Poco X4 Pro review: Nice screen, long-lasting battery, pity about the bugs
The Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro doesn’t feel like a Poco phone but is a sound buy if you’re looking for a strong screen, battery life and speakers, and can live with its limited gaming power and inconsistent camera.
The Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G isn’t a typical Poco phone. Headline-grabbing Poco handsets of the past have had truly exceptional characteristics in one area. That was performance in the Pocophone F1, Poco F3 and Poco X3 Pro; and at the time, the Poco X3 NFC was almost unbeatable for its sheer value.
Xiaomi’s direction with the Poco X4 Pro is less clear, not helped by it effectively being a near-replica of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro, with a few tweaks.
You don’t get the standard-setting performance of the classic Poco models. And while the 108MP camera is solid enough by the standards of the series, it doesn’t challenge a Google Pixel 5a or OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G.
With the Poco X4 Pro, Xiaomi is aiming for a balance that has rarely been the focus of the Poco series.
Does it work? Somewhat. The design is less of an eyesore over some Poco phones. Its OLED screen is largely excellent, the stereo speakers well above average, and battery life is great. A glass, rather than plastic, rear is a nice touch, too.
However, there are some issues. The Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro has an annoying habit of closing down any apps running in the background, which isn’t helpful if you stream audio through your phone.
Its charging behavior is strange, too, with a bug causing the screen to continually light up. Plus, the Snapdragon 695 processor doesn’t really belong in a Poco phone, as they’re typically more powerful than that.
The often very cheap Poco X3 Pro is almost three times as powerful as the Poco X4 Pro 5G by some gaming metrics. While the 108MP camera appears to make up for it on paper, this doesn’t pan out in practice due to a weak Auto HDR mode that too-frequently results in overexposure and dull-looking pictures.
This phone may get better all-round with successive software updates. But if the aforementioned issues are tied to the compromises inherent in its Snapdragon 695 processor, it may well not. There’s plenty to like here, but we can’t help but feel that Poco series fans will end up disappointed by the Poco X4 Pro 5G.
Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G price and availability
- Announced in February 2022
- Costs 299 euros, with US and UK pricing to be confirmed
At the time of review, US and UK prices for the Poco X4 Pro are yet to be confirmed. It costs 299 euros, likely to translate to the same figure or slightly lower in UK pounds, and somewhere between $330 and $350 in the US.
Xiaomi makes a step-down model, too: the Poco M4 Pro 5G. It comes with a slightly less impressive LCD screen, a MediaTek processor and a different 50MP primary camera. The Poco X4 Pro 5G was announced a few months later, in February 2022.
- Slimmer, boxier design
- Flat glass-back panel
- Good stereo speakers
The design language of the Poco X series has changed, fairly dramatically. The thick and chunky bodies of the Poco X3 Pro and Poco X3 NFC are out, replaced by a slimmer but more severe frame. Advertisement
The Poco X4 Pro is much less of a palm-filler as a result, easier to handle than the Poco X3 Pro. In addition, where the X3’s outer shell is all-plastic, the X4 Pro has a flat, glass rear panel. The phone’s sides remain plastic, but the overall feel of the device is a net improvement.
Overall, the Poco X4 Pro 5G is a little more toned down over previous devices, although still more of a bicep-flexor than the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G.
That ‘flex’ is the extended glass platform that sits over much of the phone’s width. There doesn’t appear to be much point to it, other than such moves can appear to make the camera array seem more advanced than it is. You’ll see similar ostentatious designs in the Honor 50 range.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G’s glass back does have a light-reactive layer beneath the glass, which generates light shafts, a bit like search lights pointed into a night sky. It isn’t garish; in fact, the effect will often be muted by the sheer number of fingerprint smudges the rear glass picks up. This Poco’s cousin, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, avoids these with a matte glass finish.
You can opt for a bolder version of the phone, in blue and bright yellow. We haven’t seen the latter in person, but it looks great in renders.
To subdue the light reactive rear, you could use the bundled case. This also highlights that big chunk of camera glass, ensuring the Poco X4 Pro looks distinctive both in and out of its case.
Elsewhere, the Poco X4 Pro is strong on audio. You get a 3.5mm headphone jack and a very solid pair of stereo speakers. They’re loud and, for a phone, offer good lower-frequency output. We’ve listened to countless hours of podcasts and streamed radio on this Poco handset, and it does a great job.Advertisement
The Poco X4 Pro also comes with an IR blaster, enabling the Poco to function as a universal remote. Water/dust-resistance is a basic but useful IP53, which is fine to tolerate some rain but little more, and the fingerprint scanner is nippy and sits on the side, within the power button.
