A sleek design with an AMOLED display, a massive 5,000mAh battery and running the latest Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 octa-core chipset from Qualcomm. Yes, that’s the Poco F5, the return of the value king, and the successor to the Poco F4. It’s the latest midrange phone from Poco, with a starting price of ₹29,999 (8GB RAM & 256GB storage) and ₹33,999 (12GB RAM & 256GB storage).
On paper, the Poco F5 continues the legacy of the company’s performance-centric smartphones. Is it Mr Speedy Gonzales in reality? Let’s find out.
The Poco F5 looks premium through and through and the Snowstorm White (it’s emulating snowflakes) colour variant gives a refreshing feel to the overall package. The Poco F5 comes in at 7.9mm thin and weighs just 181g (thanks to a plastic back and frame) and there’s no camera bump. It’s not entirely compact but it feels good to use for long durations. The aluminium frames are flat and the edges aren’t sharp, giving way to a comfortable in-hand feel. There’s Gorilla Glass 5, on the front, for extra protection. The Poco F5 is a well-built smartphone that should easily last a few years of usage. Poco also bundles a transparent TPU case in the box.
The Poco F5 sports a 6.67-inch fullHD+ AMOLED screen (120Hz refresh rate) with limited bezels on the front (except for the chin, which is a little bit thick). The display comes with a 2,400x1,080 resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of about 395 PPI. It may seem the same as the Poco F4, but the Poco F5 uses a newer panel that can reach 1,000 nits of peak brightness. With support for Dolby Vision & HDR10+ playback, a better screen-to-body ratio, and 100 percent DCI-P3 colour coverage, the Poco F5 is a treat for an immersive viewing experience.
The screen itself is sharp, the colours are vibrant and the touch response is very good. Thanks to HDR10+ support, consumers can enjoy OTT apps without having to sacrifice picture quality. The Poco F5 offers a dual-speaker setup (an earpiece at the top doubles up as a secondary speaker). To my surprise, it was quite good. The speakers are loud (just don’t go over 80 percent volume) and clear.
Since the earpiece is doubling up as a speaker, you won’t be getting the surround sound experience here. The speakers do lack depth. But Poco has come to the rescue with the return of the 3.5mm jack at the top of the phone!
Bloated. That’s my one-word answer when anyone talks about software. The Poco F5 comes with MIUI 14 (based on Android 13), which is a heavily customised skin. Ads and bloatware dominate the smartphone when you first set it up.
The Poco F5 comes with about 15 apps and games (that can be uninstalled) pre-installed and it’s a pain to go through them one by one and remove them. Bloatware aside, the Poco F5 feels speedy. It’s great for gaming (besides a few games like Genshin Impact) and doesn't heat up while on an extended gaming session. The Poco F5 easily bests the Pixel 7a, Nothing Phone (1), and other phones thanks to the newer chipset and the 8GB/12GB of RAM.
There’s a side-mounted fingerprint scanner and face unlock available. Both work well. Poco has promised two of the latest Android updates and three years of security updates.
The biggest letdown, however, is the camera setup. The Poco F5 comes with a triple-camera setup on the back. There’s the primary 64MP sensor (with optical image stabilisation), an 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor and a 2MP macro camera (that is barely usable). On the front is a 16MP selfie camera. This setup is the same as on the Poco F4, save for the addition of ‘Film Camera’ image filters.
In bright environments, one can take pictures (with the primary sensor) that come with a good amount of detail and depth and true-to-life colours. It’s when the conditions aren’t favourable is when the Poco F5 suffers, no matter what sensor you’re trying. If you’re one that doesn’t have a steady hand, then you can expect many blurry images. The bokeh effect isn’t up to the mark and neither is the dynamic range.
The primary camera sensor is quick with focusing and has almost no shutter lag. Try the same sensor in low-light conditions and it starts to suffer with respect to focusing and shutter lag. The macro camera is just a mere addition to the line-up and offers nothing of use. Selfies come out decently well. Videos, from any of the sensors, are nothing home to write about.
Despite being slim and lightweight, Poco managed to cram in a 5,000mAh battery in the F5. It easily lasts a day and then some, even when being tested under extreme conditions. The Poco F5 comes with 67W fast-wired charging (and comes with a charger in the box). A full charge in under 50 minutes? Yep, that’s the Poco F5 for you. Battery life is definitely miles ahead of the competition at this price point.
There’s a lot that the Poco F5 gets right: from performance to display and from battery life to the headphone jack. All this with a sleek design.
If it wasn’t for the cameras letting us down, the phone would get a tremendous recommendation from everyone out there. Dare I say it, but it’d even best Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus that launched a couple of months ago.
Sadly, the cameras aren’t up to the mark, and there’s a lot of bloatware. If you can look beyond those issues, and you want a gaming-focused phone (thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 chipset), then the Poco F5 is for you. Due to a lack of good options from its main rival, the Poco F5 is a decent choice in this price range.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist.