After officially launching almost two months ago the Android 12-based LineageOS 19 is expanding to more handsets once again. This time those with the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro alongside the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro and budget Mi A1 can now flash LineageOS 19 on their devices (h/t XDA). For those with the latter Xiaomi handsets, this is the most recent software build that you can access and might provide a more consistent update path moving forward.
While Android 12 is already available for the OnePlus 9 series and Poco X3 Pro, the Mi A1 shipped with Android One and has only been officially updated as far as Android 9 Pie. As mentioned, this might be a way to extend the lifespan of your devices given that support for older handsets from the likes of Xiaomi and OnePlus can be sporadic or limited at best.
It’s also important to note that LineageOS 19 is actually based upon Android 12.1/12L, a build that is not yet officially available for the OnePlus 9, 9 Pro, and Poco X3 Pro. That means that if you truly want the latest and greatest version of Android on your smartphone, LineageOS 19 might provide you with that option.
Should you want to flash LineageOS 19 on your device, you can find build/device links with specific device installation instructions:
Google apps do not come pre-installed with LineageOS builds. You will, therefore, need to flash a GApps package to retain access to the Play Store and important Google apps and services. Luckily, there is a solid guide from the team behind the ROM that you can refer to here.
The entire Redmi Note 11 lineup is already available for purchase, and they all share a brand new dual-glass design, similar camera experience, improved battery charging, the latest MIUI 13, among other things. Today, we are going to meet one of the most anticipated among the new Redmi quartet – the Redmi Note 11 Pro.
We already reviewed the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, which has a different, 5G-capable chipset, but other than that, everything else stays the same. Naturally, the Redmi Note 11 Pro will be cheaper than its 5G counterpart, which makes it a more interesting offer.
So, the Redmi Note 11 Pro has a new cool-looking dual-glass design with a flat frame, flat panels, and IP53 splash proofing. It employs the same 6.67-inch 120Hz Super AMOLED that was introduced with the previous Redmi Note 10 Pro model. And it seems to be packing the same rear camera setup, too, with a 108MP primary shooter, an 8MP ultrawide, a 2MP macro, and a 2MP depth sensor. Oops, correction, it seems the macro has been demoted from a premium 5MP AF telemacro to a basic 2MP with a fixed focus.
The new Redmi Note 11 Pro runs on the Helio G96 chipset, not the fastest in the mid-range, but we will see how it fares against the competition.
The Redmi Note 11 Pro brings a ton of fan-favorite features like stereo speakers, a microSD expansion, FM radio, a 3.5mm jack, there is NFC and even an IR blaster. Like most of the Notes, this one is also powered by a large 5,000mAh battery, and its charging has been improved from 33W on the Note 10 Pro to 67W on this new Note 11 Pro. Nice!
Let’s take a closer look at the Redmi Note 11 Pro specs sheet.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro specs at a glance:
Body: 164.2×76.1×8.1mm, 202g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back; IP53, dust and splash protection.
The Redmi Note 11 Pro seems like a good sequel, though there is one big question mark – the Helio G96 chipset. It seems like a weaker SoC compared to the Note 10 Pro’s Snapdragon 732G chip, and furthermore, it’s not capable of 4K video capturing.
With that being said, let’s go and unpack this thing and put it through its paces.
Unboxing the Redmi Note 11 Pro
The Redmi Note 11 Pro arrives within a white paper box. The retail bundle offers a 67W power adapter, a 6A-rated USB cable, and a transparent protective case.
Interestingly, the Note 11 Pro has no protective film on its screen, like it was with older models, but you will find one within the box. It’s always good to have basic protection out of the box, but given how challenging it sometimes is to apply these flawlessly by yourself, we would have preferred this to have been done in the factory.
The Redmi Note 11 Pro turned out to be a good all-around mid-range phone with an attractive design, powerful stereo speakers, long-lasting battery life, speedy charging, and dependable cameras on both sides. The performance, while adequate, is somewhat subpar for its class. And with all that said, let’s explore the competition.
The Redmi Note 11 Pro launch price is €300-€330 for the 6GB/64GB model, €350 for the 6GB/128GB, and the limited 8GB/128GB model should retail at €370-€380. Not the most welcoming bunch, we’ll admit that.
The Realme 9 Pro costs the same as the Redmi Note 11 Pro. While it uses a 120Hz LCD screen instead of an OLED, it relies on the more powerful Snapdragon 695 5G chipset and offers much better battery life. Its interface also feels snappier, and the photo quality is somewhat more balanced.
But we’d suggest the 6GB/128GB Realme 9 Pro+, which costs about €50 over the 6GB/64GB Redmi Note 11 Pro or about €30 over the 6/128 model. It has a 90Hz AMOLED, runs on the much faster Dimensity 920 5G chipset, and comes with a superb 50MP primary camera with OIS that can do 4K videos. The Realme 9 Pro+ offers similar or even better battery life and equally fast charging. If we have to choose, we’d pay the extra €30 for the Realme 9 Pro+.
Then there is the outstanding Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G, which is an IP67 water-resistant smartphone with a 120Hz Super AMOLED, a much faster and gaming-capable Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset, and better four-camera setup with a 64MP OIS primary, a 12MP ultrawide, a 5MP macro and a 5MP depth sensor. The front camera is also of higher quality with a better 32MP sensor. The Galaxy A52s is inferior to the Redmi Note 11 Pro only in the charging department – 25W vs. 67W, but it costs as low as €320 – the same price as the Note 11 Pro. And this makes choosing the Galaxy a no-brainer.
The Motorola Edge 20 is another smartphone worthy of serious consideration. It has a faster 144Hz OLED screen, a more powerful Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset, a premium triple-camera with a 108MP primary, a 16MP ultrawide shooter, and an 8MP telephoto with OIS for 3x optical zoom. The Moto Edge 20 has inferior battery life and charging speed but offers a more powerful hardware and software package, and it costs as low as €300. Indeed, the Edge 20 seems like another good phone to get instead of the Redmi Note 11 Pro.
Realme 9 Pro • Realme 9 Pro Plus • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G • Motorola Edge 20
Then there is Xiaomi‘s own Poco X4 Pro 5G, which is a rebranded Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G with a different design. Its 6GB/128GB version starts at €269, which is cheaper than the €300 early-bird price of the Note 11 Pro, and you get more powerful graphics and 5G connectivity.
The Poco M4 Pro is a cheaper version of the Redmi Note 11 Pro with a 90Hz display, a 64MP primary camera and 33W fast charging. For these lower specs, you will save yourself at least €100, and we’d take that deal in a heartbeat. The Helio G96 is not equipped to handle 120fps properly, and then the 108MP camera seems like an overkill.
