Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Poco F5 5G Review: The Mid-Range Gaming Phone to Beat

Poco burst onto the scene with the F1 back in 2018 and since then, the company has had very selective launches through the years while also diversifying its portfolio across budget segments. The F series remains synonymous with offering a powerful processor at a relatively low price, and its 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 a lot of its DNA with the flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. The F5 also checks many other important boxes as it comes with an optically stabilised primary camera, very fast charging, and even an IP rating.

Should the new Poco F5 5G be on the top of your list if you have a budget of 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 feature 256GB of storage. Prices are Rs. 29,999 and Rs. 33,999 for the respective variants. The pricing is not bad in my opinion, considering the collective set of features on offer. You also get a full kit of accessories in the box, including a 67W power adapter and a case.

Poco F5 5G design

If you’re an avid follower of global smartphone launches then the Poco F5 5G might seem familiar, and that’s because it bears a striking resemblance to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Turbo from China. Everything from the specs, design to even the colours appear to be the same as the F5 5G. It doesn’t seem like Xiaomi has any plans to launch its phone in India, so there shouldn’t be any sibling rivalry.

The black colour of the Poco F5 5G does not look very premium as the plastic back panel attracts fingerprints very easily. The other colours seem like they should be able to hide smudges better. However, the feel of the plastic rear panel is not 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 up-market design thanks to its glass back panel.

The F5 5G is quite light and slim though, which I like. The fingerprint sensor is in the power button, which sits uncomfortably flush with the frame. 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.

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The Poco F5 5G has a bright and vivid OLED display

 

The display on the Poco F5 5G is nice and vibrant. What’s immediately noticeable are the evenly slim bezels on all four sides of the display. The screen itself is a 12-bit pOLED panel with a full-HD+ resolution, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, and supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+ video playback. Poco claims it has a 1,000 nits peak brightness. The phone comes with a screen guard pre-applied but the display does have Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection.

Poco F5 5G specifications and software

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 is a power-efficient 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, only with slightly lower frequencies. There are some other differences as well such as a less powerful GPU, lower memory bandwidth, etc. The 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 has used a vapour chamber cooling system consisting of 14 graphite sheets to better manage heat.

The Poco F5 5G runs MIUI 14 (14.0.3) which is based on Android 13. Poco has promised to deliver two years of Android updates and three years of security updates for the F5 5G. As usual, there are a tonne of preinstalled apps and shortcuts on the homescreen by default. Some of the native apps which cannot be uninstalled are also notorious for cluttering the notification shade with ads and unwanted alerts. Thankfully, some of the apps such as Music and Themes allow you to disable ads and recommendations, but this doesn’t stop the alerts completely.

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Spammy recommendations can’t be stopped from some apps on the Poco F5 5G, despite disabling the toggles within the apps

 

Some of the useful bundled apps include Game Turbo which has a slick interface and allows you to tweak the system performance for games.

Poco F5 5G performance and battery life

This new SoC in the Poco F5 5G has some ridiculous amount of raw power. While we usually don’t put too much 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 managed 10,94,798 points and a score of 13,498 in PCMark (Work 2.0). These are impressive numbers and not too far behind Qualcomm’s current flagship, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

The 12GB variant of the Poco F5 5G that I’ve been testing hasn’t skipped a beat yet in the past few weeks. System performance has been snappy, multi-tasking works like a charm, and apps are quick to load. Heat management has also been quite satisfactory so far as even when gaming, the phone only gets warm.

Titles such as Asphalt 9: Legends and Genshin Impact, both ran very well with solid framerates. Fast-paced shooters such as Call of Duty: Mobile ran very well on the ‘High’ graphics and ‘Max’ framerate setting. With the latter game, the display continued to run at 120Hz which made gameplay feel a lot more fluid, unlike most other games where it dropped to 60Hz.

