Poco X4 Pro 5G Review: Hey Good Lookin’
Xiaomi-owned Poco revealed the Poco X4 Pro 5G at MWC 2022, describing the phone as the ‘industry standard’ for the mid-range price point, sporting flagship features like a 6.67in 120Hz AMOLED display, 67W fast charging and more, all for a budget-friendly starting price of €299 (around £250/US$340).
The problem is that the mid-range market is much more competitive than it once was, so has Poco got what it takes to tempt brands from beloved mid-rangers like the OnePlus Nord 2 CE 5G? Well…
Design & build
If there’s one thing I can confidently say about the Poco X4 Pro 5G, it’s that it doesn’t look like a mid-range smartphone, sporting a premium design with relatively slim bezels and flat edges that wouldn’t look out of place on Samsung’s flagship smartphone range. And at just 8.1mm thick and 205g, it’s much more streamlined than its predecessor ever was.
In fact, it’s a complete refresh of the Poco X3 Pro design which, if you cast your minds back to 2021, was big, bulky, had a weird dual matte and mirror finish and came with horrid Poco branding along the rear. It’s subjective, of course, but I think the new design is much more elegant.
It largely comes down to the rear, which now sports a refractive pattern that catches the light and gives it a unique shimmer not dissimilar to spotlights emanating from the bottom corners. There’s a similar effect on the raised camera bump, with a shimmer emanating from the large 108Mp sensor housing.
That camera bump is another big change compared to its predecessor, ditching the centrally-placed circular camera cutout for something more akin to (Poco-owned) Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Pro, albeit without such a high-end camera setup.
It looks sleek, but without camera tech to fill up the space, it does feel a bit wasted. Where the Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro had additional camera tech, the X4 Pro 5G has the Poco logo and other branding. In fact, even one of the rear-facing lenses is just an ‘AI’ badge, so it’s more for aesthetics than necessity.
If you were hoping that an upgraded design would also mean an upgrade in materials, you’d be wrong. The Poco X4 Pro 5G is a largely plastic affair with an aluminium frame, which does let down that premium look on offer somewhat, but there are benefits to the cheaper material.
Firstly, it won’t shatter like glass will when dropped, which should translate to decent durability, and it’s also much lighter too. While it won’t be for everyone, it’s not something I noticed much after my first day with the smartphone.
There’s also the return of the IP53 rating, which gives fairly decent dust and water resistance for such a budget-friendly smartphone despite the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C connectivity.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G is available in three shades, ranging from the muted Laser Black – pictured in our review – to Laser Blue and the in-your-face Poco Yellow, so there should be a finish to suit your taste.
One of the strongest areas of the Poco X4 Pro 5G is undoubtedly the display, which feels anything but mid-range. The display in question is a 6.67in AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 360Hz touch sample rate, and it’s fairly high-res at 1080 x 2400 too.
As you might expect from a big AMOLED panel, it’s bright, detailed and with DCI-P3 support, the colours are true to life, making for an excellent way to watch TikToks, YouTube videos and Netflix movies.
That’s further enhanced by the 120Hz refresh rate on offer that, in addition to being faster than the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G’s 90Hz display, offers a buttery smooth experience no matter what you’re up to. The 360Hz touch sample rate is a little harder to notice, but it provides marginally faster response times when playing competitive games.
There’s HDR10+ support to further improve the movie-watching experience on offer, with a peak brightness of 1300nits when watching HDR content. It’s not quite as bright with standard content, capping out at around 700nits most of the time, but it’s still bright enough for use in sunny outdoor environments.
The use of an AMOLED panel also allows for always-on display functionality, showcasing images, a clock or incoming notifications in an unobtrusive way that doesn’t have too much of an impact on overall battery life.
There is a hole-punch camera sitting pretty at the top of the display, which some may not appreciate, but it’s noticeably smaller than the first generation of hole-punch cameras.
In fact, measuring in at around 4mm wide, it’s one of the smallest hole-punch selfie cameras I’ve seen to date. It’s something I stopped noticing within minutes of using the phone for the first time, and it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for many.
Tech specs aside, the display gives the Poco X4 Pro 5G the ‘wow’ factor usually reserved for more premium devices – the only real giveaway is the slightly thicker bezels than flagship devices, particularly on its forehead and chin.
Still, that’s a minor cosmetic issue on what’s otherwise a flagship-level display that can compete with displays at double the price.
Features & performance
Officially, the Poco X4 Pro 5G is coined as a gaming phone – but that’s a bit of a stretch, even with solid performance.
At the heart of the X4 Pro 5G is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695 5G processor, coupled with either 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage depending on the option you go for. That’s not exactly benchmark-beating, but it’s fairly impressive for a smartphone that costs €299.
