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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

iQOO 9 Pro review: Great flagship phone, but is that enough?

The iQOO 9 Pro is a true flagship on paper, and certainly looks like one too, but is it worth its asking price?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Rs. 64,990
Written by Chetan Nayak | Mumbai |
Updated: February 24, 2022 3:43:05 pm
iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro,Here's our full review of the iQOO 9 Pro. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The iQOO 7 and iQOO 7 Legend were two of the most powerful phones to launch in India last year. Despite their popularity, what stopped the phones from reaching the flagship killer status that iQOO aimed for was heavy competition and lacking software. A year later, iQOO has launched the iQOO 9 Pro, a specifications beast on paper. But it also comes with a more mature FuntouchOS. Does it beat everything else in the market this time around? Read our full review to find out and decide if this phone is for you.

First, here’s a quick look at the specifications of the phone.

iQOO 9 Pro specifications: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | 6.78-inch 2K E5 AMOLED curved display, 120Hz refresh rate | UFS 3.1 storage, LPDDR5 RAM | 50MP GN5 Gimbal camera + 50MP fisheye wide angle lens + 16MP portrait zoom lens | 4,700mAh battery + 120W fast charging |

iQOO 9 Pro price in India: Rs 64,990 for 8GB/256GB and Rs 69,990 for 12GB/256GB.

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iQOO 9 Pro: What’s good?

Design

I don’t say this for a lot of phones, even the good looking ones, but you simply cannot put a case on the iQOO 9 Pro. Covering up this gorgeous back panel complete with the BMW motorsport colour-strip would be a sin. Unless you decide to use the case that came with the phone, which has the same design with a velvet-like finish.

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The iQOO 9 Pro is a stunning device to look at and will be a head-turner in public. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The only thing that stops this glass sandwich design from being perfect is the BMW strip having a raised texture. It feels like it is taped onto the rest of the white back panel. While I don’t think it will ever come out, it does break the otherwise seamless feel of the back, one that extends to the front via the curved screen.

The iQOO 9 Pro is a large phone. If you have large hands, you could use it with one hand, but even then, reaching for the notification panel is going to be an uphill task. For most people this will be primarily a two-handed device. There is no 3.5mm headphone port but you do get a bundled 3.5mm to USB-C adapter.

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iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The iQOO 9 Pro has a very premium design in all aspects. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The 3D curved display panel is a great addition, but it may not be for everyone, especially on a large phone like this. It changes how you interact with edge-based gestures, as well as looks much more aesthetically pleasing.

Display

The 2K screen on the iQOO 9 Pro is amazing. Yes it has great colours, HDR 10 support, and the 2K resolution makes supported content a treat to the eyes. However, there’s much more to this panel.

The maximum peak brightness of 1500 nits allows you to use the phone under direct sunlight with ease. The LTPO 2.0 panel, which lets the phone intelligently switch between 1Hz and 120Hz depending on what’s on the screen, helps save battery. You can set it to either 60Hz, 120Hz or the default, smart switch mode.

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There’s also 300Hz touch sampling with 1000Hz instant touch, making gaming very responsive on the device, ideal for quick-paced shooters like Battlegrounds Mobile India.

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The display is vibrant and also bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

One of my favourite features of the phone is the amazing fingerprint scanner. iQOO has implemented an ultrasonic scanner that is much larger than the usual fingerprint scanners. But this one is also very fast, accurate and is placed just perfectly along the length of this tall smartphone.

The sensor didn’t miss either of my two registered fingers even once for the past week. It successfully responded even when I pressed my thumb halfway outside the designated circle. This is thanks to the bigger sensor, which the brand mentions is about 11 percent larger than the one on the iQOO 7. Fun Fact – you only have to press on this scanner once while adding a new finger and not multiple times from different angles.

Camera

The iQOO 9 Pro has a very capable camera setup on the rear. The main sensor is great with pictures in the day, getting nice skin tones and capturing accurate colours without any oversaturation. The Gimbal stabilisation helps you get crisper shots when you have a fast-moving subject. It also helps you get better, much crisper shots at night, although I felt night-time photos were over-processed.

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, An orange and a building captured with the main camera. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak) iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, An orange and a building captured with the ultrawide camera. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak) iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, An orange and a building captured with the fisheye camera mode. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The ultrawide camera is also amazing and gets a 150-degree field of view, which is one of the widest cameras on a phone out there. This lets you get super wide shots, and also a lot of creative shots with the various fisheye modes.