And another Poco, the X3 GT, is cheaper at €290 and more powerful than the Redmi Note 11 Pro. It has a 6.6-inch 120Hz LCD screen with HDR10 support and employs the flagship-grade Dimensity 1100 5G chipset. It also features more RAM and more storage at that price. The rest – camera experience, speakers, battery life, charging speed – everything is exactly on the Redmi.
Finally, we see not a single reason why anyone should get the Redmi Note 11 Pro instead of the Redmi Note 10 Pro from the last year. It offers faster graphics and good gaming experience, better photo and video quality, and they come at a lower price starting at €250 for the 6GB/64GB model.
Xiaomi Poco X4 Pro 5G • Xiaomi Poco M4 Pro • Xiaomi Poco X3 GT • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
The Redmi Note 11 Pro is a good smartphone positioned thoughtfully under the Note 11 Pro 5G. It was made for people who don’t need the fastest connection in the world and can do without gaming. We are fond of its design, screen, speakers, battery life and especially, the charging speed.
Xiaomi has been consistent with its IP53-rated phones, and that’s another thing that deserves praise – Realme still hasn’t gotten there yet. The camera experience is solid, too, probably the best you can get within the entire Redmi Note 11 series.
Finally, MIUI 13 is one capable launcher with millions of fans around the world, which plays in the Redmi Note 11 Pro favor. The 3.5mm jack, the microSD expansion, the IR blaster, and the FM radio are of big help, too.
Unfortunately, the Redmi Note 11 Pro fails at two important aspects – delivering meaningful upgrades and pricing. The only upgrade over the Redmi Note 10 Pro is the faster charging, everything else feels like a solid downgrade. And then we have this phone priced quite unfavorably at launch, even with the early bird promotions.
We’ve seen Realme pushing sequels with lower-tier specs, but they often came with rather reasonable price tags. Unlike Xiaomi, which is giving us slower phones at higher prices.
At the end of the day, we can’t blame Xiaomi for trying to refresh its signature Redmi Note series at times of unprecedented global crisis. The economy is not what it was two years ago, and phones, along with everything else, is going to be more expensive. So, it’s not really the maker’s fault for what’s happening. But we think Xiaomi could have handled better these Redmi Note 11 Pro models, maybe postpone them and rethink their place in the market.
Long story short, until we see the Redmi Note 11 Pro at a discount, or until the older Xiaomi models are no longer available, we can’t but think of the Redmi Note 11 Pro as unsellable.
Excellent AMOLED screen, bright, accurate colors, 120Hz.
Likable design, IP53-rated dual-glass body.
Good battery life, splendidly fast charging.
Loud stereo speakers.
Dependable photo and quality.
MIUI 13, 3.5mm jack, microSD, IR blaster, NFC, FM radio.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G may not be the Poco(phone) you are looking for. We could literally hear these words in our head spoken in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice as we sat down to gather our thoughts about the X4 Pro.
And indeed, if you came looking for a proper Poco X3 Pro sequel, you won’t be getting it. If you are on the lookout for an affordable mid-range phone, a refreshed Poco X3 NFC, if you will, then you’ve come to the right place. We can’t and won’t hide the true nature of the Poco X4 Pro 5G – it’s a repackaged version of the global Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G with a redesigned rear panel. Here’s how these two compare. This is not the first and won’t be the last time Poco has done this, so it’s not surprising. But the Poco X4 Pro 5G design really stands out, as usual.
The Poco X4 Pro packs a 6.67-inch 120Hz Super AMOLED screen and employs the Snapdragon 695 5G chipset, a departure from the flagship-grade Snapdragon 860 within the Poco X3 Pro but a small improvement over the Poco X3 NFC’s Snapdragon 732G. This mid-range SoC offers good CPU performance and 5G connectivity, though.
The camera is your usual tri-eye setup with a high-res 108MP primary, an 8MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro shooter. There is no depth sensor as opposed to other Redmi Note 11 models and the previous Poco X3 phones.
The Poco X4 Pro offers stereo speakers, and all sorts of fan-favorite features such as FM radio, a 3.5mm jack, a microSD expansion, and even an IR port. You can also charge its large 5,000mAh battery incredibly fast with the bundled 67W charger.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G runs on MIUI 13 for Poco, which is based on Android 11. We were a bit surprised to find the latest MIUI without the latest Android OS, but this is also not a first for Xiaomi, and we are sure the update will arrive soon enough.
So, let’s scroll through the Redmi, sorry, Poco X4 Pro 5G specs now.
If we are to compare the €250 Poco X3 Pro to the €300 Poco X4 Pro, we can’t but think of this as rather unfair. The whole economy has changed, and the world is still reshaping as you read this. So, yes, the Poco X4 Pro is not a phone with flagship speed at a bargain price; it can’t even do 4K videos.
But it does look promising as being one of the new generations of phones that will soon replace the old bang for the buck deals as their stock will soon run out. And we can see that this Poco still has the same spirit by trying to pack every possible modern technology, 5G included, and offer it at an incredibly low price in 2022 terms.
Unboxing the Poco X4 Pro 5G
The Poco X4 Pro’s retail box contains a 67W Xiaomi charger and a 6A-rated cable. This is the same charger you get with most new Xiaomi phones these days.
The bundle also includes a soft transparent case and a thin protective film for the display. Usually, Xiaomi‘s smartphones have that film applied in the factory, but this seems like yet another cost-cutting decision introduced for the new devices. We do appreciate this extra, but given how challenging it can be to apply these things, we can’t but think of the factory application as the better choice.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G is a good smartphone with balanced specs. It has an attractive splash-resistant design, a brilliant 120Hz AMOLED, offers excellent battery life, fast charging, good camera specs and adequate performance for the class. Its 6GB/128GB model is now available on sale at €299, which makes it an attractive offer considering its all-around specs sheet.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G is a reworked version of the €370 Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G. It is an identical smartphone with a different back panel. Yet, it’s €70 cheaper than the Redmi, which automatically makes it the better offer.
Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G and the Poco X4 Pro 5G
Of course, both Poco X3 NFC and Poco X3 Pro are still available for purchase for €200 and €250, respectively. While the X3 phones rely on 120Hz LCD panels instead of OLED, they can be more attractive offers. The Poco X3 NFC can offer 4K video capturing over the X4 Pro, but the X3 Pro has a flagship-grade Snapdragon 860 chipset, an HDR10-certified screen, and a somewhat better camera experience. Sure, the X3 Pro has no 5G connectivity, but we will still get it for its incredibly fast performance and the cheaper price.
