At the end of May, the TECNO Mobile brand showed a new smartphone of the Pova line – TECNO Pova 3, and in mid-July the new product was announced on the Ukrainian market together with the Camon 19 series smartphones. This series are distinguished, first of all, by productive hardware and long battery life, while remaining in the mid-budget segment. In this review, we will try to find out whether the TECNO Pova 3 has retained these features, and what else the novelty may have of interest.
The new smartphone arrived in Ukraine at once in two existing versions: the basic 4/64 GB and the advanced 6/128 GB. At the time of publication of the review, the price of TECNO Pova 3 with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of permanent memory is unknown to us, but for the top configuration with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of ROM, they ask for $250. AND it will be possible to buy a new product in any color of the case available for this model, which is also good. Especially since there are interesting features associated with one of the three available. But for now, let’s not rush ahead, but let’s see what is included with the smartphone.
Pova 3 is delivered in a cardboard box with an unusual, even premium design. Inside you can find the smartphone itself, a transparent silicone protective case, a rather powerful 33W power adapter, a separate cardboard box with a USB Type-A/Type-C cable and simple wired headphones with a headset function, as well as a key for removing the card slot and a standard set of supporting documentation.
The case is not the most simple: it has matte ends, and on the back there is an abstract pattern consisting of multidirectional straight and diagonal lines. True, the drawing is applied from the inside, there is no relief on the outside, although it would be cool, of course. Otherwise, it is just a case: there are all the necessary slots, an edge around the screen and the camera unit. Also, a good protective film covers the smartphone display out of the box.
The design of TECNO Pova 3 is very interesting and it doesn’t just look like an ordinary modern smartphone. Its design can be called bright and even aggressive to a certain extent. Gaming smartphones are usually described with these words, and visually Pova 3 really looks like one. Of course, it won’t stand out with anything extraordinary from the front, but looking at its back panel, you can’t say that for sure.
The front panel is already a kind of modern classic with small frames and a front camera cut directly into the screen in the center. Frames are far from the thinnest, especially from the bottom and top. The diameter of the cutout of the camera cannot be called very compact either, but both in the case of the frames and the cutout – there is, in fact, nothing critical about it. Especially for a smartphone of this class with a large display.
Looking at the back panel of the smartphone, the first thing you pay attention to is a relatively wide glossy insert in the middle, which runs along the entire matte back of the smartphone. Apparently, this is the main element of the design, but it is supplemented with numerous secondary details. The latter include, for example, the design of the flash and similar small glossy inserts on the left and right that float on the edge of the smartphone.
We will go through each element separately. The main insert here is interesting in several ways. First, it slightly protrudes above the surface of the back, and smooth transitions additionally emphasize it. Secondly, up close you can see a pattern in the form of thin diagonal lines on it. Thirdly, the insert seems to be darkened on both sides, but in our case it becomes blue in the light, which emphasizes the pattern and a small silver inscription in the center even more.
But its main feature is that in the blue (Electric Blue) smartphone, a real LED strip is hidden under this insert. It is clear that it is there for a reason and can light up in certain cases: during an incoming call, an SMS message or a message on a social network, when charging the battery and even during a game. Unfortunately, it cannot be fully customized, but we will talk about this later.
The flash is also in a separate glossy insert, and in its upper part you can see a small icon with a lightning bolt. Glossy strips on the edges are not very noticeable, but they certainly complement the look. Oddly enough, the camera unit here is the most ‘boring’: just three separate vertically aligned eyes. Each with additional edging, but they protrude minimally.
The body of the smartphone is completely plastic, but this plastic is practical, if you do not take into account the glossy elements. On the back, the plastic is nice and a bit rough, with a matte finish bezel around the perimeter, and glass is obviously used on the front. All elements fit clearly, nothing creaks or dangles, the assembly is good. Of course, there is no protection against dust and moisture, but the manufacturer took some precautions and provided the card slot with an additional rubberized insert.
In addition to this option, the manufacturer also offers silver (Tech Silver) and black (Eco Black). It is clear that black against the background of the first two is no longer so interesting, but if you want the most strict and restrained color, then the choice is obvious. Silver, in my opinion, looks very original and no less cool than dark blue.
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On the front, the conversational speaker and a second multimedia speaker at the same time is located above the frontal camera that’s cut into the screen in the center. To the right of the latter, there are windows with light and proximity sensors, as well as a front flash. The element is not new for TECNO, but it is not found in every smartphone of the manufacturer.
