In a world where wireless earbuds are increasingly becoming a must-have gadget, Xiaomi has stepped up its game by unveiling the Buds 4 Pro at MWC 2023. Featuring Hi-Res Audio Wireless, active noise cancellation, and dimensional audio, these earbuds aim to cater to a wide range of listeners, from casual users to audiophiles. They are Xiaomi’s answer to the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro.
In this review, I will take a closer look at the £240/€240 Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro – check price and availability on mi.com (UK), mi.com (DE), mi.com (FR). I will explore its key features, design elements, overall performance and compare these earbuds to other alternatives.
Read on to discover if the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro is the right choice for your listening needs.
|Design, hardware, what’s in the box|
Should you buy them?
Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro review: Design, hardware, what’s in the box
Last year, I shared my thoughts on the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro, noting its light design, ergonomic shape, and comfortable fit. Other key features included sound quality, noise cancellation, easy dual-device connection, and good battery life. Now, the Buds 4 Pro has made improvements in most of these areas, offering a better overall experience.
Look & feel
What is clear from the outset is that Xiaomi has opted for a more refined and elegant design this time around. Out of the box Buds 4 Pro immediately catch your attention.
The retail package arrives with the earbuds, a few different sized ear tips, a charging case, a Type-C charging cable and instruction booklet. You get to choose between two colour options, Space Black and Star Gold. Both lean towards sophistication rather than playfulness. My review unit was the latter – Star Gold with hints of Silver.
The charging case, reminiscent of a space capsule, boasts a stylish dual-tone design. The top portion has a sleek, glossy finish, whereas the lower section sports a matte texture. With dimensions of 59 x 47 x 27 millimetres, the case is marginally smaller than that of the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro.
As before, there’s a tiny indicator light towards the middle of the case. This shows battery levels and charging progress. At the very bottom is a USB-C connector and next to it a barely visible pairing/reset button. You really have to look for it to see it.
When not in use, the buds are designed to be stored within the case. The powerful magnets securely hold them in an upright position, and the same magnet strength extends to the case’s closure. This ensures there is no risk of any components accidentally falling out.
The pair of buds feature a distinct flat, square-ish stem, which departs from the traditional curved oval form. This innovative design actually enhances their grip, making them easier to handle.
I found the buds provide exceptional comfort due to their soft-touch plastic tips and small size. Of course, selecting the right plastic tip is crucial for enhancing your listening experience as well as noise cancellation.
I encountered no unease or tension while wearing the buds for prolonged durations. As someone who often falls asleep to podcasts, they make the perfect companion. In fact, I found them more comfortable for this purpose than the Buds 3T Pro, due to their shorter stems. The likelihood of dislodging them while in contact with a pillow or during regular tossing and turning is reduced. This snug fit renders them appropriate for light physical activities as well.
Water resistance is rated as IP54. Which means Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro are water-resistant but not waterproof. So it goes as far as splash protection for activities such as running or cycling in the rain.
Each bud houses three concealed microphones: one for voice pickup and the other two for noise cancellation. But more about this later.
The stem features a pinch control area that enables various functions. A firm squeeze once will play/pause music or answer/end calls, while a double short press skips to the next track or declines a call. A triple squeeze skips back to the previous track, and a long press toggles between noise cancellation and transparency modes. There is no volume control, which is not ideal. You can trigger the controls on either bud.
The squeeze-type functionality helps prevent accidental activations but can be tricky to use initially. Located near the stem’s centre, these controls produce a satisfying click when pressed. Once familiar, they work effectively, although responding quickly to calls may still be challenging due to their finicky nature. It is definitely something you get better at with repeated use.
As far as battery life, the Buds 4 Pro do not disappoint. Each earbud houses a 53 mAh battery, while the case contains a 565 mAh battery.
A single charge provides enough juice for around 9 hours of audio playback. The case further extends this by offering 3.7 full charges, totaling 38 hours of use—an impressive feat! The phone’s status bar always displays the battery status indicators of the earbuds, so that’s a quick way of checking how much is left in the tank.
Such battery capacity stands out among high-end competitors. It’s also worth mentioning that the Buds 4 Pro provide versatile charging options, including both USB-C wired and wireless methods. They support standard Qi charging, ensuring compatibility with a broad array of chargers. Which means you can do away with cables and cords. All you need is a compatible QI charging pad.
Charging is notably fast as well. Simply place the buds in the case for approximately 5 minutes, and you can enjoy up to 3 hours of uninterrupted playback. This feature proves particularly handy in situations where you may have forgotten to keep them topped up.
Below is a tech comparison of Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro and last year’s Buds 3T Pro. As can be seen from the table, there are improvements across the board. The new buds are smaller, lighter, have longer battery life, better noise cancellation, dynamic drivers and more.
Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro
Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro
Lightweight, semi in-ear design
Lightweight, semi in-ear design
Dimensions of charging case
59 x 47 x 27 mm
65 x 49 x 24 mm
Star Gold, Space Black
Gloss White, Carbon Black
Single bud: 5.0 grams, Case: 39.5 grams
Single bud: 4.9 grams, Case: 48 grams
9 hours on a single charge
29 additional hours with charging case (Type-C charging port) for a total of 38 hours.
