5G seems to the buzzword for 2020 and even as the mobile network is yet to reach India, smartphone makers are already giving consumers the option to upgrade to a 5G device. The point? To be future-ready, iQOO India’s Director of Marketing Gagan Arora told indianexpress.com at the launch of iQOO 3, which is a 5G-ready smartphone that is powered by the latest Snapdragon 865 processor. There’s 4G LTE variant as well with the same specifications, except for the 5G support, which is slightly less expensive.
When it comes to specifications on paper, iQOO 3 impresses with the flagship Snapdragon 865 processor, it comes with 48MP quad-camera setup at the back, Super AMOLED display, and a glass back design. It also adds certain gaming features like Ultra Game mode, 4D vibration, 180Hz touch response rate as well as pressure-sensitive buttons on the sides that the company is calling Monster Touch buttons.
How does iQOO 3 perform in daily usage? We find out in our review:
iQOO 3 specifications: 6.44-inches Super AMOLED FHD+ | Snapdragon 865 | 12GB LPDDR5 RAM | 256GB ROM | Quad rear cameras: 48MP main sensor + 13MP telephoto lens + 13MP super-wide angles lens + 2MP bokeh lens | 16MP front camera | 4440mAh battery with 55W Super FlashCharge | Android 10 with iQOO UI 1.0
iQOO 3 price: Rs 44,990 for 5G model (12GB RAM+256GB storage), Rs 36,990 (4G with 8GB RAM+ 128GB storage), Rs 39,990 (4G with 8GB RAM+256GB storage).
iQOO 3 review: Design and display
The display on iQOO 3 is a Super AMOLED one with Full HD+ resolution. It is vibrant with good viewing angles. I did not struggle to use the phone in bright sunlight either. The bezels on the sides are extremely thin, and the company claims the hole punch that holds the front camera is the smallest in the segment. It does appear to be less intrusive than what I’ve seen on most other phones
The iQOO 3 gets a glass back design with a textured design underneath the glass coating. We got the Tornado Black colour option that has a purple gradient shift at the back and looks stylish. The square rear camera module looks familiar. I have a feeling, we will see this kind of camera design on a lot more phones in 2020, so brace yourselves.
This is one heavy phone as it weighs around 214 grams and that is the first thing I noticed when I held iQOO 3. While the curved edges at the back panel gives it a good grip, I’d still recommend a back cover to avoid smudges.
iQOO 3 review: Camera
The camera setup at the back is a combination of a 48MP primary camera, 13MP telephoto lens, 13MP wide-angle camera and a 2MP depth sensor. There is an option in settings to click in 48MP. I really liked the camera UI. It is simple and lets you select the lens, whether ultra-wide, bokeh or super macro from a ‘Lens’ option when you open the camera.
The 48MP main camera is capable of taking some sharp and detailed photos in places where there is ample light, though the colours looked a bit washed out in some cases. In low-light, I did notice noise in some photos.
Still I was impressed with the overall performance, given most photos had good details. The Night mode enhances details in photographs, though some might feel it over sharpens photos to make them look a bit unnatural.
The ultra-wide lens needs some improvement, though the details were there and the colours looked close to natural. The super macro lens also works well, especially in bright outdoors. The front 16MP camera clicks detailed and sharp pictures where there is ample light, but there’s a tendency to brighten the skin tone, which I don’t really enjoy so much.
iQOO 3 review: Processor, battery and software
Thanks to a Snapdragon 865 processor, the performance is top notch. The apps opened quickly and switching between tabs is seamless. I did not face any lag while using the device. Our review unit had 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, which enhanced performance.
The gaming sessions were smooth as well. I played graphics-heavy games like Asphalt-9, PUBG Mobile, and Call of Duty without any hiccups. A lot of people who play games on their phones intensively will appreciate the gaming features that iQOO 3 offers. But the phone starts to get warm within 10 minutes of gaming.
I was pretty happy with the battery as it lasted for about a day and a half with moderate usage which included playing games, watching videos, listening to songs, browsing social video, and messaging. In fact, with light usage, one can squeeze in two days. Another advantage is the iQOO 3 charges very quickly, say around 50 per cent in 15 minutes thanks to 55W Super FlashCharge. It charges fully in under an hour, which is great. I had no issues with the fingerprint sensor and face unlock either, which were quick to unlock the device almost every time I tried.
iQOO 3 runs the company’s own iQOO UI 1.0, which is based on Android 10. The UI does share some similarities with Vivo’s FunTouchOS, but brings its own set of welcome changes.
The notifications panel can be accessed by swiping down, which makes it easier to use. I also liked that it brings Dark mode option in the quick settings menu. But it comes pre-loaded with so many apps (some that you might not even use) can’t be ignored. The company can maybe tweak later versions of iQOO UI to bring in less bloatware, which I feel would really improve the user experience.
iQOO 3 review: Verdict
iQOO 3 does seem like a power-packed device with impressive specifications but do you really need a 5G device right now, especially if it will set you back by almost Rs 45,000? How future-ready do you really need to be? Frankly, if you are someone who updates phones every two years, a 5G device doesn’t make sense today given the networks won’t be in place so soon. The 4G variant, which starts at Rs 36,990, I feel is better value-for-money since it comes with the same specifications.
The competition, if we look in the 5G space, really is Realme X50 Pro 5G right now. But if one were to forget 5G, the iQOO 3 has a solid list of competitors. This includes the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite, the Galaxy S10 Lite, and of course, the OnePlus 7 series. Right now, its big advantage is the latest Qualcomm processor and more features geared towards gaming.