But it has been quite a few months since the last GT device from POCO crossed our desks for a review. That device, the POCO X3 GT was the best budget gaming device for 2021. So we are curious to see how the latest POCO X4 GT performs from a gaming device perspective.
So let’s get something straight right out of the gate. The POCO F4 GT is basically the Redmi K50 gaming smartphone which is a China exclusive. Think of the POCO F4 GT more as the globally available version of the Redmi K50 albeit with Google Play Store.
Hardware design language is not as bold as other gaming smartphones
Having reviewed quite a few gaming smartphones so far in 2022, I must say that the POCO F4 GT feels a bit more like a regular smartphone. And that in my opinion is not a bad thing. I kind of like the generic design instead of what you would see on a RedMagic or an ASUS ROG smartphone.
Shoulder triggers are unique
Make no mistake though, despite looking somewhat generic, this is a device built for gaming. The pair of retractable shoulder triggers are the only telltale sign that this isn’t your ordinary smartphone. I personally think the shoulder triggers are great for people who like to fidget with things.
The front is a flat 6.67 inch AMOLED display covered with Gorilla Glass Victus and a tiny center hole punch for the selfie camera. Moving to the side rails, we see the shoulder triggers with their release buttons. The slightly raised power button in the middle has an integrated fingerprint scanner which is fast and accurate. You’ll also notice a couple of antenna lines on this rail.
On the opposing rail, you see the SIM tray slot, volume rocker, and a microphone with a pair of antenna lines. The top and bottom rails have identical speaker grilles – the 4 slots are for the quad speakers onboard. You get an IR blaster on the top rail and a USB-C port on the bottom. There are circular cutouts for a microphone at the top and bottom as well along with more antenna lines.
The back is made of matte glass with a muted design theme. There is a slight design flourish in terms of the flash which is the shape of a lightning strike. One weird thing is the “Freezing Speedtest” branding on the triple camera module. I don’t know what to say about that; you take a look at the pictures and decide for yourself.
The POCO F4 GT is launching in Cyber Yellow, Stealth Black, and Knight Silver colors. As usual, we got the top-end (12GB / 256GB) version of the Stealth Black model for review.
Performance is right up there with the 2022 flagships
So as usual, POCO is sticking to its winning formula of stuffing the latest and greatest from Qualcomm into its top-shelf gaming smartphone. For 2022, this means the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor paired with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM. Geekbench scores are in line with what we have seen with the Xiaomi 12 Pro, iQOO 9 Pro, and RedMagic 7 series.
There are no hiccups with launching apps or the camera. Multitasking is a breeze while surfing, chatting, texting, or streaming. But that is not the primary reason people are going to buy the POCO F4 GT. So let’s talk about how this device performs while gaming.
As usual, the go-to game for phone reviews these days is Genshin Impact. During extended periods (over 45 minutes) of playing Genshin Impact, there were no performance hiccups. Frame rates were consistently 60FPS or higher and thermal management was great. The phone did get a bit warm but not too hot to handle.
While gaming, the physical shoulder trigger buttons did come in handy. These aren’t really new as the POCO F3 GT had these as well. You do get a reasonable amount of feedback while playing the game. Also, POCO lets you customize these triggers to on-screen buttons using the Game Turbo menu which is a plus.
6.67 AMOLED Display is flat and plenty large for mobile gaming
I like the 6.67 inch 1080×2400 pixels or FHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate on the POCO F4 GT. A good display, especially one with flat edges, is ideal for gaming. So, it’s great that POCO didn’t skimp out on a good quality display on the F4 GT.
Specs-wise, the display has 10-bit and HDR10+ support with a peak brightness of 800 nits. In addition, the 20:9 aspect ratio with a 395 PPI density is right up there with most high-end mid-rangers. And, in terms of customization, there are plenty of options in the Display Settings. This, however, shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone familiar with the MIUI software.
While all of this still falls short of the display on the Xiaomi 12 Pro, overall, there is a good balance in terms of resolution, display brightness, and refresh rate. Not to mention Gorilla Glass Victus protection!
MIUI 13 with the POCO launcher works quite well
This is the fourth POCO device I am reviewing in almost as many months, so I am going to try to keep this section of the review a bit short. My POCO F4 GT is running MIUI Global 13.0.2 version with the February 2022 security patch. I wasn’t easily able to find any major differences in software in comparison to the POCO X4 Pro from about 2 months ago.
Let’s talk about the positives first: the stock apps for Phone, Messages, Chrome, and Contacts. Granted that Mi Browser is a duplicate app for Chrome, but other than that, there aren’t any duplicate apps. I hope that someday, Samsung pays attention to this gripe of smartphone reviewers. Swiping left on the home screen brings up Google Discover. Now, despite this device having top-end hardware and lots of RAM, I did find the scrolling in Discover Feed to be quite jittery. I hope this gets fixed in a future software update.
As usual, there is a “Tools” folder with a bunch of apps that can’t be uninstalled. However, I would say pretty much all of these are useful, so best to hide the folder if you find it annoying or leave it as is. For my review, I just left the “Tools” folder as-is,
Bloatware is minimal and includes Amazon, Spotify, Netflix, and Facebook. Since I use all of these on my daily driver, I didn’t uninstall them. There are a couple of POCO apps that I would say people would find useful for warranty-related issues or searching the community forums for tips and tricks.
Here’s how to remove the pesky ads in the software
To keep pricing low, POCO does pepper the UI experience with a bunch of ads. This is also something you will see on budget devices from Xiaomi. So, as a first step, during setup, turn off Personalized Recommendations when you see the prompt.
