Given iQOO’s past history of squeezing maximum value from its mid-tier phones, I couldn’t avoid but question what the brand could deliver in the premium market. The iQOO 9 Pro, a specs behemoth on paper, has been launched by iQOO. It comes with a more advanced FuntouchOS. However, the main question is, is it better than every other flagship on the market at the moment?
The iQOO 9 Pro is designed to compete directly with other flagship smartphones. It has top-of-the-line specifications, an outstanding camera setup, and lightning-fast charging, all for under Rs. 70,000. So, is this premium offering from iQOO worth the price tag? We’ll put it through heavy games and test it in day-to-day scenarios to see if it’s worth the consideration.
The iQOO 9 Pro comes in two colours and two RAM options. The base variant with 8GB of RAM costs Rs. 64,990, while the top-end option with 12GB of RAM costs Rs. 69,990 in India. Both variants offer 256GB of internal storage and come in Legend (white) and Dark Cruise (black) colour options.
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The iQOO 9 Pro packs the following items inside the box:
- 120W Charger
- Type-C USB Cable
- Warranty Card
- Quick Start Guide
- SIM Eject Tool
- Phone Protective Case
- Earphone Jack Adapter
Before we talk in detail about the iQOO 9 Pro, let’s see what the on-paper specs look like:
- Display: 6.78 inches AMOLED
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
- RAM & ROM: 8GB RAM 256GB Storage, 12GB RAM 256GB Storage
- Software: Android v12
- Rear camera: 50MP + 50MP + 16MP
- Selfie camera: 16 MP
- Battery: 4700 mAh
- Weight: 204 grams
- Dimensions: 164.8 x 75.2 x 8.8 mm
The iQOO 9 Pro is a stunning phone, particularly in the ‘Legend’ colour option. The Motosport variant maintains the classic BMW three-colour stripes that run from the upper half of the rear panel to the bottom. It boasts one of the most well-designed back panels among flagship phones. The design is so attractive that it caught my eye from a distance. It’s comfortable to hold thanks to the matte glass design on the back and also features Gorilla Glass 5 on the front.
The iQOO 9 Pro has a giant camera setup on the back that runs the length of the top half of its backside. The module features the Gimbal Stabilization logo as well as other camera information. The iQOO logo can also be found on the lower backside. The camera module, despite its size, does not protrude significantly, preventing the device from wobbling when placed on a flat surface.
A robust metal frame keeps the two sides intact and, thanks to its wonderful matte texture which improves grip. The physical buttons are built of the same material and provide an excellent clicky response. The volume buttons are placed above the blue-coloured power button on the right metal frame. The frame is flush with the bottom edge, allowing a place for the SIM tray which is beside the USB Type-C charging port and the primary speaker grille.
It’s hard to digest that the Rs. 65,000 premium smartphone lacks an IP rating, making it prone to water and dust damage. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack, however, a 3.5mm to USB-C adaptor is included. Overall, the phone has a very nice feel in the hand. It features a high-end design and a solid build quality.
The iQOO 9 Pro, as a flagship, includes the most up-to-date and best display technology available on a smartphone in 2022. You get a vivid E5 AMOLED display with a sharp 2K resolution. When you add in a big 6.78-inch 10-bit panel, you have one of the best smartphones for multimedia consumption. It has a high refresh rate of 120Hz that is adaptable and can be lowered as needed. The touch sampling rate of 300Hz ensures that the touch is incredibly responsive, and the high refresh rate ensures that scrolling is fluid.
The E5’s AMOLED display features bright colours, deeper blacks, and crisp text. It’s also really bright, both inside the house and outdoors. The display on the iQOO 9 Pro is HDR10+ certified and has a maximum brightness of 1500 nits. The biggest drawback was that HDR 10 compatibility was unavailable in apps such as Netflix and Prime Video, which is yet another major flaw for a flagship smartphone.
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The screen is curved on the sides to provide an immersive viewing experience. The screen curvature isn’t as aggressive as it could be, but it’s enough to fit in with the device’s metal frame without causing accidental touches. What else can you ask for? The phone has a beautiful display, so you won’t have any problems watching movies or playing games.
The iQOO 9 Pro is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC which is built on a 4nm process. The smartphone is one of the first in India to use Qualcomm’s flagship mobile platform. It outperforms the Snapdragon 888 and 888+ processors in terms of performance and efficiency. It offers up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. Virtual RAM technology can increase RAM by 4GB, but it won’t make much of a difference in performance.
There is almost nothing that iQOO 9 Pro cannot do in terms of performance. It breezes through daily multitasking with apps, games, and photo editing on the go. Apps load quickly and switching between apps is seamless. The phone allows you to use its hardware at its maximum performance in ‘Monster’ mode, which delivers you the best performance at the expense of some heating. The ‘Balanced’ mode is suggested for everyday use because it maintains the device’s core temperature.
You can clearly experience the blazing fast performance of the chipset during the gaming sessions. I played popular titles like Asphalt 9, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Battlegrounds Mobile India on the iQOO 9 Pro and was really impressed with the results. I was able to achieve Extreme fps with HDR and UHD graphics with BGMI. Everything ran smoothly without any lags, and the experience was fantastic.
The upper half of the device becomes a little warm, especially underneath the camera setup, but this is to be expected. The phone includes a liquid cooling system, which appears to be working well. While we’re on the subject of gaming, the iQOO 9 Pro also includes a display chip that boosts frame rates while also boosting colour. Currently, games such as BGMI are optimised to take full benefit of the smart display chip. And of course, there’s an E-Sports mode on the smartphone that optimises the hardware and disables notifications for the best gaming experience.