At the top you can find three neat cutouts for the speakerphone. There is no third speaker in the smartphone, there are two of them, but the slots on top allow the conversational speaker to sound more distinct when paired with the main one from below. In addition to the speaker, there is a USB Type-C port at the bottom, a single microphone, and a standard 3.5 mm audio port.
Three separate holes with cameras are embedded in a column on the back of the smartphone, on the right is a four-module flash. The previously mentioned glossy stripe with the inscription PANTHER ENGINE and an LED strip runs through the center, and at the very bottom left is the vertical embossing saying TECNO POVA.
In general, the size of the TECNO Pova 3 is the first thing that strikes you when you pick it up. It is very large and unusually heavy: 173.1×78.5×9.4 mm with a weight of 230 g. It is definitely one of the heaviest smartphones I have ever come across, so it will not be suitable for everyone. It is impossible to use it normally with one hand, for obvious reasons, and there are only a few options: either use the second hand, or turn on the one-handed control mode.
The power button combined with the fingerprint scanner is at a good height. There is no need to reach for it or somehow adjust the grip on the smartphone. Practically the same can be said about the volume down button, but to increase the volume you already need to fully extend the thumb of the right hand. Of course, the smartphone will wobble on a flat surface due to the slightly protruding strip on the back.
TECNO Pova 3 received a large 6.9-inch IPS LCD matrix display with Full HD+ resolution (or 2460×1080 pixels), resulting in a pixel density of approximately 389 ppi. It has a slightly unusual aspect ratio of 20.5:9, but there is one interesting feature. It consists in an increased refresh rate of 90 Hz, which not every smartphone in around the same price segment can boast of. Not 120Hz, yes, but not the classic 60Hz either, which is welcome.
But keep in mind that it is impossible to change the color rendering of the display using standard means. Although I do not think that it will be much needed here, but still. What the smartphone screen lacks is the level of maximum brightness. It cannot be said that it is not enough for outdoor use, but there is never an excess. Everything is visible in the shade, but in the bright sun the readability is not as high as it could be.
The refresh rate of 90 Hz is definitely a nice feature of the display. It functions as usual, and the user has several modes to choose from: forced 90 Hz, forced 60 Hz and automatic mode. First of all, we are interested in the last one, and more precisely, how often the maximum possible refresh rate will be used in automatic mode. Some smartphones have this flaw, and even in those situations where you expect to see 90 Hz, the smartphone remains at the standard refresh rate.
In TECNO Pova 3, things are not in the best way with this either. For example, it would be more pleasant to scroll through the Instagram feed with a high refresh rate, but the automatic mode sets it at 60 Hz. And there are many such examples, so if you want to fully experience the increased frequency, then the only option is to choose forced 90 Hz. Yes, the smartphone will discharge a little faster, but what can you do? More conservative users can stick to the default refresh rate, which is also an option.
Everything is standard in the settings, as for the current version of the HiOS shell on TECNO smartphones. Here are wallpaper change, refresh rates, dark theme and vision protection mode with the ability to set a custom schedule, screen timeout, font size, “In your pocket” mode to prevent accidental clicks, and all the other usual options.. Except that the function of additional screen brightness reduction, which we met in the TECNO Camon 19 smartphone, is missing. Instead, there is a configurable ‘privacy frame’ where you can darken any area of the screen in the settings so that no one from outside can see the information contained there.
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The TECNO Pova 3 received a 12nm MediaTek Helio G88 SoC, which is a slightly more advanced variation of the Helio G85 that we found in the same TECNO Camon 19, for example. It is an 8-core platform with two Cortex-A75 cores capable of working at a maximum clock frequency of up to 2.0 GHz and 6 Cortex-A55 cores with a clock frequency of up to 1.8 GHz. Graphics – Mali-G52 MC2. In various benchmarks, the smartphone shows normal results for a mid-level chipset.
The manufacturer talks about the presence of graphite cooling in the smartphone and promises its stable operation under any load. During testing, a CPU throttling test was used for 15 and 30 minutes in standard mode and when launched through the game hub for the purity of the experiment. After 15 minutes of the test the results are as follows: in normal mode the performance of the processor cores drops by a maximum of 12%, while in conditional game mode – only by 10%. In the 30-minute test, the results are already different: in the standard mode, the level of performance drops by a maximum of 17%, and in the second – by 20%. But in both tests, all three GIPS values are higher precisely when running through the game hub, so we can say that it is fully functional and was added for a reason.
