Last month, Vivo’s sub-brand iQOO forayed into the Indian smartphone segment with its affordable flagship smartphone dubbed iQOO 3 5G. As the name suggests, the device is a 5G-ready phone that falls under the sub INR 45,000 price category. The device focusses on various aspects such as gaming, photography, performance, and battery as well. In fact, it is one of the few devices in India that supports 5G connectivity.
Although the 5G network is still inaccessible in India, the company decided to integrate for the marketing purpose. With that said, it makes the device future proof if you don’t like to buy new smartphones often. First up, let’s clear the fact that iQOO is pronounced i-koo not i-kyu. Also, it is worth noting that this is not the first device from the brand. In fact, it is one of the popular smartphone brands in its homeland i.e. China.
The on-paper specifications of the device seem pretty impressive with high-end hardware and solid AnTuTu benchmark scores. How well the all-new iQOO 3 5G performs in real-life? Let’s find that out in our yet another comprehensive review.
Read more: Latest Smartphone Reviews
Price in India, Variants, Availability
The all-new iQOO 3 comes in three different variants namely 8GB+128GB, 8GB+256GB and 12GB+256GB options. The top-end model with 12GB RAM is the only variant that supports 5G connectivity. The remaining two variants, on the other hand, are the regular 4G options. Coming to the pricing, the base variant is priced at INR 36,999 while the 256GB storage model will set you back around INR 39,990.
The maxed-out variant with 12GB RAM comes with a price tag of INR 44,990. In terms of colour options, we’re looking at Quantum Silver, Tornado Black, and Volcano Orange. All the variants are up for grabs on the Flipkart and interested buyers can purchase it from there.
For the best offers on buyback, check out Cashify.
With that cleared up, let’s unbox this beast.
iQOO 3 5G comes packed inside a black coloured premium box with diagonal patterns on all sides. Opening the box, you will be greeted with the device itself covered with the protective layer. Underneath the box, you will see a small section that has some positive lines written on top of it. Inside the section, you will see some paperwork along with the SIM ejector tool and soft case. On a separate note, iQOO actually means I Quest On and On.
Apart from all these, there is a somewhat unique Type-C cable. I used the word unique because it features some kind of capsule design. To easily top up the device, there is a 55W fast charger that can charge your device to 50% in just 15 minutes. Lastly, there are 3.5mm earphones that seem to be of solid quality.
To sum up, these are the things that you will get with the device.
- iQOO 3 5G, the device itself.
- 55W fast charger adapter
- USB Type-C port charging cable
- Soft TPU back case for protection
- A pair of earphones
- SIM ejector tool
- Manuals and documentation
Specs at a glance
Before we deep dive into the device and its review, it is better to look at some of the key specifications first. Here is the list of what the device is offering at this price range.
- Display: 6.44-inch Super AMOLED panel, 1080×2400 pixels, 409ppi
- CPU & GPU: Smapdragon 865 (7nm+), Adreno 650 GPU
- RAM & ROM: up to 12GB RAM, up to 256GB storage
- Software: Android 10, iQOO UI 1.0
- Rear cameras: Quad module, 48MP+13MP+13MP+2MP
- Selfie camera: 16MP, f/2.5
- Battery: 4400mAh capacity, 55W fast charging support
- Weight: 214.5g
- Dimensions: 158.7×74.9×9.2mm
With key specs discussed, let’s jump right into the very first aspect of this review.
Design & Build
The new iQOO 3 5G smartphone comes with the standard flagship device with the glass-aluminium sandwich. Almost every other flagship device follows the same design ideology. In fact, it is safe to say that the design of these phones resembles numerous 2020 smartphones. With that said, we do not mean that the device is not the premium or good looking. We received the Volcano Orange variant and it sure feels and looks very premium. What I like about the Tornado Black colour option is the fact that it is an amalgam of Black and Purple resulting in a very delightful appearance.
The back is pretty much clean and consists of only the large rectangular camera module at the top left corner. There is a slight bump on the module which means the device will wobble if laid on the flat surface. Then, there is a small branding on the left bottom side which also lines with the entire aesthetic. It is worth noting that the device is a bit slippery which is quite uncommon considering the brand teased it as a gaming smartphone. If that bothers you, then you can make use of the protective soft case that comes bundled with the device.
