Poco F5 review: no, really – how much?
Flagship gaming for less; Poco strikes again
The Poco F5 is a light, relatively slender phone with a huge battery, a brilliant AMOLED screen and stacks of power for the price. Or is it? Poco launched its latest midrange phone at multiple price points, depending where you shop. Buy direct from Poco UK and it’ll set you back £449 – that’s the same price as the excellent Google Pixel 7a.
The $379 global price is much more competitive looking at the phone’s spec sheet – and that amount drops even more if you shop at Ali Express. It’s available there for £292, which is fantastic value given the site offers free delivery to the UK. But look closely, and you’ll see that great price is an introductory offer. The full price at the time this review was listed as £584.
So does the Poco F5 compete with £300 phones like the Motorola Edge 30 and Samsung Galaxy A23 5G? Or is it actually a Pixel 7a and Samsung Galaxy A54 5G contender? Or at the full Ali Express price, should we pit it against £500+ phones like the new Motorola Edge 40 and Pixel 7? All this confusion takes away from everything that’s great about the Poco F5, so what’s it like to use, and how much should you really be paying for one?
Design & build: slender splendour
The F5 can be snapped up in three colours: Black, Blue and White. We’ve got the white one and, well, it isn’t really white. The back panel has an almost fractal patterning to it, which is married with a gradient that’s blue at the bottom, white at the top. We don’t love the style, but we don’t hate it either. When the light catches it right, it gives us big Elsa from Frozen vibes. When the light hits it wrong, it’s more sticker glue remnants than anything else, but at least it fends off fingerprints and feels smooth to the touch.
The other colours, however, look much more traditional, and that’s great for options, as we actually really like the overall design and build of the Poco F5.
Thanks to a plastic back and frame, the phone’s nice and light at 181g, and at just 7.9mm, it’s slim too. There’s a big 6.67in screen on the front which means the F5 packs a fairly large footprint, but the flat sides make it easy to hold, and the weight prevents it from feeling unwieldy.
Impressively, Poco’s managed to squeeze a headphone jack on the top side. There’s also a USB-C port and SIM tray at the base, a power button/fingerprint scanner and volume buttons on the right side, and around the back, a slightly curved plastic panel and the cameras. The fingerprint sensor quickly unlocks the phone, and there’s also a handy IR blaster at the top, so you can use the Poco F5 as a TV remote control.
While the F5 isn’t dust or water-resistant, it does ship with a case in the box and its Gorilla Glass 5 screen has a pre-fitted screen protector too. a handy value add.
Screen and sound: Excelsior
The F5 is the latest in a long line of Poco phones with fantastic AMOLED screens. Its 6.67in panel sports a Full HD resolution and smooth 120Hz refresh rate. It can climb up to 1000 nits brightness, so outdoor viewing isn’t a problem. With HDR10+ credentials, a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio and both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision Netflix certification, streaming movies and shows on it is a sweet dream.
Gamers should appreciate the phone’s 240Hz touch sampling rate, and creatives can enjoy content displayed with the full DCI-P3 gamut of colours. We also love how customisable Poco makes the screen look, with a quick dip into the settings offering Saturated, Standard and Advanced colour settings if the default Vivid mode is too zingy.
As for the stereo speakers, they get tinny after a while, but are nice and loud, and produce an expansive sound for a midrange option.
Performance and software: Feeling bloated
The first phone to launch with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 chipset, Poco’s F5 Pro benchmarks brilliantly– not far off the 8 Gen+ 1. After all, both chips pack the same guts with different clock speeds.
That means gaming on the F5 is a near-flagship experience. Geekbench 6 scores take on last year’s best handsets, with a single-core score of 1659 and a multi-core score of 4452. The phone also keeps its cool when gaming unlike a lot of glass and metal alternatives, and we even played back Genshin Impact at maxed-out 60fps graphics settings with no issues. All this means if you want stellar gaming on a budget, then the Poco F5 is the new champion, besting the Pixel 7a and Galaxy A54 5G by some margin.
Where those other phones show up the Poco F5 is pre-installed bloatware. There are about 15 apps and games we had to uninstall before we made the phone our own. For the most part though, Poco’s interface is smooth, even if it is a little busy, and the 8GB or 12GB RAM and 256GB storage are nothing short of flagship hardware. At the Ali Express price of £292, this phone is an absolute steal.
Battery life: Long hauler
Despite its slim profile and light weight, the Poco F5 has a large 5000mAh battery crammed inside. Unsurprisingly given the spec, it lasts a very comfortable day, making it from morning to night with about 15-20 per cent left in the tank on average.
There’s also fast wired charging at 67W, and the phone ships with a charger in the box. That means you can get a full charge in under 50 minutes, and 50 per cent in under 15 minutes.
All this out-classes the Pixel 7a and most other competition around this price. Matched with its power and screen quality, the Poco F5 is an excellent choice for anyone in need of hours of entertainment on the go.
Cameras: One good two bad
The weakest aspect of the F5 is its camera setup, which says a lot as it can still take a very good photo in the right conditions.
The main camera has a 64MP sensor matched to an f/1.8 aperture lens. It’s an OmniVision sensor, not a more premium Samsung or Sony alternative, and it’s 1/2in, which isn’t huge. As a result, you shouldn’t expect best-in-class lowlight performance, and it won’t be able to handle hand shake quite as well as some better-specced alternatives.
Dynamic range isn’t amazing, and blocks of colour can lack nuance. This is especially visible in the sky, which ends up looking like a mass of nondescript blue versus better cameras that pull out finer details across it. Despite these caveats, in bright environments, pictures have a good amount of detail and depth, colours look zingy, and even when the lights drop, if you’ve got a still subject you should get a respectable shot.
The 8MP ultra-wide is a marked step down in terms of image quality, dropping both detail and colour accuracy significantly, and only really delivering a good shot in bright scenes. As for the macro camera, just avoid it. You’d be better off taking close-up shots with the main camera.
The F5 captures pretty good-looking video which is held together well at up to 4K resolution. It’s soft on detail the second the lights drop, but should hit the mark for social uploads and casual clips.
As for the selfie camera, it’s high-resolution at 16MP, and that translates to great shots in bright environments. At night, though, it gets very washed out, so you’ll need to fire up that blinding front flash.
Poco F5 verdict
The Poco F5 is a brilliant phone, especially if you want a slim, lightweight pocket rocket that’s excellent for gaming and watching on. For a certain type of user who would rather gaming grunt and long-lasting battery life over camera clout, it’s actually a smarter choice than the Pixel 7a.
The vastly different prices we’ve seen it for sale at are a problem when giving it a rating. If you can pick it up at under £350, then it’s a five-star phone: nothing else at that price can play Genshin Impact at maximum settings – it’s that simple.
At its UK RRP of £449, though, it’s more like a four-star phone. After all, while the Pixel 7a isn’t better across the board, its cleaner interface, significantly better camera, wireless charging and IP67 water and dust resistance give it the edge. All said and done, though, the Poco F5 is very easy to recommend.
While the Poco F5’s camera could be better, it’s still a brilliant gaming phone with tonnes of storage, a superb screen and fantastic battery performance.
Best-in-class storage and performance
Excellent battery life and fast charging
Brilliant screen quality
Light and slim
Plenty of bloatware
Poor secondary cameras
Plastic build won’t be for all
Poco F5 technical specifications
|Screen||6.67in, 2400×1080 AMOLED w/ HDR10+|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 octa-core|
|Cameras||64MP + 8MP+ 2MP rear|
16 MP front
|Operating system||Android 13|
|Battery||5000mAh w/ 67W wired charging|