Finally, the SIM tray has two slots. The second can be used for either a second SIM or a microSD card. Our review phone has 128GB of storage, but there’s also a 256GB version of the Poco X4 Pro.
- Strong image quality
- Good in bright conditions
- Oversaturated as standard, but color is customizable
The Poco X4 Pro has a largely excellent 6.67-inch AMOLED screen. Xiaomi has already established very high standards among budget phones, using Full HD displays even in its fairly cheap models; but the screen here is better than the display of the Poco X3 phones.
OLED provides deeper contrast, with peak brightness higher too. Most noticeable has been that the Poco X4 Pro 5G switches into a completely new gear when the ambient light level gets very high.
You can test this for yourself, if you’re by a window with bright sunlight beaming through. Put the Poco X4 Pro under the beam and you’ll see the OLED panel’s color and contrast shift to maximize visibility. It works well, and is the kind of feature we’d only have associated with true top-end phones just a couple of years ago.
Color depth is great, too, although you may wish to drop down from Vivid to Standard mode, if you don’t want your app icons to look oversaturated. Vivid changes on-screen color based on the situation, but the core parts of the interface exhibit almost excessively vibrant tones, which won’t suit all tastes.
The 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution doesn’t quite deliver the sharpness and smoothness of an ultra-high resolution screen, but it’s the best you can ask for in a phone at this price. Note, too, that this is a 120Hz screen. Our Poco X4 Pro 5G came set to a 60Hz refresh rate, but 120Hz makes scrolling menus appear smoother, but at a cost to battery life.
We found the Poco X4 Pro battery life to be good in either mode, so we recommend using 120Hz.
Dynamic refresh rate is one of the few missing features here. Some high-end phones can switch refresh rate on-the-fly to maximize battery life. The Poco X4 Pro sticks at 120Hz unless you run an app or game that doesn’t support 120Hz, in which case it reverts to 60Hz.
HDR is lacking, too – according to our testing at least. YouTube HDR videos play in standard dynamic range only. We find the excellent contrast of OLED to be a greater asset here, although older Xiaomi phones such as the Redmi Note 10 Pro do support HDR.
Software and performance
- A relatively weak processor for a Poco-series phone
- Aggressive power management has annoying effects
- Solid enough day-to-day performance
The Poco X4 Pro runs Android 11 and Xiaomi’s MIUI 13. It’s a recent version of Android, the latest of the Xiaomi interface. And the top-most visual layer is Poco Launcher, which determines the look and feel of the skin.
It’s similar to the Poco X3 Pro. You get an app drawer with a plain white background, and there’s a dark mode for those who may prefer a moody look.
As in other recent Xiaomi phones, the drop-down menus have a non-standard style. Flicks down from the right side of the screen summon the feature toggles; left-flicks pull down your notifications. It takes a while to get used to, but you can also jump between them with left-right swipes on the Poco X4 Pro screen.
This is perhaps the most contentious part, so long as your head doesn’t explode on seeing a few unwanted preinstalled apps. The Poco X4 Pro comes with a few games, such as Tile Fun and State of Survival X Walking Dead, plus the Poco Community and Poco Store apps – but you can delete them.
General performance is good, with a few expected, and unexpected, niggles. The Poco X4 Pro’s app loads aren’t instantaneous, but are comparable with the more powerful Poco X3 Pro. Its multitasking screen is jerky, even in 120Hz mode – not an issue in the Poco X3 Pro, but it seems more a software quirk than anything else. The multitasking menu displays thumbnails of apps in their previous state, not a window of them actually running.
Our main gripe is over something that was also a problem in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G. This phone will occasionally shut down apps streaming/playing audio in the background. It’s something you see in a phone whose power management is a bit too aggressive. Saving battery life is good, but not when it impacts day-to-day use. A fix could come via a software update; but the problem was noticeably worse in the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G.
Such an update won’t dramatically improve the Poco X4 Pro’s gaming performance, however. The Poco X4 Pro doesn’t come close to the likes of the Pocofone F1, the Poco X3 Pro and Poco F3 for gaming. The X4 Pro is ordinary at best, as a result of its Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695 processor.
This is part of an important but sometimes frustrating breed of SoC: the affordable 5G chipset. Some are brilliant – such as the original king of budget 5G, the Snapdragon 765G. However, chipsets such as the Snapdragon 695 suggest that, just maybe, a MediaTek Dimensity chipset may be a better fit these days.
