A pocket rocket with a good screen, decent cameras and more than a day of battery life, the Poco F5 Pro suffers from having a cheap-feeling body and a slightly wonky UI, something many will be able to forgive once they see the price.
Poco is a sub-brand of Xiaomi, and its latest Android flagship phone the F5 Pro – not to be confused with the F5 itself, or the X5 from the same company – packs some serious specs for a really quite reasonable price.
The Poco F5 Pro comes with a set of specs that were cutting edge just a few short months ago. It shares a processor, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, with the Asus ROG Phone 6, OnePlus 10 Ultra and even the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 – all high-end phone.
There’s little in the way of cutting corners elsewhere with 256- or 512GB storage options, while the 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM in the top-end model is more than you’ll find in a great many laptops.
All this comes packaged in a reasonably thin black plastic case, which is one of the phone’s drawbacks: it feels cheap and flimsy when compared with glass or ceramic models, but a good solid case should put this feeling to bed.
Design & Build
Lightweight for its size
Buttons in the usual places
Can feel flimsy
From the front, the F5 Pro is unremarkable, a black slab (white is also available) punctured only by the small hole of the front-facing camera, which is high enough up the screen not to get in the way of web pages and video content.
The plastic frame and glass sandwich construction helps to keep the phone fairly light for its size at 204g but feels flimsy, so a sturdy case will likely be top of the list for new owners – a soft silicone one comes in the box.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
There’s Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, however, so no qualms about the solidity there, but the back of the phone is toughened glass with kevlar detailing down the sides and, handling the bare phone without a case, it can slide through the hand rather easily. It’s also shiny and attracts dust and fingermarks.
Everything else is exactly where you’d expect it to be, with a rectangular camera bulge angling up from the top left of the phone’s back, lock and volume buttons on the right, and a USB-C port on the base alongside the SIM tray. There’s no headphone socket, but there are two speakers, one each at the top and bottom of the phone.
Screen & Speakers
Good AMOLED display
Responsive fingerprint reader
The usual poor speakers
The speakers are small lines of five holes cut into the plastic of the phone body, but there are two and they’re intelligently placed, with one at each end of the phone so you can at least get some attempt at stereo sound when watching videos with the phone in landscape mode.
As is often the case with phone speakers, we’d recommend a pair of the best wireless headphones, or a Bluetooth speaker, instead of actually using them, but for speakerphone purposes, they’re generally fine, the low quality of the audio in such situations being well within their capabilities.
The screen is a 6.7in AMOLED panel with a QHD+ resolution of 3200 x 1440 for a pixel density of 526ppi – almost exactly the same as that on the OnePlus 11. It can cope with HDR in the Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ flavours, with a peak HDR brightness of 1400 nits, though it more typically sits at 500 nits.
The max refresh rate of 120Hz means the animations and transitions of Android are completely smooth, something that adds to the feeling of responsiveness you get from the phone.
It’s a good screen to look at, and has rounded corners with a larger radius than I’ve seen on other phones, which contributes to a friendly look. You will find brighter models on the flagship phones of other manufacturers, but it’s got enough brightness output for a typical spring day in Britain, and use in bright sunlight shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The fingerprint reader buried under the screen is also quick to react, recognising my thumb instantly and without having to resort to multiple tries.
Specs & Performance
Plenty of RAM and storage
Good for gaming
With a hot chipset like the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 inside, and plenty of RAM to back it up, you’d expect reasonable performance out of the Poco F5 Pro, and that’s exactly what you get.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
The Geekbench multi-core benchmark sees it level with Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 phones such as the Xiaomi 12S Pro and Ultra and outpaces similarly priced phones. Sadly, the GFXBench tests wouldn’t work on the phone.
Only the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S23 family, and (rarer) MediaTek Dimensity 9200 models offer greater performance on Android.
This naturally carries over to everyday handling, as apps and games spring open and, just as importantly, disappear quickly. Image editing, such as Google Photos’ changes to the sky in an image, are almost instant, while 3D graphics in XCOM: Enemy Within are smooth.
Poco is marketing the F5 Pro as a phone to play games on, and with its popular 6.7in screen size, it’ll fit in many game controllers. There’s also a game mode that auto-detects games and boosts the phone’s speed when you’re playing one.
Good main camera
Others less impressive
Camera app full of features
With a large 64Mp unit with image stabilisation as its main camera, you’d expect excellent results from the Poco F5 Pro.
