Poco F4 GT review: Blurring the lines  - MrLiambi's blog

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Thursday, 7 July 2022

Poco F4 GT review: Blurring the lines 

The Poco F4 GT is a puzzling proposition in a number of ways. First of all, it launched ahead of any 'regular' Poco F4 model, so it's not exactly clear where it fits in the company's lineup. 

Secondly, it is - broadly speaking - just a rebadged Redmi K50 Gaming, which, in itself, is remarkably similar to the Black Shark 5 series.

In short, there are a lot of blurred lines. On paper, however, it does still tick all the right boxes for those who want a fast and powerful mid-range smartphone.

Does it deliver, then, or is this a rebranded device that's worth skipping over? 

Design 

  • 162.5 x 76.7 x 8.5mm
  • 210g
  • Physical, magnetic pop-up shoulder triggers
  • Gorilla Glass Victus front

When you're part of a wider company that churns out dozens of new phone models every quarter, making a brand new design for every regional variation of a product is obviously unfeasible. So, it's not exactly surprising to see a cut-and-paste job on a Poco phone. In fact, Poco and Redmi (both Xiaomi sub-brands) have often released very similar devices in the past. 

For the most part, it's very much the typical glass rectangle slab, so we won't bore you with too many of the typical details. However, there's still plenty here that sets it apart from your typical smartphone. As always, it's the small details that make the difference.

With elements like the gaping channels on the top and bottom edge, designed to let out the sound from the stereo speakers, this is very different to the grilled design we often see. 

Then there's the LED lighting around the camera unit on each side. Two mirrored chevrons of light illuminate and can be set to come on for different purposes. For instance, they'll light up when you plug the phone in to charge, and you can have them flash and pulse when you receive notifications and phone calls. You can even have them light up when gaming. 

As if that wasn't magic enough, the LED flash for the camera itself is set in a Harry Potter-esque lightning-shaped scar next to the camera housing. Sadly, you still have to manually hunt for the flashlight icon in quick settings to turn it on, though - you can't just yell "Lumos Maxima" and hope it'll do something. 

One other quirk is something we've seen before on Black Shark's gaming phones: shoulder buttons. You can flick a couple of switches on the right side of the phone and have two physical trigger switches pop out of the side. Their primary use is for gaming, and you can map them to different functions in different games. For instance, in Call of Duty Mobile, we'd have the left set to aim and the right set to shoot. 

You can also have them programmed for other shortcuts when you're not gaming, however. In fact, you can program two actions for each button: one for a double press, and another for a long press. Options include turning on the torch, launching the camera, initiating a voice recording, or screen recording. 

It's a useful feature to have - especially if you like the tactile feedback you get from actually pressing a button versus touching a glass screen. And, during games, we've definitely found it helps, even if only because it keeps our fingers off the screen and avoids blocking the view. 

One other button worth mentioning is the power button, which also doubles as the fingerprint sensor. This is both good and bad.

It's good in that it's reliable and quickly unlocks the phone when you mean to, but it's bad because it'll react to any touch from your body and register a failed attempt. 

We'd often find ourselves being informed we had to input our PIN number because we had too many failed attempts at unlocking, simply because the sensor had brushed against our palm too many times while removing the phone from a pocket. 

As with most gaming phones, the phone is also rather large. It's quite heavy, wide and tall, but this is alleviated somewhat by some gentle curving on the rear surface, which, at least, ensures it's not terribly uncomfortable to hold on to. The soft-touch glass finish has a nice feel to it, too, and ensures that fingerprint smudges aren't all that obvious. 

Display and media 

  • 6.7-inch AMOLED display
  • 1080 x 2400 resolution
  • 1 billion colours, HDR10+, 120Hz peak refresh rates

There are a couple of things the Poco F4 GT gets absolutely right, and one of those is media consumption. Its combination of a big, bright AMOLED display and the four-speaker stereo system (tuned by JBL) combine to give you a phone that's absolutely brilliant for watching movies, music videos and TV shows on. 

There's not a lot new to say about the display itself, mind, because it's a configuration we've seen a few times before now. It's a big, 6.7-inch panel capable of reaching up to 120Hz refresh rates, while also supporting 1 billion colours and HDR10+. 

All of those combine to ensure this is a phone that handles the brightness highlights and deepest blacks, while also delivering a wide spectrum of colours and super-smooth refresh rates when the on-screen content needs it. 

It's a genuinely very good display for consuming media on, thanks to those qualities. The fact it's flat also helps, ensuring that you don't get any distortion or warping of colours towards the edges. 

If there's any criticism, it's that the default 'Vivid' mode is a little oversaturated. However, the good thing about MIUI 13, Poco's Xiaomi skin, is that you can adapt and adjust the colour balance of the screen a multitude of ways. 

