Xiaomi’s youthful Poco sub-brand has only been making phones since mid-2018, but in that short time it’s built an enviable reputation. Cheap but performance-focused phones, like last year’s Little F3 They have stood out from a crowded field.
The Poco M4 Pro 5G sits below the F3, but just above the frankly cheap and cheerful category, offering a sleek design and solid specs for a still very tempting price of £249.
Where most cheap phones are an obvious case of skimping and saving to hit an aggressive price point, the Poco M4 Pro 5G sets out to hit that sweet spot of comfortable competition. Sure, it’s not without its flaws and annoyances, but Poco has created another all-round good looking budget phone in the M4 Pro.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G review: What you need to know
Xiaomi has generally stuck to the formula established by the previous Poco M3 Pro 5G. It’s another great phone (sort of) with reliable performance, a middling camera, an attractive design, and great battery life.
Powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 810 5G processor and 4GB or 6GB of RAM, it’s a solid lower-midrange racer that should handle all your day-to-day stuff just fine. Elsewhere, a 6.6-inch LCD screen with a 90Hz refresh rate offers a decent, if somewhat disappointing, viewing experience. The same goes for the phone’s storage capacities, offering 64GB or 128GB of internal space, though a microSD slot allows you to expand if you need to.
Xiaomi has kept things nice and simple on the camera front, narrowing things down to a dual-sensor system. You get a 50MP wide sensor and an 8MP ultrawide sensor, without the macro or depth sensor nonsense that often serve as padding on most cheaper phones. That’s not to say image quality is anything to write home about, but we’ll get to that in due course.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G review: price and competition
The Poco M4 Pro 5G costs £249 at the time of writing. This is for the top model with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, but there is a 4GB/64GB model in some regions, which will obviously cost you less if you can locate it.
This puts the Poco M4 Pro somewhere among the real budget phone contenders like the Moto G30 and mid-low range champions like the Poco F3 and the Moto Edge 20 Lite. You can count among your direct rivals the size of the Moto G60sthe Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro and the nokia x10 as well as.
Among that company, the Poco M4 Pro 5G competes well. However, it doesn’t stand out as much as we would have liked in any respect. For a brand that often stands out, it somehow plays it safe.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G review: Design and key features
Poco would like to market its phones as performance-oriented quasi-gaming phones, but it mercifully resists the flashy flourishes that often come with style. The Poco M4 Pro 5G looks pretty sleek, like cheap phones, at least in my model’s Power Black finish. Cool Blue and Poco Yellow add a splash of colour, if you find it too reserved.
I could do without the big Poco logo to the right of the camera module, but other than that the phone is an exercise in elegance. The back of the phone is completely plastic, but its glossy satin finish feels as good as it looks.
The deep black block that surrounds the camera and stretches most of the width of the phone is a novel touch, especially as it sits perfectly flush with the rest of the rear. The camera module itself looks like a number of Xiaomi, Poco and Redmi phones that have gone before, and it has a nice industrial feel to it.
This is a fairly large phone, with a body that is 8.8mm thick and weighs 195g, but it is still manageable, especially if you have large hands.
The edge of the phone is made of a fairly nondescript and slightly shiny plastic. On the right edge, you get the volume rocker and a power button that contains a reasonably fast and reliable fingerprint sensor.
There are a pair of stereo speakers, one at the top and one at the bottom of the phone. To my ears, however, the balance seemed slightly unbalanced, with much more weight given to the lower speaker output.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G review: Display
The display on the Poco M4 Pro 5G is big enough and sharp enough at 6.6-inches on the diagonal, with a resolution of 2400 x 1080. But it’s ever so slightly lacking in some of its other attributes.
You don’t get the vibrant colors of an OLED panel (this is LCD stuff), nor the silky-smooth delights of a full 120Hz refresh rate (it maxes out at 90Hz). It’s possible to get any of these for under £200, although not together in the same package.
Using a colorimeter, I recorded 99.3% sRGB color gamut coverage, and the display is nice and accurate, especially for a budget LCD panel. I also measured a maximum brightness (with auto-brightness off) of 447 cd/m², which is again perfectly decent at this price.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G review: Performance and battery life
Poco phones tend to offer excellent performance for the money. While the Poco M4 Pro 5G isn’t a big hit, it keeps pace with other £200 phones. Overall navigation is reasonably smooth, with the odd micro-pause that tells you this isn’t a flagship.
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It’s powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 810 5G chip, which is a pretty modest upgrade from the Dimensity 700 5G chip in the Poco M3 Pro 5G. In fact, an average Geekbench 5 multicore score of 1798 is pretty much the same as its predecessor, and is also identical to the score we got for the Bit X3 NFC with its Snapdragon 732G.
That last similarity carries over to GPU performance, with similar GFXBench Manhattan scores and slightly lower Car Chase test scores. Note that the Poco X3 NFC is slightly cheaper (less than £200). Add in the fact that the GPU results are very similar to the Nokia X10, with its humble Snapdragon 480 chip, and you’ll understand why the Poco M4 Pro 5G’s performance didn’t exactly blow me away like some previous Poco phones.
When it comes to battery life, the Poco M4 Pro 5G gives no reason to worry. With a large capacity of 5000 mAh, it is able to last a full day of relatively heavy use with ease. It lasted 19 hours and 17 minutes on the Expert Reviews standard battery test, which is much better than the aforementioned Nokia X10 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro.
Xiaomi’s custom MIUI 12.5 UI sits on top of Android 11, and it’s still a bit of a mixed bag. It’s reasonably fluid, and it’s far from the worst interface on the market. But it’s a bit clunky, with chunky icons and an irritating interstitial screen that pops up when you download apps.
I prefer the almost off-the-shelf UIs of Motorola and Nokia and the sleek stylings of OnePlus’s OxygenOS, if only for its relative lack of bloatware, but MIUI is perfectly functional.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G Review: Cameras
Refreshingly for a modern and affordable phone, Xiaomi has done away with pointless sensor spam. There are only two camera sensors here, covering the main wide and ultra wide angles. That means no pointless depth or macro sensors, which are invariably deployed to fill out a phone’s spec sheet.
Not that the resulting images are particularly impressive. On the plus side, Xiaomi’s AI assistant is capable of imbuing scenes with warm, vibrant colors, and details are adequate in strong lighting, courtesy of a 50MP main sensor.
It seemed particularly strong when taking photos of food and drink in well-lit restaurants, cafes, and bars. He was less confident when shooting landscapes on murky winter evenings, where subjects didn’t pop and everything looked a bit flat.
Both sensors seemed prone to overexposing the brightest areas of an image. I also experienced several focus failures, with both the wide-angle and 8MP ultra-wide sensors.
The 16MP selfie camera is pretty mediocre. It captured skin tones adequately, but often blew up the sky in the background. Switching to selfie portrait mode, meanwhile, produced some disconcerting halo artifacts that encouraged me to stop using the feature as a matter of course.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G Review: Verdict
The Poco M4 Pro 5G is an easy recommendation to make if you’ve got a £250 budget for your next smartphone, although it’s not quite as impressive within its category as the Little F3 and the Bit X3 NFC they are within theirs.
This is a stylish phone with adequate performance, an average camera experience, and great battery life. The screen is big and sharp, though it lacks the pop of an OLED panel, and it’s not as smooth as I would have liked.
All in all, the Poco M4 Pro 5G is a relatively minor update on the Bit M3 Pro 5Gbut that makes it one of the best phones at this price.