Poco F5 Review: Flagship performance with a dose of bloatware

The Poco F5 has arrived at the Techkiva office and has big shoes to fill: it’s not only the direct successor to the very (VERY) popular “flagship killer” Poco F1 (review), but also the first cell phone to come out in the West with the promising new “Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2” processor was released. The smartphone manages to beat current flagships in terms of performance and battery life, but at what price? Read on to find out!

Xiaomi Poco F5 in brief

The Poco F5 was announced in May 2023 alongside the F5 Pro model. Being part of the F family, both devices provide near-flagship processors at a more affordable price compared to their competitors. In doing so, they usually make compromises with the camera, as is common with gaming phones.

Xiaomi equips the Poco F5 – just like its Chinese twin Redmi Note 12 Turbo – with the new “Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2” chip from Qualcomm. The Snapdragon processor is an absolute highlight of the Poco F5. It offers a CPU configuration similar to flagship chips and boasts high-end performance, as you’ll see below.

The Poco F5 is offered in two storage variants: one with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and another with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Both configurations feature LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage standards. In China, its twin, the Redmi Note 12 Turbo, is additionally available with a 12/512 GB option.

Design and Display

With its roots in the Redmi Note 12 family, it comes as no surprise that the Poco F5 sports a bright 6.67” OLED display with “Full HD+” resolution and a 120 Hz refresh rate. And all this in a relatively compact frame that is light and feels good in the hand despite the large screen.

Strengths of the Poco F5:

  • Amazingly light
  • Good 120Hz OLED screen
  • thin edges
  • Easy to hold
  • headphone jack

Weaknesses of the Poco F5:

  • No IP certification
  • No expandable storage
  • The plastic back is a fingerprint magnet.

Our review unit came in black and features a design that’s not as flashy as some of the X, M, or C series Poco phones. With the subtle branding and triple camera setup on the back, the F5 could easily be mistaken for a Redmi Note.

Speaking of the back, it’s made of plastic with a carbon-fiber-like finish. It feels good in the hand without being slippery, but is not that easy to keep clean as fingerprints collect very quickly.

The grip is also favored by the fact that the Poco F5 is quite thin and compact with 161.1 x 74.9 x 7.9 mm and a weight of 181 grams considering its battery and display size.

The 6.67-inch display is framed by thin bezels and the selfie camera notch is smaller than that of the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ that we reviewed a few weeks ago. Thanks to the refresh rate of 120 Hz, the animations are smooth and with a maximum brightness of 1000 nits, the display is easy to read even outdoors.

The color reproduction is very good – OLED panels are apparently becoming a mass commodity. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a screen that disappointed. The panel also scores with a good contrast ratio and support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ content.

On the sides of the Poco F5, the volume and power buttons are in easy-to-reach places, with the power button also acting as a very fast and accurate fingerprint reader. The bottom has the USB-C port and SIM card slot, while the top has the headphone jack and Xiaomi’s usual IR blaster.

Performance and software

We are currently testing the Poco F5, which is the first phone featuring the “Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2” processor. This has a powerful Cortex-X2 CPU, which was previously only found in the top chips from Qualcomm, MediaTek or Samsung. Despite clocking in at a “modest” 2.9GHz, the SoC offers performance that rivals any flagship phone from 2022 – likely because it’s built on TSMC’s efficient N4 process.

Strengths of the Poco F5:

  • Flagship-level performance
  • No issues with stability or heat
  • Nice (and useful) gaming overlay

Weaknesses of the Poco F5:

  • Lots of pre-installed apps
  • The update policy could be better.

In synthetic benchmarks, the Poco F5 demonstrates comparable performance to devices equipped with the Snapdragon 888, 888+, and 8 Gen 1 processors. It also remains close to current flagship devices powered by the 8+ Gen 1 and 8 Gen 2 processors. In everyday usage, the performance of the Poco F5 is akin to that of a flagship device, aided by the swift combination of LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage.

Even better, the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 showed very consistent scores in the 3DMark stress test, with less than a percent variance between the best and worst scores in a continuous 20-test loop. Unlike most Snapdragon 888 or 8 Gen 1 equipped phones, the Poco F5 showed no signs of overheating and just worked flawlessly.

In games like Call of Duty: Mobile, the Poco F5 ran like a champ, with stable performance over longer sessions and even with the ability to use high-resolution textures.


While the Poco F5’s performance is probably the device’s strength, the software can be seen as its weakest point. Not that the MIUI doesn’t work well, as it’s as slick and easy to use as ever. The problem is really the amount of pre-installed apps on the phone.

We observed that the Poco F5 comes with 17 third-party apps pre-installed by default. The palette ranges from admittedly (for some) indispensable apps like Spotify and Netflix to eight casual games with advertising and/or microtransactions. On the other hand, the MIUI build on the Poco F5 doesn’t seem to be riddled with ads. But that could also be due to the fact that the cell phone has only been in use for less than a week.

And like its Redmi Note siblings, Xiaomi’s update policy is definitely not at flagship level. Not only that previous models like the F2 Pro only received up to two major operating system upgrades, but for the F3 and F4 models, Poco plans to only distribute Android 13/MIUI 14 in the second quarter of 2023, almost 6 months after OnePlus and Samsung have updated their flagships to Android 13.

Xiaomi Poco F5: camera

Like its predecessors, the Poco F5 isn’t really a contender for best camera phone. While the pictures taken with the main camera are nice and pleasant in daylight, the additional cameras are not that useful.

Strengths of the Poco F5:

  • Good pictures in daylight
  • Nice pictures at night with some lighting
  • Selfies haven’t been overly edited

Weaknesses of the Poco F5:

  • No telephoto lens
  • The 2 MP macro camera is not useful.

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