowton / FoundryVerdict
The Poco X5 is truly an excellent mid-range buy.
The 120Hz display is great to use for videos and social media, and the 5000mAh battery will give you two days’ worth of use with ease.
There are always sacrifices for phones at this price point, and the X5 makes them with its poor low-light photography and unimpressive speaker. The MIUI OS is also not the most user-friendly, especially with the amount of bloatware.
The biggest downfall is that the Poco X4 Pro still trumps this phone in terms of value for money. Nonetheless, you’ll still be getting bang for your buck with the Poco X5 if you want the latest model.Poco X5 specs
Android 12, MIUI 13
6.67in AMOLED display (120Hz, FHD+)
Snapdragon 695 with 6GB/8GB RAM
128/256GB storage, expandable by 1TB via microSD
48Mp f/1.8 main rear camera
8Mp 118-degree ultra-wide camera
2Mp f/2.4 macro lens
13Mp f/2.45 selfie camera
Fingerprint reader in power button
3.5mm headphone jack
33W fast charge tech
Gorilla Glass 3 (front)
165.88 x 76.21 x 7.98mm
Available in Black, Blue and Green
Top-tier everyday performance
Available with and without heat sinkCons
Slightly off the pace with our 450GB writeOur Verdict
The Samsung 990 Pro NVMe SSD is a top-tier performer. That, and the company’s sterling reputation would make it an attractive option—if there weren’t equally competent drives available for quite a bit less.Best Prices Today: Samsung 990 Pro NVMe SSD
The Samsung 990 Pro is one of the best NVMe SSDs on the market. But where once Samsung’s SSDs were ahead of the performance curve, this one is merely level with it—placing fourth overall in our testing.
It’s a very tight race for the top spot, but the 990 isn’t the winner, and Samsung still prices the 990 Pro as if it were a dominant performer. That currently makes it a bit of a hard sell.
Note: This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best SSDs. Go there to learn more about competing products, what to look for in an SSD, and buying recommendations.Samsung 990 Pro: Design and features
The 990 Pro is your standard 2280 form factor (22mm wide, 80mm long) M.2, NVMe SSD. It’s PCIe 4 x4 utilizing 176-layer TLC NAND, with 1GB of primary caching DRAM for every 1TB of NAND. The controller is an in-house Samsung design that, according to the company, offers a 50 percent improvement in power efficiency over the 980 Pro.
The 990 Pro is available either with a heatsink or without (tested). The label on the non-heatsink version also serves as a heat spreader, so unless you’re pounding on the drive constantly by transcoding high-resolution video or gaming, you probably don’t need the heatsink. Also, many performance motherboards provide their own heatsinks.
Retail pricing is $170 for the 1TB capacity, and $290 for the 2TB version sans heatsink. Add $20 if you want said heatsink. Those prices are significantly higher than what the top-ranked WD SN850X was available for on Amazon at the time of this writing.
mentioned in this article
WD Black SN850X
Read our review
Best Prices Today:
We can only compare using the prices that the company provides until the drive actually shows up in retail. However, the older 980 Pro is just as heavily discounted as the SN850X, so if you see the 990 Pro for more competitive prices, that would make the drive a far more attractive purchase.
This is a box shot of the 990 Pro without a heatsink that we tested. Most users won’t need one.
Samsung provides a five-year warranty which is mitigated by a 600TBW (terabytes that can be written) per 1TB endurance rating—i.e., the warranty expires when either limit is exceeded. TBW ratings are extremely conservative as a rule, so you will likely be able to write more to the drive.
600TBW per 1TB is actually quite a rather low allowance given the 990 Pro’s premium pricing.Performance
In some tests, the 990 Pro rocked; in others it fell a bit off the pace of the other top competitors; and in one test (the long 450GB write), it was surprisingly mid-tier in performance. Add it all up and it was the fourth fastest drive we’ve tested, though not lagging by much. It’s an extremely tight contest between the best drives.
CrystalDiskMark 8 (shown below) was largely one of the 990 Pro’s strong points. It was fastest in two of the tests, and a hair behind in a third; however, a surprisingly weak single-queue read performance sabotaged its aggregate score. Note that the WD SN850X included in the comparison is the fastest drive overall we’ve tested to date.
In terms of pure sequential performance under CrystalDiskMark 8, only the single-queue read performance holds the 990 Pro back. Longer bars are better.
If not for that weak single-queue/thread performance, the 990 Pro’s aggregate CrystalDiskMark 8 performance might’ve placed it only a tick out of first place. Note that this aggregate is our totaling of the results, not something CDM8 provides.
This is an excellent aggregate throughput score, albeit slightly behind the competing WD SN850X and Adata Legend 960. Longer bars are better.
When it came to the real world, the 990 Pro was a bit behind the other top drives in small file/folder writes, but aced the single large-file write. The 21-seconds read speed is the fastest we’ve seen, matched only by the otherwise slower Teamgroup Cardea A440 Pro.
