Xiaomi has announced a new smartphone, the Poco M6 Pro, and if the proposed spec sheet and price estimates are to be believed, it may be a serious contender for the best budget smartphone of 2023. So what's the catch?
The bottom line is, the Poco M6 Pro has some impressive specs for a very impressive price. It offers a Snapdragon 4 Gen 2 chip, plus a 50-megapixel dual AI camera for a staggeringly low price of just $132/£103. The M6 Pro is only available in India for the time being, but like other Poco phones, will eventually make its way around the world (rumoured for a US release of December).
The Poco M6 Pro also has the latest Android 13, MIUI 14 operating system, which will be upgradable to the newest Android 14 launching any day now, and has USB Type-C charging which is great for a budget mid-range Android phone. Unfortunate cutbacks include no NFC connectivity, but we can't have it all.
So where does the Poco M6 Pro sit in the sprawling family tree of Xiaomi sub-brand phones? It all started in 2018 with the release of the Pocophone F1, and Xiaomi has since branched out into creating F, M, X, and C series Poco smartphones. The new M6 Pro model replaces the Poco M5 (released in September 2022), and similarly to Xiaomi's Redmi branch of smartphones, Poco phones aren't designed to be the best in the industry but still have plenty to offer at budget prices.
The Poco M6 Pro does lack a little in resolution, especially in comparison with the Poco F5 Pro (released May 2023), which has a beautiful high-res 120Hz AMOLED display and currently retails for around $498. It also has a 64MP main camera, can shoot 8K video at 24FPS, and has a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip powering the device.
With a LCD screen and 90Hz refresh rate, the M6 Pro isn't terrible but suffers a little in comparison to its siblings, although the display size is bigger at 6.79 inches. Not so "Poco" and more "grande" if you ask us. If you're in need of an affordable budget camera phone, the Xiaomi Poco X5 Pro (released February 2023) has a generous 108-megapixel main camera with 4K video capabilities at just £339 / $300 (approximately).
Is this a huge deal? Maybe not. Resolution isn't everything after all, and at such a low price for a new smartphone, it's hard for this to be a dealbreaker. But it does seem a little silly for Xiaomi to advertise a 50-megapixel camera phone if you're limited to viewing the images on a lower-res display.
Although, smartphone camera megapixels aren't as impressive-sounding or as accurate as megapixels on a digital camera, due to a process known as pixel binning. Smartphone pixels are grouped together to form a superpixel, but output at lower resolutions to reduce noise and improve frame rate. These pixels are a fraction of the size of pixels in full-frame cameras - but there's more of them.
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While the Xiaomi Poco M6 Pro might be one of the cheapest new smartphones we've seen on the scene, if you are in fact looking for a flagship Xiaomi phone that ticks all of the boxes, and has an amazing Leica-engineered camera, then see our review of the Xiaomi 13 Pro – which our reviews editor described as a "pro-content-creator proposition" that brings the fight directly to the Samsung Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14.
Also in this lineup is the Xiaomi 13 Lite, which impressively undercuts its fierce competition, as well as the standard Xiaomi 13 model which is a great alternative for budget-conscious Apple fans, also boating an amazing-quality Leica-developed camera unit for shooting content on the go.