What you get, however, is a mixed bag. That main wide-angle camera – which is based on the Omnivision OV64B 1/2in sensor, has an f/1.8 aperture and bins its images down to 16.1Mp files – is fine but does its best work in good lighting conditions like any other phone camera, with low light-shots receiving a lot of visible processing. There’s a 2x digital zoom and the ability to shoot 8K video at 24fps if that’s your thing.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
The ultrawide camera is another matter. It’s an 8Mp f/2.2 model with a really wide 120° field of view but needs good light to produce a viable image and tends to smear details. The 2Mp macro camera is a bit of a head-scratcher too – it’s nice to have and is able to focus close enough to show you all the crumbs littering your computer keyboard, but the pretty low resolution images it produces aren’t much good for anything other than displaying on the phone’s screen.
You can use it like a magnifying glass to inspect beetles and rare coins you may come across in the course of your adventures, but that’s about its only use.
On the front is a 16Mp camera that’s good for video calls and selfies. It doesn’t do any pixel binning, so you get a larger file from the front than the ultrawide on the rear.
It can be used for video too, including the dual video mode that layers one shot over another for real time reaction shots and vlogging. All the standard Android video modes are present, such as time lapse and slow-mo, plus portrait and night modes for still images, and a Pro mode that gives you control over the camera settings.
There’s also an AI toggle at the top of the camera app that lets it intelligently switch between PASM modes depending on the scene you’re photographing.
Battery Life & Charging
Fast 67W charging with included charger
All-day battery and beyond
With a 5160mAh battery on board – larger than that in the Pixel 7 Pro or Galaxy S23 Ultra – you’ll get decent battery life out of the Poco F5 Pro, and given the slender profile of the phone it’s a remarkable thing that Poco has managed to engineer space for all that power storage.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
It can easily go all day, with the amount of time you spend before charging it the next depending on your usage. There’s an ultra battery saver mode to really eke out the usage to three days or more, but it lowers performance and restricts 5G connectivity.
Charging comes via a 67W wired charger which is included in the box and there’s also 30W wireless charging too – a rare find on a mid-range phone.
Full-speed wired charging is extremely fast, with a 15-minute charge giving you 35% charge from zero and hits 50% after 30-minutes. The battery life benchmark in PCMark took a total of 12 hours and 32 minutes, which is a solid effort.
Software & Apps
Responsive Android 13
MIUI has some problems
Lots of unnecessary apps
Android 13 is a great mobile operating system, but the skins phone manufacturers like to put over the top of it can vary in quality. Poco uses Xiaomi’s MIUI as you’d expect, and compared with the OS it’s layered over it can feel like a downgrade.
Firstly, by default it swaps the positions of the back and app-switcher buttons either side of the home button at the bottom of the screen, meaning it will take a little while for your muscle memory to adapt and stop swapping apps when you want to go to the previous web page.
It’s a UI that can be customised very easily with themes via a dedicated app. These themes vary from rather beautiful wildlife and nature photography to graphic patterns, cityscapes, animated flowers and butterflies, and even smiling shiba inus, but some of them have absolutely dire icons and the switch preventing a theme from changing home page icons didn’t appear to work for me.
A lot of time might need to be spent customising the interface to your liking. One thing that’s also worth noting is that the company promises only two OS updates and three years of updates. Compare this with the three years of OS patches, and five years of security fixes, for the newly announced Google Pixel 7a and even more for the Samsung Galaxy A54, and it doesn’t look so good.
Alongside all this come the pre-installed apps you’ll probably never use and are just taking up space: games like Bubble Shooter, Jewels Blast and Dust Settle 3D, full of ads and IAPs. There’s the ubiquitous Booking.com app, plus Qeeq car rental and Asia-Pacific online travel agent Agoda.
Poco has its own app store, plus a Community and Video app – a half-hour spent Googling the names then uninstalling slims down the default app drawer nicely but is an unwanted chore.
Price & Availability
You can buy the Poco F5 Pro in its 12/256GB guise for £559, which is absurdly cheap – hundreds of pounds less than the OnePlus 11 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro.
This is the version most widely available online and is available from the official Mi store. Alternatively, you can import other models from AliExpress including the 512GB storage option.
Availability may become a problem, however, as it’s not currently available from a wide range of outlets. Even the Poco X5 Pro is a more common sight on the pages of online retailers than its F5 cousin but that might change over time including Amazon.
See more options in our best mid-range phones chart.
There’s one thing that will immediately attract potential phone purchasers to the Poco F5 Pro – its price. For the kind of money, it’s a great bargain.
The specs are in-line with 2022 flagship models, and more than capable for the everyday uses we put our pocket supercomputers to. That you get long battery life, a nice main camera, and very fast charging tops off a great deal.
There are, of course, some caveats. I’m not too troubled by the plastic frame as most of the time this phone is going to live in a case, but the UI’s issues and short update life (a phone like this can easily remain useful beyond the three years of security patches that are being offered) mean the enticing hardware is let down by its software.
Android 13 with MIUI 14
6.67in WQHD+ AMOLED display with fingerprint reader