Again, the margin of loss in our 48GB transfers was minuscule for the 990 Pro. Good stuff. Shorter bars are better.
What did surprise us a bit was the 990’s uneven transfer rate while writing a 450GB file to its cells. With an empty 2TB SSD with plenty of NAND for use as SLC secondary cache, this is usually very smooth and even. The result was the 990 Pro lagging about a half minute off the pace set by the fastest performers in this test.
This is a decent time for the 450GB write, but not as fast or steady as we were expecting from the 990 Pro. Shorter bars are better.
The numerous dips and bumps in speed you can see below were likely because of granular real-time allocation of more NAND for secondary cache duties. The best 450GB write time we’ve seen on our new test bed was 206 seconds by the 4TB Crucial P3. Having that much NAND helped the P3’s cause. It lagged in other areas.
We’re not used to seeing these types of peaks and valleys from a Samsung drive, but the overall speed was still very good.
The performance differences we’re pointing out here are minor. You could take any of the top PCIe 4 drives and never notice the difference subjectively. In other words, they’re all very, very fast.Should you buy Samsung’s 990 Pro?
While Samsung’s 990 Pro didn’t set any records, it’s still one of a handful of drives vying for the top performance spot. It’s an excellent drive; however, much of its competition is significantly more affordable, making it harder to recommend.
It might be on the pricey side for a plastic power bank, but we can’t ignore how incredibly useful is this Imation Link Power Drive. Not only does it provide a full charge for your iPhone, but it offers extra storage that is otherwise achievable only through the cloud or by buying a more expensive wireless hard drive or a new iPhone with more storage out of the box. At £49.99 we can think of several 16GB iPhone owners who are rapidly running out of storage space (and battery life) and would find it worth every single penny.
The Imation Link Power Drive is one of the most useful iPhone accessories we’ve come across, offering extra- and secure storage for your photos, video, music, documents and more, and boosting iPhone battery life by providing a full charge away from the mains. Also see: Best power banks.
When Apple introduced its iPhone 6 it removed the 32GB storage option. With no removable storage the 16GB iPhone 6 wouldn’t be sufficient for many users, so Apple offered a choice: pay for extra iCloud storage, or buy the 64GB (or 128GB) iPhone 6. Both options incur extra cost, with an £80 jump from the 16GB iPhone 6 to the 64GB iPhone 6.
The Imation Link bridges that gap, offering you the opportunity to get extra iPhone storage at a cheaper price. The Power Drive is available in 16-, 32- and 64GB capacities, with the 16GB model we reviewed costing £49.99 from Currys.
According to Imation, the 16GB of storage it offers is ample for 5,700-plus photos, or 4,100-plus songs, or more than 11 HD videos. You can also add documents and contacts to the Power Drive, and there’s a password-protected folder offering secure storage for your most sensitive files should the Imation Link get into the wrong hands.
Setup is incredibly easy, and all you need to do is plug in the Power Drive using the built-in Lightning cable and install the app when prompted. You can then see all your files in a file browser window, and can copy and move files from iPhone to Power Drive as required. The Power Drive has other file-manager functionality too, for example allowing you to play a slideshow of your images and preview video files.
A second built-in cable, full-size USB, allows you to connect the Imation Link Power Drive to a PC or Mac to transfer files, or to recharge the device’s internal battery. Provided that you have more than 10 percent battery capacity, you can flip the power switch and the device will also act as a power bank for your iPhone. Also see: How to improve smartphone battery life.
Ordinarily we like to see auto-on in power banks, which prevents you having to fiddle around with buttons, but here its absence is a good thing, meaning you can use the Power Drive only as a hard drive unless you need the extra power it provides.
With 3000mAh on offer (expect to achieve somewhere in the region of 2000mAh), you should get a full charge for any iPhone, and that will keep you going all day long.
The companion Link app for the Imation Link Power Drive requires iOS 7 or higher, but it isn’t restricted to iPhone. You can use the Power Drive with any iOS device with a Lightning connection, which includes the fifth-generation iPod touch, and iPhones ranging from the 5 through 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus.
We also tried the Power Drive with our second-generation iPad mini, and it worked flawlessly, although neither its relatively low capacity nor its 5W output are suited to iPad. When the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are unveiled later this week they should also be compatible with the Imation Link Power Drive. Also see: Best desktop chargers 2023.
At a penny under £50 the Imation Link Power Drive is very expensive for a 3000mAh iPhone power bank, and its plastic design doesn’t quite live up to the price tag, but the 16GB of extra storage it provides makes it well worth the outlay. Indeed, our colleagues at Macworld have rounded up several devices that add storage to iPhone, and compared with those devices the Power Drive is a steal.
