The flagship smartphone stands for the most powerful and exorbitant leading product in a brand’s portfolio. Each year brings on the usual flurry of high-end smartphones whether it’s a flagship from Apple or Samsung. For someone who cannot afford to pay out more than a lakh rupees for a flagship device and urges for the high-end flagship experience, compelling alternatives from other smartphone manufacturers come into play. There are brands like OnePlus who started the whole flagship killer narrative and Xiaomi also tried their hands in the Indian smartphone market with a flagship smartphone, Mi 11 Ultra which didn’t do well. But there’s another brand that entered into this space with a bang thanks to its blend of features and specifications at a steal price. Yes, we are talking about iQoo the smartphone maker that revived the affordable flagship smartphone category in India. And now the smartphone maker is back with its iQoo 9 Pro smartphone.

After a prolonged hype, iQoo announced its first flagship smartphone in India i.e, the iQoo 9 Pro which aims toward a true flagship gaming experience for the masses out there. With the grunt of Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the most ambitious gimbal camera setup, a design in partnership with BMW M Motorsport. Can this new ‘flagship’ make its space in this cut-throat competition? It’s been two weeks since we have been using the iQoo 9 Pro as our daily driver and here’s our review of this device. But before diving in, let’s take a look at the specifications below:-

iQOO 9 Pro Full Specifications

Brand iQOO
Model 9 Pro
Price in India ₹64,990
Release date 23rd February 2022
Launched in India Yes
Form factor Touchscreen
Battery capacity (mAh) 4700
Fast charging Proprietary
Colours Dark Cruise, Legend
Display
Refresh Rate 120 Hz
Screen size (inches) 6.78
Touchscreen Yes
Resolution 1440×3200 pixels
Hardware
Processor octa-core
Processor make Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM 8GB
Internal storage 256GB
Camera
Rear camera 50-megapixel (f/1.75) + 50-megapixel (f/2.27) + 16-megapixel (f/2.23)
No. of Rear Cameras 3
Rear autofocus Yes
Rear flash Yes
Front camera 16-megapixel (f/2.45)
No. of Front Cameras 1
Software
Operating system Android 12
Skin Funtouch OS 12
Connectivity
Wi-Fi Yes
Wi-Fi standards supported 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
GPS Yes
Bluetooth Yes, v 5.20
USB Type-C Yes
Number of SIMs 2
SIM 1
SIM Type Nano-SIM
GSM/CDMA GSM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
5G Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) Yes
SIM 2
SIM Type Nano-SIM
GSM/CDMA GSM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
5G Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) Yes
Sensors
In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Yes
Compass/ Magnetometer Yes
Proximity sensor Yes
Accelerometer Yes
Ambient light sensor Yes
Gyroscope Yes

IN THE BOX

  • iQoo 9 Pro
  • 120W iQoo Flashcharge Charging Brick
  • Type-C Data Cable
  • Special BMW Protective Case
  • Sim Ejector Pin
  • Quick-Start and Safety Guide

DISPLAY AND DESIGN

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The iQoo 9 Pro is the first approach by iQoo towards making a full-fledged flagship device and its design stands out in a class by itself with a prominent persona. From the back, the BMW M Motorsport inspired design is outstanding. The curved glass slab holds a carbon fibre finish endorsed with tri-colour strips that emphasize the speed and dynamism of a BMW-M series that looks exotic. The matte finish ensures that it doesn’t catch smudges with ease. The metal rails are strengthened to aluminium for a more durable chassis. The 8.83mm slim profile and curved edges aid in the comfortable gripping of the device. The gigantic camera array sits on the back with a much more improved camera sensor from its predecessor.  

It is available in three colours:- Red, Black and Blue. For this review, we’re using the Blue colour. However, the black colourway holds a thin layer of bulletproof aramid fibre material made by DuPont but don’t expect this thin sheet to stop bullets for you. It can be an ideal pick for someone who appreciates subtle looks. The iQoo 9 Pro carries over IP52 rating which allows the device to suffice minor dust and water splashes. However, it’s not as promising as the IP68 rating which means it cannot handle heavy water and dust tortures. 

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With a weight of around 204grams, it feels heavy and wide for single-hand operations but slightly lighter than the Vivo X70 Pro+. Delivering the physical overview, the textured power button is in BMW blue accent. This texture helps to differentiate between the volume rockers and the power button without glancing at them. Both of them are occupied on the right side and deliver tactile feedback whereas the left side is bare. On the bottom, there’s a USB-C charging port along with a mono speaker, a microphone and a SIM tray slot that can accommodate two SIMs at a time. Sadly there is no slot to expand the memory with an SD card. On the top, it holds another microphone and IR blaster. Just like any other flagship, iQoo 9 Pro features stereo speakers formed by the combination of down-firing speakers and an earpiece. The audio output is loud and punchy; making it good for watching movies, listening to music and playing games.  

