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Poco M4 Pro Review – Budget LTE Smartphone Champion

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Feature
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Poco M4 Pro is one of the best budget 4G LTE smartphones available in 2022.

Poco M4 Pro
€219
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Excellent hardware design in a compact package
  • Absolutely stellar in-hand ergonomics
  • Superb 90Hz refresh rate 6.43" AMOLED screen
  • IP53 splash proof rating with NFC and IR blaster
  • Dual Hi-Res audio speakers with a headphone jack
  • Massive 5,000 mAh battery with 33W Fast Charging brick
  • Main camera produces great results including video
  • Delivers in spades in the "bang for buck" department
Cons
  • Rear backplate is still an absolute lint and fingerprint hot mess
  • MIUI 13 is still running Android 11
  • Takes a bit of work to get rid of the ads in the UI
  • Prices go up once early launch sale campaign ends

Poco provided AndroidHeadlines with a review unit of the Poco M4 Pro. This review was written after using the device for more than 7 days. The phone is running MIUI Global 13.0.5  on top of Android 11 with the February 2022 security patch. Poco is seeing the review at the same time as our readers and had no input in the writing of this review.

 

Poco M4 Pro is getting a global launch at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Initially, I was hesitant to review this device as we had just reviewed the excellent Poco M4 Pro 5G a couple of months ago. However, this is a completely new device and as such deserves its own review.

Unboxing the Poco M4 Pro

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The first noticeable change is the branding on the front is now vertical and in much larger font size. Once you open the box you see that the yellow insert gets a subtle branding change as well. The insert consists of a clear TPU case, paperwork, film screen protector, and a SIM tool.

Sadly the POCO stickers are nowhere to be found. On the other hand, the quality of the TPU case sees significant improvement. What hasn’t changed is that you still get a 33W charging brick and a hefty USB-C cable.

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Design is new and completely different from the 5G cousin

Poco M4 Pro AH HR HW0

Poco M4 Pro is more compact with flat edges and lesser pronounced curves. The rail design clearly draws inspiration from Apple’s iPhone 12 and 13 series. By no means this is a bad thing. The back of the phone is however unmistakably Poco.

You still get a two-tone treatment on the back with a ridiculously large camera module. This time though the entire darker shade rectangle is raised giving it a slightly better look than last year’s Poco M series. As far as the branding goes, the POCO logo is now horizontal on the camera module. Same goes for the CE mark, manufacturer, and model number information. Personally, I do like this new back design in comparison with the M series devices from prior years.

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Camera module gets an overhaul

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Camera

There are now three cameras instead of two on the 5G version. The third camera takes place of the red dot which gets bundled with the 64MP camera branding on the right. While the flash and AI marking are still present, their order in the module is reversed.

Poco could have done a better job with the plastic back with the M4 Pro. Instead, the glossier back picks up fingerprints and smudges very easily and is an absolute nightmare to keep clean. While I love the clean new look, Poco should have gone the route of the textured back finish from the Redmi 9 days.

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Poco M4 Pro keeps the headphone jack, IR blaster, dual speakers, and two microphones. It also keeps the integrated power button/fingerprint scanner and volume rocker on the left rail. The bottom has the speaker grille, USB-C port, and one microphone.

The right-hand rail has a triple-slot tray for two nano-SIM cards along with a dedicated micro SD card expansion slot. There is a silicone rubber gasket on the triple slot tray and the phone has an IP53 splash-proof rating. Moving on to the top rail, we see the headphone jack, speaker grille, IR blaster, and a microphone.

Despite a hefty 5000 mAh battery, the weight distribution is excellent. Speaking of weight Poco claims this device is only 179 grams making it the lightest Poco smartphone.

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Poco M4 Pro AH HR HandsOn

I like the new frame, back cover plate, newer camera module along with the slightly more compact size. The overall in-hand ergonomics are probably one of the best in the €200 price range. And the Z-axis linear motor provides some of the best haptics in the budget smartphone range. Except for the glossy static magnet backplate, everything is great about the Poco M4 Pro from a design perspective. This includes the excellent clear TPU case in the box.

Poco is launching this phone in Power Black, Cool Blue, and POCO Yellow. My favorite is the blue color version but as usual, we reviewers only get the Henry Ford black color one.

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Poco M4 Pro gets a 6.4″ 90Hz refresh rate AMOLED display

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Display

Poco has finally given us an AMOLED display on the M series. The 6.43″ FHD+ panel supports a 90Hz refresh rate with a 180Hz touch sampling rate. Just this change alone puts the Poco M4 Pro in a league of its own. Most other devices in this price range are still LCD display panels so this is a big win for consumers.

