The X5 Pro is another solid value for money option from the Poco range, hitting a sweet spot of design, price and specs. However, forcing UK buyers to the more expensive model makes it less appealing compared to the likes of Google and OnePlus.
Xiaomi’s affordable phones under the Poco branding have been excellent over the years, providing solid specs and attractive design at the opposite of eye-watering prices.
For 2023, the Poco X5 range is more of the same and though they represent an incremental improvement over the X4 models, remain excellent value handsets in a crowded market.
I’m testing the X5 Pro here, with the latter part often meaning little more than it being higher-spec than the regular model. Overall, these two phones look very similar and share plenty of features, but the Pro offers things like a better main camera, faster charging and, oddly, newer software.
There are titans of the mid-range phone space such as the Pixel 6a and OnePlus Nord 2T but Xiaomi once again undercuts its rivals for those on a tight budget. It’s amazing what you can get for this much money if you don’t mind a couple of downsides.
Design & Build
Small visual tweaks
Still very plastic
Lighter and more comfortable
After the design overhaul of the Poco X3 Pro, things are more similar this year, though it has some subtle tweaks from the X4 Pro. The main one being the camera surround which still takes up a large portion of the rear but now only has a raised section to one side and the large ‘POCO’ logo rotated 90-degrees.
Two of the camera lenses stick out further still making this phone seriously wobbly when placed on a flat surface and propping it up with a beer mat won’t help. Still, the phone is thinner and lighter this year at an impressive 7.9mm and 181g.
I’ve been testing the yellow model, which as usual for Poco, I really like including the matching power button which hides the fingerprint scanner. If you’re not so keen, though, you can get the X5 Pro in a more sedate blue or black.
Chris Martin / Foundry
Sadly, it’s still the case that the rear cover of the smartphone is plastic, and not a nice plastic. It’s trying to imitate frosted glass but looks and feels cheap with a severe lack of grip. Fortunately, there’s a basic clear silicone case provided in the box.
The phone is still IP53 rated so isn’t fully waterproof but you don’t always get any protection at all with mid-range phones. Build quality is ok but nothing particularly special, you still get Gorilla Glass 5 on the front (version 3 on the regular X5) but the back is flimsy as proven by the way it came with the sticker when I removed it.
Screen & Speakers
120Hz refresh rate
Some small downgrades
On the whole, the display in the X5 Pro is unchanged from its predecessor so it’s still a flat 6.67in AMOLED panel with up to 120Hz refresh rate and a Full HD+ (2400×1080) resolution.
That’s a large display, especially considering how svelte it is, and its panel tech combined with DCI-P3 and 10bit colour support makes for a dazzling experience. Contrast is also excellent, and the display is a joy to use whatever you’re doing from social media to games.
To nitpick on specs for a second, the peak brightness has been reduced from 1300- to 900 nits. However, the typical brightness of 500 is good enough for the vast majority of situations and I measured it slightly above that figure at 525 nits when set to maximum and automatic adjustment switched off.
The touch sampling rate has also been downgraded from 360- to 240Hz, but unless you’re a gaming enthusiast this won’t be something you notice. The fact is, this can be considered a flagship-level display in an almost budget price phone and it’s certainly better than many handsets in this price bracket.
Chris Martin / Foundry
The speakers on the X5 Pro are among the best I’ve ever heard on a mid-range phone. The device has stereo speakers and there’s an impressive amount of oomph – even at 75% volume – while retaining clarity and a good tone.
Bass is a little lacking but that’s to be expected and I can certainly forgive that when, wait for it, there’s a headphone jack on the top (yes, I still use wired headphones sometimes).
Specs & Performance
5G as standard
Dynamic RAM Expansion 3.0
Speaking of gaming, the Poco X5 Pro is once again pitched as a gaming device with its ‘The secret to win’ tagline. However, the conclusion for the X4 Pro was that it was “a bit of a stretch” to make these kinds of claims.
There’s good news when we lift the metaphorical lid of the device as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G is found in the engine room, making a step up from the 695 5G in the X4 Pro. It’s still a 6nm octa-core chip but more complex with up to 2.4GHz Cortex-A78 cores.
Chris Martin / Foundry
Elsewhere you get either 6- or 8GB RAM paired with 128- or 256GB of storage respectively. There’s no microSD card slot so choose your model wisely. Dynamic RAM Expansion 3.0 aims to ‘support more apps running in the background’.
It’s something we’ve seen on other phones and essentially borrows some storage space but it’s impossible to say how well it works as we can’t toggle it on and off. The Snapdragon 778G means there’s 5G network support and the phone is dual-SIM, too.
Although I couldn’t get GFXBench to run for some comparative graphics scores, the phone runs very well on a day-to-day basis in my testing. It’s not a proper flagship-level chipset but the X5 Pro is nippy in use and offers perfectly good performance for this price point.
Overall, the camera system on the X5 Pro is the same as its predecessor, albeit with a higher resolution selfie camera. At the back though, is a 108Mp main camera flanked by an 8Mp ultrawide and 2Mp macro.
As is far too common, the macro camera is hidden in the settings menu rather than given its own option in the rail of camera modes. It’s a little better than some I’ve used but remains mediocre and difficult to use due to the fixed focus so you’re best off forgetting this camera is there unless you really need it.
