POCO X5 Pro review
Roughly ten months after the debut of the POCO X4 Pro, the successor hits the streets in the form of the (you guessed it) POCO X5 Pro. Is it more evolution or revolution this time around? As it turns out, I’m happy to say it leans more toward the latter.The POCO X5 Pro, available in Blue, Black and the brand’s signature Yellow, dials things up in nearly all of the right places. It runs an Android 12-based MIUI 14 software experience and comes with a starting price of about $300 USD.As is to be expected, a standard version of the POCO X5 also makes its debut with a handful of differences. It launches with a $250 price; however, both come with early bird discounts of $50 each.DesignThe Poxo X5 is a snappy looking phone, at least in yellow, but it’s not overly flashy. Both the front and rear are flat with the backside offering a matte finish and a bit of glass around the left half of the camera module.Design-wise, it’s hard to do anything special to stand out and POCO plays it safe and familiar here with the X5 Pro. The right side has the volume buttons and a yellow power button that doubles as an always-on fingerprint reader.Along the top of the phone you’ll find a speaker, a 3.5mm audio jack, an IR blaster, and microphone. The bottom has a microphone, speaker, USB Type-C port, and the SIM tray. The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 5.Generally speaking, the POCO X5 Pro looks and feels nice in hand, and comes across as evenly balanced. It has a reasonable amount of weight and size to it with it for a phone that provides a 6.67-inch screen.Speaking of which, the 6.67-inch AMOLED display has a 1,080 x 2,400 pixel resolution with up to 240Hz touch response and 120Hz refresh rate. The phone offers three preset color modes and a custom one for individual tuning, giving users plenty to work with in that area.The high refresh rate is visible in most places, including the overall UI and apps but it does appear to dial down to 60Hz when interacting with the camera app and playing/streaming video.The POCO X5 Pro houses a 5,000mAh battery with support up to 67W wired charging. Our review unit comes with a European charging plug so we were not able to test that out. That said, we did use a few chargers around the office and I found it to be incredibly efficient at replenishing. SoftwareThe POCO X5 Pro runs a custom MIUI 14 experience which is built atop Android 12. I’ve spent time with previous versions of MIUI and usually come away generally pleased with things. I tend to want my Android to be as close to stock as possible but I don’t mind if the right “extras” are added. One of the touches that I appreciate is the lighting effect for notifications. It’s a simple one in that it lights up the edges of the display but it helps catch catch the eye. I miss notification colors and LEDs so this is one of those additions that I like.Similarly, there are settings for split screens and floating windows for select apps. They’re not the sort of thing I use often, but I find them helpful for multitasking. Theming of Android phones has been around since day one; MIUI does a great job of curating customizable designs, with wallpapers, icons, ringtones, and other settings. It may require a little bit of tweaking on your end to get things precisely the way you want, but there are scores of options to get started.There are also settings for an Always-On Display which can help users more quickly see what’s happening, or has happened since they last glanced at their handset.Pulling down from the top of your phone results in two different outcomes. The left side will bring up your Notification Center while the right side reveals the Control Center for system settings and options. You can swipe left and right between them for quicker navigation and you can also disable the Control Center.As someone who has long used the app drawer for opening apps and games, I tend to default to that with custom builds. MIUI will sometimes give users the option to toggle between using app drawers and home screen icons but the POCO X5 Pro only gave me the former this time around.If you’re fond of the Google Discover page on your home screen you’ll be pleased to know that it’s an option here. You can disable it if you’d like and even replace it with Xiaomi’s App Vault widget pane with smart suggestions.As far as additional applications are concerned, our review unit comes with a few proprietary clients for music, videos, file management, photos, and a Mi Remote (IR blaster). There’s also a Security app for managing data and battery, free up memory, scan malware, and more.Memory Extension is active by default, and lets users choose between 2GB, 3GB, and 5GB storage to be reserved as RAM extension.Then comes the topic of so-called “bloatware”, or value-added apps and games. Our review unit came with quite a list of titles, all of which looked to be removable. That being said, you may find yourself with AliExpress, Amazon Shopping, Bubble Shooter, Crazy Juicer, Dust Settle, Facebook, Genshin Impact, Jewels Blast, LinkedIn, Mi Browser, Netflix, QEEQ, Solitaire, TikTok, Tile Fun, and WPS Office.PerformanceThe POCO X5 Pro is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778 5G chipset which features an octa-core processor at 2.4GHz. It’s paired with an Adreno 642L GPU and an X53 5G modem.In the area of memory and storage you have two options: a base configuration of 6GB LPDDR4X RAM with 128GB UFS 2.2 storage and 8GB RAM with 256GB storage. There is no microSD slot.It’s really hard to imagine wanting more from a phone at these prices. It’s well-balanced and offers fantastic performance, and acts like a handset that might cost another hundred dollars (or more).This is by no means a gaming phone or even a flagship device but I suspect most users would be hard-pressed to need more from a device as 2023 gets rolling.The fingerprint reader