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iQOO Z5 review: Major improvement over the iQOO Z3

The iQOO Z5 feels like a major improvement over the iQOO Z3, but does that make it a phone worth recommending? Read on to know more.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rs. 23,990
Written by Chetan Nayak | Mumbai |
Updated: November 8, 2021 3:34:57 pm
iQOO Z5, iQOO Z5 review, iQOO Z5 price, iQOO Z5 launch, iQOO Z5 gaming,Here's our full review of the iQOO Z5. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

We have said it before and we’ll say it again, a good mid-range phone priced between Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000 is all about the right specifications and the right compromises. The iQOO Z3, the brand’s first Z-series offering came close to getting it right, but along comes the Z5, with more powerful specifications, decent cameras, better software and a big battery.

We tried the phone out for over a week and here’s what we think about it.

iQOO Z5 Specs: Snapdragon 778G chip | 6.67-inch 120HZ FHD+ LCD display | Up to 12GB RAM+256GB storage | 64MP+8MP+2MP rear camera, 16MP front camera | 5,000mAh battery+44W fast charging|

iQOO Z5: What’s good?

Design: Even though there’s a polycarbonate back here, the iQOO Z5 looks and feels like a premium phone in hand. The Arctic Dawn variant we have in particular looks so great with the matte frosted white on the back that you wouldn’t want to put a case on this one.

iQOO Z5, iQOO Z5 review, iQOO Z5 price, iQOO Z5 launch, iQOO Z5 gaming, The iQOO Z5 looks and feels like a premium phone in hand. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The top bezel and chin are slightly thicker than the side bezels, but we don’t think it’s too thick. iQOO also has upgraded to a punch-hole display instead of the dated waterdrop notch on the Z3, which is a great addition.

Display: Yes, this is not an AMOLED panel but we do get a good IPS LCD panel. While you miss out on punchy AMOLED colours, what you do get is variable refresh rate modes that you can lock to 60Hz, 90Hz or 120HZ, or even an auto-switch option that will dynamically change refresh rate. Considering this phone is targeted at gamers and power users, we don’t think the lack of an AMOLED panel is a dealbreaker here. On the contrary, the IPS LCD panel you do get is pretty good.

iQOO Z5, iQOO Z5 review, iQOO Z5 price, iQOO Z5 launch, iQOO Z5 gaming, The phone comes with an IPS LCD panel. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

Performance: This is the first aspect you think of when you look at iQOO devices and it is here that the phone doesn’t disappoint. The phone flies through day-to-day tasks, multiple apps as well as resource-heavy games. The Snapdragon 778G is not a flagship processor, but it gets close.

With Battlegrounds Mobile India, for instance, you can play at Smooth graphics+Extreme framerates, while higher graphic settings will limit you to Ultra frame rates. These are the same settings offered by phones like the Poco F3 GT, which is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 1200. Gaming itself was great and we barely experienced any hiccups. The phone does get slightly warm during extended sessions, but not too hot.

iQOO Z5, iQOO Z5 review, iQOO Z5 price, iQOO Z5 launch, iQOO Z5 gaming, The iQOO Z5 features a decent overall camera setup for the price. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

You also have LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage to ensure everything that you do or load on the device gets done quickly. You also get stereo speakers, performance and gaming modes and 240Hz touch sampling, which is great for the gamers out there.

Software: One of our biggest issues with the older Z3 was its software, which offered a questionable experience full of privacy policies that popped up every two seconds and unwanted software forced down your throat. The Z5 gets a much cleaner iteration of FuntouchOS 12 (based on Android 11).

iQOO Z5, iQOO Z5 review, iQOO Z5 price, iQOO Z5 launch, iQOO Z5 gaming, The software experience is a big improvement. (Image Source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

You no longer have crazy notifications flying in, and while there is plenty of preinstalled junk, you can uninstall most of it. You can now finally hide the ‘Hot Apps’ and ‘Hot Games’ recommendations if you, like us, had no plans of checking it out. The company also promises two years of Android updates and three years of security updates.

Other elements like the notification bar, the Settings app (which closely resembles OxygenOS 11 now) and the lockscreen are much cleaner than before too and feature handy tools and all the extra customisation features are neatly tucked under the settings. You still have a few basic elements missing though, like support for icon packs in the default launcher, but a third-party launcher can fix that easily. Overall, the software has now taken a big step in the right direction.

Cameras: The iQOO Z5 features a decent overall camera setup for the price. You get crisp shots and colours look punchy. Capturing pictures is also pretty quick. Unfortunately, there is no OIS (optical image stabilisation) here, but the video performance is pretty decent regardless. Macro shots and Night Mode worked better than we expected. The 16MP front camera was good enough for selfies and calls, giving a satisfying experience even in low light scenarios. Check out our camera samples below.

iQOO Z5

Battery life and charging: The iQOO Z5 features good battery life, and the 5,000mAh pack beats phones like its rival, the Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G. It is also significantly more juice than the iQOO Z3. While the phone has slower 44W fast charging, it is still pretty fast when it comes to topping off the battery.

Even though the charging may feel slower than the iQOO Z3 due to the smaller battery and faster charging on the phone, we’d pick the larger capacity battery on the iQOO Z5 anyday.

iQOO Z5: What’s not good?

The iQOO Z5 doesn’t get a lot wrong for its price and targeted market. The LCD screen is decent enough, but doesn’t compare to an AMOLED display when it comes to contrast levels. The phone also misses out on NFC, a feature more and more people have begun appreciating with contactless payments becoming more popular.

Even though the build quality of the whole phone felt solid to the touch, we found the volume rocker buttons to be quite wobbly, right from the day we unboxed the phone. Those looking for more 5G band support will also be disappointed as the phone supports just two bands – n77 and n78.

Verdict: Is the iQOO Z5 for you?

If you’re looking for a value proposition that is more focused on speed and performance along with a relatively clean UI, the iQOO Z5 is a worthy consideration, even though it comes with a few cons. It is also a big improvement over the iQOO Z3.

Among the Snapdragon 778G phones we have right now, it strikes a good balance between key elements like price, software, performance, design and camera quality. For gamers on a tight budget and power users, the iQOO Z5 is a good deal at Rs 23,990, but an even better one if you can grab the discount coupon and bank offers during the festive sales.

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