The Poco X5 continues along the same path set by previous releases from the brand. The oversized camera island with a large POCO badge is most recognizable in case you miss the other message. Technically, only the left part of the black box is the raised 'island'; the rest is flush with the rear panel, but the implication for camera greatness is there.
That continues with the needlessly large camera lens rings, but designers will design, and the whole trend is common across the whole lineup and throughout the industry in general. The actual camera bump houses the two 'real' cameras, as well as the 'macro' and the flash.
A single 48MP label indicates the resolution of the main camera. Having the X5 and the X5 Pro side by side might make you wonder why one shows this information horizontally and the other - vertically, and why it's 48MP on the X5 while the Pro omits the P, but perhaps that's a kind of consistency that nobody needs or cares about.
In a different deviation from sameness, the Pro's black POCO patch has more of sheen to it, while the non-Pro's is matte.
In any case, the Poco X5's rear panel is plastic and has an antiglare frosted finish. Three color options are available - Green, Black and, in the case of our review unit, Blue. These are the same colorways of the Redmi Note 12, somewhat unsurprisingly. Then again, the X5 Pro can be had in Poco-yellow, unlike its Redmi Note counterpart.
Also plastic is the color-matched frame, itself with a satin treatment. There's a lot of good practical stuff to find going along it, too - for example, the 3.5mm jack and the IR emitter on the top (next to it - a mic). On the left side of the X5 is the card slot - the tray isn't as versatile as the triple card solution on the M5 and M5s, but you still get at least a hybrid microSD slot, unlike on the X5 Pro.
The bottom is home to the USB-C port and the primary mic, as well as what is sadly the only loudspeaker on the handset.
The right side of the Poco X5 is where you'll find the volume rocker and the power button, which also has a fingerprint reader embedded into it. While the Poco X5 does feature an OLED display, that does not automatically guarantee underdisplay fingerprint recognition, plus there are those folks who enjoy a good capacitive reader on the side. This one is precisely that - fast, reliable, just barely less cooperative with a left index finger than with a right thumb.
The front of the Poco X5 is somewhat nondescript though we'd call that an advantage for a relatively budget-focused handset - it means it doesn't stand out in a bad way. Sensibly sized bezels and a tiny selfie camera opening mean that you're getting a modern looking phone. The Gorilla Glass 3 protecting the display may not be all too current, but it's very well tuned for preventing scratches rather than being shatter resistant.
The earpiece works through a slit chiseled where the top edge of the display glass meets the frame. Unfortunately, it doesn't serve double duty as a second speaker - you'll need to upgrade to the Pro to get stereo action.
The Poco X5 measures 165.9x76.2x8.0mm and weighs 189g. If there was a standard written somewhere about what the physical properties of the 'reference' midrange smartphone should be, these numbers would probably come up.
Indeed, the handset feels just right in use - not too heavy, not too large, subjectively quite thin, even. The rear panel isn't particularly grippy, and it does tend to show some smudges, but it's mostly average in both respects. That very much sums up the in-hand experience - average, but in a good way.