Just look at the Poco X4 Pro’s 3DMark Wild Life test scores. It achieves 1207 points, which doesn’t come close to the last-generation Poco X3 Pro’s 3450 points.
This also plays out in actual games. The Poco X4 Pro chugs along at 20-something frame rates in Ark: Survival Evolved at its Epic graphics setting, something the Poco X3 Pro manages quite comfortably. That older Poco is a 4G phone, of course, but Xiaomi also made the Poco X3 GT last year. It has 5G and the MediaTek Dimensity 1100 processor, which is also far more powerful than the Snapdragon 695.
Fortnite runs okay at its Medium graphics setting, aside from occasional drops well below 30fps. These are to be expected with this sort of power – but, again, the cheaper Poco X3 Pro just does the job far better. It seems strange to acknowledge that a “Pro”-series Poco isn’t a gaming phone – and it’s a shame, since the display and speakers both outclass those in the Poco X3 Pro by a significant margin and are great assets for gaming.
This lack of gaming grunt won’t be a deal-breaker for everyone, of course. But it seems a strange direction for a series typically loved by value-conscious techies who prioritize performance, particularly when the Redmi 11 Pro 5G makes the same moves. A change of direction makes more sense if your sister sub-brand doesn’t offer exactly the same goods.
- Typically weak secondary cameras
- Solid main camera hardware let down by mediocre processing
- Weak video, limited to 1080p/30
Has Xiaomi traded the Poco series’s signature powerful processor for a top-class camera? Not really, but parts of it do sound good on paper.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G has a 108-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide, and a 2-megapixel zoom. The last two are the typical fodder of upper entry-level phones. The wide is okay, but somewhat soft as a result of its limited sensor resolution — and the sensor is small, leading to limited dynamic range in trickier scenes.
The macro is a filler camera, its 2-megapixel resolution incapable of capturing any image worth saving, even if it does let you get quite close to your subject. Xiaomi makes one of the best affordable macro cameras, the 5-megapixel telephoto in the Redmi Note 10 Pro. This one is nothing like it. Advertisement
The Poco X4 Pro camera rests on the 108-megapixel primary, which uses a Samsung HM2 sensor. It’s the same camera that sits in the similarly priced Redmi Note 10 Pro 5G, and the far more expensive Xiaomi 11T Pro. Which must be good news, right?
This camera’s image quality is variable. Image processing, including noise reduction, is significantly worse than some of Xiaomi’s previous efforts at this price — including, not surprisingly, the Xiaomi 11T Pro. This is evident up-close, where fine detail looks fuzzier than that on images taken with last year’s Redmi Note 10 Pro.
The somewhat weak Auto HDR mode’s effects are more notable. In some phones, Xiaomi’s Auto HDR is up there with the best, kicking in when there’s a lot of light contrast in a scene, when a single-exposure shot is either going to leave you with a blown-out sky or murky-looking foreground, or both.
We went out with the Poco X4 Pro and the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, the Poco X3 Pro and Xiaomi 11T Pro to take some pictures for comparison. Too often the Poco X4 Pro exhibited the most overexposure – with the Poco X3 Pro only getting away with having a so-so camera last year because it was so powerful.
The OnePlus shows significantly better mid-tone contrast, and cleaner, brighter areas of shadow. The 11T Pro, which uses the same sensor, produces much brighter, punchier pictures all-round, and is only let down by a tendency to amp up color too much.
You can improve the Poco X4 Pro’s results by switching from Auto HDR to HDR. The full foreground becomes much brighter, and the pictures look both cleaner and more detailed up-close. However, it also results in creating a slight “halo” effect around high-contrast objects such as tree branches poking out into the sky. Advertisement
The overall effect is to make your pictures look less natural – and in other scenes this HDR mode is too much, so leaving it on 24/7 isn’t the solution.
Could this again be down to the Snapdragon 695, perhaps? We don’t know for certain, but it seems that either the SoC’s limited image signal processor is so weak that Xiaomi is unable to push it to do more without slowing down the photography experience. Or, Xiaomi’s own processing isn’t yet in harmony with the image signal processor’s capabilities.
Let’s hope it’s the latter, since it means the Poco X4 Pro may become more consistent with future software updates.
Time for a little context. You’ll see the limitations we’ve talked about when HDR is the only method by which the phone can produce a satisfying image. Shoot in daylight against a blue, rather than cloudy, sky and the results are usually pretty decent.
