The Buds 4 Pro combines great audio with a very comfortable design and solid battery life. But plenty of cheaper buds deliver these too, and there are compromises in other areas.
These days, pretty much every leading smartphone company has started making wireless earbuds.
It makes a lot of sense: earbuds pair directly with a phone via Bluetooth, and are an easy way to begin building an ecosystem of related products that are designed to work together.
Xiaomi has been in the wireless earbud business since 2018, shortly after the company expanded its operations into Europe. But none of its releases have been quite as expensive as the £239.99/€249.99 Buds 4 Pro (not to be confused with the budget Redmi Buds 4 Pro), the company’s most premium audio product to date.
So, do they justify that high price? Despite a long list of positives, the short answer is no, although that’s primarily due to the strength of the competition. Read on to find out why.
Design & build
Two-tone design on case and buds
Case feels flimsy, buds more premium
The Buds 4 Pro certainly look the part, although their design won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
It starts with the case, which features a two-tone blend of matte and reflective plastic. The latter means you’ll see yourself every time you go to open it, which is a little unsettling at first. Just don’t try to use it as a mirror – the image you see is very distorted.
Personally, I’d prefer it if the matte finish extended across the entire case. It doesn’t help that the reflective surface quickly accumulates fingerprint smudges and other dirt. That sleek appearance you see in the photos doesn’t last for long!
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
A simple flick upwards reveals the buds inside, but I’m not convinced about the strength of the hinge that this relies on. Only a small section of the lid stays connected to the base, and there were already some noticeable creaks and wobbles during testing. If the case feels flimsy already, I’d be worried about its long-term durability.
Xiaomi has kept things simple elsewhere on the case, with minimalist branding and a single indicator light for battery level of the case. As expected, there’s a USB-C port for charging, with the physical button alongside it only used while pairing.
But just 49.5g even with the buds inside, the case is very lightweight. Something slightly heavier would help it feel more premium, but being so portable is much appreciated.
You also do have a choice of colours. If the understated ‘Space Black’ shown here isn’t for you, the much more eye-catching ‘Star Gold’ finish might be a better fit.
Those colours extend to the inside of the case and buds themselves, with the latter option for the same two-tone exterior. A short stem design has clearly been inspired by the AirPods Pro, although Xiaomi is far from the only company to follow Apple’s lead.
It also turns out to be a good choice, as the Buds 4 Pro are among the most comfortable wireless earbuds I’ve ever tested. I quickly forgot they were in my ears during a full 2.5-hour podcast, and could easily have worn them for much longer. If you need a companion for a flight or long train journey, these are a great option.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
However, you’ll want to take some time to ensure a snug fit. Medium-sized silicone eartips are pre-applied, but small and large alternatives are included in the box. Via the Xiaomi Earbuds companion app, you can get an ear tip fit test to see if any adjustments need to be made.
My only real frustration here is that the left and right text on the buds is difficult to read. It’s obvious once you put them in your ears, but hard to see at a glance.
Both the buds and case have an IP54 rating, meaning they’re protected against dust, but only splashes of water.
Detailed, high-quality music
Clear and crisp vocals
Decent microphone quality
In general, audio from the Buds 4 Pro is very impressive. The dual 11mm drivers deliver sound that feels genuinely immersive, without sacrificing key details. Thumping bass is a real highlight, although treble can be lacking at times. Disappointingly, there’s no way to adjust either of these, via the app or elsewhere.
Even so, modern pop songs are a key strength of the buds. They can handle complex vocals and a wide range of background instruments with relative ease. Even at high volumes, any noticeable distortion is usually avoided, meaning the Buds 4 Pro are among the best sub-£250/€250 earbuds for music reproduction.
Up tempo songs are a key strength, with the likes of Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran excelling with both the heavy beat and crystal-clear vocals. It’s a similar story on Lizzo’s About Damn Time, despite its frequent variation in pitch and tone.
But even on a much slower and stripped-back track like Strange by Celeste, the Buds 4 Pro sound great. None of the song’s atmosphere is lost here, while most other pop, rap and dance tracks I tested were just as good.
It’s certainly better with modern music, though. Classic rock songs aren’t quite as impressive, with Africa by Toto and Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine sounding a bit washed out. I also wouldn’t recommend the Buds 4 Pro for classical music, with the intricacies of Vivaldi and Prokofiev orchestras lost at times. The Nothing Ear (2) and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are both superior in this area.
But even on those weaker tracks, the audio isn’t bad by any means. It’s just that you’ll find better options elsewhere.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
It’s also worth noting that all these tracks were tested using Amazon Music in Ultra HD, which is supposedly better than CD quality and 10 times higher than the regular version. The buds support the SBC, AAC and LDAC codecs, with the latter meaning you get the full benefit of Ultra HD quality with high-res audio.
You’ll be limited to regular quality on the likes of Spotify, but Amazon’s equivalent ‘standard’ model still sounds really good.
You’re probably not buying earbuds just for podcasts and audiobooks, but the Buds 4 Pro is great for voice-based content. Voices are clear and crisp, with a real warmth and depth to the sound that you don’t always get.