Or there is the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE, with a much better Dolby Vision AMOLED screen, much faster Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset, and a triple-camera of superb photo and video quality across the board. The 11 Lite 5G NE also costs around the €300 mark, and it is the Xiaomi phone to buy in this bracket, not doubt.
However, if you are dead set on getting a Poco, then the €300 Poco F3 is the way to go. With the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 870 5G chipset, HDR10+ 120Hz AMOLED screen, and a similar triple-camera with a 5MP telemacro shooter, it can be the gaming phone on a budget you are looking for.
Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G • Poco X3 NFC • Poco X3 Pro • 11 Lite 5G NE • Poco F3
If a Xiaomi-made phone is not a must, then other makers can win you over with their 2021 phones. Take the Galaxy A52s 5G, for example – it is priced around €340, and for the extra €40, you will get an IP67-rated design, much more powerful Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset, a better camera experience with a 64MP OIS primary, a 12MP ultrawide shooter and 5MP depth and macro cameras. 4K video capturing is available even on the selfie camera, and you also get cool features like the under-display fingerprint reader. The only caveat – the charging is not that fast.
Another excellent smartphone for €40 over the Poco X4 Pro is the OnePlus Nord 2 5G that’s still available across various retailers. It offers a 90hz Fluid AMOLED on top of the flagship Dimensity 1200 5G chipset. Its primary 50MP camera has OIS and 4K capturing and provides much better photo and video quality. Oh, and the Nord 2’s 65W fast charging is equally impressive.
Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G • OnePlus Nord 2 5G
We already knew what to expect from the Poco X4 Pro 5G, after all, it’s the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G with a different body. The good news is that this Poco is preferable to the Redmi because it’s noticeably cheaper. The bad news – there are much better phones at that price.
Sure, the Poco X4 Pro 5G has a lot to offer – starting with its large OLED screen of high quality, on top of a likable splash-proof design and one large battery with super-fast charging. The X4 Pro performance is fine, it has a ton of connectivity options, and its camera kit sounds promising.
But the disappointments are piling up right from the start. The Poco X4 Pro is not at all like the previous Poco X series Pro models, and we think this is one of the things that will make it tougher to sell as people will see it as a continuation to the Poco X3 Pro and not the NFC. Then its performance has not improved an inch since the X3 NFC, though it can now connect to 5G networks.
Then there is the rather mediocre camera experience despite the 108MP primary sensor. Finally, we got MIUI 13, yes, but it’s on top of Android 11 instead of Android 12 and that adds yet another question mark on top of everything else.
The Poco X4 Pro 5G is a good smartphone – it has adequate specs sheet and attractive pricing for 2022, all things considered. But the 2021 mid-range models are widely available and more affordable, and it just doesn’t make sense buying it right now, not until a price cut is introduced or its competitors – retired. But what we know is that this Poco X4 Pro makes more sense than many of the recently launched Redmi Note 11 phones models.
Likable glass design, IP53-rated.
Outstanding AMOLED screen, bright, 120Hz, great color accuracy.
Top-notch battery life, blazing fast charging.
Loud stereo speakers, good audio quality.
Up to par performance for the class, 5G.
MIUI 13, 3.5mm jack, NFC, IR blaster, microSD.
Not a sequel to the Poco X3 Pro, likely to the Poco X3 NFC but does not outperform it.
Not based on the latest Android 12 like Xiaomi 12.
the Redmi Note 10 Pro for review, and this is the global version of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max – an India-exclusive model. There are only two differences – the Indian version omits NFC and it is not listed as IP53-rated. Here’s a direct link to compare the two.
It’s been exactly one year since the first Redmi Note 9 phones came to be, and the updates arrive right on schedule. The Redmi Note 10 Pro is spearheading the next generation of affordable mid-rangers, and it brings one of the most requested fan-favorite features – a 120Hz OLED screen.
Xiaomi has been offering HRR screens on the cheap. The Redmi Note 9 Pro 5G and multiple Redmi K30 phones had 120Hz and even 144Hz LCD panels. These devices became quite popular for that reason, and a lot of people, we included, were hoping for an OLED upgrade and that this premium feature would become a standard for the Redmi Note 10 series. Talk about a wish come true!
The Redmi Note 10 Pro builds on top of the limited Redmi Note 9 Pro 5G, also known as Mi 10i 5G in some markets, both released a few weeks ago. It offers a better HRR OLED screen but comes with the inferior Snapdragon 732G chip instead of the more premium Snapdragon 750G 5G. The rest is mostly the same – camera, speakers, battery, fast charging.
Indeed, the new Redmi Note 10 Pro may not be packing the best mid-range SoC, but it sure impresses with an interesting quad-camera on the back. The main shooter uses a 108MP Samsung sensor, then comes the 8MP ultrawide snapper, followed by a 5MP cam with telemacro lens, and finally, there is a 2MP depth sensor.
The other interesting bits about the Redmi Note 10 Pro include the dedicated symmetrical speakers – yet another feature that’s not widely available even on the most expensive phones (the flagships usually favor hybrid setups). There is also a nicely fat battery with a 5,020mAh capacity that’s capable of 33W fast charging, and the corresponding power adapter is included with the phone. Some people will appreciate the presence of NFC, FM radio, IR blaster, a 3.5mm jack, and the microSD expansion.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro specs at a glance:
Body: 164×76.5×8.1mm, 193g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), plastic frame; IP53, dust and splash protection.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is IP53-rated for dust and water protection – a very nice touch. This means the phone is dust-proof and can endure light splashes or rain. The phone sounds like an increasingly better proposition with each new feature we spot, so let’s cut to the chase and pop this Note out of its box.
Unboxing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
The Redmi Note 10 Pro ships within a regular paper box, and it packs everything you may need but a pair of headphones. The retail bundle contains a 33W power adapter and a 3A-rated USB-A-to-C cable.
You also get a transparent silicone case with a cover lid for the USB-C port. And you will find one thin screen protector that’s already applied to the phone’s display. We peeled that off; sorry, Xiaomi, it was way too cheap.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is without a doubt one of the hottest offers this year, and it will be a tough one to match. By putting a 120Hz OLED screen on such an affordable phone, Xiaomi has finally put an end to the 60Hz OLED or 120Hz LCD dilemma. How about that, Realme?
