iQOO 9 Pro review: Great flagship, but is it a killer?

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The iQOO 7 and iQOO 7 Legend were two of the most powerful phones launched in India last year. Despite their popularity, what kept the phones from achieving iQOO’s targeted flagship killer status was stiff competition and missing software. A year later, iQOO launched the iQOO 9 Pro, a spec beast on paper. But it also comes with a more mature FuntouchOS. Does it beat everything else on the market this time around? Read our full review to find out and decide if this phone is right for you.

First, here is an overview of the specifications of the phone.

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

iQOO 9 Pro Price in India: Rs 64,990 for 8GB/128GB and Rs 69,990 for 12GB/256GB.

iQOO 9 Pro: what’s good?

Design

I’m not saying this for many phones, even the nicer ones, but you just can’t put a case on the iQOO 9 Pro. Covering that gorgeous rear panel with the BMW Motorsport color stripe would be a sin. Unless you decide to use the case that comes with the phone, which has the same design with a velvety finish.

The iQOO 9 Pro is a stunning device to look at and will turn heads in public. (Image source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The only thing that keeps this glass sandwich design from looking perfect is the BMW stripe having an embossed texture. Looks like it’s glued to the rest of the white back panel. While I don’t think it’ll ever be released, it does break up the otherwise seamless feel of the back, which extends forward via the curved screen.

The iQOO 9 Pro is a big phone. If you have big hands, you can use it one-handed, but even then, reaching the notification panel will be a daunting task. For most people, this will primarily be a two-handed device. There’s no 3.5mm headphone port, but you do get a bundled 3.5mm to USB-C adapter.

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The iQOO 9 Pro has a very premium design in every way. (Image source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

The 3D curved display panel is a great addition, but it might not be for everyone, especially on a big phone like this. It changes the way you interact with edge-based gestures, as well as looking much nicer.

To display

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

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

There’s also 300Hz touch sampling with instant 1000Hz touch, which makes gameplay very responsive on the device, ideal for fast shooters like Battlegrounds Mobile India.

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The screen is vibrant and bright enough to be seen in direct sunlight. (Image source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

One of my favorite 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, precise and fits perfectly along the entire length of this large smartphone.

The sensor hasn’t missed any of my two registered fingers once in the last week. It responded successfully even when I pressed my thumb halfway outside the designated circle. That’s thanks to the larger sensor, which the brand claims is about 11% larger than the iQOO 7’s. Fun fact: you only have to tap this scanner once while adding a new finger and not several times from different angles.

Camera

The iQOO 9 Pro has a very capable rear camera setup. The main sensor is excellent with daytime images, achieving beautiful skin tones and capturing accurate colors without any oversaturation. Gimbal stabilization helps you get sharper shots when you have a fast moving subject. It also helps you get better, much sharper shots at night, although I felt night shots 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 ultra-wide 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 ultra-wide camera is also amazing and offers a 150-degree field of view, which is one of the widest cameras on a phone. This allows you to get super wide shots, as well as plenty of creative shots with the various fisheye modes.

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

iQOO 9 Pro

Another feature I liked was the automatic switch 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 iQOO 9 Pro’s front camera does a great job with selfies, although detail was quickly lost in indoor and low-light images.

Performance and game

Thanks to the built-in Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the iQOO 9 Pro flies through everything from casual games to multiple in-action editing apps and more resource-intensive titles. If you’re interested in benchmarks, Geekbench 5 returns a single-core score of 1224 and a multi-core score of 3598. For some perspective, the single-core 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 offers good gaming performance without overheating. It’s also compatible with a number of third-party accessories, not just the iQOO gamepad. (Image source: The Indian Express/ Chetan Nayak)

I tried popular games like Asphalt 9 and Battlegrounds Mobile India on iQOO 9 Pro and was happy with the results. With BGMI I was able to get extreme frame rate with both HDR and UHD graphics. The experience was great and everything was smooth and fast. The phone got a little warm at maximum settings after about 20 minutes of play, but it wasn’t too hot and also cooled down quickly.

The phone offers MEMC support with the dedicated IDC chip, but for me the frame rate remained constant at 60 fps in BGMI for now, despite trying different graphics and frame rate settings as well as the frame interpolation toggle enabled. Note that the device also lacks the iQOO In-Display Dual Monster Touch buttons which were 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, at Unless you’re doing lots of video calling, gaming, and lots of photography, that’s when you might need to plug in the phone at night. The 120W charging is super fast and we observed the following charging times from a dead battery level of 0.

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

iQOO 9 Pro: What’s wrong?

Charging sound

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

This happened at various wall outlets, as well as when I tried to charge my OnePlus 9R with the iQOO 9 Pro charger. However, I must point out that it has not affected charging in any way in the multiple times I have charged the device so far.

Software

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

iqoo 9, iqoo 9 series, iqoo 9 Pro, The iQOO 9 Pro has a much cleaner FuntouchOS 12, but you still get bloatware and only 2 years of system updates. (PhotoExpress)

Additionally, the iQOO 9 Pro will also only get two years of system updates, which is now becoming a lower number than the norm for flagships with brands like Samsung offering twice as many years of updates. up to date. Launched with Android 12, the iQOO 9 Pro will only be updated to 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 for its pure performance design and camera on offer. If you’re looking for a phone that offers the raw performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 under Rs 70,000, along with a great display, great cameras and a gorgeous look, the iQOO 9 Pro is a solid choice.

However, if you were looking for something a bit more affordable with much of the same experience in terms of gameplay and raw performance, you might want to check out the vanilla iQOO 9 instead, which starts at Rs 42,990.

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