Budget smartphones always remind me of the popular quote from the movie Forrest Gump. “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” The same rule applies on budget smartphones. They all highlight similar specifications and market the phones similarly, but they are all unique in their own ways – some surprisingly good, while some not so much. When it comes to Poco M4 Pro 4G, it is sort of a mixed bag of its own. There are some things it does which are very impressive, but on the other hand, there are some things it doesn’t really do well.
Ever since its announcement, the smartphone has been shrouded in mystery. From its launch being separated from the Poco M4 Pro 5G to its specifications being very similar to Redmi Note 11S, it seemed like an oddball smartphone to launch. But when you look at the smartphone in depth, you begin to understand the nuances around it.
For example, the smartphone comes with an AMOLED display, a first for the M-series (or any Poco lineup except the F-series), and the company decided to drop it in the sub-Rs. 15,000 category instead of the more premium 5G variant. Why? And similarly, if the idea was to launch an impressive budget smartphone, then why did they go for the inferior MediaTek Helio G96 processor instead of a more powerful MediaTek Dimensity 810 chipset like Realme 9 5G (which is also in the same price range)? There are many questions and after using the smartphone for almost two weeks, we will try to answer as many of them as possible. Read on to check out our in-depth review and to understand whether you should invest in this smartphone.
Poco M4 Pro 4G: Design
As we previously mentioned in our first impression story, this smartphone grabs your attention. With its large camera panel and the shiny matte finish, it definitely stands out. It has a flat plastic rear which lacks the premium touch and feel, but considering the price range, the build quality is pretty good. An unintended benefit of its large camera panel is also that it does not wobble on a flat surface. The one I got was in Blue, however the smartphone also comes in Poco Yellow and Power Black color variants.
The rest of the body is standard Xiaomi design with the power button and volume rockers on the right side and SIM card slot on the left. It has a 3.5mm jack on the top of the phone and dual speakers on both top and the bottom. The display has a punch hole cut out front camera and thin side bezels. But, the bezels on the chin are a bit too thick for my liking.
Overall, I liked the design for its uniqueness and compact form factor, but given how Poco has gone for a flamboyant design, some may not find it too appealing as well.
Poco M4 Pro 4G: Display
The Poco M4 Pro 4G is slightly shorter compared to the standard smartphones available these days at 6.43-inches. But it is just as wide as a larger smartphone. As a result, it has a slightly stocky build, and is not comfortable for a single-hand usage. But watching videos on landscape mode feels amazing. The video experience is enhanced by its FHD+ AMOLED display, 90Hz refresh rate and up to 1000 nits of peak brightness. The colors are sharp and the viewing angles are quite wide. Even under harsh sunlight the screen is bright enough to not cause any issues reading text or watching a video.
It does feel that Poco heavily focused on the audio-visual performance of the smartphone. As already mentioned, it has become the first Poco M-series phone to carry an AMOLED display. On top of that, it comes with dual speakers which surprisingly has a rich sound quality. Although the volume level feels slightly less, in terms of quality, it easily beats even a higher range smartphone like Infinix Zero 5G.
And, I think this is what the USP of the smartphone is: Its great display and decent audio quality. In fact, doing regular activities on the phone from light gaming, social media scrolling to watching Netflix or YouTube videos is extremely delightful. With the starting price of Rs. 14,999, you will be hard pressed to find another option that gives similar display capabilities.
Poco M4 Pro 4G: Performance
The Poco M4 Pro 4G opted for MediaTek Helio G96 chipset, which was also seen in Redmi Note 11S and Realme 8i and Infinix Note 11S. The chipset is a bit dated and while it easily manages regular smartphone functions, it does struggle when it comes to operating multiple large apps or running a significantly graphic or memory heavy app or game. There were a few isolated incidents of lags and app crashes as well. This is definitely not a smartphone for gaming, and while you can get away with playing BGMI and COD Mobile on medium settings, we would not recommend you to buy this smartphone if gaming is priority.
