Chinese smartphone maker iQoo has debuted in the highly competitive India market with a 5G smartphone geared towards gamers and performance-hungry users.
It appears to be capable of taking on any rival with its features and high-end specifications. And all seems good on paper. But the question is whether the ‘5G phone’ tag is just a marketing gimmick, or there is more to it. We used the device for a few days and tried to find the answer. Here's what we observed:
Design and display
iQoo has kept the design language simple. Now that is an aberration, since this is a gaming smartphone. What's really catchy, however, is the rear-camera module, a glance at which is enough to give you a ‘premium phone’ feel.
The iQoo 3 5G has a simple glass back covered with Gorilla Glass 6 which leaves some fingerprints here and there. The phone is too slippery which means gamers would have to find a good cover for grip. At 214 g, the phone is heavy, but that was expected, considering it has a big battery. The edges are curved, so it is easy to hold.
The phone has a Type-C port and a loudspeaker grille at the bottom, the power and volume buttons on the right, a 3.5mm headphone jack on top, and a dedicated AI button on the left.
The positioning of these keys makes sure you don't have to stretch your fingers too much to access them. In fact, single-handed use wouldn't be a problem at all. For gamers, there are two capacitative shoulder buttons on the right side that respond well even when you use the phone with a cover.
At the front is a 6.44-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 (409ppi pixel density). The bezels are slim, and there is a small hole-punch on top-right that doesn't distract at all. It has a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 91.4 per cent screen-to-body ratio. The display also supports HDR10+ and has a maximum brightness of 1,200 nits.
The AMOLED display is crisp, with punchy colours and brightness complementing the iQoo UI. The sunlight legibility may not impress all, but you'd like to keep the brightness at the minimum while using it indoors. The in-display fingerprint sensor and face unlock are super quick.
What's there for gamers is the phone’s display, which offers a high touch response rate of 180Hz, at a time when 60Hz is common in most phones.
While all this looks like a good deal, what may not be pleasing to some is that the front has a sheet of Schott Xensation glass, and not the Gorilla Glass 6 protection.
The iQOO 3 5G is available in three colours – Tornado Black, Volcano Orange and Quantum Silver. We had the Tornado Black unit, but we feel the Volcano Orange, which has a matte finish, would appeal more to a lot of people.
Specifications, performance, and battery
To justify its 'performer' tag, iQoo has given the phone the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset, which is paired with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage in the 5G variant. It uses the Adreno 650 GPU for graphics and has a UFS 3.1 storage memory.
From multi-tasking to playing heavy games, Snapdragon 865 chipset's ability can't be questioned. The phone is able to perform all tasks at blazing speeds.
The iQoo 3 runs on Android 10 and has a custom layering of the iQOO UI on top reminding you of the FunTouch OS in Vivo smartphones but less cluttered. There, however, is some bloatware that you will need to deal with.
The phone has a 4,450mAh battery and you get a 55W fast charger that promises a full charge in 40 minutes. We found the charging to be really quick, just like the company claimed.
For gaming, there is a separate Ultra Game Mode that blocks background calls, notifications, and uses all resources to make it an immersive experience. You might take some time to get used to the capacitive shoulder buttons (Monster Touch Buttons), but when you do, you realise there is an edge you get over rivals (but that also depends on your skills). The 4D game vibration adds to the experience, especially if you play arcade games.
There is hardly any heating issue felt during gaming sessions or binge-watching videos; if you make these sessions excessively long, the device's Carbon Fiber Vapour Cooling System keeps its temperature under control.
The mono speaker may not be enough for gaming or binge-watching. It'd be better if you paired decent headphones or earphones. We did face some issues with Netflix, as we couldn't find the app on Google Play Store, despite updating the software.
The module at the back has a quad-camera set-up of a 48-megapixel primary sensor, a 13-megapixel telephoto lens with 10x Zoom, a 13-megapixel super-wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view, and a 2-megapixel macro and bokeh camera. On the front, there’s a 16-megapixel selfie camera.
In general, the shots are crisp and there is a good detailing in the subject and background. If the light conditions are fine, the results would be better than expected. The saturation isn't excessive, either. The blurring comes out well with enough balance between the main object and the background.
The night, however, makes the images look over-processed; it appears the AI takes away natural colours. The same goes for front camera, the colours appear too soft and it remains that way despite tweaking the camera settings.
The iQoo 3 4G is available in India starting at Rs 36,999 for the base variant with 8GB RAM + 128GB storage and Rs 39,990 for 8GB RAM + 256GB storage. iQoo 3 5G comes with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage and is priced at Rs 44,990.
The iQoo 3 has the most powerful smartphone chipset of our time, so it a powerhouse. It delivers well on performance, and the camera capabilities are also decent. The phone is a delight for gamers and those who want maximum performance without compromising on anything.
However, we wouldn't really vouch for the 5G variant of the phone, since the technology doesn't exist in India; by the time it becomes available, there will be a lot more options for users. In fact, the options have already started emerging with the launch of the Realme X50 Pro 5G.