Indeed, Realme has been known for prioritizing 60Hz AMOLEDs over HRR LCDs for a while, and the most recent Realme 7 Pro is one of these specimens. The 7 Pro costs as much as the Redmi Note 10 Pro, but it offers an inferior 60Hz OLED and lower-res primary (108MP vs. 64MP) and macro (5MP AF vs. 2MP FF) snappers. It impresses with its 65W SuperDart Charging, though. The Realme 8 Pro is expected to premiere in a few weeks with a 60Hz OLED, a Helio G95 chip, and a 108MP primary camera, so you may want to wait for that one.
Ah, the Poco X3 NFC has a lot in common with the Redmi Note 10 Pro. It has the same size screen, 120Hz at that, but it’s an IPS LCD unit. It uses the same Snapdragon 732G platform, has the same speakers, similar battery with 33W charging. The Poco X3 NFC also packs a quad-camera on the back, but the important bits – main and ultrawide – are 64MP + 13MP instead of 108MP + 8MP. The Poco X3 NFC is €100 cheaper though, so if you decide against paying extra for an OLED panel, you may as well find the Poco X3 a good fit for you.
The €280 Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite, just like the Poco X3, features a 120Hz LCD screen, while matching the rest of the specs, more or less. But the Mi 10T Lite is a 5G-capable thanks to the Snapdragon 750G 5G SoC and it makes it a good alternative to the Redmi Note 10 Pro.
Another incredibly cheap 5G phone is the €250 Samsung Galaxy A42 5G. It has a 6.6″ 720p AMOLED and runs on the Snapdragon 750G 5G chip. It has a similar camera (even if the primary is not a 108MP but 48MP), and an equally beefy 5,000mAh battery. There are no stereo speakers or IP53 rating, but the Galaxy is a reliable phone, especially for gaming, and will last you for days per our battery life test.
Realme 7 Pro • Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC • Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite 5G • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
Xiaomi has also brought three more Redmi Note 10 phones. The Redmi Note 10 5G with a 90Hz OLED and 5G connectivity, but it has no stereo speakers and no ultrawide camera. The Redmi Note 10 and Note 10S will tempt you with 6.43″ 60Hz OLEDs, stereo speakers and ultrawide snappers, but they differ by chipsets – the N10 runs on Snapdragon 678, while the 10S employs Helio G95. Obviously, none of these can match the 108MP camera and the 120Hz screen refresh rate, but they are worth considering if you are on the budget.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is so likable, and it aced our tests, so it’s really hard to find any faults. This one easily becomes our current favorite bang for the buck offer and one of the easiest “go for it” we’ve written in a while.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro is not a perfect smartphone, but its imperfections are easily forgivable and forgettable. And while this Note wasn’t made to be a flagship killer, it is shrinking the gap and may soon be breathing down their necks.
Beautiful design; IP53-rated.
Excellent 120Hz AMOLED, smooth and responsive.
Outstanding battery life, fast to charge.
Very good stereo speakers.
Dependable performance, no overheating.
All cameras excel in daylight, photo and video.
MIUI 12 is smooth on top of Android 11.
IR blaster, 3.5mm jack, FM radio, NFC, microSD.
A higher grade chipset would have been more exciting.
Xiaomihas signed a “long-term strategic partnership” with camera and camera lens manufacturer Leica in a bid to improve and boost camera performance on upcoming flagship smartphones.
Leica has previously partnered with Huawei to help tune and enhance the Mate and P-series smartphones. However, with Huawei still facing sanctions and difficulties in Western markets, Xiaomi has moved to secure a partnership with Leica on upcoming devices. The German photography firm has also partnered with a number of other brands including Sharp with the recent Japan-only Aquos line.
The announcement teases a new device coming in July, which is expected to be the follow-up to the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. No further details were shared about the actual device in question, which is likely to be the Xiaomi 12 Ultra. However, the recently teased Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus chipset would be a likely candidate as one of the core internals for a device worthy of following on from the impressive Mi 11 Ultra.
In a press release confirming this partnership with Leica, Xiaomi stated that the first flagship smartphone camera setup to benefit from this deal “will be officially launched in July this year.” It’s also unclear if this will partnership will see simple Leica software tweaks and color tuning like the OnePlus-Hasselblad and Oppo-Hasselblad partnership penned in recent years.
Xiaomi and Leica share the same ideas regarding mobile imaging. Both companies are eager to continuously explore the optical performance and photographic experience in the mobile imaging era through extreme technological breakthroughs and aesthetic pursuits.
The usage of “strategic partnership in imagery technology” within the announcement post hints that this could provide either option, which would be a way to help differentiate from the growing pack of Android smartphone OEMs attempting to take that third-place global sales crown from the Chinese brand.
The Pocophone brand is often associated with performance on the cheap, and that’s probably the apt description for the latest phone we have for review – the Poco F3. It’s more than that, though – it’s like a flagship on the cheap, or as this other company would have called it – a flagship killer.
The Poco F3 is jam-packed with top-notch features starting with its beautiful glass body with a sturdy plastic frame. The F3 has a 6.67″ AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh, one of the fastest platforms available today – the Snapdragon 870 5G chip, loud stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, a versatile triple-camera setup, and a large battery with fast charging.
The rear camera is your typical budget arrangement, and that’s probably the biggest cost-cutting decision to happen on the F3. There is a 48MP primary, an 8MP ultrawide shooter, and a 5MP macro enhanced with autofocus. The punch-hole at the front contains a 20MP selfie shooter. Sure, it’s no real flagship, but hey, it’s not too shabby either.
The Poco F3 is among the first phones to employ the enhanced version of last year’s Snapdragon 865. That’s the new Snapdragon 870, which should be about 10% faster. Paired with that 1080p screen, the hardware should also be doing a fabulous job in graphics-intensive tasks, too.
The Poco F3 isn’t a massive upgrade over the F2 Pro, though. It sure packs a better 120Hz AMOLED and stereo speakers than its predecessor, but we expect the processing performance to be similar. The F2 Pro even had higher-resolution main and ultra-wide cameras. But there is a big case to be made here – the Poco F3 price at launch is almost half the Poco F2’s, and that’s a big deal.
Indeed, the Poco F3 seems to be packing a lot of unexpectedly good specs. Let’s scroll through those now.
Xiaomi Poco F3 specs at a glance:
Body: 163.7×76.4×7.8mm, 196g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), plastic frame.
We appreciate the stereo speakers and the fast charging, but we can’t but miss the microSD slot and the 3.5mm jack. The writing has been on the wall for a couple of years now, sure, but still. Poco users usually expect these features to be present, and they are not on the F3. There is no FM radio on the Poco F3, if you were wondering.
Enough with the introductions, it’s time we unbox it.