One good thing for people who value watching videos on their smartphones is that the Poco M4 Pro does have Widevine L1 support. It means that the smartphone is able to play videos on Netflix and Prime Video at the highest resolution possible.
Like the name suggests, Poco M4 Pro 4G does not support 5G. This is quite the opposite trend from Poco in the current year, when every other brand is launching their devices with 5G connectivity. But, if 5G is not a priority (and given that it will at least take 2 years for 5G to be established, it probably is not), then this drawback should not affect you.
The smartphone runs on MIUI 13, which is based on Android 11 OS. MIUI 13 offers a cleaner look and feel compared to the previous generations. However, the pre-installed app issue is persistent. Although you can delete most of the apps, the Xiaomi apps cannot be deleted, and they do send you some notifications. Our tip: disable them if you do not want to use them and pretend they do not exist. If you can, the rest of the OS experience is quite nice.
Finally, most of the sensors on the smartphone work as intended, but I found the side-mounted fingerprint sensor to be a tad bit slower than what smartphones generally offer these days. It is not that obvious unless you are specifically looking for it, but Poco could have offered a faster sensor.
On the whole, performance of the Poco M4 Pro 4G is average and while that will suit the needs of an average user who does not use it for any heavy usage, it is not a phone which is geared towards high octane performance or gaming experience.
Poco M4 Pro 4G: Camera
On paper, the smartphone has a diverse profile with a 64 MP primary camera, an 8 MP ultrawide camera and a 2 MP macro camera. However, the performance is barely satisfactory considering the price range. We have seen better camera phones, with a strong contender being Realme 9 5G which costs the same.
The primary camera does take nice images in good light and has excellent brightness control. The color reproduction and contrast is good with the images slightly leaning towards the accentuated saturation. The problem is seen in low light conditions. The Poco M4 Pro 4G does struggle to capture good images and both noise and reduction of details become visible. The night mode also over-processes images and reduces details by a substantial amount.
The macro camera is also pretty average and does not add any significant value to the images. In fact, my Redmi Note 8 Pro, which was launched three years ago, has a much better macro camera with the same 2 MP sensor. The selfie camera is decent but with the lack of flash, it also struggles in low light conditions.
Check out the sample images from its camera to get a better idea of the images it is capable of clicking.
If you want to do casual photography for social media and sharing with friends and family, this smartphone does a good job as long as the lighting is good. But if you are looking for a camera phone, the Poco M4 Pro 4G is not the one.
Poco M4 Pro 4G: Battery
The smartphone is backed by a 5,000 mAh battery which easily lasts more than an entire day on moderate usage. Even on the days I extensively used the smartphone, it had around 20 percent charge left at the end of the day. And even if your charge goes out in the middle of the day, the 33W fast charge support can take the Poco M4 Pro 4G from 0 to 100 percent in an hour. The battery performance is very good, and as the smartphone is a budget phone, battery life does become a big factor for consumers looking for a smartphone in this range.
Poco M4 Pro 4G: Verdict
It is easy to understand after going through the smartphone that the Poco M4 Pro 4G was designed as a budget smartphone option for younger people who primarily use their smartphone for social media, watching content on OTT platforms or just everyday smartphone usage. The entire smartphone experience is built around its great AMOLED display and all the supporting features, from a decent camera to great battery life all add up to the general use cases of a smartphone. When it comes to those features, you will not find a better value in the market.
But one thing it is not, is a performance smartphone. Whether you want to edit photos and videos or play high end games, this is not the ideal smartphone you should be going for. This is a pure and simple multimedia heavy smartphone which is just fine when it comes to mundane functions.
So, if you prefer unique designs, great display and battery life and, your major usage is around staying on social media, casual photography, watching movies, and playing some casual games, then this phone will be a good option for you. If not, then you probably should spend more for phones such as the Realme 9 SE and Moto G71 5G.