iQOO has worked towards building a good brand Reputation Since it debuted in India back in 2020 with the iQOO 3. With the launch of the iQOO 9 series, iQOO is entering a whole new league with 9 Pro as its price is above Rs 60,000. However, the more affordable flagship is the iQOO 9, which starts at Rs 42,990 for the base variant and Rs 46,990 for the top model. This pricing places it in a crowded section where you have the OnePlus 9RT (Rs 42,999), Xiaomi 11T Pro (Rs 39,999), and Realme GT 5G (Rs 37,999). Within such a competitive space, let’s look at what the iQOO 9 has to offer that can set it apart.
The very first element in which the iQOO 9 stands out from the crowd is in terms of design, specifically the Legend Variant which comes with three stripes at the back that are inspired by BMW’s colour scheme. The Alpha variant has stripes at the back with the black colour which also looks great. The Alpha variant has a soft touch material at the back with curved edges that make it easy to hold and grip.
The aluminium rails all-around look decent and iQOO has coloured the power button blue with a texture that adds to the look of the phone. The buttons are also clicky and the cameras at the back have a metal and glass module.
There are two speakers, one being at the bottom and one at the top, both of which sound very good. They aren’t bassy but do get loud with clear lyrics and no distortion at full volumes. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. However, iQOO does provide a Type-C to 3.5mm audio converter in the box. The phone’s haptics also feel very premium and are strong to notify you of notifications. Moreover, the haptics also works in sync with some games such as Call of Duty Mobile.
The iQOO 9 has a unique design in its segment with the three BMW inspired stripes at the back of the Legend variant. The Xiaomi 11T Pro, OnePlus 9RT and the Realme GT also look decent but the iQOO 9 has a more sleek and eye-catchy design with premium materials that makes it a superior choice over others in the same segment.
The iQOO 9 has a high-end display, the same as its competitors. It is a 6.56-inch full-HD+ (1080 x 2376 pixels) AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. There’s 10-bit colour, 19.8:9 aspect ratio, 92.76 screen-to-body ratio, and 398ppi pixel density. The high-end display in terms of specs also translates into an impressive viewing experience.
The colours look vibrant while the high touch sampling rate makes it very responsive to the touch. Further, you can choose between 60Hz and 120Hz refresh rate and lastly, the screen gets bright enough for clear outdoor viewing under direct sunlight. While we haven’t tested the display panels of other devices, we can confirm that the screen on the iQOO 9 gets the job done and is an impressive panel.
Performance & Software
The iQOO 9 draws power from a Snapdragon 888 Plus SoC and the variant we have has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Now, the iQOO 9 sets itself apart with the Plus variant of the Snapdragon 888 while no other smartphone in its price range has this SoC. You may not witness a performance or gaming difference compared to devices with Snapdragon 888, but the Plus variant definitely has higher firepower.
|iQOO 9||Snapdragon 888 Plus|
|Xiaomi 11T Pro||Snapdragon 888|
|OnePlus 9RT||Snapdragon 888|
|Realme GT 5G||Snapdragon 888|
As expected, the iQOO 9 delivers at what it promises with no lag in performance and is very quick in opening apps and closing them. RAM Management is also very decent with apps staying in memory for long. Even when they were closed, the apps were loaded almost instantly. As FunTouch OS is a highly customisable OS, you can change the animation speed and types in Dynamic Effect settings. Finally, you get the January security patch which is decent enough, while the February patch would have been better.
As the OS is based on Android 12, you get all the bells and whistles such as Mic and Camera usage indicator, providing an approx location area to apps, etc. However, it still misses out on Dynamic Colour Theming introduced in Android 12, a bummer. On the positive side, iQOO promises 2 years of major Android upgrades, which means you should be able to get Android 14 and 3 years of security patches. Apart from that, network reception wasn’t an issue both with Wi-Fi and Carrier signals. But I did face an issue with Mobile Data where it would just stop working and I would have to either reboot the phone or disable and enable the SIM to get it to work.
Gaming is something on which iQOO is heavily focusing on with the iQOO 9, similar to how it did with the iQOO 7. Unfortunately, another disappointment took place when I ran Call of Duty Mobile. While I expected it to run without any lags, to my surprise, a bug didn’t let the game run without lags. With max graphics and frame rate setting, the display’s refresh rate kept going down below 60Hz which made it laggy.
