POCO M5 Review

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POCO M5 Review
POCO M5
Company: Xiaomi
Type: Smartphone
MSRP: $172

The POCO M5 was said to be the performance player when it globally launched on Monday, September 5, 2022. The root of the performance lies in its latest advanced technology with the MediaTek Helio G99 processor. Everything from the CPU, GPU and TSMC 6mm manufacturing process led to the phone having a Game Turbo 5.0 feature. As for the RAM, I was able to test out the maximum capability version of the M5—came with 6GB+2GB RAM with 128 GB of internal storage and could be expanded up to 1TB.

The 6.58″ FHD+ DotDrop display was beautiful for playing games like Genshin Impact, Apex Legends Mobile and Pokémon Go. The screen was wonderfully protected with Corning Gorilla Glass with the highest resolution of upwards of 2408 x 1080 FHD+ and the refresh rates going up to 90 Hz and offers a 240 Hz touch sampling rate. The highest brightness offered a peak of 500 nits. With a big, narrow screen, the 163.99mm x 76.09mm x 8.9mm dimensions of the POCO M5 felt natural in the palm of my hand. The body colour was Black but was also available in Green and Yellow.

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POCO boasted their latest camera for this base model of the POCO M5 as it had a 50 MP main rear wide camera, a 2 MP macro camera and 2 MP depth camera—with the main camera reaching the lowest aperture of f/1.8. As for the 5 MP front camera, it could only go as low as f/2.2. On paper, the camera was on par with many of the mainline phones of its quality and price.

With the last model from Xiaomi and POCO, they brought the M4 with 5G connectivity but the POCO M5 only supported up to 4G networks. While the United States and many other regions have not opened its markets to 5G networks, it seemed as though this phone model took a step back to potentially provide more accessibility for global markets. The dual sim option was also a nice touch, making travel simpler for those switching over to local networks with one simple click.

The POCO M5 supported Bluetooth 5.3 and was able to connect to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. It also included multi-functional NFC, which was great for easy connections with my Huawei speakers. Interestingly enough, it came with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which appeared to be getting phased out by many bigger brands as wireless audio has seen bigger market demand. Nobody wants those pesky wires anymore…sometimes.

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So, what powered all of these great features? The POCO M5 housed a 5000 mAh battery with 18W fast charging. Of course, classic POCO with its Type-C wall charger made it hard for me to test it with the charger it came with. However, for those in North America without the adapter, a Type-A charging cord and block will suffice as a substitute.

“I was so heartbroken by the camera quality that it became unbearable.”

In the box, the phone came with its own 3-foot USB-C to USB-A cable, a USB-A wall plug charger, a SIM card ejector pin, the warranty and quick start manual, and surprisingly included a clear, silicone protective case for good measure. For a phone in the $250 price range, that was amazing—none of my previous, bigger brand name phones did that!

While the POCO M5 presented all of these great features and add-ons, I was so heartbroken by the camera quality that it became unbearable. It had the potential to be a great camera phone from its similar ‘black bar’ design as the Google Pixel series of phones have been known for. But the performance was quite lacklustre with most pictures coming out flat and oily like muted, pastel paintings. The zoom lens on the camera was even more distasteful.

I took the phone to many events at various times of the day to get a grasp of where the POCO M5 went wrong with the camera. At the CNE, I went to the Canadian International Air Show to test out the zoom lens, and it was pure pixelation and static heaven. The rear cameras were most productive in taking closer macro pictures. It surprisingly was able to capture the vivid colours of a vibrant art display to the rich colours of a carnival. In most cases, I found that the colour was being washed out in every picture, whether it was on Auto mode or Portrait mode—tinkering in the Pro mode barely helped.

“The saving grace for the POCO M5 was its ability to smartly manage battery usage and efficiency.”

The saving grace for the POCO M5 was its ability to smartly manage battery usage and efficiency. With so many tasks open, I was still able to get two days worth of battery from it. If I was gaming more intensely, perhaps it would last about a day to a day and a half. While the battery lasted a long time, my pet peeve with it was the charging time since it only had 18W fast charging. So, I had to set out an hour or two to get it back up to full. The audio quality for making calls was decent but I would have loved to see a bit of a boost to the max volume.

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As for the gaming proficiencies, I found the tiniest of stuttering in rare moments. Everything worked smoothly and looked great—especially during the cutscenes on Genshin Impact. The same could be said for the fast-paced gameplay in Apex Legends Mobile—which could all be due to the Game Turbo 5.0 element. The viewing experience shared the same eye-pleasing experience whether I was watching on Netflix, Prime Video or Crunchyroll. The FHD+ screen really extracted the best colour details and the shadows were near-perfectly balanced.

Though the camera performance was a travesty in most scenarios, it was not everything the POCO M5 was built for. If you are a student or someone working with a tight budget, this is the perfect ‘essentials’ phone. It surpassed my initial expectations in all other aspects that left me with the impression of excellence through practicality—nothing too fancy or overindulgent. The developers made it sturdy enough to be a reliable cellular device with a battery that will last for days on end.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

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