The Poco F5 has an AMOLED screen with Xiaomi's favorite size - 6.67". It's not amongst the brightest out there, which is probably unsurprising given how it's priced, but we're happy to report that it pumps up adequate amounts of brightness even on a bright sunny day. Sure, the screen won't be as easy to see as indoors, but it's perfectly fine and you won't need to chase a shaded place in order to do anything on the phone.
The 963-nit top brightness in Auto mode that we've tested in our normal review puts it around what you'd expect from a midranger these days, and it's notably brighter than last year's Poco F4 GT, for example, which is great to see (excuse the pun). It also towers above the fan-favorite Nothing Phone (1), for what it's worth, with about a third more brightness. While not mind-blowing, it will definitely do the job in day-to-day life.
At the other end of the brightness spectrum, things aren't so bright - or rather, they are, and too much so. Let's untangle our contrived wording here: in pitch black environments, you might find, like we did, that the screen remains just a tad too bright for comfort even on the lowest possible brightness. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about that, since Xiaomi still doesn't include the Extra dim feature that's been part of Android for a while now.
Choosing the dark mode at night does alleviate the issue somewhat, but when you're confronted with a white background - say, on a webpage - your retinas might still ache. Then again, perhaps we're just being too sensitive and you'll be fine, there's no way for us to tell what your particular reaction will be. Just know that we've seen many displays on phones recently that can and do go dimmer at night, this is among the ones that remain the brightest.
The auto-brightness algorithm on the Poco F5 has been pretty much perfect, with minimal manual adjustments required, and all of the adjustments made being remembered for any subsequent encounters with the exact same level of ambient lighting.
This is how it should be, and a lot of other phones could learn a thing or two from this one in this respect - for example, we found the recently long-term reviewed OnePlus 11 incredibly frustrating in this regard, requiring constant manual adjustments even weeks into our use of it. The Poco F5 may be cheaper, but at this specific thing it's way better, there's no contest really. Its auto-brightness algorithm is just generally among the absolute best we've encountered in the past year or so, when most seem to have gotten worse than they were a few years back, for whatever reason. That's not going to be a problem here.
The panel is very high quality and unless you have a flagship smartphone around to do side-by-side tests with, you won't find anything lacking, which is definitely commendable considering the inherent price delta.
Colors are incredibly accurate in the Standard color scheme, which is tuned to the sRGB color space to perfection. There are some other options too, but they are (perhaps understandably?) way less color accurate - and this includes the default Vivid mode, which has whites that lean too much towards blue.
In the Advanced settings, you can fine-tune the red, green, and blue levels, as well as hue, saturation, contrast, and gamma, but since most content on the web is still optimized for sRGB, we don't know why you wouldn't just select Standard and never think about colors ever again. Or, if you don't care about accuracy that much, just pick Vivid or Saturated, whichever looks better to you. If you go with either of those, we suggest choosing the Warm color temperature preset to offset some of the bluish whites.
120 Hz is standard these days, and the Poco F5 delivers. As usual with MIUI devices, we went into Settings and chose the "Custom" 120 Hz setting, as the default option will be at that point less. Your mileage may definitely vary here, but we like to test devices at the absolute best of what they can deliver, especially when it comes to refresh rate, which has a huge influence on the overall perceived smoothness.
As with any other device nowadays, picking 120 Hz doesn't make it always be at that rate, it's just basically selecting the peak. The display isn't LTPO so it won't adjust in minute increments all the way down to 1 Hz. It will just be at 120 Hz most of the time, switching to 60 Hz when playing videos or when the screen is idle. It's definitely not the most complex system, but it gets the job done and as you'll see in the appropriate section of this review, battery life has been great even so.
As we keep saying in all of our long-term reviews, MIUI currently has the best blue light filter implementation on the market, and it's not a contest. The same is present on the Poco F5, of course, and it's called Reading mode.
If you're wondering what makes this the best, it's the amount of options you get. There's the "Classic" mode which behaves like most other blue light filters out there, giving you a slider for intensity, of course, but then there's also the "Paper" mode which introduces some texture/graininess in the mix, which is adjustable with its very own slider. This also lets you go black and white or pick "Light colors" which means desaturated colors. If you're struggling with putting down your phone throughout the day, give this a try - things will look less enticing for sure.
Of course, this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but we appreciate the fact that these options are there. If you just want to use the traditional blue light filter you can easily ignore all of the "Paper" stuff. Likewise, you can just ignore Reading mode altogether. A final note is that, unsurprisingly, this is schedulable too - either to come on automatically at sunset and turn off at sunrise, or with a custom interval.
The Always-on display on the Poco F5 is one of the very few letdowns, at least so far. And that's for a simple, yet frustrating reason: its name is deceiving, as it's not actually "Always-on". It only stays on for 10 seconds after you tap the screen, and then it's gone. Now, we would have used it like this anyway, since recently we haven't been big fans of 24/7 always-on displays, but we know that a lot of people love to have an always-on display actually be there, always on, and this one just isn't.
It's still baffling to us why some affordable phones from the Xiaomi / Poco / Redmi roster do this, as this is anything but the first model on which we've seen such behavior. We assume it's related to battery life, but why not just have the truly "always-on" option and caution people about battery life when enabling it? We wouldn't be able to tell you. It's also funny to see that the software was clearly designed with more options in mind, as there's a checkmark next to the only one here, as if this was supposed to be a list (like it is on higher-end Xiaomi phones), but in the end it ended up with the lone choice.
While we don't like this situation, the Always-on display itself is among the most customizable on the market, and for that it deserves to be praised. You can pick a myriad of options for what you will see: custom images, analog and digital clocks, text, as well as a digital clock with an image above. You are unlikely not to find one that suits you.