The iQOO 9 Pro has become a full-fledged Android flagship instead of a high-end gaming phone. Here are our first impressions.
The iQOO 7 Legend was, uh… Legendary! For mobile gamers looking to spend a reasonable amount for a high-end phone with top-tier features, this was our top recommendation for under Rs. 50,000 in 2021. iQOO has now revamped it for 2022 under the shape of the iQOO 9 Pro. It wears more of those BMW M motorsport colors, more camera bump, has more performance to offer and costs more too. Starting at Rs. 64,990, the iQOO 9 Pro has now ventured into flagship ‘iPhone territory’ in its own right.
This means that the phone has a lot more responsibility on its shoulders than ever before. To make sure this is evident, iQOO has equipped the iQOO 9 Pro with a Quad HD+ LTPO 2.0 display, a beefed up triple camera system using last year’s high-end camera sensors and 120W fast wired charging solution with 50W wireless charging and 5W reverse wireless charging. On paper, almost nothing was spared.
Is it then the flagship hero that India was waiting for this year? We’ve spent a few days with the iQOO 9 Pro and here’s what we think of it so far.
|iQOO 9 Pro 8GB+256GB||Rs. 64,990|
|iQOO 9 Pro 12GB + 256GB||Rs.69,990|
iQOO 9 design
iQOO has always eschewed the gaming-centric design on its phones and always opted for a relatively healthier look. The iQOO 7 Legend looks like a racing car with its BMW M stripes and the same happens once again on the iQOO 9 Pro. “Red-black-blue” stripes run across the back of the phone, only to be interrupted by that MASSIVE camera plate! Yes, we call it a trim, not a camera bump!
Does this mega camera plate have any functional value? It prevents any kind of wobble on the desk but other than that there is nothing. No secondary display for viewfinder functionality, like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, nor any additional sensors! This rectangular camera bump creates a polarizing design – some love it (like me) while others can’t stand it.
The matte white finish with the carbon fiber engraving pattern also makes it more pleasant to the touch. Since the price has increased, iQOO has now given it a curved edge display similar to the high-end Vivo, Xiaomi and Samsung flagships. iQOO doesn’t say what type of glass is used here, but you do get a pre-applied screen protector with a matching BMW M branded white silicone case. iQOO says the phone is IP52 certified, which means it can withstand occasional splashes of water.
Since we tackled the box, the iQOO 9 Pro also gets the 120W charger inside, along with some cool BMW cards featuring the company’s DTM race car. No one does packaging quite like iQOO.
iQOO 9 Pro Features
The display has seen massive improvements this year. It still measures 6.7 inches but now features a 10-bit AMOLED E5 panel with LTPO 2.0 technology. This means that the display can later refresh rate between 1Hz and 120Hz depending on the requirement of applications. It looks good but not as vibrant as the screen of an equivalent Samsung Galaxy S21. The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is fast and much more reliable than the optical sensors we’ve seen so far.
The star of the show is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, which is currently the best mobile chip you can find in a smartphone. Based on our usage so far, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 absolutely flies when it comes to gaming or performing basic tasks. Note that we observed that the iQOO 9 Pro heats up after a few intense games but this had no effect on game performance. Also, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is still new at this point and many games need to still be optimized to take full advantage of the chip. For example, F1 Mobile Racing, which currently works on the lowest settings. However, Call of Duty: Mobile and BGMI work the best way.
For the second year in a row, iQOO relies on Vivo’s FunTouch OS 12 based on Android 12. We weren’t a fan of FunTouch OS 12 on the Vivo V23 Pro and nothing changes for us on the iQOO 9 Pro. The interface still looks half-baked and there’s a lot of bloatware on board. iQOO browser advertisement notifications are spam in notification center even if the browser has never been opened. This, along with some occasional bugs and crashes, are also part of the iQOO 9 Pro. iQOO also says buyers can expect two Android OS updates, which is far less than the four OS updates on the Samsung Galaxy S22 series and six updates on the operating system on the iPhone 13.
Note that our unit was running on a pre-release version of the operating system and iQOO says a polished final version will ship with the units that customers receive. Therefore, I’m crossing my fingers until this update arrives.
While the software experience is still a disappointment, iQOO makes up for it with a stellar camera setup. The iQOO 9 Pro gets a Samsung GN5 50MP 5-axis gimbal-assisted sensor for the main camera. This is accompanied by another 50MP ultra-wide camera and a 16MP Portrait camera with 2.5X optical zoom. Based on the limited time we’ve spent playing with it, the iQOO 9 Pro is easily the best camera phone we’ve seen this year. Whether day or night, the camera never fails to impress with color, sharpness, detail and stability. More on that in our full review.
The battery life of the iQOO 9 Pro has been good for a phone of this class. The 4700 mAh battery drains in less than a day with moderate to heavy use. Again, it has to run Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, a 2K 120Hz display, and powerful cameras. The 120W flash charge is a godsend, filling the battery from 10% to 100 at the same time I need to take a bath. There’s also 50W wireless charging, but it only supports 5W speeds on regular Qi wireless chargers.
iQOO 9 Pro first impressions
It is now a flagship product in its own right! The iQOO 9 Pro has all the bells and whistles that enthusiasts want from a no-compromise flagship smartphone! Based on the limited time we had with it, the phone fascinated us with its cameras, performance and charging technology. That said, there are a few rough edges and we have to wait and see if iQOO fixes them before our full review is released.
Starting at Rs. 64,990, the iQOO 9 Pro is irresistible considering all it offers. But again, we recommend keeping an eye out for our full review in order to make the smart choice.