The beautiful display gets plenty bright (1000 nits at its peak) in outdoor conditions and supports the DCI-P3 wide color gamut. It also has Eye Care Display certification from SGS along with Reding Mode to reduce eye strain.

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During my review period, I did not encounter any issues with outdoor visibility on bright sunny Spring days in Southern California. I also cranked up the refresh rate to 90Hz during my review period and had no issues scrolling through social media, YouTube, or general Google Discover articles.

Poco M4 Pro display is covered by Gorilla Glass 3 and there is a film screen protector in the box for those wanting extra protection against nicks and scratches.

I would say that the display and the improved compact design are probably the two main reasons for choosing the Poco M4 Pro over other smartphones in this price range.

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Performance on the Poco M4 Pro is good for everyday tasks including light gaming

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Performance

Since this is a non-5G phone, the Poco M4 Pro uses a MediaTek HelioG96 chipset. The octa-core processor runs on 2x 2.05Hz Cortex-A76 and 6x 2.0GHz Cortex-A55 cores. While the processor is a 2021 design it runs on a 12nm process so it isn’t as efficient as some of the newer processors. Nevertheless, it delivers good benchmark scores on Geekbench and AnTuTu. The benchmark scores and actual performance are comparable to the Snapdragon 720 processor.

Poco is offering the M4Pro with LPDDR4X RAM and UFS 2.2 storage – 6GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB.  For the first time, my review unit is actually the lower-spec 6GB/128GBversion. I should add that since memory extension is turned on by default there’s 2GB of storage memory available as additional RAM.

The Poco M4 Pro has LiquidCool Technology 1.0 Plus to help the device stay cool during gaming or under heavy processing loads. During my review period, I did not encounter any overheating or slowdown issues. So despite having a lower mid-range processor there should be any issues with daily tasks including gaming at 30fps settings.

Software is MIUI 13 Global Version on the Poco M4 Pro

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Software

For a while now Xiaomi’s MIUI has separated its OS versions from Google’s AOSP. So while the software on this device is MIUI 13 it is still running on top of Android 11. For a new phone launching in 2022, it is a bit concerning to see that it is not on Android 12. I am hoping that Poco/Xiaomi fix this situation soon. On the other hand, the Poco is on the February 2022 security patch so that is a good thing.

Poco M4 Pro AH HR HW

Overall the changes from MIUI 12 to 13 are very minor and AndroidHeadlines has covered the software in-depth in other reviews. For the most part, the device can be set up just like any other Google device. Most default apps are identical to that on a Google Pixel including Phone, Messages, Chrome, Contacts, and Google Discover. As usual, there are a bunch of Xiaomi apps tucked away in the Tools folder and are quite useful so I suggest you hide the folder away if you don’t like them on the main screen.

However, there is a ton of bloatware in the ‘More Apps’ and ‘Games’ folders. Thankfully you can delete every single one of these extra apps. Keep in mind that this is a very USA-centric view of bloatware. In regions of the world where there is a daily data cap and no free Wi-Fi available everywhere, having the extra apps preinstalled can be beneficial.

Step by step guide to turning off Ads

One last word of caution, all budget Poco/Xiaomi smartphones display ads – it helps with their ultra-low prices. So during setup, it is best to turn off Personalized Recommendations.

Once you have the phone set up and arrive at the home screen, then manually go into Themes, File Manager, Security, and Cleaner apps. Once in the app, go to Settings and turn off Recommendations/Ads in each of these culprit apps. This should help pretty much eliminate ads from showing up during daily use. In my review after following these steps, I have yet to encounter a single ad.

Camera Experience on the Poco M4 Pro

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Camera

Poco M4 Pro packs a triple camera module on the rear. There is a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 2MP Macro camera. On the front, there is a 16MP selfie camera which is a carryover from its 5G sibling.

The camera app is still classic Xiaomi/Poco. The various modes in the app can be accessed by swiping left and right. From Photo mode, you can access 0.6X, 1X, and 2X digital zoom. In the More section, you can access other modes including Night Mode. Night Mode requires manual intervention to activate and does not work on the ultrawide, so keep that in mind as you use this device,.

Daytime results from the Main Camera are great, Nighttime results could be better

In broad daylight, the main camera produces images with good color, contrast, and dynamic range. The amount of detail is quite good but the images show a slight amount of over-sharpening. Sharing the main camera daylight pictures on social media should be a non-issue as they are of pretty good quality.

You can play around with AI mode and in certain circumstances, the results are better than regular point and shoot mode. Digital 2X zoom is serviceable, details when fully zoomed in are lacking but overall there are more instances where this mode produces good results versus bad ones.

Night Mode pictures are quite good although detail can be a bit lacking in most situations. In the evening light main camera takes decent pictures without using  Night Mode. For the average smartphone user, the main camera output should be good in most but extremely dark situations.

