The best budget gaming phone of 2022
POCO X4 GT is the latest budget gaming smartphone from Xiaomi’s sub-brand. Last year we had a lot of good things to say about the POCO X3 GT predecessor. Let’s see what changes POCO made to make the X4 GT a worthy upgrade.
Before I dive into the unboxing, I would just like to say that POCO’s Series X is arguably the best of its entire line. In terms of specs, performance and price, the X-series stays true to the brand’s mantra “everything you need and nothing you don’t“.
Unboxing the POCO X4 GT
Slightly more expensive POCO devices get the black and yellow box reversed unlike more budget offerings. I like the new, more consistent branding on the exterior retail box this year compared to last year’s hodgepodge. Inside the box, the unboxing experience is the same as before. Insert with transparent TPU case, SIM tool and documents. Below the insert is the smartphone, followed by the 67W fast charging brick and a chunky USB-C charging cable.
Design and display impressions of the POCO X4 GT
There are a few design changes from last year’s model. And I would say any visually discernible changes are better. There are a few spec changes that are a little confusing and we’ll discuss them a bit later. First of all, I like the new flat rails and non-shiny rear surface. I’m also a fan of the new camera module layout – it looks clean and sleek, at least to me. Other than these visual changes, not much happens. POCO has also done the right thing by getting rid of the virtual proximity sensor.
The rest of the design is quite similar to other Android smartphones. The bottom rail has a dual SIM tray slot, microphone, USB-C port, and speaker grille. The power and volume buttons are on the right rail. Things get interesting on the top rail with an IR blaster, secondary microphone, top speaker grill, and headphone jack! The fingerprint reader is integrated into the power button and is fast and accurate.
So what are some of the downsides you ask? The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 instead of Victus. Also, the official IP rating is gone this time around. Although the haptics are improved, the haptic feedback strength could be higher. And the new phone is a bit heavier than the predecessor at 200 grams.
The large 6.6-inch screen is quite good despite being an LCD panel
The screen size is still 6.6 inches which is big enough for browsing, streaming or gaming. The screen has a 144Hz refresh rate as well as HDR10 and Dolby Vision support. The touch sampling rate is 270 Hz on the POCO X4 GT and helps improve response time for fast-paced games.
The brightness is 500 nits, which is better than before. However, the display struggles a little on the outside. Overall, things are crisp and clear thanks to a pixel density of 407 ppi. Personally, I think Xiaomi needs to find a way to get an AMOLED display on this device.
POCO X4 GT performance is adequate for graphics-intensive games
The POCO X4 GT is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 8100 processor. It’s basically a slightly overclocked version of the Dimensity 1100 that featured in last year’s POCO X3 GT. The new processor is made using the 5nm manufacturing process, resulting in nearly a 20% improvement in Geekbench scores.
On Geekbench, the single-core score is 880 while the multi-core score is 3674. Both scores are a decent increase from last year. However, for some reason these scores are lower than the Realme GT Neo 3 Naruto Edition smartphone which has the same Dimensity 8100 processor.
In terms of daily use, there shouldn’t be any issues at all from a performance perspective. I think the POCO X4 GT should be able to handle anything you throw at it at medium to high settings from a gaming standpoint. My review unit has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The only other option is the 256GB storage version with the same 8GB RAM. I guess if you want a more capable device, you need to buy POCO/Xiaomi or look for another brand.
Little rant, through 2022 reviewers have consistently gotten the top-end device up for review, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this year. On the other hand, if you buy the more expensive model than the review unit, performance should be slightly better.
Zero battery life anxiety on the POCO X4 GT
There’s a beefy 5080mAh battery on the POCO X4 GT. You also get the hefty 67W charging brick in the box. A full charge from zero takes just under an hour, and 30 minutes of charging will get you up to 75 per cent, which should be enough for a day of moderate use.
In my use case, I was able to get around 5+ hours of Screen-on-Time, but everyone’s use case is slightly different. For light users, you may be able to save two days on a full charge. However, I would recommend adaptive charging overnight to make sure you don’t get stuck, as it still takes almost half an hour to reach 75% battery capacity.
