Last year’s model was hard to justify for its non-existent performance uplift. The Poco F5 is back with the power you need, but the price is getting a little hard to swallow. If mobile gaming is your thing, it’s a strong option at the price but for general use, other mid-range phones still have it beat.
Xaoimi is back again this spring with the Poco F5, the natural follow-up to last year’s Poco F4 and F4 GT. Though the spin-off brand’s namesake was originally viewed as a top-tier gaming device for its powerful specs and comparatively low price, you’ll struggle to find that focus in its branding this time around.
Still, the power under the unassuming hood can compete. With dual-SIM support and a killer chip, it’s almost everything you need at a bargain price. Almost.
Design & Build
Plain but durable plastic and metal construction
Glittery blue is easy on the eyes
Little wasted screen space
Right out of the gate, the Poco F5 feels familiar, triggering flashbacks to a Vivo X51 5G I briefly tested a couple of years back. It’s thin and features modestly rounded corners, is light enough to hold throughout the day, and looks acceptable in a professional environment with the simple, uniform, and unassuming reflective paint job on the back with virtually microscopic glitter flair for catching the light.
If you want the shiny blue headset I tested, you’ll have to settle for the non-Pro variant. But both versions are available in Black and White as well, albeit with different finishes.
Josh Brown / Foundry
The screen shows a hole punch camera notch at the top with near-invisible bezels, and the three-lens 64Mp camera cluster on the back juts out just enough to have the whole assemble wobble a tiny bit when poked and prodded on a flat surface. Picking it up feels fine because of it, and I’m happy to report that there’s been no issue with scuffing the lenses.
Where you might say Poco clearly hasn’t forgotten about gamers this year is the somewhat shocking reintroduction of the classic 3.5mm headphone jack. You won’t get any generic wired earbuds in the box to take you on a nostalgia trip, but you will get a turbo-charging 67W charger (USB-A to C) and a transparent rubber case. The handy inclusion certainly saved its bacon when it went flying out of my pocket and into the road.
Opting for the Poco F5 Pro swaps out the 3.5mm headphone jack for 30W wireless charging support. Though, just like the omission of earbuds in the box, there’s no included wireless charger as is typical.
Screen & Speakers
Solid FHD+ 120Hz panel
Plentiful colour gamut tweaks
The 6.67in FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED always-on display clocks in at a variable (or fixed) 120Hz refresh rate complete with 240Hz sampling to keep animations smooth and your touches responsive. On the Pro model, that’s upgraded to a WQHD+ panel with a 480Hz sampling rate that, at the very least, should satisfy gamers with a fancy four-finger grip.
Josh Brown / Foundry
Sticking with the screen for a moment, it’s perfectly fine. Nothing spectacular or innovative, but perfectly useable in virtually every likely scenario. AMOLED always helps colours pop, and it can get plenty bright enough to stay useable in brighter conditions.
Reading mode ensures a summer’s day won’t stop you scrolling, and the “always-on” feature turns it into an unimposing bedside clock without really impacting the battery for the day ahead. Four colour presets are available in the settings, and you can even dial in your preferred look beyond the P3 and SRGB colour gamut toggles.
You’ll find a single bottom-firing speaker on the top and bottom of the device. Sadly, I’d consider them below average, producing tinny and processed sound. They can get loud enough to blast out bursts of music for friends, but outside of YouTube vlogs and more casual gaming, you’ll probably want to stick to an external audio source to save any sensitive ears. Dolby Atmos support can’t save them.
Specs & Performance
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 chip
12GB RAM + 256GB storage
3.5mm headphone jack
The Poco F5 and Poco F5 Pro appear to be sidelining the gaming markets brands like Asus ROG, Red Magic, and Lenovo now have on lock with hardware buttons and peripherals, instead highlighting its position as a decent all-rounder for the price that just so happens to have a particular penchant for running today’s demanding 3D virtual worlds.
Other than the appreciated return of the headphone jack that should ensure FPS players aren’t disadvantaged with latency-prone Bluetooth cans, the Poco F5 features many of the same hardware tricks of the previous phone. The side power button still acts as a lightning-fast fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device, and facial recognition returns.
Josh Brown / Foundry
At the core level, the Poco F5 leaps over its descendants by way of the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 chip that cruises through today’s top mobile titles at modest settings. Stepping up to the Pro model earns you the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 for some extra oomph but Geekbench scores are very similar.
Despite the claims about the liquid cooling tech inside, you’ll still notice it gets relatively warm under a gaming load. Not enough to affect things in a four-season climate, but it’s something to be aware of in the blistering heat. Either way, the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 performs admirably in every scenario, stomping the competition in 3D titles like Genshin Impact, Honkai Star Rail, and Pokemon Masters EX.
Paired with the 12GB RAM (with a cheaper option for 8GB in some markets), it kept up with my varied workload with no major hiccups. The RAM may have doubled over last year’s model (as has the storage), but the price has increased by almost 20%, too, pushing the Poco branding further afield from its budget powerhouse fame of the early days.
In the real world, I ran the Poco F5 for around two weeks. I was able to use the device in much the same way I have my iPhone for the last couple of years: Podcasts in the bath, YouTube Music on a walk, and plenty of juice to take to the marina to play Pokemon Go for a couple of hours, snapping shots of the canal boats, spring blooms, and wildlife all the while.
64Mp main shooter
Ultra-wide, macro, and 16Mp selfie lenses
4K video with OIS & EIS
Where the gaming chops of the Poco F5 start to resurface is when you compare the camera to others sharing the same price range. The large lenses and 64Mp resolution may look and sound impressive on paper, but they’re actually where the compromises become clear. No matter the setting, it’s hard to be truly impressed by anything you snap with the basic point-and-shoot method of taking photos which most people will use.