The Power Drive is a small white plastic box with a silver plastic top. The bottom of the device slides open to create a lipped stand for your iPhone, although it wasn’t immediately obvious that this was the case and the rear plate wasn’t actually falling away. Around its rim run two built-in flat cables – Lightning and full-size USB – and where they meet in the middle you’ll find the power button that enables the Power Drive to act as a power bank.
We like the fact you don’t need to carry around extra cables (and Lightning cables are often in short supply given their expense), and that the cables tuck away neatly, but we’re not convinced they will continue to sit flush following use over time. Neither are we particularly keen on white cables which, despite following Apple’s own design ethics, don’t tend to stand up well to dust and grime. (It’s worth pointing out that no carry case is provided to protect the Power Drive from dirt or wear and tear.) Also see: How to charge your phone or tablet faster
On top is a silver button that lies flush with the case, with four LEDs built in. This is used to check how much battery power remains, and to wake the Power Drive which will automatically enter sleep mode following five minutes of inactivity to preserve battery power.
When viewed solely as a power bank the Imation Link lacks several features provided by other banks, yet it does the job. For a start, it can be used only with iOS, whereas rival banks will support any device that can be connected with a USB cable. Passthrough charging isn’t recommended, whereby you charge both it and a connected device at once, and although it seems a minor point there’s no built-in LED torch. The 5W input and 5W output don’t sound impressive either, although they are adequate for filling up such a low-capacity power bank or an iPhone or iPod touch.
Read next: How to add storage to Android.
Most people in the United States either know Huawei as a smartphone company – or they don’t know them at all. It’s not a surprise to find that most every interested person I encountered whilst testing this notebook wondered where I’d gotten it. This isn’t the first Matebook X, but it is the most perfected model – and the model best suited for all-day laptop work.
The MateBook X Pro is a notebook that’s 14.6mm thin. With a 13.9-inch 3:2 aspect ratio display with 4.4mm bezels, this device looks and feels premium, and like it’s made the most of the tiny space it’s living in.
Several versions of this notebook are available. There’s one with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB or 512GB SSD, as well as with an Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. The version of this notebook I reviewed here had a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U processor (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.0GHz), 16GB LPDDR3 (2,133 MHz) RAM, and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics (2GB GDDR5).
Each version of this notebook is fanless and each comes with a 13.9-inch 3000 x 2000 pixel resolution (3K) IPS LCD touchscreen. This display is extraordinarily good. At every reasonable angle, it looks good. It’s sharp, colorful, and can get brighter than I need it to be. Much like its direct competition, this notebook’s display opens about 135-degrees from its closed position – not flat, just right.
Along the left and the right of this laptop are two USB-C, one of which has Thunderbolt 3 support. There’s also one USB-A port and a single 3.5mm headphone jack, for all your different sorts of headphone needs.
Sound is provided by four speakers that blast upward from the keyboard area. The sound on this machine is tuned by Dolby Atmos, and sound exceedingly loud and full. These don’t sound like your mother’s laptop’s speakers – they sound robust, and not like they were meant for a mere notebook.
This notebook has a key in its keyboard which pops up to reveal a camera. Because that’s the most unique part of the whole build, the press focused on it, and almost nothing else, at Mobile World Congress 2023 where this was revealed.
The camera takes just about as good a set of videos and photos as any other on a modern notebook – not super great, not the worst. I do appreciate being able to hide the camera instead of what I do on every other notebook, which is to cover it up with a piece of electrical tape.
The angle at which the camera sits takes some getting used to. I’ve been using a webcam on a laptop in the same position for the past decade – that is, just above the display. I needed to adjust to the position of the camera on this keyboard – not just in where my eyes needed to look, but in how the end product would appear. The camera’s looking up from the keyboard, more like a bug’s-eye-view than what we have on other devices, which is more of a cat’s-eye-view.
The Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint scanner on this notebook is real, real quick. Smartphone quick. So quick, it does not feel like a chore to use said fingerprint scanner when logging in.
I’ve grown quickly attached to the hardware, here. Not least of all because the notebook’s keyboard is set up to be almost identical to that of the MacBook Pro. I use a MacBook Pro for work, and I’ve used a MacBook Pro for work for the past decade – so it’s good to tap around on a familiar set of keys.
This keyboard isn’t perfect, but it’s a whole lot more usable than the vast majority of the notebook keyboards I’ve tested over the past decade. The keyboard is liquid resistant – not waterproof, but resistant, which means you can probably get away with a tiny spill – but don’t go dunking the whole notebook in the sink.
The touchpad is good – not absolutely perfect, but pretty gosh-darned good. If I absolutely had to give up my MBP to work on a notebook today, it’d probably be this Huawei MateBook X Pro that I’d choose. That’s not to say that a Lenovo notebook might not be my top choice next week – but for now, this MateBook X Pro is a top-tier piece of work.
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