The Poco F-series smartphones have a reputation for cramming the fastest insides without breaking the bank and demanding a sacrificial thumb. Just like a first-born in an Indian family with a medical background, the Poco F4 has a lot to live up to. So no pressure, right?
Poco F4 5G review
Formula 4 success?
Base variant starts from ₹27,999
Sacrifices to smartphones in the budget segment mostly start with the body. It’s the easiest place to cut costs and send that money into Qualcomm’s bank account to bring a faster processor. But that’s not what Poco did here it seems. The exterior of the Poco F4 5G is excellent. It’s strong, elegant and doesn’t feel anything like a paper straw.
We got the Nebula Green variant which has a nice frosted-matte-ish finish on the glass at the back. Simply put, it feels nice to hold, but can be a wee-bit slippery if you’re not careful. The squared-off sides and the rectangle camera bump add to the boxy aesthetic.
Yes, yes we’ll get to the performance. I know nobody wants to read a page-long description of the design. It’s all going inside a protection cover anyway. So here’s the hot news. There’s no Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or 888 or how many ever eighths there are from Qualcomm Snapdragon. There is, however, the Snapdragon 870 inside this thing which is no sloucher. It’s one of the fastest chips in a smartphone in this price range. In terms of family hierarchy, the Snapdragon 870 is right under the 888, which is to say that you’re most likely getting a top-tier processor.
So like all medical graduates, the Poco F4 5G came prepared and passed the scrutiny on paper. Obviously, it won’t be faster than smartphones that cost upwards of ₹50K, but it’s admirably fast for all applications and games. We played Apex Legends on high graphical settings, and it ran oh-so-smoothly. There were a few frame drops, but we think that it’s because of the game and its fresh start in the smartphone gaming market. Games like PUBG and Genshin Impact run smoother, but can make the smartphone hot. These games are very demanding and we pushed the graphics ticker to High. The smartphone did heat up a bit around the camera bump and the impact on the 4,500mAh battery was relatively lesser than expected. A full 20min game in Apex Legends barely sapped 8-10% of battery life.
Our review unit had 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. In short, these are technically superior hardware chops compared to others with LPDDR4 and UFS 3.0 or lower. So on the silicone side of things, it’s safe to say that the Poco F4 5G merits the F-series moniker and wildly pushes the performance-per-paisa agenda.
If all this talk about the insides has made you dizzy then let's circle back to what’s always interacting with your peepers. The 6.67in FHD+ display on the Poco puts the smartphone on the better side of the budget smartphone conversation. If you’re yearning for spec sheet jargon then it has got an E4 AMOLED Display with a 120Hz refresh rate.
For browsing and apps that support the high refresh rate, the Poco F4 5G feels criminally smooth. You can barely find faults in the performance and execution. The display also supports Dolby Vision and content on Netflix is thoroughly enjoyable. Contrasting shots in Spiderhead with bright whites and deep blacks are uniform with balanced and sharp image quality. Even Stranger Things’ darker tones are well-executed on the display. There is a bit of noise and artefacts at times, but that’s just us nitpicking. There are also MEMC and AI HDR enhancement features but it’s better to keep those settings turned off.
It’s also got a capable dual speaker where the earpiece doubles down as a speaker so expect some irregularities in the stereo separation. However, the sound performance is rather commendable. It’s loud and punchy like most budget smartphones but it’s not shrill or tinny. The sound quality on this is better suited for content consumption than music.
Now that it’s got great performance and a good display, can the Poco F4 5G nail the sacrosanct trifecta of smartphones? The short answer is, eh! Perhaps that’s not quite illuminating for you dear reader, so allow me to eh-mplify our take on the Poco F4 5G’s camera performance.
There are three lenses at the back. First up is the 64MP camera with OIS which uses pixel binning. It’s a good camera, but not the best that we’ve seen in this price range. The AI mambo jumbo handles the highlights really well on the main lens. It’s got ideal sharpness and surprisingly accurate colour balance. Unlike most budget smartphones, the reds, yellows and greens don’t blow up like neon paints on students in a music festival.
The same cannot be said for the other two lenses. The 8MP ultra-wide lens has a 119-degree FoV, but the shots are filled with noise. We are once again surprised by how well the Poco F4 5G manages to reproduce colours with its camera. Seems like the AI inside has been doing its homework in the past few years. Although the shots themselves are nothing to write home about. It’s decent at best.
Meanwhile, the less said about the 2MP macro lens, the better. The front camera is also decent. It does boost the colours a bit. If you’re into taking tons of selfies the Vivo smartphones have a better front camera.
Night shots and Portrait shots are a smudgy mess. It looks as if the AI has rubbed the skin with sandpaper to smoothen it out. No matter what skin tone you shoot, the camera tends to beautify it with its own make-up. You can get great shots in Night mode if you play with the settings a little, but it’s 2022 and saving time in the viewfinder is as much of a necessity as it’s to waste time on Instagram.
Panorama mode on the main lens is very enticing. It’s sharp, and perfectly timed and the AI doesn’t mess up the thing. The Snapdragon’s performance is quick at stitching the photo without error.
The Poco F4 5G is running Android 12-based MIUI 13, and it has more bloatware than there are influencers. The Xiaomi and Poco smartphones are still plagued with unnecessary apps that just ping notifications. If you’re tech-savvy then wriggling your way through the UI and cutting off access to the unnecessary apps might be the first thing you’d want to do. As for the non-techy folks, we wish you the best.
The Poco F4 5G is one of the fastest smartphones in its price range. It’s got power-packed insides and stellar performance. The main camera is all that we loved about the triple setup, and that more than makes up for the average wide-angle and terrible macro lens.
You also get a 67W charger in the box so battery life is never an issue. Juicing it up barely takes time. The Poco F4 5G can easily last you a full day, or maybe half a day if you have problematic gaming habits.
Putting the Poco series back on track, the F4 is a stellar smartphone for budget hunters who want performance on a whim.
|Variants:||6GB+128GB | 8GB+128GB | 12GB+256GB|
|Display:||6.67' FHD+ E4 AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate (30/60/120Hz), 2400x1080, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 395 PPI, 1300 nits peak brightness, Dolby Vision (Netflix) & HDR10+ (Amazon Prime Video) Certif|
|Processor:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 870|
|Battery:||4500mAh, 67W sonic charging|
|Camera:||64MP Primary camera with OIS (3-axis stabilization), 8MP ultra-wide lens (119-degree FoV), 2MP macro lens, 20MP front camera|