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Check out our other camera samples on Flickr by clicking on the image below.

iQOO 9 Pro

Another feature I liked was the automatic switching to macro mode when you get close to a subject, and the fact that you can turn it off if you want more control. The front camera of the iQOO 9 Pro does a great job with selfies, although details were lost quickly in indoor and low light images.

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Performance and gaming

Thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 onboard, the iQOO 9 Pro flies through everything from casual games to multiple editing apps in action and more resource-intensive titles. If benchmarks interest you, Geekbench 5 returns a single-core score of 1224 and a multi-core score of 3598. For some perspective, the single and multi core scores of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Exynos 2100) were 924 and 3085 respectively.

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The iQOO 9 Pro delivers a good gaming performance without getting too hot. It also is compatible with a number of third-party accessories and not just the iQOO gamepad. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

I tried popular games like Asphalt 9 and Battlegrounds Mobile India on the iQOO 9 Pro and was happy with the results. With BGMI, I was able to get Extreme framerate with HDR and UHD graphics. The experience was great and everything felt smooth and fast. The phone did heat up a little at the maxed settings after about 20-minutes of gameplay, but it wasn’t too hot and also cooled down quickly.

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The phone does offer MEMC support with the dedicated IDC chip, but for me, the framerate stayed constant at 60fps in BGMI for now, despite trying different graphics and framerate settings along with the frame interpolation toggle turned on. Note that the device also misses out on the iQOO In-Display Dual Monster Touch buttons which have been limited to the iQOO 9 only this year.

Battery life

The 4,700mAh battery isn’t the biggest battery but thanks to the LTPO 2.0 panel you still get above average battery life on the iQOO 9 Pro which is a full-day phone, That is unless you make a lot of video calls, do some gaming and a lot of photography, which is when you may need to plug in the phone around evening. The 120W charging is super quick and we observed the following charging times from a dead 0 battery level.

Charging Time Battery percentage
0 mins 0%
5 mins 27%
10 mins 50%
15 mins 69%
20 mins 87%
25 mins 97%
28 mins 100%

Also note that the charging brick comes with a USB Type-C to Type-C cable (instead of a Type-A to Type-C one). The phone also supports 50W fast wireless charging with a separately sold wireless charger. However, we also faced an issue with the charging experience (more on that below).

iQOO 9 Pro: What’s not good?

Charging sound

The 120W fast charger is great at speeds, but really heats up both the phone and the charger. While the phone heating up is normal and expected, our charging unit got really hot and we started experiencing a high-pitched sound coming from the charger post the 80% – 85% mark.

This happened at various wall plug points, as well as when I tried charging my OnePlus 9R with the iQOO 9 Pro charger. However, I must point out that this didn’t affect the charging in any way in the multiple times that I have charged the device so far.

Software

The software on the iQOO 9 Pro isn’t bad, but it still remains the weakest aspect of a phone that excels in pretty much everything else. FuntouchOS 12 based on Android 12 is much cleaner than previous versions, but you still have a few bloatware apps and system apps asking for permissions when opened for the first time. Thankfully, the bloatware can be uninstalled, but shouldn’t exist in the first place in a phone in this segment.

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The iQOO 9 Pro features a much cleaner FuntouchOS 12, but you still get some bloatware and just 2 years of system updates. (Express Photo)

Moreover, the iQOO 9 Pro will also get just two years of system updates, which is now becoming a sub-standard number for flagships with brands like Samsung offering twice as many years of updates. Launched with Android 12, the iQOO 9 Pro will only be updated till Android 14.

Verdict: Should you buy the iQOO 9 Pro?

The iQOO 9 Pro is a solid phone for the price and a true flagship from its design and camera to the sheer performance on offer. If you’re looking for a phone that offers the raw performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 under under Rs 70,000, along with an excellent screen, great cameras, and gorgeous looks, the iQOO 9 Pro is a solid choice.

However, if you were looking for something a little more affordable with largely the same experience in terms of gameplay and raw performance you may want to have a look at the vanilla iQOO 9 instead, which starts at Rs 42,990.

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First published on: 23-02-2022 at 03:04:05 pm

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