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The Poco F5 5G charges relatively quickly thanks to the bundled power adapter

 

HDR video playback looks good in apps such as Netflix which has many Dolby Vision TV shows and movies. The display produces punchy colours and has very good brightness levels for outdoor use during the day. The side-mounted fingerprint sensor works well and even face recognition is surprisingly quick in low light.

Battery life has been pretty great so far. The Poco F5 5G lasted for a good 17 hours, 34 minutes in our HD video loop test, which is above average. The real-world backup time was also pretty good, with the phone easily lasting more than a full day on average, even with heavy use. Charging is speedy with the bundled adapter as the F5 5G can charge up to 46 percent in 30 minutes and up to 93 percent in an hour.

Poco F5 5G cameras

The Poco F5 5G has three rear cameras; a 64-megapixel primary with optical stabilisation (OIS), 8-megapixel ultra-wide, and a 2-megapixel macro. The phone has a 16-megapixel selfie camera. Poco says it has added 2X “lossless” zoom mode, which uses a cropped portion of the sensor to capture a magnified image. There are also seven film camera filters if you want to add some retro effects to your photos.

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You get three camera sensors on the back of the Poco F5 5G

 

The main camera captures decent landscape shots during the day. HDR is handled well, dynamic range is acceptable and colours are pleasing. The camera struggles a bit to resolve finer details in distant objects, for instance horizontal lines of a building can appear a bit jagged. These inconstancies are only really noticeable once you zoom into the image and go looking for them. There’s no issue with close-up shots, which have good sharpness and well-saturated colours.

Poco F5 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)

Poco F5 5G ultra-wide camera sample (tap to see full size)

Poco F5 5G main camera sample (tap to see full size)

 

Low-light images from the main camera have good exposure and details. I didn’t notice much of a difference between regular and Night mode shots, which is a good thing. Images taken at 2X magnification during the day show no visible loss in details. The maximum zoom level is 10X and images are quite usable even at this level, provided you’re shooting in daylight.

The ultra-wide camera expectedly doesn’t capture as much details as the main one even under good lighting. Exposure can be a bit of a hit or miss too. In low light, this camera under-exposes the scene unless you use Night mode, which has a visible improvement. Macro photos from the macro camera are usually below average, even in good light.

Poco F5 5G low-light camera samples (tap to see full size)

 

The selfie camera on the Poco F5 5G is not great, but can capture passable selfies. It tends to struggle with backlit selfies, and the Portrait mode with this camera isn’t very convincing. Low-light selfies have visible grain on facial features and details are a bit fuzzy.

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Poco F5 5G front camera samples: Daylight (left) and low light (right)

 

The Poco F5 5G can capture videos up to 4K 30fps using the main camera, while the ultra-wide is limited to 1080p 30fps. Videos recorded at 4K look decent in the day but walking and shooting does introduce some jitter in the video, which is more pronounced in low light. The video quality from the ultra-wide camera is average as footage is generally under-exposed.

Verdict

The Poco F5 5G is an undeniable powerhouse at this price as it delivers raw performance that comes close to Qualcomm’s flagship 8 Gen series SoCs. This, coupled with the good heat management makes the F5 5G an excellent option for anyone looking for a powerful smartphone for gaming. Other areas where the F5 5G excels are its display, good battery life, and slim design. I just wished it felt a bit more premium like its predecessor did. The selfie and ultra-wide cameras are also fairly average and could have been better. 

If you want a more premium looking phone, the Nothing Phone 1 checks all the boxes at this price, and gets you wireless charging. The Samsung Galaxy A34 and Motorola Edge 40 are also worth considering if you need full-fledged waterproofing. If you are looking for good camera performance around this price, then the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G makes a good alternative as it features familiar software, and comes with quicker charging and a better set of cameras. 


Samsung Galaxy A34 5G was recently launched by the company in India alongside the more expensive Galaxy A54 5G smartphone. How does this phone fare against the Nothing Phone 1 and the iQoo Neo 7? We discuss this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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