Poco burst onto the scene with F1 in 2018, and since then the company has had very selective launches over the years while also diversifying its portfolio into budget segments. The F-series remains synonymous with offering a powerful processor at a relatively low price, and it’s the same formula applied to the latest Poco F5 5G. This is currently the only phone sold in India with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 SoC, which shares much of its DNA with the flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. The F5 also checks many other important boxes as it comes with an optically stabilized main camera, very fast charging and even an IP rating.
The new Poco F5 5G should top your list if you have a budget around Rs. 30,000? We find out in this review.
Poco F5 5G price in India
The Poco F5 5G comes in two RAM variants, 8GB and 12GB, and both have 256GB of storage. Prices are Rs. 29,999 and Rs. 33,999 for the respective variants. The price isn’t bad in my opinion considering the collective set of features on offer. You also get a complete accessory kit in the box, including a 67W power adapter and carrying case.
Project Poco F5 5G
If you’re an avid follower of global smartphone launches, the Poco F5 5G might look familiar, and that’s because it bears a striking resemblance to China’s Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Turbo. Everything from the specs, design to the colors appear to be the same as the F5 5G. It doesn’t look like Xiaomi has any plans to launch its phone in India, so there shouldn’t be any sibling rivalry.
The black color of the Poco F5 5G doesn’t look very premium as the plastic back panel attracts fingerprints very easily. The other colors seem to be able to hide the blemishes better. However, the feel of the plastic back panel isn’t great and makes the F5 feel like a phone from a much lower price segment. It’s a shame considering the Poco F4 5G (Review) had a much better off-the-shelf design thanks to its glass back panel.
The F5 5G is quite light and slim, which I like. The fingerprint sensor is in the power button, which sits uncomfortably flush with the bezel. On the bottom you’ll find the SIM tray for two SIM cards but no microSD storage expansion slot, and the top of the frame has a headphone socket and an IR blaster. The F5 5G is IP53 rated for basic dust and water protection.
The screen on the Poco F5 5G is beautiful and vibrant. What’s immediately noticeable are the uniformly thin bezels on all four sides of the display. The display itself is a 12-bit pOLED panel with full-HD+ resolution, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, and supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+ video playback. Poco claims it has a maximum brightness of 1,000 nits. The phone comes with a pre-applied screen protector, but the screen has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection.
Poco F5 5G specs and software
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 is a low-power SoC built on the 4nm process. It uses the same CPU clusters as the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC in the 1+3+4 configuration, just with slightly lower clock rates. There are some other differences as well, like a less powerful GPU, lower memory bandwidth, etc. Poco F5 5G supports a total of 12 5G bands in India along with Bluetooth 5.3 and dual-band Wi-Fi ac. Poco says it used a vapor chamber cooling system made up of 14 sheets of graphite to better manage heat.
The Poco F5 5G runs MIUI 14 (14.0.3), based on Android 13. Poco promised to deliver two years of Android updates and three years of security updates for the F5 5G. As usual, there are a ton of pre-installed apps and shortcuts on the home screen by default. Some of the native apps that cannot be uninstalled are also notorious for cluttering up the notification shade with unwanted ads and alerts. Fortunately, some of the apps, like Music and Themes, let you turn off ads and recommendations, but that doesn’t completely stop the alerts.
Some of the useful included apps include Game Turbo, which has a slick interface and lets you fine-tune your system’s performance for gaming.
Poco F5 5G performance and battery life
This new SoC in the Poco F5 5G has a ridiculous amount of raw power. While we typically don’t put a lot of stock into benchmark numbers, they can be a good indicator of the kind of real-world performance one can expect. In AnTuTu (v10), the Poco F5 5G scored 10,94,798 points and a score of 13,498 in PCMark (Work 2.0). These are impressive numbers and not far behind Qualcomm’s current flagship, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
The 12GB variant of the Poco F5 5G that I’ve been testing has yet to miss a beat in recent weeks. System performance has been fast, multitasking works like a charm, and apps load quickly. Heat management has also been quite satisfactory so far, even while gaming the phone just gets hot.
Titles like Asphalt 9: Legends and Genshin Impact both ran very well at solid frame rates. Fast-paced shooters like Call of Duty: Mobile ran great on ‘High’ graphics and ‘Maximum’ frame rate setting. With the last game, the screen continued to run at 120Hz, which made gameplay much smoother, unlike most other games where it dropped to 60Hz.
HDR video playback looks good on apps like Netflix, which has many Dolby Vision TV shows and movies. The screen produces vibrant colors and has very good brightness levels for outdoor use during the day. The side-mounted fingerprint sensor works well, and even facial recognition is surprisingly fast in low light.
Battery life has been pretty good so far. The Poco F5 5G lasted a good 17 hours and 34 minutes on our HD video loop test, which is above average. Real-world backup time was pretty good too, with the phone easily lasting more than a full day on average, even with heavy use. Charging is fast with the included adapter, as the F5 5G can charge up to 46% in 30 minutes and up to 93% in an hour.
Poco F5 5G cameras
The Poco F5 5G has three rear cameras; a 64-megapixel primary with optical stabilization (OIS), an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel macro. The phone has a 16-megapixel selfie camera. Poco says it has added a “lossless” 2X zoom mode, which uses a cropped portion of the sensor to capture a zoomed-in image. There are also seven film camera filters if you want to add some retro effects to your photos.
The main camera captures decent landscape shots during the day. HDR is handled well, dynamic range is passable, and colors are pleasing. The camera struggles a bit to resolve finer details in distant objects, for example the horizontal lines of a building can look a bit jagged. These inconsistencies are only really noticeable when you zoom in on the image and look for them. There is no problem with close-ups, which have good sharpness and well-saturated colors.
Low-light images from the main camera have good exposure and detail. I didn’t notice much of a difference between the normal and night mode shots, which is good. Images taken at 2X magnification during the day show no visible loss of detail. The maximum zoom level is 10X, and images are quite usable even at that level, as long as you’re shooting in daylight.
The ultra-wide camera is expected to not capture as much detail as the main one, even in good lighting. Exposure can also be hit or miss. In low light, this camera underexposes the scene unless you use night mode, which shows a noticeable improvement. The macro shots from the macro camera are generally below average even in good light.
The selfie camera on the Poco F5 5G isn’t great, but it can capture passable selfies. It tends to struggle with backlit selfies, and Portrait mode with this camera isn’t very convincing. Low-light selfies have visible grain in facial features, and details are a bit fuzzy.
The Poco F5 5G can capture videos at up to 4K 30fps using the main camera, while the ultrawide is capped at 1080p 30fps. Videos shot in 4K look decent during the day, but walking around and shooting introduces some jitter to the video, which is more pronounced in low light. Video quality from the ultrawide camera is average as images are often underexposed.
The Poco F5 5G is an undeniable powerhouse at this price point, as it offers raw performance that comes close to Qualcomm’s flagship 8 Gen series SoCs. This, combined with good heat management, makes the F5 5G an excellent choice for anyone looking for a powerful gaming smartphone. Other areas where the F5 5G excels are its display, good battery life, and slim design. I just wish it felt a little more premium like its predecessor. The selfie and ultrawide cameras are also average and could be better.
If you want a more premium looking phone, the Nothing Phone 1 checks all the boxes at this price point and offers wireless charging. The Samsung Galaxy A34 and Motorola Edge 40 are also worth considering if you need complete waterproofing. If you’re looking for good camera performance at this price, the Redmi Note 12 Pro + 5G is a good alternative as it has familiar software, faster charging and a better set of cameras.