We feel a bit like a stuck record right now. Last year we chose the Poco X3 NFC for our budget phone of 2020 award, and this year we’re choosing...the Poco X3 Pro.

This enhanced and updated version of the X3 NFC takes a phone that was already almost impossibly over-specced for its price, and somehow squeezes even more out of it while barely increasing the price - we just wish it would launch in the US, rather than sticking to Europe and Asia.

The biggest upgrade in the Poco X3 Pro is to the phone’s chipset, where the mid-range Snapdragon 732G was replaced by the Snapdragon 860. That’s an actual flagship chip – albeit an older one – in a phone that officially costs £229/€249 and is routinely available for much less.

Paired with faster UFS 3.1 storage (and more of it) is a genuine powerhouse, competing with 2020 flagships in performance – it even outstripped the Samsung Galaxy S20 in every benchmark we ran.

The rest of the phone is no less impressive. You’ll get a 6.67in, 120Hz display; a massive 5160mAh battery; and fairly nippy 33W charging. There are even stereo speakers and an IP53 rating – some phones three times this price don’t manage that.

Of course, there are drawbacks. It’s a big phone, and bulky as a result. The camera is good, but certainly not great. And the price of all that power is that there’s no 5G support, so you’ll have to be happy with slower downloads - but the best cheap 5G phones still cost much more than this.

We think that’s a price well worth paying for all the power packed in here though.

Tempted? Here's where you can pick up a Poco X3 Pro right now:

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We also loved...

In another repeat of last year, Realme came this close to winning our budget phone award for 2021. The Realme 8 is a fantastic budget device that beats the Poco on photos, and also offers one of the cheapest AMOLED displays around. We love Realme’s software too, which trumps the MIUI skin found on the Poco and other Xiaomi phones.

It’s a little more expensive, but we also loved the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro. This also gets you an AMOLED display – with 120Hz refresh rate too – along with a serious camera upgrade thanks to a 108Mp quad camera on the rear.

Check out the rest of the Tech Advisor Awards for 2021.