Unboxing the Poco F3
The Poco F3 ships within a big black box with the usual yellow Poco insignia. The retail bundle is your typical Xiaomi treatment – there is a fast 33W power adapter, a 3A-rated USB-A-to-C cable, and a transparent silicone case. That case has a small protective cover for the USB port, which boosts the ingress protection, but gets annoying fast when you need to charge the phone or plug a wired headset.
And speaking about headsets, the Poco F3 doesn’t offer a 3.5mm jack, and that’s why the maker is also offering a 3.5mm-to-USB-C adapter as part of the bundle. Nice!
Finally, if you are an avid Poco fan, you’ll also be happy to find a bunch of Poco stickers, which you can put on your favorite gadgets, PCs, or maybe your car bumper?
The Poco F3 comes with this very thin screen protector that was applied in the factory, but it was so cheap and hard to keep to clean from smudges that we got rid of it quickly.
The Poco F3 is one capable smartphone with a great design, an impressive screen, a powerful chipset and a large battery. It’s not a water-resistant phone, and its camera experience is rather average, but with a price of €350, or even €300, it’s a killer deal.
Xiaomi is having a blast these couple of weeks – it has launched a couple of devices jam-packed with high-end features devices and incredibly low prices.
Take the €50 cheaper Poco X3 Pro, for example. It shares many specs with the Poco F3, but there are a few notable differences, too. The Poco X3 Pro is IP53-rated for splash resistance, and it packs a similar screen with an LCD panel instead of an AMOLED. The X3 Pro runs on the slightly inferior Snapdragon 860 chip with 4G connectivity, which is still a beast, all things considered. The rest is the same – speakers, cameras, software. It’s an excellent alternative to the F3, cheaper at that.
Then there is the even cheaper €280 Redmi Note 10 Pro. This Redmi also has a lot in common with the Poco F3 – similar glass design, the same 120Hz AMOLED screen, the secondary cameras are a match. The Redmi Note 10 Pro uses the mid-range Snapdragon 732G chip – it may not be a flagship, but it handles games well, but it really shines with the flagship-grade 108MP primary camera.
You should also consider the €50 more expensive Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G. This one has a 90Hz AMOLED, but it supports 10-bit color and can show more than 1 billion colors (compared to 16 million on the F3). The Snapdragon 780 5G chip is a particularly good alternative to the SD870, so no complaints here. And the camera experience seems to be on par, if not better, as the main camera is now 64MP.
Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
There are also many alternatives outside Xiaomi‘s backyard fighting for a change in this price bracket. The €300 Realme 8 Pro impressed us with its 108MP primary camera and its 3x lossless zoom. It does pack an AMOLED screen, but it’s limited to 60Hz. Then the chipset isn’t impressive either – it’s the mid-range Snapdragon 720G. Oh, and there is just one speaker on the Realme.
The €350 Samsung Galaxy A52 sounds like one very reasonable offer. It has an IP67-rated body and packs a 90Hz Super AMOLED screen. The camera quality is better on the A52, even if the setup is similar. It does feature stereo speakers, too, but can’t offer the same performance – the A52 runs on the SD720G.
The OnePlus Nord price has dropped down to about €370, and it’s a phone to consider if you are after the smoothest software experience thanks to the 90Hz Fluid AMOLED and the Oxygen OS. The Nord isn’t as fast, but it will make up for that with better photo quality and a second ultrawide selfie camera.
Finally, the €500 Moto G100 is powered by the same Snapdragon 870 chip, and while more expensive, it has its nice quirks. The Moto offers a water-repellent design and a 90Hz LCD screen. It has better cameras on both sides (there are two selfies), and the “Ready For” PC-like experience did turn out pretty good.
Realme 8 Pro • Samsung Galaxy A52 • OnePlus Nord • Motorola Moto G100
The Poco F3 is a great smartphone that offers unbeatable performance at a bargain price. This, coupled with the great HRR AMOLED screen, earns it an immediate recommendation. But there is more, too.
We appreciate that the maker has taken the extra step and has provided some value-adding features like stereo speakers, fast charging on the large battery, and even a premium-looking design. The Poco F3 isn’t perfect, of course. Only the main camera offers good results, and there is no 3.5mm jack, or a microSD slot, or an official IP rating either.
Yet, at €300-€350 price, the Poco F3 is still tough to match, let alone beat in most aspects, and without a doubt, it will become the first choice for many potential buyers. And if they can live with the mediocre camera, they’ll love the F3 as we did.
Stunning design with a premium build.
Excellent AMOLED screen, 120Hz refresh rate.
Outstanding battery life, fast to charge, too.
Class-leading performance, 5G connectivity.
Good stereo speakers.
Good daylight photo and video quality.
Latest Android and MIUI.
No 3.5.mm jack, no microSD, no FM radio.
Ultra-wide camera is mediocre in both photos and videos.
Will it ever end? Xiaomi‘s Mi 11 lineup numbers as many as 8 devices at the time of writing this review, spanning a wide range of feature sets and price points. It’s the Mi 11i we have for you this time, following a couple of Lites, an Ultra, and the Mi 11 proper, which we all reviewed recently.
A few more words on naming and market positioning are needed for the sake of clarity, though ‘clarity’ might be an unattainable goal. We’ll be referring to the phone as Mi 11i because that’s what it says on the box we have here, but essentially the same device goes by Mi 11X Pro in India, and the two are in turn nearly identical to the Redmi K40 Pro+ sold in China. Here’s how they compare specs-wise.
Looking at the specs of the Mi 11i, we’re pegging it as a member of the ‘flagship killer’ breed if we assume that’s still a thing. It’s got the top-end Snapdragon 888 chip to justify being mentioned in the same sentence as the big boys, but that’s coupled with little downgrades throughout to be able to fit the killer budget.
Little being the operative word. The display isn’t 1440p as on the higher-specced Mi 11s, but it’s still a 120Hz-capable Super AMOLED with HDR support and sky-high brightness. The camera system is almost the same as on the Mi 11 proper – an 108MP main unit (albeit a different, smaller sensor), an ultrawide (lower-res, but with equally fixed focus) and the same 5MP sort-of-tele macro that’s better than most. A few dozen milliamp-hours in the battery capacity and 33W charging instead of 55W or 67W, meanwhile, are the definition of little downgrades as is the GG5 protection instead of Victus.
Xiaomi Mi 11i specs at a glance:
Body: 163.7×76.4×7.8mm, 196g; IP53 dust and splash protection.
The Mi 11i ships in the same white box with copper lettering we got on the Mi 11 proper. That’s in contrast to the black box we got the Mi 11 Ultra in.
That said, the India-bound Mi 11X Pro comes in a black box with a different design that includes a likeness of the phone on the lid.