However, at low graphics, it started running without any issues. When inquired about the issue, iQOO told us that we got the test unit and an OTA update would be solving the issue. Moreover, the company claimed that the issue wouldn’t persist in retail units. However, we couldn’t verify the same independently. Other games such as PUBG: New State, RL Sideswipe worked super smoothly.
The device also has some gaming-specific features such as Frame Interpolation, which can increase the game’s frame rate to make it run more smoothly. Next, there’s 4D game Vibration, as well as Pressure-sensitive display feature. Using this, the display can identify the pressure with which you press which in turn can trigger an in-game function of your choice. Finally, there’s an E-Sports mode, Game Display Enhancement and much more. All of the features work well with supported games. We couldn’t test the Game Frame Interpolation feature because of the graphics issue so we can’t comment on the same.
As for the competition, the major deciding factor will be the choice of OS one likes. While Realme UI and MIUI from Realme and Xiaomi, respectively, might have a different set of features with more customisation, FunTouch OS is equally fast in terms of animations and overall performance. Moreover, if gaming is what you prefer with smooth usage, iQOO 9 is one of the best options in its price range because of its gaming exclusive features.
The iQOO 9 is backed by a 4,350mAh battery with insanely fast charging that can charge the phone with 120W of power. The only other phones that currently support 120W charging in India include a couple from Xiaomi and one from iQOO itself, which is the iQOO 9 Pro. Talking about the charging time, the iQOO 9 can charge from 6 to 100% within 20 minutes which is groundbreaking fast. However, the only thing I was concerned about was heating and unfortunately, I was right. The test unit we had did heat up with temperatures reaching up to 41-degrees, making it uncomfortable to hold. However, upon asking, iQOO did claim that there’s no such issue with retail units but we couldn’t check the same.
As for battery life, on days with heavy usage which included gaming, browsing on Chrome, calling, chatting, etc, I was able to get around 4.5 to 5 hours of SOT with 10 hours of usage which is decent but not the best. With light usage, you can get past 5 hours of SOT. However, such battery life shouldn’t be an issue for most people considering you can top up the device within minutes with the huge 120W charging brick that is supplied inside the box of iQOO 9.
|Phone||Battery Capacity||Charging Speed|
|Xiaomi 11T Pro||5000mAh||120W|
|Realme GT 5G||4500mAh||65W|
If you want longer usage time, you may consider other devices such as the OnePlus 9RT and Realme GT 5G which come with a slightly bigger 4500mAh cell. On the other hand, the Xiaomi 11T Pro has a 5000mAh cell and also supports 120W fast charging that makes it the best choice in terms of usage and charging time both.
The iQOO 9 has a triple rear camera setup. It includes a 48-megapixel Sony IMX598 primary sensor with an f/1.79 lens, a 13-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide-angle f/2.2 lens, and a 13-megapixel portrait camera with f/2.46 aperture. Further on the front, there is a 16-megapixel selfie shooter with f/2.45 aperture.
The primary sensor performs well in outdoor conditions where there’s plenty of light coming into the sensor. The images are sharp with good contrast levels and natural-looking colours. The dynamic range is decent and the detailing is well done. Photos through the ultra-wide sensor also came out to be decent with not a lot of colour shifting compared to photos from the primary sensor. However, the detailing at the edges of the wide-angle photos seemed a bit odd with a smudged effect. The detailing in the centre of the photo was the same as the primary sensor.
Portrait shots from the rear sensor were decent again, however, the software wasn’t able to identify the subject properly. As a result, even the leaves were considered a part of the subject in the photo above and weren’t blurred out. The detailing, colours and sharpness on the other hand were handled fine.
Selfies from the 16MP sensor were okay with colours as I felt they could have been more vibrant. The detailing and sharpness in the image were average. Edge detection was very accurate, unlike the portrait shots from the rear camera.
Shots under low-lighting were below average as the photos got noisy and there was no sort of sharpness and even the colours looked faded. Under artificial lighting, the photos were again average with natural colours but okay-ish details. I feel the camera’s performance could have been better under these conditions.
Lastly, the night shots are a bit noisy with average details and sharpness. With night mode ON, the shots look very identical to those with night mode OFF, except for the brightness which is higher in the former type of shots. Apart from that, the sharpness and detailing remain the same in both pictures.