Poco X5 5G Review
The budget-friendly Poco X5 5G offers a flagship-grade display and a great design, though performance and camera prowess leaves much to be desired.
- Impressively bright 6.7-inch display
- 5,000mAh battery
- Sleek design
- Image quality leaves much to be desired
- Middling battery life
- MIUI software is very cluttered
- Stutters in everyday use
- UKRRP: £279
- EuropeRRP: €299.90
- Flagship-quality displayThis 6.7-inch AMOLED display packs the same bells and whistles you’d find from a flagship. Expect a 120Hz refresh rate, 1200 nits peak brightness and an FHD+ resolution.
- Huge 5,000mAh batteryThe Poco X5 boasts a 5,000mAh battery that competes with the likes of the Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11.
- Compact designThanks to a streamlined, lightweight, and thin design, the Poco X5 easily slips right into your pocket. It weighs just 189g, and is less than 8mm thick.
Poco’s cheaper line-up of budget and mid-range phones usually offer pretty good bang for your buck, but I always seem to be left wanting that little bit extra from the device. Some extra megapixels, a bigger battery, or a sharper display.
The brand’s new Poco X5 5G aims to achieve this with a rather impressive overhaul.
You’ll find a refined design on this budget-friendly pocket rocket, plus some feature bumps to match. The Poco X5 packs a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a triple camera system on the rear, and a whopping 5,000mAh battery.
It certainly sounds like Poco is ramping things up with its latest smartphone, but how does it stack up?
Design and screen
- Refined design on the rear
- Very impressive display
- IP53 splash resistance
As I alluded to, Poco has taken the opportunity to refine the design of its latest budget smartphone. The previous X4 wasn’t my favourite design, with the camera system on the rear standing out like a sore thumb. With the X5, Poco has simplified things.
On the left-hand side of the rear, you’ll find the camera bump with all three sensors. On the right-hand side, you’ll find Poco’s signature seal of ownership. This year, the brand name is sideways in block capitals. It looks rather sleek – well, as sleek as a brand name can look on the back of a phone.
Moving down to the rest of the rear panel, things only begin to look better. The matte material on the back catches the light to give off a metallic effect. It looks really rather convincing, making the phone look more premium than it actually is. I looked at the model in blue, but green and black are also available.
Rather than the more squared-off designs I’ve seen in the smartphone world recently, the X5 keeps things curvy. The back panel curves on the edges for a more comfortable in-hand fit. I actually prefer this design over the boxy look of the more premium Poco X5 Pro.
Looking at the sides of the device, Poco is keeping things simple here as well. On the left side, you’ll find a SIM slot up top, with room for expandable storage via microSD. Down at the bottom are a mic, USB-C charging port, and a small speaker grill. Over on the right are the volume controls and a power button with a fingerprint sensor built-in. And up top, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack (few and far between, these days) alongside an IR blaster.
Despite the budget price tag, the Poco X5 5G features a flagship-quality display. It’s a 6.7-inch AMOLED panel with FHD+ resolution. What it might lack in resolution, it makes up for with a 120Hz refresh rate for super smooth animations on the screen. The X5 can also crank up the brightness really high – I’m talking 1200 nits of brightness at its peak.
Like most Android devices, you’ll find an always-on display for easy access to notifications and the team. Here, the refresh rate drops right down to conserve battery life. While you won’t find more premium display standards such as Dolby Vision, the panel does boast full DCI-P3 colour support (which is essentially 16.7 million colours), and a 4,500,000:1 contrast ratio. And as an extra bonus, there’s a blue-light restricting feature that’s easy on the eyes.
It’s not a display that’ll blow you away, but it can match significantly more expensive flagships. And on a phone at this price, I’m super impressed.
- Triple-camera system with a 48MP main snapper
- Dedicated night mode
- Image quality isn’t very impressive
Poco’s cameras have always got the job done, but have never particularly excelled in performance. In fact, they often let the brand’s phones down – fully cementing their budget status.
Does the camera on the new X5 improve things? Well, not really. But Poco has put a lot more effort into the features around the camera.
Head into the camera app and you’ll find a bunch of different extra modes to choose from (in addition to your standard Video and Photo). There’s Pro for control over the camera, a document scanning tool, Portrait Mode, Night Mode, and some other software-controlled features.
Unfortunately, these features can’t escape the lacklustre performance of the sensors on the Poco X5. The main 48MP sensor isn’t very big, coming in at 1/2.76-inches. Poco tries to rectify this with a wide f/1.8 aperture to let in more light, but unfortunately doesn’t fare very well.
Images from the main snapper are noticeably dark, even when taken outside during the day. The resulting pictures aren’t just darker overall, but colours are also pretty muted compared to much of the budget competition, though there is a decent amount of detail on offer. It’s a camera that can get the job done, but doesn’t produce photos that you’ll be excited to look back at.
Video from the main sensor isn’t great, either. The X5 captures video up to 1080p at 30fps. It suffers the same fate as pictures from this camera – a lack of detail and dull tones. Without OIS, there’s not much in the way of stabilisation either, so you may wind up with pretty shaky footage.