The box contents, on the other hand, are identical for the Mi 11i and the Mi 11X Pro (well, minus the charger prongs, which vary by region). You get the 33W charger and a USB-A-to-C cable, a headphone dongle, and a clear silicone protective case.
The Mi 11i is facing some serious competition in Europe, where its €650 put it up against rivals within the Mi lineup, a few Galaxies (relatively new or slightly older), maybe a OnePlus too. The Mi 11X Pro alter ego is placed in a different context in India, where the INR40K price tag can get you a different OnePlus, or maybe a vivo, while Galaxies are harder to come by within the budget. Let’s go over the options.
For starters, the Mi 11 proper. For €50 to €100 extra, the series’ namesake will get you a more premium build (aluminum frame, Victus on the front), a higher-res display (1440p vs. 1080p) with a fingerprint reader in it and a couple of rear camera upgrades (bigger sensors on the main and ultrawide units). The Mi 11i, on the other hand, snatches a win for endurance, and that’s about it. We’re leaning heavily towards spending the extra money and getting the Mi 11 here.
The OnePlus 9 retails for €700, so another slightly pricier alternative to the Mi 11i. It has a superior set of main and ultra wide cameras but the Mi 11i counters with a more useful macro shooter. You’ll likely get slightly better battery life on the Mi while the OP is quicker to charge and features wireless charging. OxygenOS vs. MIUI is an entirely personal choice and feels like the only deciding difference between the two.
The Galaxy S20 FE can be had for anywhere between €500 and €700 depending on chipset version, storage level and retailer, and it’s not a bad idea to give it a shot if you’re eyeing the Mi 11i. The Galaxy has an IP68 rating and a tele camera, plus goodies like a microSD slot, wireless charging, and an under-display fingerprint sensor. The Mi 11i wins hands-down for performance thanks to its latest chip, but the Galaxy feels like a more well-rounded package.
Come to think of it, €700 buys you a Galaxy S21, the small one. Perhaps it wouldn’t be your first thought if you’re contemplating a Mi 11i, simply because of the size difference, but the S21 has virtues of its own. It uses a current-gen chipset, so the Mi’s performance advantage isn’t as pronounced. Victus on the front, wireless charging, IP68 rating, arguably better cameras overall – perhaps going small may not be such a bad idea.
Xiaomi Mi 11 • OnePlus 9 • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G • Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
From the standpoint of the Mi 11X Pro, the competition looks different. OnePlus sells the 9R for the same price in India, and it’s got small advantages like a more premium aluminum frame, an under-display fingerprint reader, and NFC. The 9R’s SD870 chip isn’t as brawny as the Mi 11X Pro’s, however, so if performance is key, get the Mi.
The vivo X60 is in a similar position. With SD870 under the hood, it can’t quite match the Mi’s performance but offers a tele camera, NFC, and an under-display fingerprint sensor, though it has a single speaker. The vivo is the lightest of the three, which could be a consideration too.
OnePlus 9R • vivo X60
The Mi 11i is a tough sell in Europe, pitted against marginally more expensive offerings from within or from the competition. While it has its strong points, it doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, and we’d pick one of the alternatives above.
As for the Mi 11X Pro, in its own local context, we’d say it makes more sense. It’s the best-priced entry into the world of SD888 performance, which can be reason enough for some buyers. And even if it’s missing NFC and a dedicated tele camera, it’s got enough merits in key areas to deserve your attention.
Excellent display – bright, accurate, HRR.
Top-tier chipset at a reasonable price.
Battery life around the top of the class.
Very good photo quality from the main camera in daylight and at night, okay ultrawide shots in good light.
Great video quality from the main camera, excellent video stabilization from both.
Plastic frame isn’t quite as premium, rear panel is a fingerprint magnet.
Side-mounted fingerprint sensor may not be to everyone’s liking.
IP53 rating isn’t quite like proper IP68-grade water resistance.
Just when we thought Xiaomi was ready to put the Mi 9 series to bed, the maker announced two new additions to the lineup – the affordable Mi 9CC9 and flagship Mi 9 Pro with a bleeding-edge chip. The Mi CC9 is truly the cheapest among the Mi 9 phones, but it’s anything but cheaply made.
The Mi CC9 joins the Mi 9 SE, Mi 9T, Mi 9T Pro, Mi 9, and Mi 9 Pro, and it seems the lineup is getting overcrowded and confusing. And we certainly won’t argue with that, but we won’t be ruling out the Lite as the one too many yet. At least, not before we see what it is capable of.
And the Xiaomi Mi CC9 looks quite promising with its large 6.39″ 1080p+ AMOLED, a Snapdragon 710 chipset, a triple camera on the back (wide/ultrawide/depth) and a massive 32MP selfie shooter at the front.
The Mi CC9 also impresses with a large 4,030 mAh battery, capable of fast charging; there is Android 9 with MIUI10; and we get all kinds of connectivity options including FM radio, an audio jack, IR blaster, and you can put in a microSD as well.
Xiaomi Mi CC9 is a rebranded version of the Asia-only Xiaomi Mi CC9. So, all findings in this review apply to the CC9, too.
Memory: 6GB of RAM; 64/128GB storage; hybrid microSD slot.
Battery: 4,030mAh Li-Po (sealed); 18W fast charging.
Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE-A, Cat.15/13 (800Mbps/150Mbps); USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; dual-band GPS; Bluetooth 5.0, FM radio, IR blaster.
Misc: Under-display fingerprint reader; single down-firing speaker; 3.5mm jack
The Xiaomi Mi CC9 looks beyond promising on paper, and we guess if it is priced right, it should be able to cement a spot in the market. Let’s get down to business, shall we?
Xiaomi Mi CC9 retail bundle
Our Mi CC9 unit arrived without a retail box, but we can still shed some light on what you will find inside. Xiaomi is shipping the phone with a USB-C cable and an 18W charger.
A soft transparent case is also part of the bundle, and some markets may even get the phone with a factory-applied screen protector.
With the latest Mi 9 lineup expansion, the series is already getting a bit overcrowded, and the names are starting to get confusing, especially when you throw those Pro variants in the mix. So, was the Mi CC9 really necessary?
Well, let’s start by saying the Xiaomi Mi CC9 delivers a stellar presentation across the board – it is a beautiful smartphone, with a large OLED screen, a fast and modern chipset, one beefy battery, and of course, the cameras impress with great photos and videos.
