iQoo is the latest smartphone brand to enter the Indian market, and while most companies aim at the budget segment to make a mark, iQoo is going the other way. The iQoo 3 has been tasked with the duty of putting this brand on the map, and it features some serious hardware. For starters, it is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, the most powerful processor currently available for Android phones. That's not all, the top-end model of the iQoo 3 also sports 5G connectivity (which is only good for boasting since we don't have the networks in India yet). With a starting price of Rs. 36,990, the iQoo 3 seems to offer good value on paper. Should you put your money on this new player? We review the device to find out.
iQoo 3 design
When we got our first look at the iQoo 3, and we were happy with how the device is built. It definitely feels premium and quite heavy at 214.5g. A 6.44-inch AMOLED display dominates the front of the device. It has a tiny hole-punch for the selfie camera. Bezel size is kept under control and you get thin borders all around the display.
The earpiece is on the frame of the iQoo 3 and is very hard to spot. The company has opted for a metal frame which helps give the device its heft and premium feel. You will notice this when you pick it up in an air-conditioned room. The power and volume buttons are on the right of the device and are very well positioned. You won't have to shuffle the smartphone in your hands to reach them. The power button is finished in orange and has a knurled texture to help you find it by feel.
iQoo has also added capacitive shoulder buttons on the same side. These are positioned in such a fashion that your index fingers will rest on them when holding the device in landscape orientation. The left side of the iQoo 3 has a smart button which can be used to summon the Google Assistant. This phone has a 3.5mm audio jack on the top, while the USB Type-C port and loudspeaker are at the bottom.
The iQoo 3 packs a 4,440mAh battery
The rear panel of the device is Corning Gorilla Glass 6 which should help it withstand daily use. iQoo offers this smartphone in three colour variants: Tornado Black, Quantum Silver, and Volcano Orange. Our review unit was the Tornado black variant, but we do like the Volcano Orange finish as it isn't very common.
Just like most other smartphones on the market, the iQoo 3 boasts of a quad-camera setup at the back. The camera module looks similar to what we've seen on several other recent phones. The iQoo 3 packs in a 4,440mAh battery and gets a 55W “Super FlashCharge” charger in the box which will help the device charge quickly.
iQoo 3 specifications and software
The iQoo 3 features top-of-the-line hardware and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC. This is the most powerful chip powering Android smartphones just now, with one core clocked at 2.8GHz, three cores clocked at 2.4GHz, and the other four clocked at 1.8GHz.
iQoo has launched three variants of the iQoo 3 in the Indian market. The base variant offers 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 36,990, while the mid-spec variant has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 39,990. The top-end version of the iQoo 3 gets 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage as well as 5G, and is priced at 44,990. The iQoo 3 offers the latest UFS 3.1 storage and LPDDR5 RAM on all variants.
Unlike the Realme X50 Pro 5G (Review) which offers 5G on all variants, only the top-end model of the iQoo 3 gets 5G connectivity. As we know, 5G networks aren't available in India yet but if you want a device that is future-proof, the top-end variant is the one to get. We had the top-end variant for this review.
The 6.44-inch full-HD+ AMOLED display has a 409ppi pixel density and support for HDR10+. iQoo has Schott Xensation UP glass for protection and claims a 91.4 percent screen-to-body ratio.
Only the top-variant of the iQoo 3 sports 5G connectivity
Connectivity options on the iQoo 3 include 5G (top variant only), dual 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, and GLONASS. It also houses a 4,440mAh battery and you get a 55W Super FlashCharge charger in the box. This charger has a 90-degree pill-shaped connector which iQoo claims is useful when you want to charge the smartphone while gaming.
In terms of software, the iQoo 3 ships with iQoo UI 1.0 on top of Android 10. The UI looks a lot like Vivo's new FuntouchOS with a different theme on it. We liked the UI as it was simple and easy to use. Thankfully, iQoo hasn't fiddled with the quick toggle settings, unlike on Vivo phones, which require a swipe up from the bottom of the display.
iQoo's UI does not have an app drawer and all icons are right on the home screen. Similar to Samsung's One UI, this UI too has reachability in mind. One can simply swipe down on a setting screen to bring options within reach. This is useful for one-handed situations. There are lots of customisation options on the iQoo 3. You can choose from different animations for the lockscreen and for fingerprint and face recognition. This phone also has an Always-On display.
Users have the option to switch from the traditional three-button navigation layout to swipe gestures. This is convenient to use and iQoo has also implemented a quick launch gesture when you swipe back and hold. Vivo's smart assistant Jovi is also present on the device.
The iQoo 3 comes bundled with a 55W fast charger
Android features such as Digital Wellbeing and Parental controls are also present. The iQoo 3 has a Monster Mode which bumps the CPU performance all the way up and disables all power-saving measures. It also changes the theme of the smartphone as a visual indicator. There's also Ultra Game Mode in which all the gaming features of the smartphone are activated.
The iQoo 3 comes with a fair amount of bloatware such as Helo, Dailyhunt, Flipkart, Facebook, WPS Office, Amazon Shopping, and Opera. The device also has its own app store called V-Appstore. We know that apps such as Dailyhunt and Helo are capable of generating spammy notifications if you launch them. We would recommend that you uninstall these apps if you don't intend to use them.
iQoo 3 performance and battery life
The display on the iQoo 3 does not have a refresh rate higher than 60Hz but the colour reproduction is very good. It has good viewing angles and is readable under sunlight. There are three colour modes to choose from and you can also tweak the colour temperature. Yes, the iQoo 3 has a tiny hole-punch, but it won't distract you while viewing content. We weren't happy with the loudspeaker on the iQoo 3 though. There is no stereo output and the speaker sounds too tinny for our liking.