If you’re planning on zooming in on photos you’ve taken, you can forget that idea. As soon as you begin to zoom, the detail in the X5’s images falls apart and things become pretty pixelated. It’s not the high resolution I’d expect from a 48MP camera, so perhaps some details are getting lost in the AI processing.
The ultra-wide sensor works well, zooming out to the usual 0.6x zoom. Images are noticeably lower quality than those from the main snapper, but that’s to be expected from an 8MP sensor on a budget smartphone. The 118-degree FOV makes for a pretty wide image, without a fish-eye effect that hurts your head.
And while the macro camera is a nice idea, it doesn’t produce usable photos. Things are simply far too blurry – there’s not enough captured by the 2MP sensor Poco uses. It’s simply there to bump up the camera count and make it look more tempting.
Portrait Mode really struggles with edge detection too. The X5 can just about handle simple subjects such as another phone, but freaks out at the sight of anything more complicated. Aside from edge detection, the resulting photos are very low resolution due to the digital zoom on the images.
Night mode is a nice idea, but isn’t a feature I’d find myself using on the Poco on a regular basis. It certainly makes images brighter (if not a little too warm), but lacks any detail whatsoever due to the sensors Poco uses. You’re more likely to capture a better photo using the flash.
Despite trying to include some extra camera features, the Poco X5 falls flat when it comes to photos and videos. There’s just no escaping the low-quality sensors within the smartphone.
- The X5 5G falls apart under pressure
- Poco’s MIUI 13 offers a poor Android experience
- 5G connectivity
Within the budget-focused Poco X5 you’ll find the Snapdragon 695 processor, a chip first revealed in 2021. It boasts an octa-core CPU, but certainly isn’t the fastest chipset around by any means. While it can handle some things pretty easily, it’s not quite up to scratch for most tasks – even for a phone at this price.
You’ve got Netflix open, close it from the multitasking window, and then pull up the app finder from your homepage. Sounds pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, not for the Poco X5. It starts to stutter when pulling up the app finder, hanging for a second or two. It’s not the biggest deal, the phone’s still usable – but it’s noticeable enough that it’ll begin to irk over time.
That’s backed up by benchmarks too. Running a Geekbench 5 benchmark on the phone, I got a 684 single-core score and a 2079 multi-core score. For reference, that’s almost half of that scored by flagships like the OnePlus 11 in 2023. These devices are much more premium, of course, but it gives you an idea of what to expect.
The smartphone can handle light gaming without any hiccups, but starts to stutter again with heavier gaming. When playing Asphalt 9, button presses in the game would often be somewhat delayed, and frame rates drop during gameplay. Sure, you probably wouldn’t use this phone for gaming – but you couldn’t really if you did want to.
Poco’s software experience continues to disappoint with MIUI 13. Based on Android 12, the custom skin really complicates the Android experience. It’s clunky and unorganised, with typical actions buried deep beneath multiple buttons and swipes.
There’s also a ton of bloatware pre-installed on the device – everything from Booking.com to Netflix, and even some mobile games! It’s not what you want on a new phone out of the box, regardless of what you paid for it.
When it comes to audio, it’s safe to say that the Poco X5 doesn’t exactly excel. With one, small speaker grill on the bottom, audio is quiet and tinny. It’s not something you particularly want to listen to, whether you’re playing music or watching the telly. A good set of earbuds will be your friend with this smartphone!
And connectivity-wise, the X5 packs everything you’d expect from a smartphone in 2023. It boasts 5G for the latest in mobile connectivity., and you’ll find Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1, and NFC.
- Battery runs down rather quickly
- Charging isn’t very fast at all despite 33W charging
The Poco X5 squeezes in a 5000mAh battery that, on paper, should deliver all-day battery life without issue. Based on my testing, You’ll be able to last all day on the battery without regardless of what you’re up to, but getting to a second day might be quite the struggle. Poco touts 20 hours of call time, which seems a little high compared to my findings.
You’ll find 33W fast(ish) charging on the X5 5G, though unfortunately I couldn’t test the charger that comes in the box as my sample had a European charger bundled. Those bought from UK retailers should have a UK plug though.
I found a similarly matched charging brick to juice up the Poco X5 for testing. It took just over half an hour to charge from 0% to 50%, but just over two hours to go all the way. You might be able to quickly boost up in a short amount of time, but you’ll find yourself looking for a charger again soon after.
Should you buy it?
You want a top-end display on a budget: with a 6.8-inch 120Hz display, the Poco X5 offers one of the best viewing experiences at less than £280.
You want to take high-quality photos: Despite the inclusion of three lenses on the rear, including a 48-megapixel main camera, photos aren’t that impressive overall.
The Poco X5 5G is a budget smartphone that tries to provide the experience of a mid-ranger, but it falls short. It’s a fine phone, for sure – especially when you consider the price and that high-end 6.8-inch 120Hz display. If you’re after something primarily for watching videos at a cheap price, this is it.
But if you’re looking to squeeze as much performance as you can out of a budget phone, you’d be better off looking elsewhere. Everyday performance and the cameras are what let down the Poco X5. And they’re pretty big deals as far as smartphones are concerned. It’s an alright budget phone with a great display, but you can find better.
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We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as a main phone for the review period
Thorough camera testing in well-lit and low-light conditions
Tested and benchmarked using respected industry tests