Furthermore, the device is more on the chunky side with the weight being 214.5g. That is also quite uncommon with the gaming phone. During long gaming sessions, your hands might feel tired thanks to the heavyweight and thick dimensions. Flipping the device over, the device has a big Super AMOLED panel featuring a punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera. The device has very thin bezels on all sides.
Coming to the bottom, everything is pretty straightforward and standard. On the right side, you will find the power button and volume rocker while the left side features a dedicated AI button. There is a USB Type-C port and a loudspeaker grille on the bottom with the 3.5mm audio jack on the top. The power button has an orange accent that also adds up to the overall aesthetic. Since it is a gaming phone, the device comes with two capacitive sensors on the left side that can be mapped to virtual buttons in the game. This will give that extra tactical advantage to the player.
In conclusion, the build quality and design of the device is amazing and is on the premium side. We love the colour variants but the fact that it is quite chunky and thick would be a deal-breaker for many. With that said, in our week of usage, we got used to the device in our hands. Thumbs up from our side to the clean, minimal and elegant design choice.
iQOO 3 5G is equipped with a 6.44-inch Super AMOLED display panel with the punch-hole cutout on the top right side. Speaking of punch-hole, it is quite the smallest we’ve seen on a smartphone yet. With slim bezels and a small punch-hole cutout, the overall screen-to-body-ratio is 84.3 percent. For added protection, it also contains a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on the front.
With the resolution of 1080×2400 pixels and a pixel density of 409PPI, the display churns out stunning and accurate colours. The display quality is on the higher side and the overall experience was pretty high-end. There are no issues with the sunlight legibility as well thanks to the peak brightness of 1200 nits. As you might expect from an AMOLED panel, the blacks are very deep and 100 percent sRGB colour gamut delivers crispy output.
One thing that this device lacks is the high refresh rate display. It is still using the 60Hz refresh rate which is the only complaint we have on the display front. Although the high refresh rate display is not a deal-breaker, the addition would have been great considering the fact that the competitors are offering 90hz panel.
Just like all the flagship phones of this year, the iQOO 3 5G also comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset. Surprisingly, this is India’s first phone to feature this chipset since the Galaxy S20 lineup went with the Exynos SoC. As mentioned earlier, the chipset in the 5G variant is paired with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. For 5G connectivity, there is the Snapdragon X55 modem that will handle the cellular duties.
In terms of performance, the device is not making any compromise even on the memory and storage front. The chipset is notably one of the fastest SoC you can find right now in the Android devices. This means that the phone is capable of handling multiple tasks at the same time even the graphics intensive one. In our usage, we didn’t notice any stutter, lag or slowdown – in fact, the entire user experience was pretty impressive and snappy.
With 12GB RAM at disposal, the apps open up in an instant and stay in the memory for longer durations. Even the massive 256GB storage is more than enough for most users out there. All of these when combined delivered an impressive performance level. We tried playing graphics-intensive games such as PUBG Mobile and COD Mobile on the device. As expected, the games will run on maximum settings. In our long gaming sessions, we never experience any sudden frame drops or rendering issues.
iQOO 3 5G runs on the latest Android 10 operating system based on the company’s own iQOO UI 1.0. Not going with Vivo’s FunTouch would be the best decision iQOO ever made with its Indian launch. FunTouch OS would have declined the entire user experience of this powerful device. iQOO UI has managed to deliver some good experience but of course, there is room for lots of improvement.
The Settings menu is now redesigned making it easier to navigate along with the fact that notification and quick action now drop down from the top. The company is trying to deliver a vanilla experience which is not the case with the FunTouch OS for some reason. The user interface comes with a slew of customization options that you can make use of. Overall, the software experience was pretty decent and it does come with nifty additions such as Monser Mode and iManager app.
The software also supports an app drawer so if you’re looking for that, you can find the option in the Settings app. The UI is not ready to compete with the likes of big players such as OxygenOS or One UI. With that said, the company is on the right track and we might see some improvements along the journey.
In terms of optics, the iQOO #5G comes with a quad-camera setup on the back with an L-shaped rectangular module on the top left corner. The module consists of a 48MP primary sensor (f/1.8), 13MP ultrawide lens (f/2.4), 13MP telephoto sensor (f/2.2) and 2MP depth sensor. For selfies, we’re looking at a 16MP front snapper (f/2.5) housed inside the punch-hole cutout. On paper, the rear and front camera module look impressive and quite standard. Let’s see how well the image processing does its job.