The in-display fingerprint scanner, as well as the face unlock feature are quick to unlock the smartphone. We did not have any issues while using apps or playing games. Since we had the top variant with 12GB of RAM, multitasking was a breeze, and the phone was not forced to kill older apps in the background.
The iQoo 3 runs Android 10 out of the box
We ran benchmarks on the device to see how it fares. The Realme X50 Pro 5G is the only other smartphone in the market at the moment with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, and so the iQoo 3 does not have a lot of competition. In AnTuTu, the iQoo 3 managed to score 5,89,299 which was impressive. It also got 932 and 3,359 points in Geekbench 5's single-core and multi-core tests respectively, which was higher than what the Realme X50 Pro 5G achieved. The iQoo 3 scored 61fps and 42 fps in GFXBench's T-Rex and Car Chase benchmarks respectively. 3DMark's Slingshot Extreme and Slingshot scores were 7,292 and 9,066 respectively.
We played PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends to gauge the gaming performance of the iQoo 3. Both games ran at high settings and we did not notice any lag or stutter. We also put the gaming triggers to the test while playing PUBG Mobile. We found them to be useful and they helped improve our game.
You'll be pleased to know that the iQoo 3 delivers good battery life. In our HD video loop test, it managed to go on for 19 hours and 13 minutes. With regular use, this phone will last about a day and a half without any issues. In our charging test, the iQoo 3 managed to charge to 78 percent in 30 minutes and took about 50 minutes to charge completely. A short five-minute charge was capable of getting the smartphone to 16 percent which is impressive. Some might point out that the Realme X50 Pro 5G charges to 100 percent quicker, but it comes with a 65W charger and has a smaller battery at 4,200mAh.
iQoo 3 cameras
The iQoo 3 sports a quad-camera module at the back which reminds us of the Vivo V17. The primary camera has a 48-megapixel Sony IMX 582 sensor with an f/1.79 aperture, and the secondary one is a 13-megapixel telephoto camera with an f.2.46 aperture which is capable of 2x optical zoom and 20X digital zoom. The other two are a 13-megapixel wide-angle-camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. The camera app is identical to what we are used to seeing on Vivo smartphones and is fairly easy to get around it.
The iQoo 3 packs a quad-camera setup at the back
The iQoo 3 was quick to lock focus, and the AI could determine what the phone was pointing towards. It would also suggest which camera to use for taking a particular shot. In daylight, the smartphone metered light correctly. Photos taken in the daylight were decent, but the colour tone was off in a few shots.
iQoo 3 daylight camera sample (tap to see full-size image)
iQoo 3 wide-angle camera sample (tap to see full-size image)
iQoo 3 telephoto camera sample (tap to see full-size image)
The output had decent details but we could see grains on zooming in. Switching to the wide-angle-camera reduces image quality and there is noticeable distortion at the edges. We also noticed that the colour tone was slightly off. The telephoto camera does 2x optical zoom and captures decent details just like the primary camera.
iQoo 3 close-up camera sample (tap to see full-size image)
iQoo 3 macro camera (tap to see full-size image)
Close-ups shot with the primary camera were good. The smartphone also manages a natural depth effect between the subject and the background. You can also take macro shots with the iQoo 3 by switching to the wide-angle-camera. Macro shots had good detail and the iQoo 3 does let you get close to the subject.
iQoo 3 portrait camera sample (tap to see full-size image)
Portrait shots turned out well, and the iQoo 3 managed good edge detection. The phone does let you set the level of blur before taking a shot, but details were not good compared to what other smartphones in this price range can produce.
iQoo 3 low-light camera sample (tap to see full-size image)
iQoo 3 night mode camera sample (tap to see full-size image)
Low-light camera performance was average as well, and we found our sample shots to be low on details. Switching to Night mode only made a slight difference, with areas in shadow appearing brighter with slightly better details.
iQoo 3 selfie sample (tap to see full-size image)
Selfies taken with the iQoo 3 turned out better outdoors. The output was sharp, and the smartphone applies beautification by default. When shooting in bright surroundings, the smartphone enables HDR automatically which helps deliver better output.
Video recording tops out at 4K 60fps for the primary camera and 1080p 60fps for the selfie shooter. In daylight, we noticed that video had a slight shimmer effect. There is a Super Steady mode as well which stabilises shakes, but there is still shimmer in the output. Low-light video footage is unusable, but the Super steady mode delivered somewhat better output.
The iQoo 3 is the first smartphone from this new brand in India, and it does pack in some really powerful hardware. It is among the very few smartphones in the market to be powered by the Snapdragon 865 SoC and sport UFS 3.1 storage. There is 5G connectivity as well if you shell out Rs. 44,990 for the top variant. Since 5G networks are not available in India at the moment, you can opt for the lower variants without worrying too much. However, we would have preferred 5G to be standard like with the Realme X50 Pro 5G (Review).
The software on the iQoo 3 is good, once you take some time to get rid of the preinstalled bloatware. The cameras, however, fell short on multiple occasions. Apart from its camera performance, the iQoo 3 does not give any reason to complain.
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Aditya Shenoy reviews smartphones, wearables, headphones and speakers for Gadgets 360, out of Mumbai. Aditya is a reviewer for Gadgets 360 and has written extensively about smartphones, software updates, and upcoming devices. Aditya is available on Twitter at @adishenoy, and you can mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, so please send in your leads and tips.