Interestingly, the Poco X4 Pro 5G makes use of Xiaomi’s Dynamic RAM Expansion technology that utilises storage as extra RAM, boosting the RAM up to 8GB and 11GB respectively when required.
Does that make any difference to the overall performance of the Poco X4 Pro 5G? It’s hard to say, but I can attest to great performance with responsive scrolling, quick app switching and relatively speedy image processing capabilities – although it does begin to show its mid-range nature in particularly media-heavy apps like Facebook where it can occasionally stutter as you browse, and WhatsApp completely froze on more than one occasion too.
That performance translates well to gaming, with the Snapdragon 695 able to run AAA mobile games like Call of Duty Mobile with high graphics settings enabled, albeit not always at a buttery-smooth 60fps frame rate, and certainly not at the theoretical 120fps the display can offer.
There aren’t any gaming-specific hardware features, like the Black Shark 4 Pro’s magnetic triggers or the Asus ROG Phone 5’s plethora of accessories, to enhance the gaming experience either.
So, while it can provide a fairly decent gaming experience, dedicated mobile gamers are better off elsewhere.
That’s largely backed up by our benchmark results, which puts the Poco X4 Pro 5G in line with other tempting mid-range options like the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G.
Performance aside, the Poco X4 Pro 5G features Wi-Fi 5 alongside Bluetooth 5.1 and, of course, 5G connectivity. There are also NFC capabilities for payment apps like Google Pay, and you’ll find a fingerprint reader built into the power button for convenient unlocking.
Oh, and if 128/256GB of storage isn’t quite enough for your needs, you can add up to 1TB of additional storage via microSD.
That might not be quite enough for die-hard tech fans, but it ticks most boxes for the average consumer – especially at such a competitive price point.
Aside from the display, one of the main perks of the Poco X4 Pro 5G is the inclusion of an impressive 108Mp snapper on the rear. That’s flanked by an 8Mp 118-degree ultrawide lens and a 2Mp macro lens that aren’t quite as exciting, but they’ll still fulfil a need when required.
Let’s focus on that main 108Mp sensor first; it utilises one of the biggest sensors around, measuring in at 1/1.52in, and that’s accompanied by an aperture of f/1.9 for decent – but not industry-leading – low-light performance.
That combination can allow for impressively detailed images, both when captured at full 108Mp resolution and when using Xiaomi’s 9-in-1 pixel binning technology. When snapping standard shots in a well-lit outdoor environment, the images generally look great; they’re in focus, well-lit with balanced exposure and the colour accuracy is on the money too.
That detail is only cranked up if you shoot in its full 108Mp resolution, but the caveat is that files are around 4x bigger than pixel-binned equivalents. The full-res images are great if you need to crop, but most users won’t notice a difference using the standard 12Mp pixel-binned output.
There isn’t a telephoto lens on the X4 Pro 5G, but you wouldn’t guess that by on-screen 2x zoom prompt. Instead, the phone crops in on the main image. It’s passable for the occasional zoom, but it can’t compete with a dedicated telephoto lens if you find yourself needing one often.
The biggest weakness, despite the size of the sensor and low aperture, continues to be low-light photography. It struggles both in artificially lit indoor environments or outside at night, with soft patches and a hit-and-miss focus – likely down to the lack of laser autofocus of premium rivals – and the dedicated night mode doesn’t help either.
It does have potential, but without OIS, you’ll have to put the phone on a tripod to capture a decent image of a static object in low-light – the task is near-impossible with moving subjects like pets though.
The quality of the accompanying 8Mp 118-degree ultrawide snapper isn’t comparable to the main lens with a much softer look overall, and the f/2.2 aperture means it’s not quite as performant as the main lens in low-light too.
The one impressive aspect is the camera tuning; despite the obvious differences in camera spec, there’s very little difference in terms of colour temperature or dynamic range between the main and ultra-wide lenses, making it a viable option if you want to switch between lenses mid-shoot. Just don’t attempt night photography using the ultra-wide.
There’s also a 2Mp macro sensor, but with the shooting mode hidden away in Poco’s Camera app, it seems even the manufacturer is embarrassed about its performance. It allows you to take close-up images, but these are generally washed out, and with a fixed focus, it’s difficult to get snaps as sharp as you might like.
You’ll likely use it once or twice and, like us, forget it’s even there.
Finally, on the front, you’ll find a 16Mp selfie camera that performs fairly well overall, making it a great option for selfies and video calls. There’s also support for Portrait photography that blurs the background, although the edge tracking can be hit-and-miss at times.
You can find a gallery of images shot on the Poco X4 Pro 5G below:
When it comes to battery life, the Poco X4 Pro 5G shines – and that’s with the refresh rate cranked up to 120Hz.
