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Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro review: Overpriced and undercooked

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £240
inc VAT

Despite impressive audio performance and battery life, the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro are too expensive for what they offer


  • Exceptionally detailed audio
  • Above-average battery life
  • Spatial audio support


  • Far too expensive
  • Mediocre noise cancellation
  • Limited and restrictive customisation

The Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro were announced alongside the brand’s latest flagship smartphones, the Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro. While we were suitably impressed with both – rating them five and four stars respectively – the earbuds let the side down.

To be clear, there’s a reasonable amount to like about the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro: audio is rich and full, with plenty of definition across the frequency spectrum, and battery life is decent. However, certain features feel restrictive, others are missing entirely, and those that are present don’t justify the Buds 4 Pro’s lofty price tag.

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Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro review: What do you get for the money?

The Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro retail for £240, making them the most expensive entry into the brand’s true wireless range to date, and placing them among the priciest on the market. The Apple AirPods Pro 2 cost just £9 more, while our current favourite true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM4, started life at £250 but can now be found for less than £200.

Those are some seriously competitive heels to be nipping at, so let’s have a look at what the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro bring to the table. The buds operate over Bluetooth 5.3, with support for the SBC, AAC and LDAC audio codecs, and also offer Bluetooth multipoint, allowing you to connect to two devices simultaneously.

The design is fairly close to that of the brand’s last earbuds, the Buds 3T Pro, but there have been a few tweaks. Weatherproofing has been downgraded slightly to IP54, but does now apply to both the buds and the case. The all-matte colourway has been replaced with a two-tone effect, with a stylish reflective strip running down the outside of the stem. It’s an attractive enough look that you can get in either Space Black or the Star Gold reviewed here. The gold colouring is subtle to say the least, so looks silver in most lighting conditions.

The charging case shares the two-tone aesthetic, with a matte base and a shiny mirror-like lid. At 39.5g, it’s one of the lightest cases I’ve come across, but that doesn’t stop it from offering some pretty impressive battery life. The buds themselves can last up to nine hours in-ear with ANC and spatial audio disabled, but the case bumps that up to a solid total of 38 hours. Wireless charging is supported, and just five minutes on a wired charge should yield a further three hours of listening time.

Similarly to the AirPods Pro 2, controls are managed by pressure-sensitive panels on the sides of each stem. A single squeeze plays and pauses, a double squeeze skips to the next track, triple squeezing skips you back, while a squeeze and hold cycles through the noise cancellation options. These can be customised in the Xiaomi Earbuds app, though the options are frustratingly limited. It’s also worth noting that the app is only available on Android, so if you use an iPhone, you’ll want to steer clear.

Noise cancellation can also be fine-tuned in the app, with six strengths to choose from, as well as an adaptive mode that will jump between them based on the level of noise around you. There’s also a transparency mode with three settings – Regular, Enhance Voice and Enhance Ambient Sound – as well as an option to have transparency turn on automatically when the buds detect you speaking.

Finally, the app is also where you can switch on dimensional audio, Xiaomi’s take on spatial audio. There are two switches for this, one of which engages the mode, while the other toggles head-tracking on and off. Dimensional audio works across all platforms regardless of content type, so you aren’t hampered by the restrictions that Sony’s 360 Reality Audio or Apple’s Spatial Audio are burdened with.

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Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro review: What did we like about them?

If there’s one thing that is unequivocally positive about the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro, it’s their audio quality. The 11mm dual-magnet drivers deliver impressive detail and energy across the frequency spectrum. Blondie’s “Call Me”, for instance, is defined by its crisp and bouncy treble reproduction, but the buds strike a keen balance between the instrumental, lead and backing vocals to prevent less prominent elements from being lost in the mix.

All of that articulation in the upper and mid ranges doesn’t come at the expense of the other extreme, either. A pounding drum beat kicks off The Cure’s “Close to Me”, and it doesn’t lose any weight as the vocals drop in. The low end can sometimes drift into overbearing territory, with something like Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” threatening to lose some of the lower-mids to the force of the thrumming bass, but it’s infrequent enough to not be a major problem.

