When the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip was announced offering Qualcomm’s most powerful performance without any thermal hiccups, it was a given that brands which typically focus on raw performance such as iQOO and OnePlus were going to take a bite at this. While OnePlus has its OnePlus 10T, iQoo is introducing the iQOO 9T in India. This is a phone that brings the best of the iQOO 9-series with the polish and performance of the new 8+ Gen 1. But should you go for this and is it the best phone right now under Rs 50,000? More importantly, is this a better deal compared to the OnePlus 10T? Find out in my full review below.
iQOO 9T specs: 6.78-inch AMOLED 120Hz display, HDR10+, 1500 nits peak brightness | Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, up to 12GB RAM, 256GB UFS 3.1 storage | Android 12 with FuntouchOS 12 | 50MP+13MP+12MP rear camera, 16MP front camera | 4700mAh battery + 120W fast charging |
A good phone refresh doesn’t break or change the good bits from the original, and the folks at iQOO clearly understood the assignment when designing the 9T. While the more muted Alpha black colour is also a great-looking phone, the Legend White we have here is a head-turner, just like the iQOO 9 Pro we reviewed earlier this year. Complete with the signature BMW stripes and a large camera island that reeks of the OnePlus 8T CyberPunk Edition, this design is equal parts unique and bold.
It doesn’t just end there, the iQOO 9T also gets a metal frame and a glass sandwich design, unlike the similarly-specced OnePlus 10T. I like it when a value-phone decides to not cut corners in these areas, and it’s here that the iQOO 9T doesn’t disappoint.
The iQOO 9T has a brilliant display. If you’re a gamer or a general fan of larger screens, the 9T has you covered not just with ample real estate between the bezels, but also with punchy colours and a pretty good contrast ratio.
This 120Hz panel, unfortunately, isn’t an LTPO 2.0 panel like the iQOO 9 Pro, which would allow the phone to swing between 1Hz-120Hz. But you still get a panel capable of locking at 60Hz or 120Hz and a smart switch mode that dynamically switches between those two values. Watching Netflix on the phone was enjoyable and so was using the phone outdoors under direct sunlight, though there hasn’t been much of that lately in Mumbai.
Unsurprisingly, the iQOO 9T is practically rigged to perform better than most phones on the market right now. You already know the specifications, but even in real-life-usage, the phone flies through day-to-day tasks and can handle pretty much any application or game available for Android devices without any problems. I tested heavy titles like BGMI (pre-ban), Genshin Impact and GRID Autosport on the iQOO 9T and all games work without any issues at max graphics. Playing BGMI at Smooth graphics, you can also play for longer sessions without the phone getting very hot, which is a good thing for power users and gamers.
Other aspects here also didn’t disappoint. The phone is snappy across the UI, the stereo speakers are balanced and loud, the in-display fingerprint scanner is also quick and accurate, although it still isn’t a match for the brilliant large ultrasonic sensor on the iQOO 9 Pro (arguably the best fingerprint sensor on a smartphone ever).
The iQOO 9T has a good set of cameras. For a phone that focuses on performance and gaming, it does manage to punch above its weight. The telephoto camera here is much more useful than a 2MP macro/depth sensor. The main camera manages to take crispy shots in daylight with accurate colour reproduction and images do not look over-processed. The performance at night and in low or indoor lighting isn’t the best but isn’t bad either. I could still take images with fair amount of detail and low noise.
The ultrawide camera is surprisingly good in terms of matching the picture quality of the main sensor. Photos taken from both cameras don’t look significantly different. However, the ultrawide camera will struggle at times in low light to match the quality of the main sensor. Front camera performance was pretty average with decent details and fairly accurate skin tones. Check out our samples below (compressed).
The iQOO 9T also manages to record videos at up to 4K 60fps on the back (1080p 60fps with Ultra stabilisation on) and 1080p 30fps on the front. Note that if you want to record with the ultrawide camera also, you’re stuck with 1080p 30fps video, and if you start recording a clip at 1080p 60fps or 4K 30/60fps, you won’t be able to switch to the ultrawide camera mid-video. A dual-view mode is also present that lets you record from the front and back cameras at the same time.
Battery Life and charging
The iQOO 9T’s 4,700mAh battery can last a whole day with ease with moderate to heavy use. If you plan to game a lot on this phone don’t expect to cross the one-day mark, especially if you play at max graphics or with the speakers blasting audio. However, the 120W fast charging makes up for it and you can charge the phone pretty quickly. I killed the phone’s battery completely and a quick 10-minute charge had it back up at 40 per cent battery life, which is not bad at all. Note that there’s no wireless charging here.
The iQOO 9T ticks most boxes and there’s hardly anything left to complain here. But as with most iQOO phones, I must talk about the software, which, while not exactly a bad implementation, remains the weakest element in this otherwise near-perfect package of a phone.
The iQOO 9T comes with Android 12-based FuntouchOS 12. iQOO now promises three years of system updates and four years of security patches. This is an improvement over the iQOO 9 Pro which I criticised for being an expensive phone with just two years of future-proofing.
However, the FuntouchOS system, as feature-packed as it is, still comes with bloatware and unwanted duplicate system apps like iQOO’s own browser and video player, along with an iManager app that you probably will never use on a powerful flagship phone like this. These things scrape off the premium polish that the iQOO 9T builds. With some cleaner software and lesser apps that are bent on asking you for data-collection permissions, this could have been a perfect phone.
With no corners cut in its design and build quality, powerful internals and capable cameras, it is hard to believe the iQOO 9T is a value-flagship and not a full-fledged one. While the performance of the phone is more-or-less on par with other Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 devices, the 9T has an edge over phones like the OnePlus 10T thanks to a well-rounded camera setup and a sturdier, more premium metal frame design, not to mention its spectacular looks. This is arguably the best phone under Rs 50,000 right now for gamers and power users.