iQoo debuted its first smartphone, the iQoo 3, in India in February 2020. It was at the entry point of the premium segment and had competitive hardware, making it appealing to gamers. Since then, we’ve got the iQoo Z3, and just last year, the iQoo7 Series (iQoo 7 and 7 Legend) in India, all of which lay at the lower end of the premium segment.
While the iQoo 9 was predicted, the company also unveiled a new iQoo 9 SE (a more inexpensive premium smartphone) and an ultra-premium model named the iQoo 9 Pro, which aims to compete with today’s flagships. As I mentioned in my first impressions, the iQoo 9 Pro is certainly dressed to please, and it also has high-quality hardware, including a primary rear camera with gimbal stabilisation. Clearly, iQoo appears to be ready to compete with established brands like OnePlus and Samsung. So, is this newcomer to the luxury segment worth considering.
Design & Build:
The iQoo 9 Pro’s design features a metal frame sandwiched between two sheets of glass. For this review, I received the 12GB RAM variant with the Legend finish. The overall design is very similar to that of the iQoo 7 Legend (Review). A three-colour BMW Motorsport-inspired racing stripe runs off-center along the back panel. The power button has also been completed in blue.
A closer look reveals several new details. The white area of the back glass is engraved with a delicate carbon fibre-like weave. The white section has a matte surface that feels smooth and repels fingerprints, but is rather slippery. Fortunately, iQoo provides a color-matched case in the box. The stripes on the back have a glossy texture, giving the rear panel a two-tone appearance.
The iQoo 9 Pro has a 6.78-inch 120Hz curved-edge AMOLED display with a resolution of 1,440×3,200 pixels (2K+). Text and visuals appeared sharp. The colours were a little too saturated at the default ‘Standard’ colour option, so I changed to the ‘Professional’ setting, which made them appear more realistic and natural. The display also became pretty bright outside and was legible in direct sunshine. It is an LTPO panel, which means it may reduce its refresh rate to 10Hz when necessary, thereby improving battery life. The screen also supports a 300Hz touch sampling rate, which was useful for playing FPS games.
The iQoo 9 Pro’s display can reproduce 10-bit colours, supports HDR10+, and is Widevine L1 DRM certified for HD video streaming. However, HDR did not function in streaming apps like Netflix on my review device. Standard content seemed crisp and featured deep blacks. For some reason, Amazon Prime Video only played grainy SD quality videos. YouTube was the only app that could display HDR content. The iQoo 9 Pro’s stereo speakers were loud and clear, allowing for enjoyable gaming and movie streaming. However, I noticed that they were poorly balanced, with the primary speaker producing more bass than the earpiece.
In our benchmarks, the iQoo 9 Pro performed as predicted, outperforming smartphones powered by the Snapdragon 888 SoC. The iQoo 9 Pro scored 9,91,830 points in AnTuTu and 1,222 and 3,636 respectively in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests. The phone also scored 84fps in the Manhattan 3.1 test and 47fps in the Car Chase test on GFXBench.
The iQoo 9 Pro features three rear-facing cameras. There is a 50-megapixel primary camera with sensor and optical stabilisation for gimbal-like smoothness, a 50-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with autofocus, and a 16-megapixel telephoto camera with OIS and PDAF. A 16-megapixel front-facing camera handles selfie duty. The camera interface is similar to that found on other Funtouch OS-powered phones, with configurable camera modes and critical features accessible via a hamburger icon in the upper left corner.
The selfie camera produced clean, clear images with good dynamic range and detail. However, Portrait mode has some edge detection issues in complicated settings with vegetation or trees in the backdrop, resulting in a halo appearance around the subject. Because the iQoo 9 Pro’s ultra-wide-angle camera has autofocus, it can also be used as a macro camera, capturing remarkable detail from subjects as close as 3cm away. It is one of the few useful macro cameras in this category.
The iQoo 9 Pro addresses the primary issue with the iQoo 7 Legend – poor battery life – and adds other capabilities, justifying its increased price. My main complaint is the lack of an IP68 rating, which is usual in smartphones in this category. The software is up to current, and game performance is fine. The still camera performs well, as does video recording, though low-light footage could have been improved. The icing on the cake is the 120W charging speed, as well as wireless charging.