You can select to have more natural colour, or boost it further, or even dive into the advanced settings to choose a specific colour profile like sRGB or P3, with further tweaks available to adjust things like contrast, gamma and colour tints. We found setting it to P3 gave us the colour profile we preferred. It was vibrant and rich without seeming too over the top and hyperreal. It's a good option to have. 

While the display is undoubtedly bright, the auto-brightness could do with some improvement, however. We often found it would darken a bit too much automatically, and we'd regularly have to reach for the brightness slider and manually adjust it. 

The loudspeakers, placed on both the top and bottom edge of the phone, fire out sounds that are richer and fuller than the stereo speakers you get on most phones. They're also pretty loud, which is great for ensuring you never miss notifications, but also maybe not so great when it comes to not annoying family members or colleagues. In fact, we barely ever had the volume higher than about 30 per cent. It's that loud. 

Performance and battery

  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • 8GB/128GB or 12GB/256GB options
  • 4700mAh battery; 120W charging
  • 100 per cent charge in 17 minutes

Anyone familiar with Snapdragon's flagship processors will know what kind of performance to expect from the F4 GT, if only because it's the same processor you'll find in all the top Android phones from nearly every manufacturer. 

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor means you'll get effortless speed, fast app loading and smooth animations. Poco's software being quite fluid and responsive also adds to that feeling.

In all of our testing, there was no single game that it struggled to deliver peak performance with. It never stuttered or lagged, and didn't drop any frames noticeably. The only thing really worth noting here - apart from being generally excellent - is that it does sometimes get a little warm after gaming for 15-20 minutes or so. 

The one thing that we feel hinders the speed and feeling of 'getting things done' is the software. Xiaomi's latest version of MIUI adds a lot of unnecessary layers, just like some previous versions do. 

Separating out the quick settings and notifications to different sides of the display makes it more cumbersome to operate. Likewise, the way it automatically enables the magazine unlock Lock Screen feature by default, and then keeps hassling you to try it when you disable it is frustrating. 

However, Poco's version of MIUI is at least lightweight in other regards. You don't get a tonne of pre-loaded redundant apps, and the customisation menu makes it really easy to change and adapt the look of the interface to your liking. Although, even here, if you go to change the wallpaper, instead of going to the wallpaper changing screen, it takes you to a theme store full of downloadable wallpapers, which is impossible to navigate quickly. 

Despite being a relatively large 4700mAh battery, a full charge didn't quite last us as long as we thought it might. On busy days, starting the day on 100 per cent, we'd sometimes find we'd drained nearly 80 per cent of the battery by bedtime. On lighter days, even in a 4G-only area, we'd struggle to make it last two days. 

Of course, the level of usage greatly impacts the draining of the battery. Just 7-8 races in Mario Kart Tour, roughly 20 minutes in total, was enough to drop the battery over 10 per cent.  

Despite this, we never once had any form of battery anxiety, though, and that's primarily due to the charging speeds. Like some of Xiaomi's other recent phones, it has a 120W wired charger in the box and it can refill an empty battery in 17 minutes. That type of speed is pretty life-changing. 

It's one of those features that meant we didn't ever resort to charging over night. There was no need. We simply waited until we got a notification when it dropped below 20 per cent, and then plugged it in. In around 10-15 minutes, it was full again. It's brilliant. 

Cameras

  • 64MP f/1.9 primary
  • 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide
  • 2MP f/2.4 macro 
  • 20MP selfie camera

Cameras defnitely weren't the first priority for Poco when creating the F4 GT, with the focus clearly on performance and gaming. However, the camera system on the back is more than capable of taking decent photos. It's reliable and quick enough to focus that you can easily point and shoot and be confident of getting a usable shot for sharing on social media. 

collection: Photo collection 1

Photos are sharp, in focus, and with enough colour and contrast to stop them looking flat. In fact, it even focuses well on objects that are close up and small. We rarely had to move back and refocus to get a shot.

If there's any criticism, it's that the processing does appear to be quite heavy-handed on the contrast front, delivering a high-contrast look with a bit too much darkness in shadows and dark, crushed looking colours at times.

For the most part, if you use either the primary or the ultrawide outdoors in good daylight, you'll get good shots. Indoors, or when the light levels drop, you'll start to see noise creeping in on the darker, shadowed parts of the image, however. 

collection: Photo Collection 2

It's also worth noting there's a bit of a difference between results on the ultrawide and the primary, with the former not looking quite as good as the latter. While relatively closely matched, there are instances where colours and contrast look a lot more muted on the ultrawide, but not in a good way. They take on a slightly washed-out appearance with rougher details. 

collection: Cat picture

On the plus side, the main camera doesn't seem to get confused by things like animal fur, giving you nice, sharp pictures of all your favourite furry friends. And with really effective HDR processing, you'll get a colourful blue sky in the background, rather than completely washed out skies that are overexposed. In the end, then, this is a solid camera unit that'll be just fine for pretty much everyone. 



Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/phones/reviews/xiaomi/161624-poco-f4-gt-review

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