MIUI 13 looks familiar on the POCO X4 GT
This phone was launched literally a few months behind the excellent POCO F4 GT. So from a software standpoint, I haven’t found anything new under the hood so to speak. It’s the same MIUI that we’ve already reviewed on many POCO devices over the last year or so. POCO X4 GT has MIUI 13 running on Android 12 with July 2022 security update.
Rear cameras produce great photos for the most part
The Poco X4 GT has a triple camera module on the back. The 64MP main camera gets an upgrade while the 8MP ultrawide and 2MP macro cameras are a carryover. And the front selfie shooter is the 16MP camera found on countless other Xiaomi/POCO devices.
Daylight camera performance is good on both primary and ultrawide cameras
The POCO X4 GT’s main camera produces beautiful daylight images. Colors are bright and not too blown out, contrast is great, dynamic range is decent, and there’s enough detail in the images to share on social media without any editing. One feature that could be better is the sharpness which is very evident in bright indoor images.
The 8MP ultra-wide camera produces images that have good color and contrast but suffer from the same sharpness issue as the main camera. Photos taken outdoors are always better than those taken indoors.
Night results are acceptable from the main camera
Night images are quite good from the main camera with or without Night mode enabled. There’s definitely better light, contrast and shadow detail with Night mode on and I’d suggest turning it on manually, the app doesn’t do it automatically.
For the ultra-wide camera, the results are hit and miss even with Night mode enabled. So I recommend using the ultrawide sparingly in dark light conditions.
Telephoto and selfie camera results are poor
The telephoto setting in the app is basically 2X digital zoom and the results are pretty bad in general. It’s best to take the photo and then manually crop the 1X image. Nighttime results are even worse than what you get during the day.
The selfie camera on this device is the same 16MP we’ve seen for over three years now. At this point, the story of the Xiaomi selfie camera is similar to that of the Pixel series 12MP camera. But unlike the Pixel, the selfie camera on POCO/Xiaomi devices definitely needs an upgrade. Hopefully this will be fixed in 2023. At a minimum, Xiaomi needs to put the Poco F4’s 20MP camera across the mid-range series.
Audio is better than competitors thanks to headphone jack
You get two speakers and a headphone jack on the POCO X4 GT. With this statement, we could theoretically complete this section of the review. The speakers are good for the most part, and there’s still the Dolby Atmos setting. But you don’t get JBL tuned speakers anymore, so there’s that to keep the cost down.
Most people who buy the POCO X4 GT will be quite happy with what you get in terms of audio quality. And there’s something to be said for a good quality working headphone jack in 2022.
Connectivity options are plentiful on the POCO X4 GT
Connectivity-wise, I don’t think there’s another smartphone maker that even comes close to what POCO/Xiaomi offers. And this is true for their entire range of smartphones, from the cheapest flagships to the high-end flagships.
The POCO X4 GT is no exception. Besides 5G connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, you get a bunch of other standard options. These include Cast, Mi Share, Near Share, IR blaster and NFC. And all the options are easy to access from the quick settings menu which I like. To some extent, this is due to the excellent, feature-laden MIUI software, but it’s still something other smartphone makers should try to emulate.
POCO X4 GT Verdict
The POCO X4 GT has better performance than before. On paper, there are plenty of improvements, a faster refresh rate display that’s slightly brighter, a better main camera, and a bigger battery. I think the hardware design language is also excellent despite the phone being slightly heavier than the predecessor.
There are a few downgrades, no IP rating, no Gorilla Glass Victus, and no JBL-tuned audio speakers. I also think it might be time for POCO to install an AMOLED display and I hope that happens soon. Despite this shortcoming, the overall package still packs a serious punch for the retail price. And POCO has done something every smartphone maker should do, and that is bring back the headphone jack. For those looking for great battery life and plenty of gaming power, the POCO X4 GT does the trick at around $380. Its price has a lot to do with our final score on this phone, because it’s really hard to beat.