speed and accuracy delivers on expectations, and you can choose between a touch or a press. The latter makes it harder for errant and accidental reads, and feels more intentional to me. You can also choose to set up face unlocking as an option if that’s your preferred method. I found both to be easy to configure and snappy.The POCO X5 Pro speakers are loud and offer a little more bass than anticipated. The Dolby sound setting can be toggled off but I’d suggest keeping it on for a more rich and subtly layered sound.There are four total cameras on the POCO X5 Pro, three on the rear and one on the front in the hole punch cutout. Diving a little deeper, the back houses a 108-megapixel high-res primary, an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel macro cameras. The selfie camera is a 16-megapixel shooter. The camera app is pretty straightforward and easy to figure out. I imagine it won’t take but a few times to understand how things are configured and how to navigate the menus and icons.If you’re the type who likes to open the app and snap a picture, you’ll be happy with things. Conversely, if you like to tinker a bit, using filters or shooting long exposures, time lapse shots and the like, there’s a lot hidden away. I think the Long Exposure mode is a cool one, personally, as it gives presets for neon trails, skies, star trails, and more.Indeed, you can also edit things to make it easier to hop into a specific feature. Of course there’s always Pro mode which gives you control all of the usual settings.The main camera captures good results without much tinkering; contrast and colors are excellent and there’s little noise. They look great on a phone and only get better if you spend some time with them in a nice editing app. Zooming in a bit or looking at them on a computer reveals some artifacts and noise but nothing that gave me concern. Using the AI and preset filters works well but occasionally ends up with a pic that seems manipulated or over-processed. The ultrawide pics are also good, with decent detail and colors but dynamic range and contrast will sometimes skew mediocre. Macro shots were the weakest of the bunch but they’re also the stuff I shoot the least of, anyhow.Low-light images fared reasonably well in my experience with the Auto Night mode kicking in to help when it deems necessary. More often than not I was glad to see it step in but I do like that I can turn that feature off if I am trying to capture a specific type of shot. And, just as a helpful rule, maybe stand still one extra moment after snapping the photo.Keeping in mind the price of the phone, I am more than pleased with the results. I’m quite amazed at what can be achieved by phones in this price range. I’ll revise this post with more camera samples over time so that you can get a good sense of things.ConclusionI’m a sucker for $300-$400 phones for a number of reasons. They’re easier on the wallet than flagships, yes, but they’re also still more than enough to satisfy my needs. Every so often you’ll encounter a phone that with a random specification or feature that doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the package. That’s not the case here; it’s a very balanced device.The POCO X5 Pro is a phone device with modern software that’s fully customizable. Moreover, it features enough memory, storage, and overall performance to keep me happy for another generation. I might have liked a microSD expansion card slot but, then again, I may not ever miss it with this much space and the aid of Google Photos. And while we’re on the subject of removed features, I should point out that the FM radio is gone, too.Those two features are not deal breakers for me, and the fact that there’s no wireless charging sits just fine with me. They may mean more to you, but it’s tough to ask for that at this cost.There is a lot on offer in the POCO X5 Pro and I’m more than happy to recommend it. It’s a worthy upgrade over its predecessor to be sure. The main problem this handset faces is that this price range begets a lot of stiff competition. There’s the Samsung Galaxy A53, Motorola G82, and Google Pixel 6a to contend with in the space. Each, I suggest, comes from a more reputable if not bigger name, for US consumers. And getting your hands on them may be easier, too.Competition aside, if you’re on the fence about the Poco X5 Pro, count me in as someone who suggests you grab it.What About the POCO X5?The POCO X5 offers a slightly different approach and comes with a lower price tag. Key differences here include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor and comes with a microSD expansion card slot. It has the same amount memory and storage but that external space could be a key differentiator for some.The screen size is the same at 6.67-inches, with the same 120Hz refresh rate and FHD+ resolution, but it’s an 8-bit panel protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The POCO X5 Pro has a 10-bit panel with the aforementioned Gorilla Glass 5.The camera configuration is made up with a 48-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel ultrawide, 2-megapixel macro, and 13-megapixel front-facing shooter. Video capture is capped at 1080p whereas the POCO X5 Pro allows for 4K video.Although the same 5,000mAh battery is present, its charging speed taps out at 33W, which is still fast. I would suggest that unless you have strong need of a microSD card, spend the extra fifty bucks for the Pro model.AvailabilityThe POCO X5 Pro 5G will come in Black, Blue, and Yellow and will be available in two variants: 6GB with 128GB storage and 8GB with 256GB storage.The POCO X5 5G will come in Green, Blue, and Black and will be available in two variants: 6GB with 128GB storage and 8GB with 256GB storage.+128GB and 8GB+256GB.You can learn more about each device at POCO’s global website where it will hand you off for purchase if you’re inclined.