A lot of smartphone photography is handled by software magic these days, but whether that’s going on here or not, pictures just look oddly processed or noisy in my view. Natural light obviously helps a lot, but you can still pinch into your shots to see textures like animal fur, rough terrain, or leaves on trees look subpar and unrealistic.
The 16Mp snapper is totally fine. A little warm with no alarmingly obvious “beauty” effects going on, which could either be a blessing or a curse, but it’s entirely useable.
With general indoor lightning conditions, shots are either dark or void of colour, with nighttime shots being virtually impossible to get without some sort of backlight. It’s entirely usable, and you’ll find plenty of “pro” and social-focused features built into the MIUI 14 camera app to fiddle around with, but it’s a key example of a bigger number rarely meaning a whole lot on a handheld device. 4K video is present, too, and you’ll really notice the image stabilisation kick in as you zoom.
The price is acceptable, the power is through the roof, but something had to give. If you can, spend more to graduate to the Samsung Galaxy A54 or Google Pixel 7a for a better shooter if you’re looking for a true general-use device.
Battery Life & Charging
Charger and cable included
On the aforementioned day at the marina, I had more than enough juice to watch some videos in the cafe and even managed to use Google Maps to walk the extra half an hour into town. I could have comfortably fit the 90-minute walk back home into the mix, but a classic Spring rainstorm had me running for the bus instead, getting into a text chat, doomscrolling Twitter, and briefly calling my mother on the walk from the bus stop.
Josh Brown / Foundry
The whole journey was a stacked afternoon in the Spring sun and one of the most varied (and largely accidental) use cases I could have imagined for any phone. It was juiced up to near-max before I left the house at 1pm, and barely dipped into the below 70% by the time I returned home around five hours later.
The Poco F5 comfortably lasted through the rest of the busy Saturday, pushing through a more reserved Sunday of some light Honkai Star Rail play and even more podcasts through paired Bluetooth earbuds while I chipped away at yard work.
In the PCMark for Android battery test, the phone lasted an impressive 14 hours and one minute, largely thanks to the combination of the sizable cell, efficient processor and FHD+ resolution.
Using the included 67W USB-A/C wall charger resuscitated the days-dead Poco F5 to 43% in 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, it was juiced up toan impressive 81%. By comparison, a Samsung Galaxy A54, which doesn’t even come with a charger at all, could only take in enough of that power to reach 16- and 31% in the same timeframe respectively.
Software & Apps
Android 13 with MIUI 14 skin
Plenty of pre-installed bloatware
One downside to the Poco F5 is the sheer amount of bloatware installed out of the gate. Likely serving to keep the cost low by subsidising through software partnerships like Booking.com, AliExpress, and whatever WPS Office is, you’ll even find a stack of basic games (and Brawl Stars) clogging up a small percentage of the storage and screen space when you boot it up.
They’re easy enough to uninstall, but the Mi Remote app using the included IR blaster could be something to keep. In my case, the spotty attempts at controlling my Samsung TV meant it couldn’t replace my constantly-misplaced remote. Most of the key Google apps are present, but I still had to download Google’s podcast app and fitness apps to get it ready for my personal day-to-day activities.
One included app, Game Turbo, highlights the days of the brand’s heavier gaming focus. Like the Armory Crate deal with the Asus ROG handsets, Game Turbo attempts to auto-detect any games you install and lets a pull-out overlay sit unassumingly at the side of the screen as you play.
Josh Brown / Foundry
Sliding it out reveals a stack of features like real-time temperature measuring, app shortcuts, memory optimisation efforts, and loads of other nifty features for getting the most out of your gameplay like customising touch-resistant areas to limit accidental actions, and turning off the screen while keeping the game active – which is great for AFK-style titles.
On the downside, you’ll only get two OS updates and three years of security updates, which is behind rivals such as Google and Samsung.
Price & Availability
The Poco F5 is on sale now and even the early-bird pricing of £379 matches the price of the older Poco F4, but it is equipped with more memory and storage than its predecessor.
Regular pricing is £449 for the 256GB model with 12GB of RAM. This is the only option on the official Mi store where you’re able to snatch it up in its Black, White (with “ice flake” rear patterns), or the blue version reviewed.
Whichever handset you go for, you’ll earn double Mi Points you could put toward next year’s model. For a time, you can put £50 of that price difference back into the Mi store to bag a Poco Watch, too.
You can also find it at AliExpress if you’re happy to import it. The Poco F5 Pro is over £100 extra at £559 if you want things like a higher resolution, wireless charging and more impressive cameras.
A big issue for the Poco F5 is that the inflated price puts it in direct competition with top mid-range phones like the Galaxy A54, Nothing Phone (1) and Pixel 7a which will likely be better buys in the UK.
Josh Brown / Foundry
Assuming you’re a Poco die-hard, the F5 is likely what you’ve been waiting for. It’s a big step up from the F3 and F4 in terms of performance, and the headphone jack is back with a vengeance.
However, the price increase makes it hard to recommend over other budget phones with better camera systems or slightly more expensive gaming phones with nifty hardware options. If gaming is all you care about, it stomps similarly priced phones like the Samsung A54 and Pixel 7a, but it lags behind in other areas.
If you’re expecting to stick with it for a number of years, it’s worth your consideration. It really is a powerhouse when it comes to raw gaming performance. Otherwise, you can get away with spending a little less on the OnePlus Nord 2T for varied use or, if your budget is flexible, a used Asus ROG Phone 6 for laser-focused gaming support.
A high refresh rate, fast charging, the Game Turbo mode, and the headphone jack solidify the Poco F5 as a gaming-focused smartphone masquerading as an all-rounder, but it can’t be both at its annually increasing price point.
Android 13 with MIUI 14
6.67in FHD+ AMOLED display with fingerprint reader