POCO recently launched its flagship F series models globally, with the POCO F5 and POCO F5 Pro priced starting at P20,999 (around $376 converted) and P26,999 ($483) in the Philippines, respectively.
According to the company, the two are tailor-made for gaming geeks, photography enthusiasts, and technology lovers. Notice the change this time around? Well, it’s clear that POCO is out to make a device that is suitable for everyone and not just hardcore mobile gamers.
The POCO F5 Pro is available in black and white colors, as well as different RAM and storage configurations up to 12GB of physical memory and 512GB of internal storage. POCO sent us the 12GB/256GB variant of the smartphone for review.
Our black unit features a glossy finish and carbon-fiber trimmings along the edges of the rear cover, adding a sporty contrast to its rather minimalist design. Unlike many phones that have debuted recently, the lateral sides of the back gently curve to meet a plastic frame that houses the physical buttons on one side and stereo speakers located at the top and bottom of the device.
The back of the POCO F5 Pro is made of generic glass with a glossy coating. You get IP53 dust and water resistance with the device. While that doesn’t mean you can submerge the phone underwater, it should be able to handle the occasional downpour just fine.
Like other phones under the Xiaomi brand, the POCO F5 Pro includes an IR blaster on the top edge, allowing you to remotely control compatible appliances from the handset via the preinstalled Mi Remote app. There’s no headphone jack here, and the box does not include a USB-C adapter for headphones. Not surprising at all given this model’s aggressive pricing.
The speakers situated at each end of the device means you can at least enjoy stereo-quality sound when streaming videos in landscape mode. They’re loud and sound pretty good by smartphone standards (to our delight), but we still recommend sticking to headphones for gaming. These loudspeakers also support spatial audio on certain apps like Netflix, in addition to HD and HDR playback. You can even play HDR content on YouTube without issues.
Around the back, the POCO F5 Pro sports a triple-camera setup headlined by a 64-megapixel image sensor with PDAF and optical image stabilization. The primary cam is joined by an 8-megapixel ultrawide option and a 2-megapixel filler for macro photography. The cameras all sit in a rectangular module with slanted sides and a flat top like a tiny ramp.
The main camera captures good images and produces sharp video clips up to 8K at 24 frames per second in good lighting. You can also shoot 4K footage up to 60 fps, albeit without the phone’s stabilization feature, which is limited to full HD clips at 30 fps. There’s Vlog mode, too — great for quickly creating jump-cut short videos to post on TikTok and Instagram.
Imaging performance has never been POCO’s strong suit, and, unfortunately, its latest flagship doesn’t break the mold, especially when it comes to low-light shooting. In tricky lighting, the main and ultrawide cameras tend to suppress details in the shadow areas and white balance was constantly an issue. As for the tertiary macro shooter, you’re better off taking closeups with the 64-megapixel camera and zooming in to 2x or 5x instead.
On a positive note, portraits are surprisingly pleasant, and the separation between the subject and the background looks neat in most of our shots. POCO also allows you to adjust the strength of the blur before and after you take a picture. The amount of filters you can apply to photos is overwhelming, but you’ll need to download most of them in the Camera app. Basically, POCO lets you touch up your shots any way you like prior to posting them on social media.
The front-facing camera sits in a punch hole and has a 16-megapixel sensor. It can capture sufficiently detailed and color-accurate selfies as well as portrait-style pictures — provided the lighting situation is optimal.
There won’t be any GT-branded POCO phone this year, as confirmed by the company in our recent interview with POCO head of marketing and global spokesperson Angus Ng. This makes the POCO F5 Pro the spiritual successor to last year’s gaming-focused POCO F4 GT, which arrived with physical shoulder triggers on one of the side rails.
The Pro variant skips the shoulder buttons of its predecessor, along with other gaming-oriented features like RGB lighting and a 3.5mm headphone jack, although it does have a nice haptic engine that delivers strong and precise haptics. This makes typing on the phone feel a lot more intuitive with vibrations turned on.
Besides the processor upgrade, which we’ll discuss in a bit, another huge change introduced to the POCO F5 Pro is the resolution bump. The 6.67-inch OLED display upgrades to a WQHD+ resolution of 3,200 x 1,440 pixels. You can lower it to 1080p, a notch under the native resolution, to keep everything looking reasonably sharp while saving battery life. The display is flat from edge to edge and feels great in the hand.
The screen uses Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for protection and has a peak max brightness of 1,000 nits, which is slightly lower than what pricier flagships offer, but still quite fine for most use cases given the price point. It gets bright enough for both indoor and outdoor usage — save for under direct sunlight on a harsh sunny day. It also delivers accurate and bright colors, and, like most OLED panels, covers the entire P3 color gamut. The bezels surrounding the panel look aesthetically pleasing as well, though we wish the bottom bezel were a tad smaller.
It’s worth mentioning that the POCO F5 Pro doesn’t have an LTPO panel and can only switch between 60Hz and 120Hz. In other words, it isn’t as power-efficient as other displays that drop the refresh rate all the way to 1Hz to conserve battery. There’s an optical in-screen fingerprint reader located low on the screen. The sensor is pretty fast and makes it convenient to access the device from a locked state.
The POCO F5 Pro is powered by Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor from last year. It’s still plenty powerful in 2023, especially when coupled with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM in our review unit. The storage uses UFS 3.1 technology instead of the latest UFS 4.0 that’s been in some flagships launched this year. Not a big deal considering the price range the device falls under.
Unsurprisingly, our review unit’s benchmark numbers are neck and neck with the similarly specced OnePlus 10T 5G and other top-shelf models from 2022. Based on our experience, only phones powered by the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset offer faster performance in the Android space. The POCO F5 Pro can run all the games you throw at it without breaking a sweat. Apps load instantly, and multitasking feels darn fluid on our unit.
The 5,160mAh battery is another highlight here. It’s pretty huge and easily lasts more than a day even with our heavy usage, which involves gaming, streaming videos on mobile data, and taking pictures. Casual smartphone users can probably get two days worth of battery life out of the POCO F5 Pro on a single full charge. The battery can be charged at 67 watts using the included power brick or up to 30 watts wirelessly.
Even without the GT moniker, the POCO F5 Pro is a performance-first device that will appeal to plenty of smartphone users, including gamers. It feels absolutely buttery smooth to use, and despite using an older chipset, is definitely still powerful enough to run the most demanding games at the highest graphics preset available.
The battery lasts a full day regardless of how the phone is used, too, while the OLED display is fast enough to give users a bit of competitive advantage. Perhaps more importantly, it looks great to our eyes, with the resolution going as high as WQHD+. With the F5 Pro, POCO set out to make a phone that will attract more smartphone users, and not just the gaming crowd. It may have done just that.
*In the Philippines, the POCO F5 Pro is available for purchase on the brand’s official store on Shopee
POCO F5 Pro specs
- 6.67-inch WQHD+ AMOLED DotDisplay with up to 120Hz refresh rate, Corning Gorilla Glass 5
- 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor with 5G
- Adreno 730 GPU
- 8GB/12GB LPDDR5 RAM
- 256GB/512GB UFS 3.1 storage
- Triple 64-megapixel main, 8-megapixel ultrawide, 2-megapixel macro cameras
- 16-megapixel front camera
- In-screen fingerprint sensor
- 5,160mAh battery with 67-watt wired charging and 30-watt wireless charging
- Dual speakers, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision
- MIUI 14 for POCO
- LiquidCool Technology 2.0
- Colors: Black and white
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