5 minutes of charging is enough for 3 hours music playback
6 hours on a single charge
18 additional hours with charging case (Type-C charging port) for a total of 24 hours
Up to 48dB (3 modes)
Up to 40dB (3+1 modes)
10m (open space free of obstacles)
10m (open space free of obstacles)
Audio codecs supported
AAC, SBC, LHDC
AAC, SBC, LHDC
IP54 dust and water resistance (buds)
IP55 dust and water resistance (buds)
Price (typical RRP)
Upon opening the case, the buds automatically power on. When placed back in the case and the lid is closed, they enter sleep mode and disconnect from any connected devices.
Like any similar product, an initial pairing process is required. However, this is both quick and simple.
To pair, press the button at the base of the case for two seconds while the lid is open. The LED light will blink white. Next, connect to the buds through the Bluetooth settings on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. After the initial pairing, the buds will connect automatically, eliminating the need to repeat the process.
The Bluetooth 5.3 connection is reliable, and the buds generally connect without issue. They can also be linked to two devices at the same time, with seamless switching between them. The feature can be useful, for example, if you are listening to music or watching a movie on a laptop and a call comes through on your smartphone.
The buds maintain a connection up to 10 meters away from your phone in open spaces without obstacles. However, within an apartment with walls acting as barriers, the sound may begin to drop after about 8 meters. It all depends on the setup of the surrounding area. One room away you are fine. Two rooms away with multiple wall barriers between you and the phone, they will begin to struggle.
If the connection is lost, the buds enter passive connection mode for roughly 5 minutes. If still out of range after 10 minutes, they transition to sleep mode.
For iPhone users, the buds need to be used without the accompanying smartphone app, which is a bit annoying. As you’ve probably guessed, my device of choice is the Apple phone so this review is based on that experience.
Android users can install the Xiaomi Earbuds app from the Google Play store, simplifying the initial pairing process. The app allows customization of gestures on each earbud, control of in-ear detection, voice detection, and active noise cancellation. Additionally, it features a “find the earbuds” function in case they are misplaced.
But whatever phone you own you will be able to utilise the force sensor area on the buds. This comes preinstalled with functions by default. The same is the case for many other features.
As far as sound, the Buds 4 Pro are equipped with 11mm dual-magnet drivers and support LDAC, SBC, and AAC streaming codecs. The Sony LDAC codec enables Hi-Res audio streaming at up to 990 kbps and audio depth of 96KHz/24bit and above, on compatible Android OS smartphones as long as your phone is compatible. If not, they will automatically switch to AAC.
Xiaomi claims that their latest buds deliver studio-quality sound performance, characterised by rich detail and minimal distortion. This pretty much aligns with my experience.
The buds provide a well-balanced sound profile, complete with crisp high tones and vocals. They also offer substantial bass that doesn’t overpower other sounds, resulting in a pleasurable listening experience.
A notable improvement is the volume capacity. In my review of last year’s Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro, I found this to be insufficient for noisy environments. However, the Buds 4 Pro have ample volume for listening to music or conducting phone calls in loud surroundings, such as a noisy commute. What’s more, sound quality remains consistent even at these high volumes.
A final feature worth mentioning is the optional head tracking capability. It detects your head position when you press play, and then adjusts the soundstage as you turn your head. This creates an effect in which the sound becomes more pronounced in one ear and softer in the other. Unfortunately, it is only supported by recent Xiaomi phone models.
I didn’t have the chance to test this feature as it is switched off by default. But the concept is to mimic a 360-degree sound experience, similar to what you might find in theaters or live concerts. As with other devices offering this kind of functionality, dimensional audio is still relatively new and developing.
Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro review: Noise cancellation
The buds manage noise cancellation quite effectively with three microphones built into each earbud. Without the Xiaomi app, you can only use the default adaptive ANC mode. This monitors ambient noise in real-time and automatically selects the right noise cancellation mode (Light, Balanced, and Deep).
Xiaomi says it blocks up to 48dB of noise and can reduce background sounds by as much as 99%. However, this “up to” figure won’t be achieved in every situation. Noise cancellation is most effective for constant, low sounds and less so for abrupt, high-pitched ones.
On a busy street, most noise will be canceled, creating a relatively quiet environment. You’ll hear muffled engine sounds and some background noise, but increasing the volume can help you forget you’re outside.
In windy conditions, the buds don’t perform as well. Having said that, they do have an AI-powered feature that reduces wind noise up to 32.4 km/h, which is suitable for light wind.
The transparency mode is another option. It efficiently allows external noises to filter through while you listen to audio or music, heightening your awareness of the environment. Additionally, an Enhance Voice mode is specifically crafted to accentuate human speech in the background.
Even more options can be found inside the app. There you have a choice between six levels of noise cancellation and three transparency levels.
The Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro are a worthy addition to the true wireless earbuds market, catering to a variety of listeners with their rich sound, impressive noise cancellation, and dimensional audio capabilities. The improved design, comfort, and battery life make them an appealing choice in comparison to competitors such as Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro. While the pinch controls may be a bit challenging initially, the overall performance and features of the buds make them a strong contender in the wireless earbuds arena.
However, the £240/€240 price tag may be somewhat daunting for certain users, particularly for those with iPhones as they cannot access the Xiaomi Earbuds app. This product is primarily recommended for those with Xiaomi smartphones, allowing them to benefit from advanced features such as dimensional audio and head-tracking.
If you’re seeking an elegant, feature-rich pair of earbuds with great sound quality and noise cancellation for your Android phone, and you’re willing to invest in them, the compact but powerful Buds 4 Pro might be the right fit for you. They are likely one of the top options for those using compatible Xiaomi, Redmi or Poco devices, particularly if you can pick them up at a discount.
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