You’re far more likely to use the main and ultrawide cameras, in that order. The main sensor is a large 1/1.52in and there’s a decent f/1.9 aperture. You can shoot in full 108Mp if you like but, of course, it makes a lot more sense to allow the phone to pixel bin to 12Mp for storage reasons.
There’s good levels of detail, colour reproduction and exposure when shooting in good lighting conditions. As a point and shoot snapper it does a good job, especially when you remember the asking price.
However, there’s no optical image stabilisation (OIS) here which does mean there’s the risk of blur, particularly in low light, and video footage (which goes to 4K/30fps) isn’t as smooth as it could be.
You can switch to the ultrawide by tapping the 0.6x zoom level in the regular camera mode which retains similar colour levels but you get a noticeable drop in quality as is typical. Still, it’s useful to have when you want to fit more in the frame.
The selfie camera is 16Mp and presents excellent quality shot and has a portrait mode which did a pretty decent job of cutting out my hair with a plain green background to work with.
Battery Life & Charging
No wireless charging
As per last year, the X5 Pro has a substantial 5000mAh battery and impressively speedy 67W wired charging. With the plastic rear cover there is no wireless charging here.
Things might be unchanged from the X4 Pro here, but you can hardly blame Xiaomi when the specs remain better than many rivals on the market and the charger is supplied in the box which can’t be said of many phones double the price or more.
In typical useage the X5 Pro should comfortably get most users through a day without worrying about hitting depletion. Lighter users out there like me can expect a day and a half or more. I couldn’t get the PCMark test we usual run to complete without failing part way through.
Chris Martin / Foundry
When the phone does run down, that 67W turbo charger can get you to 49% in 15 minutes and 84% in half an hour with the device starting from completely dead. That’s impressive stuff, albeit 10% behind the X4 Pro on both figures.
Software & Apps
Unknown software updates
And so, we come to the software section of another phone with MIUI and yet again have to breathe a not-so-small sigh of disdain.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (read any of our reviews of a phone with MIUI from any writer) things are still just a way off from where we’d like it to be.
And this is a new version, MIUI 14, but contains mostly small (and silly) tweaks such as Super Icons, new widgets and, bizarrely, virtual pets or plants – although I can’t find the latter on my sample as shown off on Xiaomiui.
After an unusually long setup process, you are presented with a garish homescreen with more colours than a kid’s soft play. An eyesore that’s partly due to how everything clashes with the default wallpaper.
Chris Martin / Foundry
I’m not sure why a mid-range phone like this has to come out the box with icons looking like they’ve been stolen from a dedicated kid’s tablet.
The good news, as always, is that much of this can be customised and therefore rectified. But still, MIUI remains lagging behind almost every rival in terms of how intuitive and easy to use it is.
It’s frustrating which is the last thing you want from software and Xiaomi doesn’t add many useful touches like, for example, Motorola does. Instead, you just get an inordinate amount of pre-installed apps.
Chris Martin / Foundry
Some might be useful to you but there are simply too many for my liking. I counted 17 not including the Mi and Poco branded ones, which are largely duplicates of the Google ones you’re far more likely to use. Examples include Netflix, Opera, Amazon Shopping, Spotify and Genshin Impact.
Gamers might enjoy the Game Turbo bar which you can summon by swiping in from the side. It has shortcuts for apps as well as a plethora of tools such as performance boost, screen recorder and a voice changer.
As far as I’m aware, Xiaomi doesn’t commit to a certain number of OS updates which is another mark against the phone compared to rivals.
With the Poco X4 Pro coming in at just £259/€299 for a 6/128GB model, I had high hopes for this year’s version.
Going cheaper than the likes of Google and OnePlus is a surefire way to stand out and tempt buyers who don’t bend the knee to just one brand.
Sure enough, the Poco X5 Pro costs just $299/€299 and that again gets you a solid 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but you can jump to 8/256GB if you like for $349/£369/€349.
Early bird prices are available until 13 February from $249 and you’ll notice that the only UK price there is for the higher spec model, which is something of a problem for those simply wanting a cheaper device. You can buy it from AliExpress.
If you want something cheaper, the regular Poco X5 is more of a steal at $249/£279 and there’s a choice of model in the UK. Just bear in mind that you get slower charging and a lower megapixel main camera, along with some other more minor tweaks.
Still not sure which phone to buy? Check out our charts of the best budget phones and best mid-range phones.
Those looking for a super-value smartphone would be correct to look to Xiaomi’s Poco range and the X5 Pro is another good example.
Not much has changed since the X4 Pro but that means there are lots of things to like here including a large 120Hz AMOLED display, speedy 67W charging and a solid 108Mp main camera.
Upgrades include a new Snapdragon 778G chipset and a better 16Mp selfie camera, along with a more svelte design. It’s still plasticky though and in the west, MIUI still lags behind rivals for cleanliness and usability.
If you can look past those things, then the X5 Pro has a lot to offer for not much money but it’s a shame that Xiaomi is only offering the more expensive 8/256GB model in the UK, stopping the phone from being a real steal. For £30 more, I’d rather take the Pixel 6a with its assurances, despite some technically lower specs.