Ultrawide camera produces good pictures in daylight

The 8MP camera on the Poco M4 is the same as that on the 5G version that AndroidHeadlines reviewed a few months ago. THe ultrawide camera produces excellent daytime pictures, colors are spot on and color science is similar to the main camera output. Pictures have consistently good detail with low noise and virtually zero barrel effect at the edges. Photos have good contrast, and dynamic range in daylight.

It is best not to use the ultrawide as soon as the sun starts to set. Pictures in low light tend to be soft and extremely noisy with very little detail. And as mentioned before Night Mode does not work on the ultrawide camera.

Poco M4 Pro Camera Samples - Flickr Gallery

Selfie camera and video results are very similar to what we saw with the Poco X3 GT. As long as you take selfies with ample light, results should be reasonably decent. And for video, stick to the main camera at 4K or 1080p in daylight and you will enjoy the results in terms of sharpness, color, contrast and detail.

Battery will easily last a full day of heavy use on the Poco M4 Pro

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Charging

While the new Poco M4 Pro has shrunk in size, it still packs a large 5,000mAh battery. In addition, you still get a 33W Fast Charging brick in the box. With the new AMOLED screen and the 5,000 mAh battery, battery anxiety during daily use is nonexistent.

During my review period, I did not have to reach for the charger during the daytime. Unless you are a heavy gamer, you should be fine for regular calls, texts, music/video streaming, or social media browsing. And for the casual user, two-day battery life is quite possible with the Poco M4 Pro.

As usual, I suggest you use the 33W factory charging brick and the hefty 3A USB-C cable that is in the box. Xiaomi says you can get to 100% charge in about an hour. You can expect 0-50% in just under half an hour which is great in case you don’t have time to charge the phone fully. The only feature missing is that the Poco M4 Pro 5G does not support reverse wired charging unlike the M3 from 2020.

Audio quality and Connectivity are both excellent on the Poco M4 Pro

Poco M4 Pro sports dual speakers including separate grilles for top and bottom-firing speakers. Audio is loud and crisp while playing music on YouTube Music. Although the bottom speaker provides 70% of the output and about 30% comes from the top speaker. Overall audio quality is loud and punchy and probably one of the best in the budget smartphone category.

Audio quality is great and there’s still a headphone jack!

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It is 2022 and here is a device that still has a headphone jack. That fact alone is news in itself. If Xiaomi/Poco can cram a headphone jack in an 8mm thick smartphone, other smartphone manufacturers should also be able to do it. The loss of the headphone jack in modern smartphones is a travesty.

With wired earbuds I found myself cranking the volume up to about 60-70% most of the time. This is a telltale sign that the headphone jack is a carryover from the prior Poco M4 Pro 5G.  I hope Poco fixes this issue in future editions of the M series.

Pairing was seamless with a few different wireless earbuds via Bluetooth 5.0. Unlike wired headphones, Bluetooth audio output is crisp and clear at a low 40% volume setting.

Full suite of connectivity options including NFC, IR Blaster, and more

Poco M4 Pro AH HR Connectivity

The Poco M4 Pro gets LTE+ connectivity on the T-Mobile network in Southern California. Download speeds are comparable to other devices on the T-Mobile network. In my particular case, the data speeds are absolutely abysmal because of my location but out and about there were zero connectivity issues.

Calling, texting, updating apps, browsing on the go or watching videos were no issues. Besides the regular network connectivity, the Poco M4 Pro supports – Bluetooth, Mi Share, Nearby Share, Screen Cast, and IR Blaster. My review unit has NFC and I had no trouble using Google Pay on it. And the annoying NFC on notification software bug from the previous version is now gone.

Should you buy the Poco M4 Pro?

Poco M4 Pro LTE AH HR Verdict

Superb performance at an affordable price is Poco’s business model. And in 2022, they have done it once again. Poco has crammed a 6.4″ display in a fairly compact size with superb looks in the M4 Pro. Launch pricing starting today till March 2 is only €179 which is a stellar deal.

You get great hardware design, superb AMOLED display, stellar battery life, better than average performance, a plethora of connectivity options. You even get a headphone jack, dual speakers, NFC, IP53 splash rating, and 33W Fast Charging support. The extras in the box are not found even in $1000 flagships. And the attention to detail from the rail design to the refreshed camera module and logos makes this one of the best affordable LTE smartphones in 2022. Simply put, there is no glaring flaw in this smartphone.

In a lot of geographies, 5G is not yet available and for people who want a reliable computing device but have a limited budget, the Poco M4 Pro is a no-brainer. It is early in the year, but I believe the Poco M4 Pro is probably the best budget smartphone available in 2022.