The Poco F5, also known as the Redmi Note 12 Turbo in some markets, is among the highest performing and smoothest mid-range smartphones out there at the moment. In fact, it may just take the crown, if your definition of mid-range is similar to ours, namely devices that aren't using Qualcomm's or MediaTek's top line SoCs - the Snapdragon 8 series and Dimensity 9xxx, respectively.
That makes sense when you look at the spec sheet and see the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 in there - after all, 7 is right under 8, so the difference shouldn't be huge. And in this case it isn't, but we were still positively surprised since in the past, Qualcomm's 7 series (be that 7 Gen x or 7xx) employed a sneaky marketing trick with the naming, making you assume performance almost on par with the top of the line, when what you were really getting didn't live up to those expectations. We're happy to see that this has finally been rectified in the latest 7 series iteration.
So, there's that. You'll be hard pressed to find a smoother or higher-performing mid-ranger out there right now (we want to stress that we consider 'flagship killers' with higher-end SoCs a different category altogether, slotted in between mid-rangers and true flagships). This is in fact the smoothest phone we've ever reviewed long-term, of those that don't run a Snapdragon 8 series or Dimensity 9 series SoC.
Performance is indistinguishable from the flagship tier more than 90% of the time for day to day tasks, and the only slowdowns occur when you're jumping between multiple heavy apps or when updating apps and trying to run a heavy one at the same time. Otherwise, if you hand the Poco F5 over to a 'normal person' off the street, someone who isn't connected to mobile world news all the time, they will undoubtedly assume that it is higher-end than it actually is.
The screen is bright enough to be very usable even on sunny days outdoors, although it doesn't get as dim at night as we would find comfortable - but of course, you might not care about that. Speaking of the display, the auto brightness algorithm on offer here is among the best we've encountered in the past year, and at this price point, that's certainly commendable.
The speakers aren't the best ever, but are good enough in most conditions, while the vibration motor is an area where money was obviously saved, but it still does the job - it just feels a bit 'soulless', for lack of a better term. The fingerprint sensor is up there with the best side-mounted ones we've ever encountered, and battery life has been great - that's one step removed from 'outstanding' in our book, and it's high praise.
Charging is fast enough, even if not record-breaking (not even record-breaking for a mid-ranger), and people switching to this phone from an iPhone or Pixel or Galaxy will definitely be impressed. The lack of wireless charging is something we're always willing to overlook at such a price point, but your views on that topic could differ of course.
MIUI 14 may or may not be your cup of tea, depending on how many other MIUI-running devices you've had in the past and how you feel about very heavy Android skins, of which this is definitely one. We've handled quite a few MIUI handsets recently and find the UI rather stale at this point in time, with minimal design changes between versions. The upcoming HyperOS based on Android 14 will undoubtedly make it to the Poco F5 at some point, but don't expect it soon - Xiaomi and its sub-brands take their time with major updates, and this is definitely something you need to keep in mind.
Likewise the monthly security updates only arrive once every two months, which is still better than what the situation used to be for mid-rangers in the Xiaomi stable even one year ago, but competitors do better and this is just another thing that you need to be aware of, so that it's not a bad surprise once you get the phone.
The cameras are a mixed bag. The main shooter seems to be carried over from last year's Poco F4, but it produces nicer images than that phone for whatever reason, and it has OIS, so we think it will do the job very nicely for most people in all conditions, while of course not being able to compete with cameras in flagship devices costing three times as much. The 2 MP macro camera is a trend we really hoped would die this year, but there are still holdouts - we assume Xiaomi had a few million of them collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere, so you get one here, which you can feel free to ignore.
The ultrawide is at best decent during the day, and pretty much unusable at night. This is clearly another cost-cutting exercise, and we'll be honest: we're growing very tired of these 8 MP sensors at any price point above half of what the Poco F5 is going for. This should have been better.
In the end picking the Poco F5, or any other smartphone, is a matter of personal preference - what you prioritize and what you can live without. There is no perfect device out there, and especially at mid-range prices it's impossible not to have compromises. As always, we tried our best to bring you a very detailed look at our time with it, in order to help you make an informed decision as to whether this is the one for you or not, regardless of what your specific priorities may be.
For what it's worth, we've enjoyed our time with the Poco F5 more than we have with any other mid-ranger we've ever reviewed long-term, and think that, with realistic expectations considering its hardware innards, the typical Xiaomi / Poco / Redmi software situation and price, it will be a joy for anyone to use.
|256GB 8GB RAM
|256GB 12GB RAM
|Show all prices