Featuring a 5,000mAh battery at its heart, the X4 Pro 5G can comfortably last a day and a half with average use – tweeting, texting, watching TikToks – with the possibility to squeeze it to a full two days of use if you’re a little more conservative than I am.
That’s a particularly impressive feat given that the 120Hz refresh rate is constant and not adaptive, so it’s not quite as battery efficient as some high-end rivals. It also means that it has the potential to last even longer if you stick with the slower 60Hz refresh rate.
That impressive performance helps rid battery anxiety, giving you the confidence to snap photos, call and text to your heart’s content, and the ability to go more than a day without charging a phone is refreshing too.
When it does need a top-up, Xiaomi’s 67W turbo charging technology provides 59% charge in 15 minutes and 94% in half an hour in testing, with a full charge taking around 40 minutes.
That’s not the fastest charging tech around, but it stands out in the budget market – especially as you’ll get a 67W USB-C charger in the box. No need to pay extra for charging convenience here!
You don’t get wireless charging, which isn’t really a surprise at this price point. I’d wager that fast-charging tech is more valuable to most users than the ability to charge it on a stand anyway!
The Poco X4 Pro 5G comes running Android 11 with Xiaomi’s MIUI 13 skin applied on top – and that might be divisive. You see, unlike the likes of Motorola’s My UX which tries to provide something as close to the stock Android experience as possible, Xiaomi’s Android skin kind of does the opposite.
It’s much more stylised, with a few (ahem) unique design choices that users will love or hate. It suffers from the same design quirks as other Chinese manufacturers, including a confusing Settings menu with related settings somehow in different areas of the app, Xiaomi’s spin on the notification shade and phone controls and more.
The Camera app UI is particularly tough to navigate at times. The macro camera, for example, isn’t available in the ‘more’ section with the other shooting modes – it’s hidden in the hamburger menu where you tweak timer and crop settings.
If you’re coming from a Xiaomi (or even Oppo) smartphone, you’ll be able to navigate the phone’s UI with little issue, but there’s much more of a learning curve for regular Android and iOS users.
The one weakness is the lack of OS updates; Poco-owned Xiaomi is yet to commit to any OS updates for the Poco X4 Pro 5G, which flies in the face of the two-year guarantee from the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G and three-year guarantee with the Nokia X20 – especially given it’s running Android 11 and not the latest Android 12.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G is set to be released in two variants – 6GB+128GB and 8GB+256GB – which will cost €299 (around £250/US$340) and €349 respectively at global release on 2 March 2022, with UK pricing yet to be confirmed.
That means Poco has the chance to undercut key rivals like the £299/€349 OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G and other great mid-range smartphones – it’ll just depend on regional pricing.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G is a huge upgrade over its predecessor both in terms of features and design, with this year’s model coming in a svelte premium package that wouldn’t look out of place on a flagship smartphone – albeit probably with the use of glass in place of the plastic body of the X4 Pro 5G.
Still, it’s not all about looks, and the X4 Pro 5G has a lot to offer. The 120Hz AMOLED display is bright, vibrant and buttery-smooth, with one of the smallest camera cutouts we’ve seen to date.
While the refresh rate isn’t adaptive like premium alternatives, it can still comfortably last more than a day with what we’d describe as average use, with the possibility of squeezing more out of the phone with a 60Hz refresh rate and more conservative use.
Even when it does need a top-up, the 67W fast charging tech gets you untethered from the wall within 40 minutes, and unlike even premium rivals, you’ll get the 67W charger in the box.
The 108Mp camera is a real treat too, offering impressive detail and colour representation in well-lit environments, although the lack of OIS means night photography could be improved. The accompanying 8Mp ultra-wide is handy, but the same can’t be said for the 2Mp macro lens.
The internals of the Poco X4 Pro 5G are distinctly mid-range utilising Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695, and while it can’t compete with top-tier gaming phones, performance is still decent for a sub-€300 smartphone.
It has its weaknesses, like Xiaomi’s MIUI and the lack of Android OS updates compared to rivals, but the Poco X4 Pro 5G remains a tempting option at the low end of the mid-range market.
Poco X4 Pro 5G: Specs
- 164.2 x 76.1 x 8.1mm
- Gorilla Glass 5 (front)
- Plastic body
- 6.67in AMOLED display (120Hz, FHD+)
- Snapdragon 695 with 6GB/8GB RAM
- 128/256GB storage, expandable by 1TB via microSD
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Wi-Fi 5
- 108Mp 1/1.52in f/1.9 main rear camera
- 8Mp 118-degree f/2.2 ultra-wide camera
- 2Mp f/2.4 macro lens
- 16Mp f2.4 selfie camera
- Fingerprint reader in Power button
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 5000mAh battery
- 67W fast charge tech
- Available in Laser Black, Laser Blue and Poco Yellow