Indeed, once again Xiaomi has lived up to its promise and the Mi CC9 is a well-executed phone with a thoughtful pick of features and competitive price. So far, so good. But…
The Mi CC9 is a lighter version of both the Mi 9 and Mi 9T. And that’s great and was probably a good idea on paper before you realize it costs just €50 less than the Mi 9 or Mi 9T, while on some markets the price difference is even lower. And that’s the issue – both of these Mi 9 phones offer faster chips and additional zoom cameras on their backs. Oh, and the Mi 9T screen is notch-less. It’s hard to pass on either of these for the Lite.
Then we have the Redmi Note 8 and Note 8 Pro, which are both cheaper than the Mi CC9 but offer a similar feature set. Except their screens are LCD instead of OLED. The Redmi Note 8 is half the Mi CC9 price, but even its Pro version is still at least €60 cheaper than the Lite.
Xiaomi Mi 9 • Xiaomi Mi 9T • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 • Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
Xiaomi has so many phones to offer and they pretty much suffocate the Mi CC9 and we have a hard time imagining it will win many customers over the existing offers.
Outside Xiaomi’s own series, the Realme XT is a real treat with a dual Gorilla Glass 5 body, a large OLED screen, same chip, and a similar large battery. The Realme XT is priced closely to the Mi CC9 but has a more versatile camera with its 64MP primary cam and a fourth camera for macro shooting.
The Samsung Galaxy A70 has an even larger Super AMOLED screen, packs a similar punch under the hood, and its triple-camera is more or less the same as on the Mi CC9. The A70 boasts a larger battery with faster charging, and One UI is a pleasure to work with.
Realme XT • Samsung Galaxy A70
The Xiaomi Mi CC9 is a great smartphone which few will buy, unless you value its microSD card slot too much. Even if it were cheaper, the Redmi series would have still been the better choice. We think Xiaomi has gone too far with its Mi 9 series saturation and the Mi CC9 will be the first, and we hope the last, to fall into the oblivion because of that.
But if you happen to be among those few that discover enough reasons to buy a Lite – we’re sure it won’t disappoint you for a second.
The spirit of the first-ever Pocophone – the F1 – continues to live as part of the newly announced Poco X3 Pro and the Poco F3. These two mid-rangers reach new heights with 120Hz screens, flagship-grade chips, stereo speakers, large batteries. And today, we’ll be exploring the cheaper Poco X3 Pro – the first Snapdragon 860 carrier – and its bang for the buck features.
The Poco X3 Pro builds on top of the Poco X3 NFC, and they both look alike. The Pro version employs much better hardware, though – it is the first phone to run on the Snapdragon 860 SoC – a repackaged version of the once (and still) flagship Snapdragon 855+ chip.
Just like the Poco X3 NFC, the Poco X3 Pro is IP53-rated for dust protection and splash resistance, it packs a 6.67″ IPS LCD screen with 1080p resolution and 120Hz refresh rate support, and the same 5,160mAh battery capable of 33W fast charging. You also get stereo speakers, a microSD slot, NFC, an IR blaster, and even a 3.5mm jack.
Oddly, the camera is a bit different and not in a good way. See, the Poco X3 Pro has a quad-camera on its back with a 48MP primary, an 8MP ultrawide, a 2MP macro, and a 2MP depth snappers. It’s not bad, it’s just that the regular X3 model offered a 64MP main and a 13MP ultra-wide shooters, and we can’t but feel the Pro as being demoted in this department.
Well, obviously the most significant upgrade since the original X3 is the much-improved SoC, which should allow for reaching beyond 60fps on many of the popular games and utilize the full potential of the 120Hz screen. This is often an issue with the HRR-capable mid-rangers, and we will gladly take the update, be it at the expense of some camera megapixels.
Let’s dig into the specs now.
Poco X3 Pro specs at a glance:
Body: 165.3×76.8×9.4mm, 215g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 6), plastic frame, plastic back; IP53, dust and splash protection.
We can’t think of anything missing on this €250 phone. Yes, we would have liked a telephoto camera and an AMOLED screen, but maybe that’s why we have the Poco F3 and the supposedly upcoming F3 Pro?
We can feel we are in for a treat with the Poco X3 Pro, but before we dig in, let’s first unbox this thing.
Unboxing the Poco X3 Pro
The Poco X3 Pro retail bundle brings no surprises, and it is as rich as we are used to getting with the Poco and Redmi phones. Inside the box, you’ll find the promised 33W power adapter and а 3A-rated USB-C-to-A cable.
There is also a transparent silicone case, which has a small protective cover for the USB port. The flap is a bit annoying when you need to charge your Poco X3 Pro, but we can appreciate the extra care for the port.
And for the true Poco fans, the box also contains a bunch of Poco stickers you can put on your computer, monitor, desk, car, and whatnot.
The Poco X3 Pro gives you a flagship-grade screen, outstanding performance, excellent battery endurance and speedy charging at the unbeatable price of €249. And when you think it can’t get better than that, you notice the little things like splash protection, stereo speakers, a capable camera, and fan-favorite connectivity options. And then you just wonder how is it possible for Xiaomi to offer this so cheaply?
We can ponder on this as long as we like, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? What you should be asking is if the competition can match this offer.
The Realme 7 Pro is a good match to the Poco X3 Pro, and it shines with an AMOLED screen, but it’s limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, and the Snapdragon 720G is no threat to the flagship Snapdragon 860. The Realme 8 Pro is just around the corner, but it seems to be focused on camera upgrades instead of screen and/or performance.
A good gaming-oriented alternative is the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G – it costs as much as the Poco X3 Pro. It packs an HD 60Hz OLED and runs on the powerful Snapdragon 750G 5G chipset. Its quad-camera is quite capable, while the battery endurance is simply remarkable. We know this Samsung cannot match the 120Hz 1080p screen, but it can offer 5G and even more battery life while keeping the gaming performance on a similarly high note.
Then there is the already cheaper Poco X3 NFC. It has a bit better main camera and offers the same 120Hz screen, but the performance isn’t as impressive due to the mid-range Snapdragon 732G chip. You can get it for €50 cheaper than the Pro, but we are not sure if it’s worth it. If your budget is €200, you better keep an eye out for the early birds Poco X3 Pro sales, which will go for exactly €200.
The Redmi Note 10 Pro also costs €250 and is an excellent alternative to the Poco X3 Pro. This Redmi has an even better 120Hz AMOLED screen and some flagship-worthy 108MP main camera on the back. It matches the stereo speakers and battery skills and the IP53-rated body. The chipset in charge of everything is the Snapdragon 732G – which isn’t as powerful as the 860. You have to decide whether a better screen and camera are worthy over 40% or so performance gap.