In terms of software, it runs on FunTouch OS v12 which is based on Android 12. The custom skin has a close-to-stock interface and a number of customization options. On the plus side, the app has improved privacy features and uses a status bar indicator to let users know if any application is using the phone’s camera or microphone. Vivo, as usual, offers a variety of animations that you can tailor for specific tasks. You may also add a handful of widgets, which have been present on Android phones for quite some time.
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The iQoo 9 Pro also comes with several third-party apps preinstalled, including Josh, Cred, Moj-Lite, Netflix, Facebook, and ShareChat, but all of them can be uninstalled. Although the pre-installed bloatware may upset many users, it is still better than most other smartphones on the market.
iQOO claims that the iQOO 9 Pro will receive two years of software updates and three years of security updates. This is similar to other players such as Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, and others.
The iQOO 9 Pro isn’t just a powerhouse of a phone; it’s also a capable camera phone. The phone includes a triple camera layout on the back, with a 50MP Samsung GN5 sensor as the primary sensor. It has Optical Stabilization for smoother gimbal levelling. It is accompanied by a 50MP 150-degrees Fish Eye ultra-wide-angle lens with autofocus as well as a 16MP telephoto lens with OIS. The phone also has a 16MP selfie camera in the front, which is located in the upper centre of the display.
Photos taken in daylight were sharp, clear, and had a wide dynamic range. The photographs taken by the iQoo 9 Pro were rich in detail and depth. The big sensor helps in capturing excellent images both during the day and at night. The colours are vivid, and there is a lot of detail. The main camera, which is gimbal-stabilized, takes clear photos and records steady videos of moving objects such as a sprinting dog or a flying bird.
While the daylight shots are excellent, the low light performance is particularly amazing. The darker areas of the photos have little to no noise. The software also prevents overflowing the highlights while attempting to keep the shadow details.
The iQOO 9 Pro is India’s first smartphone featuring a 150-degree ultrawide camera sensor. The photographs have a good amount of detail despite capturing a wider area than the primary camera. Fisheye, Crystal Ball, Asteroid, and Rabbit Hole are among the dedicated modes offered.
The telephoto lens lets you zoom in on the subjects up to 2.5 times for close-up photographs, resulting in detailed images. Images taken with the iQOO 9 Pro in portrait mode have a creamy bokeh. The edge detection is fantastic. Vivo’s software does have a little smoothing effect on the skin. If you disable the beauty option, the overall result of the photograph will still be satisfactory.
The selfie camera captured some clean and clear shots with great dynamic range and details. The front camera captures self-portraits with true skin tones that appear bright, sharp, and realistic both day and night. Selfies taken in low light are softer than those taken in good lighting, but they aren’t grainy or jittery.
The iQOO 9 Pro can shoot 8K 30fps, 4K 30/60 fps, and 1080p 30/60fps videos from its primary camera. The wide-angle lens can capture 4K and 1080p videos, but the frame rate is capped to 30fps. There are three levels of stabilisation: Standard, Ultra, and Horizontal Line. The main camera has both gimbal stabilisation and EIS (Ultra mode), whereas the ultrawide lens just has EIS. The main camera, as expected, captures the steady-cam videos with good details and vibrant colours. Video quality suffered slightly in low light, but stabilisation was still decent.
The iQOO 9 Pro comes with a 4,700mAh battery that charges quickly at 120W and 50W (wired and wireless respectively). It isn’t the most powerful battery pack available on a flagship smartphone. Now, the battery performance will vary greatly depending on how you use the phone. We were able to get a maximum screen-on time of around 7 hours using the iQOO 9 Pro. The phone was used with the dynamic smart switch feature active on a day when there was not really a lot of tasks.
The phone can be charged from an empty battery to 100 per cent in just 20 minutes thanks to the massive 120W adaptor. It takes only 10 minutes to reach 50 per cent, which is much faster than the average smartphone.
Furthermore, there are no fast charging options to turn on manually in the settings. When the phone is hooked with the 120W charger, it’ll always fast charge at this rate. It also supports wireless charging up to 50W if you use the iQoo wireless charger, which is sold separately.
The device has two stereo speakers, both of which were pretty loud and clear in terms of audio performance. This means that the audio quality while gaming and watching movies on Netflix was enjoyable. The dedicated primary speaker, on the other hand, is a little louder than the earpiece. There is no 3.5mm audio jack here.
It also supports 5G, with IQOO adding 11 5G bands, including n1, n3, n5, n7, n8, n20, n28, n41, n66, n77, and n78. The iQOO 9 Pro has Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS, and other connectivity options.
The excellent fingerprint scanner is among my favourite aspects of the phone. iQOO has incorporated a considerably larger ultrasonic scanner than other fingerprint scanners. However, this one is likewise incredibly fast and accurate, and it is perfectly located on this tall phone.
iQOO has practically gone completely out with the iQOO 9 Pro to announce its entry into the premium smartphone market. Yes, it is a little pricey smartphone, with a starting price of Rs 64,990, but is it overpriced? No, I don’t believe so. With its stunning looks, the iQOO 9 Pro grabs your eye and steals your heart with its lightning-fast performance and awesome camera system. When you add in the 120W fast charging, you’ve got yourself a monster of a smartphone.
There are a few flaws: it lacks an IP rating, HDR playback isn’t available on some OTT apps, and it has some bloatware. However, if you can’t wait to get your hands on your next gaming smartphone, the iQOO 9 Pro isn’t a bad option. However, given that it is a relatively new brand in India, investing nearly Rs. 70,000 may cause many to rethink the long-term effects. In such instances, you can choose the Samsung Galaxy S22, the Apple iPhone 13, or the upcoming flagships, the OnePlus 10 Pro or Xiaomi Mi 12 Ultra.