Xiaomi’s launch of its POCO sub-brand a few years back was built around the company’s main objective of giving consumers Android handsets with impressive performance and hardware specifications, all at an affordable price tag. The POCO brand has since evolved to offer different devices at different price brackets, like the “F” and “X” series, for example.
With that said, there’s nothing fancy about the POCO M5, one of two new entries in the company’s “M” series device line-up. What there is though, is an offering of hardware specifications that just might be enough to grab your attention, with a low price that serves as the central theme of this review. Does this make the M5 worth it, however? Let’s take a look.
POCO M5 Specs:
- Displays: 6.5-inch IPS
- Resolution: 1080×2408
- Processor: MediaTek Helio G99
- RAM: Up to 6GB
- Storage: Up to 128GB with Micro-SD Support
- Battery: 5,000 mAh with 18W Charging Support
- Cameras: 50MP main sensor, 2MP depth, 2MP macro, 5MP front
- Software: Android 12 with MIUI 13
Design and Display
The POCO M5 borrows some obvious design cues from the POCO M4 5G, with the full polycarbonate design, textured back, and a rather large camera island that takes up a third of the phone’s rear panel. If you’re a fan of plastic faux leather designs on smartphones, then the M5 should be right up your alley. The phone comes with a completely matte finish, save for the plastic surrounding the cameras.
The right side of the phone features the volume rocker and power button that also doubles as a fingerprint reader. On top you have a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom features a USB-C charging port, and single speaker grille. The speaker isn’t too impressive sadly – while it is loud, there’s not much of a bass sound to it, and there’s no dual-speaker set-up, at least on our review unit.
While not the most exciting look in comparison to other budget phones out there, it’s a style that’s worked for Xiaomi and POCO, and at this price point it’s a hardware design that plays it safe.
The POCO M5 comes with a 6.58-inch IPS display with a 1080×2408 resolution, with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass for added protection. While it unfortunately comes with a rather dated-looking waterdrop notch for the front camera, the screen at least runs at 90Hz which makes for a relatively good-looking display. We say “relatively” as the IPS panel means that colors aren’t as vibrant as on OLED-equipped competitors – but then again, price is a major consideration here. It will be enough for watching videos and Netflix binges, keeping in mind the budget restraints on this device.
The phone isn’t exactly waterproof, but its thick build allows it to take a few knocks in addition to the Gorilla Glass protection on the display. The box does come with a TPU case for added protection, which is a nice option to have.
Software and Performance
As with all other Xiaomi and POCO phones, the POCO M5 runs on a heavily-customized version of Android 12 with MIUI 13. Simply put, MIUI allows Xiaomi to put their own spin on Android as a whole, adding a ton of settings tweaks, customization and personalization options, as well as pre-installed apps, to name a few.
Actually, “few” isn’t all too accurate though – there are several built-in Xiaomi apps, and while you can disable most of them, some are hardwired into MIUI and can’t be removed. You can hide them though, as the launcher software offers a ton of visual customization options, from themes, to wallpapers, and icons as well. Budget phone hunters looking for a more “stock” Android experience should look elsewhere though.
Inside the POCO M5 is a MediaTek Helio G99 chipset, paired with 6GB of RAM. General handling with the device is good for the most part – the interface seems smooth enough, especially with the 90Hz display. Most tasks will be a breeze, such as social media and web browsing, for example.
Gaming was alright as well. It’s safe to say that most modern Android games are optimized for devices with decent specs, and you’ll be able to play titles like Call of Duty Mobile and League of Legends Wild Rift on the POCO M5. Heavier games like Genshin Impact might take more of a toll, however, and it’s with titles like these that separate the M5 from more premium high-performance handsets. It does come with Game Turbo 5.0, which optimizes phone performance to help it run more graphics-intensive games.
I did experience some stuttering however, when waking up the phone and diving straight into the Play Store or YouTube app for example, and it’s moments like these that keep on reminding me that the POCO M5 is first and foremost a budget device. Thankfully, it rarely happens which is more than what can be said for a majority of budget handsets out there.
Camera performance on the phone isn’t anything to write home about. For a budget phone however, it’s typical of most phone’s in Xiaomi’s entry-level line-up, with decent performance for quick point-and-shoot moments, and content meant for instant social media posts. Again, price plays an integral factor in here, and users shouldn’t expect ground-breaking image quality. Xiaomi does include a handful of different camera modes and filters to play around with for different results.
With that said however, the camera does have its moments. Decent lighting will be integral, and you can get generally good-looking photographs with enough light. Low-light shots can still turn out good, but expect a lot of grain and contrast-heavy areas in poorly-lit scenarios.
The phone packs a large 5,000 mAh battery, which is pretty much the norm for most entry-level and mid-range handsets nowadays. Given the modest chipset, the battery should easily last most users an entire day of use, and maybe a bit more should they stick to moderate tasks.
The phone supports 18W fast-charging, although we would have liked to see faster charging speeds, especially when you take into consideration what Xiaomi is able to do with a majority of its handsets. The phone also comes with a power brick alongside the USB-C charging cable, which is something you don’t see a lot of nowadays.
So should you buy the POCO M5? Heavy users should realize that they’ll need to spend a bit more if they’re after flagship-level performance. After all, the POCO M5 is still very much an entry-level phone in terms of design and features. But if all you need is a modern smartphone with access to the latest Android apps, and occasional gaming and entertainment, then there’s little that could go wrong with the POCO M5.
Of course, the lack of 5G does pose a consideration, and folks looking to get a smartphone mainly for camera use might find this one a bit lacking. For POCO fans after a budget bargain however, the M5 is definitely worth checking out – you just need to be aware of its limitations and set your expectations accordingly.
The POCO M5 starts at 189 Euros (or around 187 USD) for the base version with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
POCO M5 Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_50star_empty (3.5 / 5)
- 90Hz Display
- Generally good performance
- Sturdy Design
- Large battery lasts long
- Charging speed could be faster
- Cameras aren’t exceptional
- Lack of 5G