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Poco is a consumer-focused smartphone manufacturer, spun off from parent company Xiaomi in January 2020. Recent reviews on ZDNet include affordable 5G handsets, such as the Poco X4 Pro 5G and Poco M4 Pro 5G. Next up is the flagship-class Poco F4 GT, which costs €599 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, or €699 for a 12GB/256GB version. Poco phones are not officially available in the US, and UK pricing had yet to be announced at the time of writing (mid-May 2022).
The Poco F4 GT runs on Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, and has a 120Hz refresh rate alongside 120W fast charging which, it is claimed, will charge the handset's 4700mAh battery in 17 minutes. There are several features designed specifically for gamers, including pop-up triggers. But is this a handset with appeal beyond gamers?
The 6.67-inch Poco F4 GT has a footprint 76.7mm wide by 162.5mm deep, is 8.5mm thick and weighs 210g. There are three colour options: Knight Silver, Cyber Yellow, and Stealth Black, which I was sent. All three have the camera's LED light in a Harry Potter-style zigzag window that sits outside a significantly protruding camera lozenge. A narrow strip down the length of the backplate and two angular patterns half way down the long back edge reflect light back from the otherwise matte finish. Opt for the yellow variant and you get orange and black highlights on the back.
Whichever colour variant is chosen, the glass back and Gorilla Glass Victus front ensure a degree of protection from drops, and make the phone feel weighty and substantial in the hand. It is a pity that there's no IP rating noted in the specifications.
The sides of the handset reveal features designed to appeal to gamers. One of these is a pair of pop-up triggers -- buttons used as gaming controllers that sit on the far left and right of one long edge. They are flush with the chassis edge by default, and a pair of sliding buttons are used to pop them out and retract them.
The triggers can be assigned to specific actions within games, and given sounds when pressed to enhance the gaming experience. They can also be given single- and double-press actions when you're not gaming. The triggers are popped out individually, so you could leave one active all the time and use its non-gaming functionality for everyday tasks.
Speakers are located on the short edges, positioned so that you don't cover them when holding the phone with your forefingers on the two triggers. The four speakers – a tweeter and a woofer at each end – output suitably high-quality sound, which is as welcome when you're watching video or listening to music as when gaming. There's no 3.5mm audio jack, but you do get a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter in the box.
There is also what Poco calls a 'gaming mic' design. As well as mics in the usual locations, there's a third one in the centre of the long edge opposite the triggers. This is specifically placed so that it's not obscured when the phone is held in gaming mode, catering for any voice-driven action.
Gaming support even extends to the charging cable which is L-shaped so that it can be tucked out of the way if the battery needs charging while you're in the middle of a game.
Elsewhere there's an IR blaster on the upper edge, and the bundled Mi Remote software means you can use the phone to control devices like a TV. The main power button is on the right long edge, with a fingerprint sensor built into it, while the volume rocker is tucked away on the opposite side where it's clear of the triggers. Here you'll also find the SIM caddy, which accommodates a pair of SIMs but does not accommodate a MicroSD card slot for storage expansion.
The 6.67-inch AMOLED display with 10-bit colour support and a resolution of 2,400 by 1,080 pixels (20:9, 395ppi). The pixel density is a little on the low side, but in use I found the screen perfectly clear and bright -- it maxes out at 800 nits. With a maximum 120Hz refresh rate, 480Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+ and DCI-P3 colour gamut support the screen might seem to tick all the boxes, but in fact the refresh rate appears to be either 60Hz or 120Hz, set manually or adjustable automatically. More advanced LTPO refresh rate setting, which can adjust in finer gradients and ratchet right down to 1Hz to conserve battery life, is now reasonably widespread on flagship phones.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset is pretty much the standard for high-end phones these days, and in my review handset, which was the top-end model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, it turned in Geekbench 5 CPU scores averaging 1247 (single core) and 3725 (multicore). That puts the Poco F4 GT in the front rank of Android handsets on this benchmark.
Out of the box, 28GB of storage was already in use, leaving with 228GB for applications and data. As already noted, storage is not expandable via MicroSD card, the SIM slot only accommodating two 5G SIMs.
Poco augments Android 12 with the MIUI 13 overlay, which adds a number of apps, features and settings tweaks. These include duplicates for some of the Android staples such as a music player and gallery app, third-party apps such as Spotify, TikTok and Facebook, and some extras such as a notes app, compass, wireless sharing app and a comprehensive themes application as well as the Mi Remote app mentioned earlier. It's far from a clean Android experience, but that's the Poco way.
The Poco F4 GT has three rear cameras: 64MP f/1.9 wide angle, 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide (120°) and 2MP f/2.4 macro. The front camera, which is embedded into the screen, is a 20MP f/2.4 unit. The two main cameras are fine for point-and-shoot photography, but the macro lens is not particularly impressive, limited by its fixed focus and 2MP resolution. Selfies with the front camera were perfectly acceptable.
The Poco F4 GT has a 4700mAh battery which kept the phone going for 11 hours and 13 minutes under the PCMark for AndroidWork 3.0 battery life test. When asked to stream YouTube video for three hours from a full charge it lost 18%, suggesting total battery life of around 16.7 hours.
Charging is exceptionally fast when the provided 120W charger is used. Poco says a full charge can be achieved in 17 minutes. For a real-world test, I plugged in with the battery at 21%: after five minutes it had reached 53%, after 10 minutes it was at 79% and after 15 minutes it was at 98%.
Although the Poco F4 GT offers features aimed specifically at gamers, this should not put off potential buyers seeking a powerful, solidly built and relatively affordable phone. Indeed, these features can enhance usability for everyone. In addition, battery life is good, and the 120W fast charging really impresses.
However, if you require MicroSD card expansion, bloatware is an issue or high-quality cameras are needed, this might not be the phone for you.
If you're looking for a phone designed specifically for gaming, the Nubia Red Magic 7 Pro, from the gaming arm of ZTE, is currently ZDNet's top choice. There are plenty of flagship-class Android phones at a similar price point, and we'd highlight the OnePlus 10 Pro as among the best.