Depending on the version, RAM can be 4 or 6 GB LPDDR4X type. In the top version, there are no questions about the volume or the performance. The basic version may already have its own nuances, such as more frequent restarts of applications, but let’s not forget about the Memory Fusion function. It allows you to virtually expand RAM at the expense of permanent memory.
The amount of permanent memory also depends on the modification. There are only two: 64 GB of storage and 128 GB, but the type of drive is the same and, moreover, it is not the fastest – eMMC 5.1. In the top version, 105.98 GB of memory is available for user data. However, the memory can be easily expanded in the usual way by installing a microSD memory card in the smartphone. The slot, I remind you, is full-fledged and allows you to install it, regardless of the number of installed SIM cards.
The smartphone was quite fast and smooth in use. Of course, there are jerks, but this phenomenon is rare. Basically, everything is fine with the smartphone’s speed and sensitivity to user requests. As for games, the TECNO Pova 3 performs relatively well, but not all demanding users will be able to run at maximum graphics, so I recommend setting the graphics to medium/high. Of course, it is even lower in very demanding projects, but everything is fine with simpler arcade ones. Plus, don’t forget to add games to the game hub, it will be more comfortable to play with it. Below is the average frame rate of several popular resource intensive games:
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The main camera unit of TECNO Pova 3 includes three modules at once, but there is no information about two of them even on the device page on the manufacturer’s official website. That is, it is already clear that there is only one main wide-angle module, while the other two are most likely just auxiliary. According to other smartphones of the manufacturer, it can be assumed that this is simply a 2 MP depth detection module and an AI module for identifying scenes with AI. The main module here is 50 MP, quite bright with an aperture of f/1.6, as well as a PDAF phase autofocus system.
By default, the camera shoots at a resolution of 12.5 MP, and the full 50 MP is available in a separate mode called Ultra HD. Does it make sense to shoot at full resolution? In fact, there is not much sense in this, but in some situations it may well come in handy. In good lighting, for example, 50MP images look less attractive and lack overall sharpness. If the lighting is not very good, the shots will already have a little more small details and less “noisy”. In general, the smartphone shoots averagely. With excellent lighting, it can create a pleasant shot, but the less light, the worse the result will be, which is understandable. There is also a night mode here and it should be used in appropriate conditions, the pictures will look better.
EXAMPLES OF PHOTOS IN FULL RESOLUTION
The main camera is capable of recording videos at a maximum resolution of 2K at 30 FPS, and 1080P and 720P modes are also available, but with the same frame rate. There are no problems with color reproduction, but with sharp movements, the picture “floats” a little, and there is no electronic stabilization. That is, videos are still tolerable for personal use, but you should definitely not expect anything special from a smartphone in this regard.
The front camera is 8 MP, f/2.0 and with fixed focus (FF). With its 8 MP, it shoots quite normally: the color rendition is correct, there are no particular problems with sharpness either, but there may be noise if the lighting level is not good enough. There is even a kind of eye focusing element “jumping” on the screen during shooting, but what is eye focusing with fixed focus? Most likely the function moved from the main camera, where it can be of use. Video, similar to the main module from the back, is recorded with a resolution of up to 2K at 30 FPS. It turns out just fine: without particularly pleasant surprises, but without unpleasant ones either.
The camera application has many shooting modes: photo, video, short video, beauty, portrait, Super Night (night), AR shooting, panorama, Ultra HD (50 MP), documents, slow motion, Pro (manual for photos) and timelapse. The application itself is traditional for the manufacturer’s shell, there are useful options in the settings: grid, touch shooting, timer, portrait enhancement, automatic scanning of QR codes.
The fingerprint scanner in TECNO Pova 3 is of the standard capacitive type and is built into the power button, which is located on the side on the right side. The location is absolutely comfortable, there is no need to reach for it, as was mentioned earlier. The scanner works just fine: very fast and accurate, always works the first time.
You can also unlock your smartphone with your face. The method is generally fast, but of course slower than the fingerprint scanner. And the less light around, the slower the facial recognition unlocking will be. At the same time, it can work even in the dark, if the face illumination option is enabled in the settings. It is interesting that the face is illuminated just by increasing the brightness of the screen, although the smartphone has a frontal flash. But perhaps this is done for greater user comfort. A smooth brightness increase, of course, cannot be compared with a bright flash in this sense.
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As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the main features of the Pova series is its long working time. Smartphones of the series are usually equipped with large, capacious batteries, and this trend has been preserved in the new product. The battery in TECNO Pova 3 is as much as 7000 mAh! I think it is easy to guess what this means. The smartphone is easily enough for a couple of days of normal work, and this is really impressive! The manufacturer himself gives examples with 8 hours of active gaming, 50 hours of music playback and 20 hours of video viewing.
