The Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro 5G may look like a premium flagship, but its sub $250 / £250 price point begs to differ. The latest M-series device does what many have been aching for after years of Apple and Samsung refreshes – it offers a clean and fast everyday experience without the need for a small bank loan.
While it’s certainly not as easy to find in the US or UK at the time of writing (you’ll be heading through import-heavy retailers like AliExpress), anyone after the simple life should be hunting down this 5G gem. Sure, it won’t be competing for the title of best gaming phone, and can’t stand up to the likes of the iPhone 13 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The sacrifices made here are carefully chosen so that you’re still getting a premium everyday feel. After all, not every budget smartphone can boast 5G connectivity, a fingerprint scanner, a 90Hz refresh rate, and NFC, after all – let alone the slick Android 11 experience on offer here.
So, after spending my days with Apple’s latest flagship, I set aside my luxury device for a simpler week with the Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro.
Overall, the Poco M4 Pro boasts an attractive design. It’s comfortable and tactile overall, with an elegant weight balance that makes the tall, skinny form factor feel manageable even for smaller hands. I was particularly grateful for that after months of attempting to centre the weight of the heavier iPhone 13 Pro while reaching to the top of the screen.
We received a light blue model (yellow and black are also available), which offers up a shiny reflective surface on the back. The gradient finish here gives the whole device an extra air of luxury, but the feel of this plastic didn’t quite follow through on the promise. The grainy housing on the back feels similar to that of a cheaper Kindle and is the only real design indication that this isn’t a high-end device. It feels incredibly easy to scratch and scuff, and will also pick up any lint in a five-mile radius.
However, the materials here should not detract from the fact that this is an impressive build considering the price. I was particularly impressed to see a pinhole camera where budget phones usually stick to a notch design and, while a little larger than that which you’ll find on a premium model, it certainly didn’t get in the way of everyday use.
The fingerprint/home button is comfortably placed on the right side, underneath a set of volume buttons, and you’ve got your USB-C and 3.5mm ports running along the bottom.
Before we move on to discussing the camera quality, though, it’s worth noting that there’s a cheeky design play at work on the large square lens section on the back. The Poco M4 Pro features a whole wedge of black at the top of its back, no doubt to give the camera system a little more grandeur. At first glance, this looks like a sophisticated setup, with a large camera system set out. However, looking a little closer, only two of the five circular holes actually contain lenses.
Xiaomi Poco M4 Specs and Features
Display: 6.6-inch FHD LCD at 2400 x 1080
Refresh rate: 60Hz / 90Hz
Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 810
Camera: 50MP main / 8MP ultrawide / 16MP front
Battery: 5,000 mAh with 33W fast charging
Packing a MediaTek Dimensity 810 processor and 6GB RAM, the Poco M4 Pro manages to pack a performance that has no right to be at this price tag. I was incredibly impressed with the speed at which I was flying through social media apps and browsing the webs, moving between tasks without once encountering a stutter or app shutdown.
There’s some serious magic going on under the hood here, with the kinds of speeds I would expect to find in a far more expensive phone. While it might not hold up when that storage capacity is full to the brim and you’re multi-tasking through a daily workload, the everyday user that this device aims to please will certainly appreciate this snappy feel.
You can jump between 60Hz and 90Hz, though I would recommend sticking with 90Hz overall. You’ll drain your battery a little quicker but there’s more than enough juice in here to see you through the day with all guns blazing. Plus, I only noticed the dynamic refresh rate kicking in when this manual 90Hz setting was applied, it doesn’t look like the M4 Pro will kick you up to 90 if set to 60Hz, only the other way round.
Once you’ve sorted your refresh rate, though, the 2400×1080 LCD display really starts to shine. Of course, this isn’t an OLED panel (and nobody asked for it to be), so you’re not getting the deep blacks and rich contrast of a higher-end device. However, the colour options and clarity on this screen mean you may not even notice the difference in casual use. Peak brightness will still see you through a range of viewing conditions, though I did notice the automatic brightness adjustments were slow. I often saw the screen grading itself up and down with a little labour.
There are stereo speakers packed into the top and bottom of the handset itself, which can belt out crisp, clear dialogue, even if things get a little flattened out when heavier music kicks in.
The Poco M4 Pro hasn’t been built for gaming, but it still gives some of the heaviest titles on the Play Store a good whack. For under $250 / £250, I admit I was a little pessimistic about the performance of PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty. However, such concerns were fairly quickly dispelled. While graphical loading could be a little blocky and finer details were missed in these demanding titles, all these heavy-hitters were more than playable. Sure, movements were a little stuttered and the system was a little too slow for true twitch reflexes during busier moments, but considering the price here there’s still plenty to love.
As mentioned above, that variable refresh rate kicks in when needed and there’s an extraordinary color palette to play with on the display as well. Everything feels bright and vivid enough to satisfy today’s appetite for high-quality mobile games. Plus, that 5G connectivity makes a world of difference when playing online, and you’re still getting the battery life to coast you on some power-draining software.
The Poco M4 Pro’s camera system struggles in a few areas but ultimately produces pleasing photographs with a nice color balance and a fast shutter. Of course, you’re going to get far better results in well-lit conditions but we can’t moan about grainy night mode shooting when we’re spending less than $250. Overall, you’re going to get some nicely workable shots if you put the effort in to create them.
Focus can struggle, but there’s a built-in portrait mode that I found great success with. Colors look far more natural than in other budget smartphones in this category, with a strong dynamic range within them. However, it’s worth caveating that you won’t find the vivid contrast of a more premium device here. A 10x zoom is nice to have, but results are heavily affected by your lighting and often come out too whitewashed and noisy.
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You’re not going to win any photography awards with the Poco M4 Pro at your side, but your Instagram account will still be well fed.
Should you buy the Poco M4 Pro?
If you’re after a solid everyday runner that punches above its price tag, the Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro is an excellent choice. There’s enough power under the hood here to see you through your daily scrolling, streaming, and some light gameplay with a speed and ease that belies this incredibly low price tag. Xiaomi is supporting its super-low hardware prices with a little software bloat and some ad revenue, but these are all more than manageable and you’re getting excellent value for money overall.
While content creators will be underwhelmed by the camera system, and power gamers may stutter over heavier gaming performance, this phone hasn’t been developed for them. Instead, this is a budget smartphone beautifully designed for the simpler experience of an everyday user – and it excels.
4.5 out of 5
Poco M4 Pro 5G review: ‘a budget smartphone that punches well above its price tag’
The Poco M4 Pro does exactly what it promises. It delivers a snappy, high-quality everyday experience that punches well above its rock bottom price tag and does so while sitting beautifully in the hand. While power users won’t be served by high-end cameras or heavier gaming features, there’s extraordinary value for money up for grabs here – if you can find it in stock.