Realme 7 Pro • Samsung Galaxy A42 5G • Samsung Galaxy A52 • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Finally, if you want a phone like the Poco X3 Pro, but with an AMOLED screen, look no further than the newly announced Poco F3. It’s literally the X3 Pro with a 120Hz OLED and an even faster Snapdragon 870 SoC (a repackaged SD865 version), but sadly the microSD slot had to go. The Poco F3 will go on sale for €350, but the early adopters will be able to get it for just €299.
We loved the Poco X3 Pro, and you can easily tell that. There is hardly a better performer at that price level. And early birds can get one for as low as €199.
The Poco X3 Pro offers unbeatable flagship bang for some entry-level buck, but it also impresses with so much more – display, speakers, battery, charging, and even camera. This achievement is something for the history books, just like the first Poco F1’s was and the X3 Pro receives our outright recommendation.
Signature design; IP53-rated for dust and splash resistance.
Large screen with 120Hz refresh and HDR10 support.
Excellent battery life, fast charging.
Balanced stereo speakers, good loudness.
Top notch performance, outstanding stability.
Dependable cameras day and night, okay selfies.
Good 4K clips, EIS works, too.
MIUI 12, Android 11, 3.5mm jack, IR blaster, microSD slot.
Intriguing launch price
Screen pixel response time isn’t ideal (we are nit-picking here).
Uncompromising gaming experience on the cheap. That’s what Xiaomi is aiming for with its second-best gaming phone, the Black Shark 4. It offers pretty much everything the Pro version has but tones down the chipset to Snapdragon 870 and swaps the main 64MP camera for a 48MP one. It may sound like a significant downgrade, but the competitive price tag of just €500 may be enough to convince you to pull the trigger. And the Black Shark 4 has two of those.
On top of the already standard 144Hz OLED panel, Xiaomi has included other gaming-specific features such as the physical shoulder triggers. That may not sound much given that Asus and nubia are doing it too, but these ones are physical, clickable buttons. And nothing beats those when it comes to gaming.
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 specs at a glance:
Body: 163.8×76.4×9.9mm, 210g; Glass front and back, metal frame.
The handset is also geared with a set of powerful loudspeakers and a proper cooling system making sure performance lasts. However, the camera setup covers only the bare minimum. Then again, that’s probably not what you are after if you are already here reading a gaming phone review.
What concerns us the most is the below-average battery capacity of 4,500 mAh. Hopefully, the extra fast 120W charging will make sure charging sessions are as short as possible. Xiaomi promises a full charge in just 17 minutes.
It’s also important to note that if you reside outside of China, the Pro model is probably out of reach anyway so this model is as good as it gets from Black Shark. The 4 Pro is a China-only exclusive at the time of writing, so the non-Pro model has the uneasy task to challenge the Snapdragon 888-equipped nubia Red Magic 6, which falls in the same price range.
So in this review, we will see if the trade-off for Snapdragon 870 is worth it, considering competition and pricing. We will also test various games on the Play Store and see if Xiaomi‘s gaming phone can saturate the 144Hz screen with the corresponding framerates. Gaming optimization is the Achilles heel of modern gaming smartphones, and so far, Asus has the lead with the most supported HRR games.
Unboxing the Xiaomi Black Shark 4
The Black Shark 4 comes in a standard retail box that weighs a little more than expected, mostly due to the chunky 120W charger. In case you are in China or a reviewer because the global variant of the handset ships with a 67W charger instead. The USB-A to USB-C cable for charging and data transfer is also at hand, along with a hard, plastic, semi-transparent case as a bonus.
The case doesn’t wrap around the whole handset, and we can’t say that it provides a good grip. On the upside, it doesn’t make the phone bulkier than it already is.
Since the gaming smartphone segment is still in its early stage, competition isn’t big, but there are still some alternatives to consider. The vanilla Black Shark 4‘s main advantage is its price. By providing a sub-flagship SoC, the handset manages to undercut the competition by few hundred bucks, in some cases.
The Black Shark 4‘s direct competitor is undoubtedly the OnePlus 9R. The only issue is that the latter’s availability is quite limited. It’s available in India where the Black Shark 4 is yet to launch but something tells us that pricing won’t be all that different from the 9R’s. Anyway, they both run on the same Snapdragon 870 chipset but the 9R “settles” for a less impressive 120Hz OLED panel, which is also smaller in size too. But the camera setup is more competent and offers shoulder triggers too. On the other hand, the Black Shark 4’s limited HRR control doesn’t make good use of the full 144Hz OLED. So this leaves the considerably faster charging, and the physical, clickable shoulder triggers as its only advantages.
Spending around €100 more for the nubia Red Magic 6 ensures a true flagship SoC – Snapdragon 888 and an even faster, more responsive 165Hz display. Taking advantage of the HRR display on the Red Magic 6 in games seems to be an easier task too. Nubia’s contender runs more games above 120fps than the Black Shark 4. It also has a built-in cooling fan, which although a bit noisy, does the trick during long gaming sessions. The shoulder triggers are touch-capacitive but are just as responsive and recognize different pressure levels.
And an honorable mention would be the Asus ROG Phone 5 just because there aren’t many gaming-oriented smartphones, to begin with. The pricing is way above the three phones mentioned above but it provides undoubtedly the most uncompromised gaming experience. It can run more games at 144Hz than the rest, offers gives the user much more control over the hardware and the accessories’ ecosystem is unbeatable. It all comes at a price premium, of course, as the current price of the vanilla ROG Phone 5 starts at around €750, which is €250 above the entry price for the Black Shark 4 and €150 more than what the Red Magic 6 asks.
On paper, the Black Shark 4 seemed like an easy recommendation. It offers an excellent price/performance ratio, it has a unique set of physical shoulder buttons for gaming, a fast and bright 144Hz OLED panel, great-sounding stereo speakers, insanely fast charging and dependable camera performance.
But as we dug deeper, the 144Hz display turned out to be a gimmick in a large portion of the games. Running at 144Hz wasn’t even possible in simple menus and apps. Support for HRR gaming is also extremely limited, beating the purpose of buying the Black Shark 4 solely for gaming. And when you add the not-so-great battery life and the lack of 4K video stabilization to the cons list, it makes it hard for us to give the handset a higher score.
Bright, 144Hz OLED display with HDR10+ support.
Great-sounding stereo speakers.
Dependable camera experience overall.
Plenty of useful gaming features, physical shoulder triggers with additional functionalities.
Super fast 120W charging.
Awesome haptic feedback around.
Solid sustained performance.
Quite limited HRR gaming support.
Poor HRR control outside of gaming too, limited to just 120Hz.