First up, the user interface of the camera app is pretty straightforward and simple. You can slide left and right to switch between various modes. Options such as HDR, flash, ratio, and others are located on the top bar. The More section consists of numerous modes such as 48MP, Pano, Live Photo, Slo-Mo, Time Lapse, Pro mode and many more.
Talking about the rear camera performance, the module clicks daylight pictures with extremely crisp and detailing. The colour saturation is also on point in the daylight conditions Switching between various modes is pretty simple and can be done with a single tap. The primary sensor churns out high-quality shots. As expected, the pixel binning technique is used here. If you want, you can use the 48MP mode to click photos at 48MP resolution. The ultrawide also delivers high-quality shots but the detail takes a bit hit which is the case with almost every camera setup out there. The telephoto lens has a 2x optical zoom and 20x digital zoom. We noticed no issues with up to 10x zoom with the sensor. After that, the quality started to take a hit.
The rear camera module even performed pretty well in the low light conditions which are quite good. Moving on to the selfie, the 16MP front snapper handles all your selfie and video calling needs. In the daylight conditions, the quality is good but you might want to turn off the Beauty mode. The lowlight selfies were also on point. Coming to the video recording, you can record 2160p at 30/60 fps, 1080p at 30fps with the rear module. The module relies on gyro-EIS for stability which is not that good. The lack of OIS results in shaky videos. From the front snapper, you can record 1080p at 30fps.
iQOO 3 5G comes packed with a 4,450mAh battery with the support of super-fast 55W charging technology. Even though the battery is not that beefy, the weight of the device seems to be on the chunkier side for some reason. Anyway, with this much battery capacity, the phone can easily last for up to a day and a half on moderate usage. Even on heavy usage, the device can last you for an entire day thanks to the power-efficient Snapdragon 865 chipset.
Just to give you an idea, here is how our daily usage while testing looks like – multiple social accounts, 2-3 hours of Netflix streaming, long music playback sessions, PUBG Mobile at highest settings and few camera testing. To easily top up the cells, the company is offering a 55W super-fast charger that can charge your device to 50 percent in just 15 minutes.
Audio & Security
For audio, the device comes with a single mono downward-facing loudspeaker. As expected, the output is pretty good and you will hardly notice any distortion at maximum levels. Due to this placement, the speaker can get muffled sometimes while holding in other orientations. Surprisingly, it also has a 3.5mm audio jack when the other companies are trying to leave it behind. Furthermore, you also get a pair of good quality earphones which is a value adder. The audio output from the jack is of high quality.
The device comes with an in-display optical fingerprint sensor along with a software-based Face Unlock for biometrics. The fingerprint sensor is quite fast and is very much reliable. In our usage, we didn’t face any issues with the sensor. The Face Unlock is also very fast but is not that reliable considering it uses 2D face mapping technique.
iQOO 3 5G comes with a slew of connectivity focussed features. The connectivity features include dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, Type-C for charging and NFC for mobile payments and one-tap pairing.
Pros & Cons
- Insanely fast performance
- Impressive cameras
- 55W super-fast charging
- Super AMOLED panel
- Dedicated gaming triggers
- 60Hz refresh rate
- Software can enjoy some improvements
- 5G doesn’t make sense in India as of now
For a company that has just entered the aggressive Indian smartphone market, iQOO for sure has managed to impress us with its powerful iQOO 3 5G. The phone is insanely fast and can handle all the extensive tasks with ease. With top of the line hardware, the performance is top-notch and the cameras work exceptionally well. Even the battery life of the device is on the positive. Add the super-fast charging tech and you got yourself a smartphone worth investing in, but the question again being, do you really wanna invest that much on an absolutely new brand?
Now considering the fact that you will be paying INR 10,000 more just for more RAM, storage and 5G connectivity is something you need to keep in mind. If you don’t need 5G connectivity which makes sense, we will recommend sticking to the base variant. You can go with a 256GB 4G variant as well if you want more storage on your device. Even though the company is offering a 5G variant, spending heavily just for this doesn’t make sense especially when the 5G connectivity is not entering the country anytime soon.