Once the phone is set up and you are at the home screen, manually go into Themes, File Manager, Security, and Cleaner apps. Inside each app, go to Settings and turn off Recommendations/Ads in each of these four apps. This should pretty much eliminate ads from showing up in the future. I have been doing this for almost a year now and haven’t encountered a single ad.
A couple of final observations. I left the Control center style in the default iPhone clone mode. But, you can easily change it in the Settings menu > Notifications & Control center > Control center style to look like the regular Android version. I do like that, with each new iteration of hardware and POCO launcher update, the home screen becomes cleaner and less cluttered. So, kudos to POCO for doing that.
The POCO F4 GT sports Xiaomi’s 120W Xiaomi HyperCharge technology
Xiaomi’s 120W HypeCharge technology is slowly trickling down into more and more devices. The POCO F4 GT is the latest device to get this blazing fast charging technology after the flagship Xiaomi 12 Pro.
Thankfully, you do not need to shell out extra dough to buy this 120W fast-charging brick. It comes free in every box along with a hefty USB-C cable. The power brick has a USB-A connector and uses 20V and 6A to achieve the 120W output.
The POCO F4 GT has a 4,700 mAh dual-cell battery to allow blazing fast charging speeds. With Boost mode turned on in the battery settings, you can get to full charge in as little as 17 minutes which is quite impressive. And you should always use the OEM cable in the box with the charging brick to ensure there are no overheating or fire hazard issues while charging.
In terms of actual battery life, it is adequate for a day’s use. That is if you are not going to be gaming for over 3 hours straight on a daily basis. If you are a heavy gamer, make sure you have the 120W charging brick and OEM cable handy.
Audio quality is excellent thanks to the quad audio speakers
The POCO F4 GT delivers stereo sound via quad speakers. There is a woofer and a tweeter at the top and bottom of the phone. Correspondingly, there are two slits in the speaker grille at either end of the device. And, the location of the grilles is optimized for gaming, so there’s a minimal chance that you will cover both of these at the same time.
While the speakers aren’t tuned by Harman Kardon like those on the Xiaomi 12 Pro, they still produce good quality sound. Bass, vocals and high treble notes all sound clear and rich.
Audio quality on the POCO F4 GT when paired with the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro was excellent. I think most users are going to like the audio output from the POCO F4 during gaming or streaming.
Connectivity is excellent on the POCO F4 GT
The POCO F4 GT has you covered in terms of connectivity options from Dual-SIM 5G to Wi-Fi 6. There is also support for Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and USB-C for file transfer. And there is an IR blaster on the top rail along with Mi Remote app which I do find quite handy.
Just like the Xiaomi 12 Pro, despite having the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, I could not see an official 5G signal on the POCO F4 GT. I got LTE+ and LTE consistently. Sure, data speeds were lousy, but they were comparable to what I get on my Pixel 6. So, if you have great coverage in your area, there should be no issues in terms of data connectivity. Aside from the low data speeds, there were no issues with calling, texting, streaming music, or watching videos.
The POCO F4 GT also has Cast, Nearby Share, Mi Share, and NFC from the quick settings menu. So, there should be no issues in terms of connectivity with this smartphone.
Cameras are serviceable on the POCO F4 GT
The main camera on the rear is a 64MP shooter along with an 8MP ultrawide and the token 2MP macro camera. On the front is a 20MP Sony IMX596 sensor. The Camera app is the same as you see on other POCO/Xiaomi devices.
Main camera performance is good
The 64MP main camera produces reasonably good photos in daylight. Details are sharp, noise is controlled well and there isn’t too much over-sharpening in the final image. Dynamic range, though, could be a bit better and colors seem to be a bit punchier than what you see with your eyes. Overall though, you will be quite happy with the results, especially from a device dedicated to gaming. Pro-tip, just leave the AI toggle in the camera app in the off position. There could be a case made for turning the auto HDR off too in certain situations, especially in daylight.
Low light pictures are great with the dedicated Night mode. With so much processing power, there is minimal slow down when taking pictures in the dark. The colors are true at 1X, the white balance is reasonably decent and details are preserved. However, there could be some improvement in the shadows and contrast. Steer clear of 2X zoom in Night mode though, pictures are quite messy.
Ultrawide Camera is okay
Pictures from the 8MP camera are okay in daylight and perhaps good in some situations to share on social media. During nighttime, the results can be more of a miss than a hit. In addition, there is no dedicated Night mode available on the ultrawide camera.
Selfie camera performance is not that great. Background tends to get blown out consistently depending on outdoor light. Overall dynamic range and skin tone are good enough for social media, but there is quite a bit of softness in the pictures (Beauty mode).
Let’s be honest, if the camera performance was better, the line to buy this smartphone would snake around a block or two. I mean, there would be no valid reason to buy the flagship Xiaomi 12 Pro over the POCO F4 GT.
Is the POCO F4 GT worth buying?
The POCO F4 GT has excellent hardware, a great display, superb stereo speakers, shoulder triggers, and 120W HyperCharge support. The only other phone with similar specs and hardware is the RedMagic 7. However, I would argue that the cameras on the POCO F4 GT are slightly better than what you get from nubia/ZTE.
Yes, battery life could be better, and I do believe that POCO should have paid a bit more attention to the branding on the camera module on the rear. Putting these issues aside, there seem to be no glaring omissions on the POCO F4 GT.
So, if you are in a geographic region where you can buy the POCO F4 GT, it most definitely needs to be at the top of your shopping list.