While the soundstage is fairly narrow on the standard setting, things become broader when you switch on the dimensional audio mode. You don’t get the same positional accuracy as you do from options such as the Apple AirPods Pro 2 or Sony WF-1000XM4, but being able to make use of the mode no matter what you’re listening to is a big advantage.

While listening to Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” on Spotify, each instrument sounded distinct within the expanded soundstage, and there was a greater level of overall definition to each layer of the song. The pattering rainfall and crunching footsteps during a detective audiobook on Audible were similarly well layered, while the crowded streets of “Carnival Row” on Prime Video came alive with the cries of market sellers and the whinnies of passing horses. It may not be supremely accurate when placing positional audio cues in its soundstage, but the mode certainly helps elevate your level of immersion.

The only real issue with the spatial audio is that the head tracking is pretty sluggish. When you turn it on, it takes the audio roughly 13 seconds to catch up and re-centre you in the virtual space, which is one of the longest delays I’ve encountered. The 1MORE Aero, for instance, averaged around ten seconds, while the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 were closer to five.

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Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro review: What could be improved?

In terms of triage, the first thing that needs to be addressed is the price. The Buds 4 Pro may sound great, but there are plenty of much cheaper earbuds that do that and then some. The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4, for example, perform well on the audio front and cost £100 less than the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro. They also offer better noise cancellation, a customisable EQ and spatial audio of similar effectiveness.

If Xiaomi is intent on pushing the Buds 4 Pro at this price point, a huge amount of work is needed to expand and improve the feature set, with noise cancellation requiring the most attention. It managed to cut out a good chunk of the ambient sound on my train journey, but I’ve used several pairs of sub-£200 earbuds that performed better. The Adaptive mode didn’t ever seem to crank up to full strength either, even in the noisiest environments, so I stuck with the manual settings.

Other common true wireless features are either half-baked or missing entirely. The touch controls are customisable, but only to a certain extent. The Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro offer wear detection, so ideally you’d be able to swap out the single squeeze control for something other than playing and pausing, but there’s no option to do so.

Equally, a double squeeze on either bud skips tracks forward, which is fine, but I would have liked to create a setup where a double squeeze on one bud skips forward and a double squeeze on the other skips back. Sadly, there’s no way to do so – controls are unnecessarily restrictive and make for a more complicated and obstructive listening experience.

Perhaps the most unforgivable omission for buds that cost this much is the lack of any EQ options. The audio isn’t screaming for a dramatic overhaul, but everyone has different tastes, and even just a few presets would be welcome. A simple graphic equaliser would also make it easy to soften the bass a little for those, like me, who find that it becomes overbearing at times.

The other major missing feature is the lack of any voice assistant support. I didn’t expect Siri, given that even the app isn’t available on iPhones, but support for either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa – or, ideally, both – should be high on the list of update priorities.

Finally, I also encountered some minor connectivity issues that are disappointing at any price point. When first connecting to the Buds 4 Pro, the buds would occasionally refuse to play audio. This was easily fixed by disconnecting and reconnecting them, but it’s an irritation I could have done without. I’d sometimes hear very brief static cut through the audio, too, which is far from ideal.

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Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro review: Should you buy them?

The short answer, unfortunately, is no. The laundry list of issues and missing features is too extensive for a pair of earbuds that are priced similarly to the best in the business. Which is a real shame, because the Buds 4 Pro deliver an engaging audio experience. At the premium end of the market, however, that simply doesn’t cut it.

If you want the best buds around, save yourself some money and pick up the Sony WF-1000XM4 for under £200. Audio quality is excellent, the noise cancelling is smart and effective, and it’s joined by a host of other useful features. Alternatively, if you’re after an even cheaper option, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 are available for £140 and offer similar audio quality and spatial audio, plus a wider range of features and better noise cancellation.

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