TECNO Pova 3 comes with 33W fast charging, but interestingly, the battery of the smartphone itself is charged with 25W of power. It turns out that the delivered adapter has surplus power outout. Be that as it may, the charging speed is quite good, especially for a huge 7000 mAh battery. It only takes 1 hour and 55 minutes to charge a smartphone from 15% to 100%. In addition, Pova 3 can also become an external battery, since it has a reverse charging function. The smartphone is capable of delivering 10 W even in critical situations… why not? Only the appropriate cable is required. Detailed measurements of charging speed in 30-minute increments are below:
The conversational speaker in the smartphone performs its primary task well. In addition, it is assigned the role of the second multimedia. There are several slots on the upper edge of the smartphone, but, as already noted, there is no separate speaker behind them. They simply facilitate the existing speaker. That is, TECNO Pova 3 is a smartphone with stereo sound, which is already pleasing.
So how does the smartphone sound when playing music, videos and games? Not really cool by default. Yes, the fact that there is stereo is felt, but the speakers themselves are not as high-quality as expected and do not create that volume and fullness of sound. You can add some volume in the settings using DTS technology. The difference with the Video profile will be especially noticeable, judging only by the volume. But in fact the frequency range is still limited, and there is little that can be done about it, even with the existing settings. So overall, I’d call these stereo speakers average, but no more.
In headphones, predictably, the sound is good by default. The volume reserve is enough and there are no comments about the playback quality either. But if suddenly something is missing, then the previously mentioned DTS settings can be used for headphones as well. And with any connection method, which is also important. A 5-band equalizer is also available in addition to profiles and related settings.
What else you can praise the manufacturer for is the advanced vibration response. It is quite pleasant: not too loud, but not weak either. There is definitely no desire to turn it off, but you can adjust the intensity. There are a total of 5 positions from weak to strong response, and 4D vibration is available, whatever that means.
But, in general, this is what the manufacturer calls the vibration feedback in some games. Of the supported ones in the settings, only PUBG Mobile is visible so far, but on the current version of the software and with the current (at the time of publishing the review) version of the game, there is no vibration at all. T here is also an item with tactile feedback in the settings of the game itself, but when you try to turn it on, it is reported that the device does not support this function. Therefore, it is not yet possible to evaluate it, but probably the shooting scenes should be accompanied by vibration.
The set of wireless modules in the smartphone is quite standard for this segment. It works with 4G networks, the Wi-Fi 5 module allows you to connect to routers in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and there is also Bluetooth 5.0, which works normally, and GPS (A-GPS, GALILEO, BDS). NFC was also not forgotten and payments can be made with a smartphone using a simple touch to the corresponding device. Or perform any other actions involving this module.
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TECNO Pova 3 runs on the Android 12 OS, on top of which the manufacturer’s proprietary HiOS 8.6 shell is installed. In general, it differs little from the same one in the TECNO Camon 19 smartphone, so the same can be said about it. A visually pleasing shell with very wide functionality and some unusual options. There is everything you need, from conditional gestures to recording conversations in the built-in caller app. As mentioned in passing earlier, it is possible to partially adjust the effect of the backlight of the strip at the back, but it all comes down to turning the backlight on/off for certain actions. There are a lot of built-in applications here, not all of them can be useful, but at least some of them can be removed.
Game mode has a Panther Engine module that automatically optimizes performance in games. You can block messages and incoming calls during the game, turn on health reminders, change the color rendering mode in some games, view detailed statistics on the game sessions, disable auto-brightness in games, and also choose two programs that can be launched in the floating window on top of the game (browser, messengers).
In TECNO Pova 3, the manufacturer managed not only to preserve the former concept of the Pova line, but also to introduce more modern and relevant features. A high refresh rate of 90 Hz appeared here, as well as stereo sound and fast 25 W charging. At the same time, the smartphone offers an unusual appearance and is still able to boast both a chic battery life and a productive hardware. The cameras here are ordinary and nothing particularly noteworthy in general, but in everything else the smartphone, at least, corresponds to its level.
Although it would be nice to improve the stereo sound, because the presence of stereo sound does not guarantee excellent sound in general. After all, it is worth realizing the fact that the Pova 3 is a large smartphone in every sense, which will not always be convenient to use. However, such a price for a large display together with a capacious battery, and it is precisely these things that the smartphone clings to first of all.
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