Night shooting isn’t terrible either, relying on a dedicated Night mode that genuinely improves dynamic range and reduces noise dramatically, taking images from “poor” to “OK”. It won’t get close to those captured with a Google Pixel 5a, mind.
Learn how to get the most from the Poco X4 Pro camera and you can achieve better results than the Poco X3 Pro. But general camera performance is a step down across the board from last year’s Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro – which is disappointing. Advertisement
There’s some more bad news, too – and another opportunity to bash the Snapdragon 695. It restricts the Poco X4 Pro to 1080p video capture at 30 frames per second. There’s no 4K capture, no standard 60fps shooting, even if you drop the resolution to 720p. This seems a bit odd when there’s a slo-mo mode with 120fps at 720p.
The Poco X4 Pro crops into the view when you shoot video, suggesting the use of software stabilization. But the wobbly test footage we took at 1080p/30fps shows it’s at best very limited.
Finishing up, the selfie camera has a 16-megapixel sensor that, by default, smoothes out skin excessively. You can switch this processing off for more natural-looking images, and results are solid in good lighting; but detail does fall away in indoor settings.
- Long battery life, particularly at the 60Hz refresh rate
- Fast 67W charging
- Suffers from a weird charging bug
Coming back to the good stuff, the Poco X4 Pro is a long-lasting phone. For the first few days of testing we kept the handset at the default 60Hz screen mode, and could be left with as much as 45% battery life by bedtime. We’re not particularly light users, so this is a great result.
Switching to 120Hz didn’t change things by much, either. Battery life is strong in either setting, and while this doesn’t make much sense, the Poco X4 Pro anecdotally seems to outlast the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G. They have the same CPU, the same 5000mAh battery capacity and what appears to be the same display panel.
Part of the testing took place through covid isolation, however — your phone’s screen will always use less battery if it doesn’t need to ramp up to compete with the light of the great outdoors. Still, the Poco X4 Pro is a trooper.
The handset also comes with Xiaomi’s mid-level 67W fast-charging standard. Xiaomi offers speeds up to 120W today, but 67W is still a lot more powerful than anything Samsung or Apple provides.
Is it fast? It should be – but we noticed some strange behavior here. The Poco X4 Pro’s on-screen prompt cycles between ‘charging’ and ‘fast charging’ the entire time, causing the phone screen to continually light up during recharging. This looks like a bug to us, and is pretty annoying.
It also appears to affect charging speed, which isn’t quite as nippy as we’ve seen from earlier 67W Xiaomi phones. On plugging in just seconds before the Poco X4 Pro switches off from low charge, it reaches 30% in 10 minutes, hits 50% charge at the 20-minute mark, and reaches 70% after 30 minutes. Great stuff.
However, it slows down significantly thereafter. This is normal, but following 60 minutes, the Poco X4 Pro wasn’t quite full, sitting at 98%. And like most other phones at the price, the Poco X4 Pro doesn’t support wireless charging.
Should you buy the Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G?
Buy it if…
A great screen is a priority
The Poco X4 Pro has a large, colorful, bright and bold OLED screen, plus a max 120Hz refresh rate matches the best available in a cheaper phone, too. You won’t get much better than this.
You value decent sound
Good stereo speakers make the Poco X4 Pro a solid phone for music and podcast fans. These speakers cut through ambient noise and are well positioned for gaming and movies.
You want good battery life
The Poco X4 Pro offers excellent battery life with the 60Hz display mode, and remains decent at 120Hz. While we couldn’t get it to last a full two days, some of you will. Charging is nippy too.
Don’t buy it if…
You’re a fan of mobile gaming
The Poco X4 Pro’s processor affords it only entry-level gaming performance that can’t match earlier Poco phones. Xiaomi’s Poco X3 Pro is far more powerful, and even 2018’s original Pocophone F1 will beat it in 3DMark’s Wild Life benchmark.
You’re a happy snapper
While the Poco X4 Pro has a camera sensor that has yielded good results in other phones, here it’s slightly disappointing. It is capable of good results, but Auto HDR mode feels underpowered. And while some of the issues raised can be fixed using the manual “full” HDR mode, its results can lack subtlety and it asks a little too much of the casual photographer.
Shooting video is a priority
The Poco X4 Pro’s Snapdragon 695 processor limits the phone to 1080p, 30 frames per second, video capture. This is poor even among affordable phones. And while there’s some suggestion the camera uses software stabilization, there’s little evidence of it in the final footage.