Strong on paper and so in hands-on experience- QHN
Xiaomi’s spin-off brand Poco has a lean product portfolio of performance-focused smartphones in the budget and midrange segment. Leading the line-up is the F-series, which has been updated with the launch of the Poco F5. The smartphone debuted with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 system-on-chip in India, but there is more to like here than performance.
The Poco F5 boasts a 6.67-inch flat AMOLED screen of 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection, aluminium frame, thin-and-lightweight construction, Dolby Atmos-powered dual stereo speakers, Hi-Res audio on both wired and wireless out, 3.5mm audio jack, 5,000 mAh battery, and 67W fast wired charging. On paper, the smartphone seems to be a strong contender in the midrange segment. Is it? Let’s find out:
The Poco F5 looks premium in the snowstorm white (review unit) colour variant. It is not compact, but has a thin (7.9mm) and lightweight (181g) construction that aids handling. The phone’s back cover has a reflective snow flake-like design, which looks novel and intriguing. The aluminium frame sandwiched between the front glass and back cover has a flat profile, but with chamfered edges for comfortable in-hand experience. On the front, the Gorilla Glass 5 is pressed in the frame since there is no screen bracket. It elevates the touch experience, especially if you prefer to navigate the phone’s interface with gesture-based touch controls. Overall, the Poco F5 is a well-built smartphone that looks good and feels comfortable to hold and operate.
Display and audio
The Poco F5 sports a 6.67-inch fullHD+ AMOLED screen of 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. Poco said the screen is 12-bit with 100 per cent DCI-P3 colour coverage. To elevate the multimedia experience, there is support for Dolby Vision, besides HDR10+ and HDR. Details aside, the screen dominates the entire front profile with limited bezels on sides. The bezel on the chin is a tad thick, compared to bezels on the sides and top, but the difference is minimal. Therefore, on the face of it, there seems to be a symmetry in the bezels.
As for the quality, the screen is sharp, vivid, and responsive. It offers good sunlight legibility, thanks to brightness that goes up to 1000 nits. The screen is as good in a low-light environment, which makes it easy to read without causing eye fatigue even after extended usage. Multimedia experience, especially with regard to videos and games, is good – thanks to adaptive HDR that auto adjusts brightness and contrast based on ambient lighting conditions. Speaking of HDR, the addition of Dolby Vision on top of HDR10+ makes it a good device for people on-the-go to enjoy supported content available on over-the-top apps such as Apple TV+, Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video.
Complementing the visual experience is the audio. The Poco F5 impresses with the audio output offered by dual stereo speakers. These are loud and clear with modest depth and clarity. Balance is a bit off since the earpiece doubles up as a second speaker, but it does not hamper the experience.
The Poco F5 sports a triple-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 64-megapixel primary sensor with optical image stabilisation paired with 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor and a 2MP macro camera. On the front, the phone has a 16MP camera. It is the camera system carried forward from the predecessor with image filters, called ‘Film Camera’, the only new additions here. That said, imaging is a mixed bag of hits and misses.
The primary camera sensor is good for everyday photography. It is quick in fixing focus and boasts minimal shutter lag, at least in good light conditions. It captures fine details with decent dynamic range and saturated colours. In a low light environment, both focus and shutter slow down yet the primary camera manages to take decent images as long as the content in the frame is static.
The ultra-wide-angle camera sensor is good, but not the best. It works fine in daytime but struggles in low-light conditions. The macro camera is tricky to use and it is there to bump up the number of available cameras on the specifications sheet.
The front camera is modest, but good for everyday use. Surprisingly, it does well with portraits compared to rear cameras. It does not show appropriate results in preview mode, but the end result is impressive with fine contours and bokeh effect.
As for the videos, the Poco F5 peaks at 4K 30fps from the main sensor, 1080p 30fps from ultra-wide-angle, and 1080p 60fps from the front camera. The video quality from all the camera sensors is nothing to write home about.
The Poco F5 impresses with sustained performance and thermal management. The phone is snappy and shows no lag or slow down even after extended usage. It handles processor- and- graphics intensive workloads without breaking sweat. Interestingly, the phone does not heat up unnecessarily. It warms up when used to the max of its potential for extended time, but does not heat up or become too hot to hold and use. There comes a drop in performance but nothing that a quick break cannot solve.
The Poco F5 is powered by Android 13-based MIUI14 interface, which is a heavily customised skin with tons of customisation and personalisation options available besides generic ones offered by Android. The interface seems optimised, but the same level of smoothness does not reflect in apps such as Twitter and Google News. Speaking of apps, the interface is full of bloatware – both first party and third party. There are ads visible on different intersections and many of the preloaded apps send unsolicited notifications. Nevertheless, the Poco F5 would receive two generations of Android updates and three years of security updates.
The Poco F5 delivers a strong on-battery time of more than a day on regular use with screen set at default refresh rate (adaptive) and 5G enabled. On mixed usage, the on-battery time reduces to about a day with screen time varying from five to seven hours. Processor- and- graphic-intensive workloads drain the battery quickly, and there comes the 67W fast wired charger to the rescue – takes about 50 minutes to charge the battery full.
The Poco F5 is a performance-centric smartphone with strength in core areas such as design, display, audio, and battery. Imaging and bloatware-loaded interface is a drag on it, yet the phone makes a strong contender in the midrange segment due to lack of worthy options from smartphone brands such as Xiaomi, OnePlus, Realme, and Samsung.
Offered in 8GB RAM and 12GB RAM variants, both with 256GB on-board storage, at Rs 29,999 and Rs 33,999, the Poco F5 is a midrange smartphone that is strong on paper and so in hands-on experience.
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