The POCO X5 Pro 5G is a great option for anyone who struggles to justify the cost of top-line phones. It presents tremendous value with a sleek, modern form factor and surprisingly impressive performance.
the good bits
Great battery life
Cameras perform well
Smooth overall performance
the not so good bits
Plastic back cover
Might be too big to handle for some
Xiaomi POCO X5 Pro 5G Smartphone
While Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the smartphone game, Xiaomi have been steadily building up a head of steam. Comfortably third behind the two major players but well clear of the chasing pack, the Chinese tech giant’s offering continues to grow.
The latest additions to their mid-range POCO lineup, the X5 Pro 5G and X5 5G boast rather impressive specs for their price point. So at a time where belts are being tightened, can the POCO X5 Pro grab the attention of UK users?
For a phone with pro tier aspirations at a mid-range price point it’s always going to be a game of compromises. To gain a little here you’ve got to give a little there and there’s shades of that across in the design of the POCO X5 Pro 5G.
The first thing that struck me with the POCO X5 Pro is it runs with a pretty unique form factor. The 6.67” screen is slightly smaller than the iPhone 14 Plus but in an aspect ratio that’s taller and thinner. The result is a lanky looking screen that seems to go on forever in your hand.
While this does bring extra real estate that’s handy for emails and web browsing it also makes handling the X5 Pro 5G a bit of a rodeo. I don’t have small hands by any means and could barely touch the top of the screen while trying to hold the phone in a normal way. Those with smaller hands are going to be doing a lot of shuffling about.
The AMOLED screen may only offer an extended FHD resolution, but coupled with a 120Hz refresh rate it performs well beyond its means. Everything looks sharp and crisp, colours are super vibrant and movement is buttery smooth with almost no perceivable ghosting. These kind of quality visuals simply don’t belong in a phone at this price point. Great stuff.
The X5 Pro is impressively thin and noticeably light, just 181g which is around 25% lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. However this is largely down to an all plastic back shell which is an unfortunate compromise. It just feels a little cheap in your hand, it’s understandable of course and most people will pop the POCO X5 straight in a case anyway, but it’s not exactly ‘pro’.
There’s a noticeable camera bump on the back to cater for the POCO X5 Pro’s three lenses and a holepunch in the display for the selfie camera. The bump does result in a lot of wobble when it’s laid flat on a surface, but this is par for the course in modern smartphones anyway.
It’s pleasing to see a standard 3.5mm headphone port on top, a rarity nowadays, and dual external speakers top and bottom. Don’t get me wrong, they’re perfectly fine but sound a couple of years out of date. They’re loud with no real oomph and everything sounds a bit hollow and washed out. Again though, these are just the compromises you expect at this mid-range level and they’ll be enough for most people.
The Xiaomi POCO X5 Pro is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G processor and on the whole the experience is snappy and more than up to the task of an everyday user. I’ve been testing the 256GB storage version which comes bundled with 8GB of RAM, but there’s an even more budget friendly 6GB/128GB version too. Xiaomi’s MIUI also offers the ability to extend your memory by sacrificing 2, 3 or 5GB of storage space which is a nifty option.
Even without boosting your RAM, for day to day use the X5 Pro packs plenty of punch and jumps between apps and moves through menus happily. A vast majority of users aren’t going to make the POCO X5 Pro sweat and would notice little difference in performance between this and most expensive devices. Gaming performance was also impressively strong for a mid-range phone, the POCO X5 Pro handled CoD Mobile with ease with short loading times, smooth frame rates and decent graphics.
MIUI 14 runs over Android 12 and as far as operating systems go I don’t have any major complaints. Those familiar with Android will find it a familiar experience and it’s as customisable as you’d expect. It is unforgivably loaded with bloatware however which has no doubt helped offset the price you’ll pay for the phone upfront. When first booting the phone you’re greeted with a whopping 10GB of preinstalled games, shopping apps, social media and general junk. I counted more than twenty third-party apps, c’mon now Xiaomi, that’s a little overboard.
Face unlock is available but is simply photo driven rather than the more secure and sophisticated methods like Apple’s Face ID. When face unlock worked it was quick to register but it was picky about lighting and angles so I found the fingerprint scanner built into the power button a more reliable and easy to use option.
The 5,000mAh battery offers more than enough juice to get you through a day of pretty heavy use. I found little standby battery drain either which is an issue I’ve found with Android-run phones in the past. 67W ‘turbo charging’ does as its name suggests and I’m delighted to say there’s a charging brick included in the box. Yes Apple and Samsung, I’m side eyeing you both right now.
Xiaomi are pretty quick to shout about the specs of the POCO X5 Pro’s cameras and while results aren’t jaw dropping, they’re certainly admirable for a phone at this price point. The 108MP primary camera snaps perfectly pleasant shots in well lit conditions but does begin to struggle with clarity and noise in low light. The wide angle will take crisp holiday landscape shots perfect for the gram with nicely poppy colours and decent detail. The macro camera is the weakest of the trio, with a lack of detail and a lot of noticeable artefacts – not ideal for your detail focused lens.
The 16MP hole punch front camera produced surprisingly high quality selfies and I found the portrait mode did a good job with nicely separating me from the background. There’s no wide angle option to more easily accommodate a second person like you see with higher end devices however and I found it a little draggy and slow to respond in low light.
Video performance is a real strongpoint and an area where the Xiaomi POCO X5 Pro particularly impressed me. The 4K30 video was packed with colour and detail and it handled high contrast scenes in bright sunlight well. The macro lens performed considerably better with video than photo and managed to capture close ups that still maintained good clarity. There’s also a nifty steady video mode which crops to 1080p and does a remarkably good job of smoothing out camera shake while moving.
For a mid-range smartphone I have to say I’m impressed by what Xiaomi have put together with the POCO X5 Pro 5G. For users not looking to break the bank on a new phone it still offers a great experience and a majority of normal users won’t notice the areas it lags behind premium rivals.
Yes there are a few compromises and you’ll spend the first hour with your new phone clearing out unwanted preinstalled apps, but ultimately these are a small price to pay. The POXO X5 Pro 5G offers tremendous value and would be a shrewd purchase in 2023.