The Poco M4 Pro is an oddity. It feels like it was assembled from spares. How else do you explain the odd design, the excess storage and RAM, the mediocre screen (except on paper), or the merely-decent camera? Still, you're not paying the Earth for a still-surprising amount of features. It's all the smartphone most folks need right now.
So you’re looking for a phone that’s reasonably feature-packed but isn’t going to cost Death Star money? Well, you’re in luck. Xiaomi’s budget brand (Redmi) has a budget brand of its own. From that heritage comes the Poco M4 Pro, a budget-priced handset that doesn’t feel like it has cut too many corners.
Poco phones, in general, are not a bad lot. Okay, sometimes they can be a little iffy, but that’s no reason to discount them. They’re also attractively priced if your definition of ‘attractive’ is ‘I can afford one’. This applies to most people — especially South Africans. The M4 Pro is no exception.
Quite a bulge
The first thing you’ll notice when you unbox the Poco M4 Pro is the yellow box containing the clear cover for the phone. The second thing is the screen, ‘cos that’s the bit that’s facing up. But every other time after that, you’ll notice the camera bulge at the back of the phone.
From the front, it’s pretty conventional. There’s a volume rocker on the upper right, with a power button/fingerprint sensor just below it. The base hosts the USB-C charge port and the speaker grille, while the upper left is where the SIM tray lives. There’s even an infra-red port on the top edge, and you don’t see those every day. But the chunky rectangle at the rear is definitely the dominant feature.
There’s space there for five camera sensors. One slot is taken by the flash. The other is just a branded covering. The vertical row, though, is where the M4 Pro’s triple-camera array lives. But the camera bump itself covers almost the width of the phone, an Australia-sized island sitting in a sea of decently-attractive plastic. Still, at least it’s distinctive, right?
It’s also a little distinctive on the inside. There’s a MediaTek Helio G96 chipset inside the phone. It’s not quite Dimensity, and also marks this as the smaller in the series. The 5G model sports a Dimensity 810 at its heart. There are several hardware models available, but ours shipped with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Spec falls as low as 6GB/64GB and goes as high as 8GB/256GB. Expect pricing to adjust accordingly, based on your hardware configuration.
This hardware setup is surprisingly affordable. You can snag a 5G version of the phone for about R5,000, at our review spec. This is a surprising amount of grunt for a budget phone. Xiaomi is known for its budget devices, and since the Poco label is the flag-bearer on that front… well, you do the math.
The display is a 6.43in, 1,080 x 2,400 effort that, honestly, could be a little better. We’re probably a little spoiled on this front, but the AMOLED panel isn’t as bright and sharp as we’ve come to demand from our phones. It’s supposed to have a peak brightness of 1,000 nits but it seems more… drab than expected. There’s plenty of resolution, but colours don’t pop as much as we’d like. But the screen runs at up to 90Hz if that’s something you reckon your eyes can perceive. It’s not dynamic, though. You have to head to settings to enable it.
On the chin
There’s a whole lot of space dedicated to not very much camera hardware. There’s a 64MP main sensor (f/1.8, an 8MP ultrawide (f/2.2), and a 2MP macro (f/2.4) lens to play with. And they’re… okay. Just okay. Jack the phone all the way up to full resolution and you’ll grab some good shots over medium distance. Try a wide, detailed shot and you’ll grab a decent enough picture. Zoom into that picture, and you’ll note the background looks like something Bob Ross might paint in the most calming manner possible. Which is great, if you’re feeling nostalgic for the Rossman. It’s less fantastic if you’re planning to post any of these images online.
The front-facing 16MP camera, which doesn’t need a 2mm-thick lip on all sides, actually takes pretty clear, bright shots. Since those are most likely to be photos of you, that’s probably the right choice on Poco’s part.
There’s a 5,000mAh lithium-polymer battery inside Poco’s M4 Pro. That’s quite large for a phone like this, but you won’t see us complaining. 33W fast-charging means that it’ll charge up faster than Samsung’s flagship phones. Lower power requirements mean it’ll outlast those same phones as well. Plus, you know, it’s about R15,000 cheaper on average. That counts for a lot.
Poco M4 Pro Verdict
You’re paying a little over R5,000 for a Poco M4 Pro 5G. Which, obviously, comes with 5G support. Our review handset is a little lower spec and eschews the speedier internet tech. They’re largely similar devices — decent components at a very attractive price point, but with some questionable design choices. We get the sense that Xiaomi makes its Poco phones from whatever there’s a bunch of lying around in the warehouse. That would explain the sometimes weird and wacky combinations the brand has come up with. It would also explain why Poco devices in general are such bargains. You’d be cheap too if you were made from spare parts, bud.