Each bud includes three different types of microphones, for a total of six. They combine with Xiaomi’s AI-based noise reduction to deliver clear calls with minimal background noise, but sound still sounds a bit muddy and washed out at times.
Noise cancelling & smart features
Underwhelming active noise cancellation
Transparency mode is very good
Intuitive bud controls
As you might expect from earbuds at this price, the Buds 4 Pro feature active noise cancelling (ANC). The companion app lets you customise this, with six different levels and an adaptive option for automatic adjustment.
But in general, the ANC is relatively disappointing. The first few levels barely make a difference, unless you’re in an environment that’s already relatively quiet.
Stepping up to the maximum setting is much more effective. It significantly reduces the ambient noise without any noticeable effect on sound quality, but I’d still dispute Xiaomi’s claim that the Buds 4 Pro “isolate every listener from unwelcome interference”.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
If it can’t drown out the sound of slow-moving cars outside my (closed) window, I have no confidence in it effectively handling a busy street.
However, it’s still much better than not having the feature at at all. However, many rivals do a much better job with ANC than the Buds 4 Pro, including the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QC Earbuds II.
Bluetooth 5.3 means the Buds 4 Pro can technically connect to two or more devices at the same time, but I couldn’t get this to work despite enabling the feature in the app. Every time I linked it to my Windows 11 laptop, the connection would drop on the phone.
In terms of which phone to use, any Android handset will have access to the full range of features. None are reserved for Xiaomi users, although the Xiaomi Earbuds app isn’t available on iOS. It’s simpler than many companion apps, but offers all the usual core features.
The most obvious ones are for the transparency and ANC modes, but gestures can be customised too. Double, triple and long presses of the left and right earbud can be set to control volume, noise cancellation and song skipping.
However, gestures probably aren’t the best way to describe them. Instead, you need to squeeze about halfway down the stem, with a small indentation showing you where to press. This takes some getting used to, but soon feels intuitive. A discreet click confirmation sound avoids accidentally pressing too many times.
I much prefer this solution to most touch-based controls, which tend to push the bud further into your ear canal and soon become uncomfortable.
Xiaomi’s take on spatial audio is known as “immersive sound”, and it does a good job of making it seem like sound is coming from all directions. As expected, the feature performs much better on songs with multiple voices or instruments, but there is a slight drop in audio quality.
Voice detection (activating transparency mode when voices are detected) and in-ear detection (auto-pausing music when a bud is taken out) both work very well. But the lack of any virtual assistant support is a significant omission. Not being able to ask Google Assistant or Alexa is something we’ve come to expect from wireless earbuds.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Battery life & charging
Around 5 hours with ANC on
Case adds around three full charges
Supports wired or Qi wireless charging
Xiaomi claims the Buds 4 Pro can last up to nine hours on a single charge, but my experience suggests you’re looking at around half of that.
With ANC turned on, the buds went from around 80% battery to 10% by the end of that 2.5-hour podcast I mentioned above. Getting the low battery warning was a real surprise, and it was pure luck that my listening session was coming to an end. You might not be so fortunate.
Of course, you can eke out a bit longer with ANC switched off, but why wouldn’t you want to use one of the buds’ main features? Battery life certainly isn’t terrible, but it’s not class-leading, either.
The good news is that the case adds another 29 hours of battery life (with ANC off), taking the advertised total to 38 hours. You almost certainly won’t get as long as that, but a full week on a single charge will be well within reach for most people.
Charging is via USB-C, with Xiaomi saying five minutes plugged in is enough for three hours of usage. Going from 5% to 22% in that time is impressive, but your mileage will vary here.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
While slower, it’s also great to see wireless charging support. The Buds 4 Pro case works with any Qi charger.
Price & availability
When paying full price, the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro cost £239.99/€249.99. For now, they’re only on sale via the Xiaomi website in the UK and Europe, with no US availability.
It makes them one of the most expensive pairs of true wireless earbuds from a phone-first company, with the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Google Pixel Buds Pro and Nothing Ear (2) all more affordable.
Apple’s second-gen AirPods Pro are only slightly more expensive, and Xiaomi doesn’t quite provide the same premium experience here. When considering the alternatives, the Buds 4 Pro feel overpriced.
With the Buds 4 Pro, Xiaomi has proven that it can make a solid pair of premium earbuds. But that doesn’t mean you should buy them.
That’s despite the fundamentals of great wireless earbuds being achieved here, with great sound quality, excellent comfort and decent battery life. A classy bud design and several high-end features – including active noise cancellation – make things even better.
But sadly, the implementation of ANC here still needs work. Alongside a flimsy case and no virtual assistant support, that premium price tag becomes harder to ignore.
If you buy the Xiaomi Buds 4 Pro, you’ll probably still be satisfied. But the same could be said for many alternatives, including those which are significantly cheaper.
Active Noise Cancelling
Wireless: Bluetooth 5.3, LDAC
Voice control: Yes
Touch controls: Yes
Battery life: 9 hours from buds, 38 hours total (without ANC, claimed)