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 iQoo steps up its display game from FHD panel to QHD panel that making this display produce a resolution of up to 3200×1400. The iQoo 9 Pro has a 6.78-inch 120Hz AMOLED display panel based on Samsung E5 technology with the support of LTPO:- which continuously switches the refresh rate from 1Hz-120hz according to usage to preserve the battery. Fortunately, you can also choose manually from 60Hz,90Hz and 120hz. Within three display profiles i.e, Standard, Professional and Bright; We’ll recommend switching to ‘Bright’ mode and slightly adjusting the colour temperature around 10-12 points towards the cooler side. The selfie cutout is accommodated on the top-middle portion of the display. With a peak brightness of 1500 nits, we didn’t encounter any visibility issues under harsh lighting conditions. 

This display produces deeper blacks with bright and vibrant colour reproduction. The other exciting tech is the 3D Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor which brings a larger registration area than any regular in-display fingerprint scanner out there. Not just that, it also registers your fingerprint with just a single tap, there’s no need to pick up your fingertips and tap more than 10-12 times to register now with this. Throughout our usage, we found it to be blazingly fast where we were able to unlock the device with just a tap over multiple intervals. For cherishing your binge sessions, this 10-bit display panel produces 1 Million colours for a mesmerizing look.

PERFORMANCE

The iQoo 9 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 which is based on 4nm technology and replaces the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 which was widely adopted by many flagship devices from the past 2021. These are arranged in a cluster of Cortex-X2 which is clocked at 3000 Mhz, three clusters of Cortex-A710 which is clocked at 2500 Mhz and four clusters of Cortex-A510 which is clocked at 1800 Mhz. Currently, this is the latest flagship top-of-the-line processor and is available in few devices yet including the Samsung Galaxy S22 series. Bafflingly enough, The iQoo made sure that the 9 Pro has all the grunt you require no matter how you intend to use the phone whether you are into heavy multitasking or into hardcore gaming, this device delivers all the deeds. The graphical duties are handled by Adreno 730 which is supposed to be faster than the Adreno 640 by 30%. 

While the display settings were maxed out, we didn’t encounter any stuttering or performance drop, it sailed through everyday tasks like a knife on the butter. Coupled with two RAM configurations to opt from- 8GB or 12GB and a 256GB of storage, you’re all set to handle everything or anything you throw at it. During multiple rounds of BGMI, we were able to clock the graphics at Ultra HD graphics at Ultra Frame rates (maxed out settings) with overall fluid gameplay. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is as same as a V12 engine and it feels some minor heating issues while heavy multitasking which can provide a rationale for its powerhouse performance and can be ignored. 

As far as benchmarks scores are concerned; it scores 860822 in Antutu Benchmark, 8884 in Wild Life Stress Test in 3DMark and 1205 for Single-Core score and 3445 for Multi-Core score in Geekbench. In the CPU throttling test, the CPU throttled to 67% of its max performance. With an enhanced UFS 3.1 storage, it reaches up to 1.3GB/s read speed and 1.6GB/s write speed. While performing a benchmark test, our device reaches a temperature of 50.7°C which doesn’t affect the day-to-day chores on this device. While playing games for more than 2 hours, we didn’t feel any major heating issues with the device.

CAMERA 

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The iQoo 9 Pro brings an improved camera array than its previous iteration which includes a 50 MP primary camera sensor with the support of Gimbal stabilisation, a secondary 50 MP Ultra-Wide lens that also doubles as a fisheye lens and a 16 MP telephoto lens which can optically zoom up to 2.5x while capturing photos. 

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The primary camera is a customized Samsung GN5 sensor that captures excellent results. The details are sharp and exposure management is on-point with a crisper contrast level. The colours coming out from a Samsung sensor seems to have gotten much better which are slightly saturated but look enchanting. While continuously capturing moving objects in auto mode like capturing birds or something without a pattern, the details look slightly washed out and overprocessed. Apart from that, I was very pleased with the results which I took out from its primary camera. The low-light photos turned out to be very bright even in darker surroundings retaining a lot of details in the scene. The colours look slightly saturated which looks pleasant to the eyes.

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Moving a little wider, The Ultra-wide camera captures a wide field of view with keeping the colour science consistent between both the lenses. The distortion correction works exceptionally well with a pinch of sharpening which stands it apart from its rivalries. The details are on-point with minimum noise grains which makes the photos look impressive. There is also Fish-eye mode at your disposal which offers four modes: Asteroid, Crystal Ball, Fisheye and Rabit hole through which you can fiddle with some creative shots; what we noticed with this mode is that the photos look oversharpens with evitable noise grains. This lens also doubles up as a macro camera which captures plenty of details in the scene with some creamy bokeh, a good contrast level filled with details.

The telephoto lens can zoom up to 2.5x optically which produces impressive results but as soon as you enter into digital zoom, the quality becomes looks smeared and blurred with focusing issues. FYI, it can digitally zoom up to 30x but with passable results. During Portrait Mode, the subject and background separation are on-point with the right amount of background blur in the scene. The 16MP selfie shooter captures praiseworthy results with a good dynamic range and perfect colour reproduction for your selfie sessions. As far as video capabilities are concerned, iQoo 9 Pro can shoot up to 8K resolution at 30fps. If you’re more into 60fps, it can also shoot 4K at 60fps for more smooth footage. The Gimbal stabilization is available in the primary sensor with a combination of EIS to provide stabilised video results. The ultrawide angle can shoot up to 4K resolution but it’s limited to 30fps. The selfie camera follows the same resolution formulae as the ultrawide angle has. However, it offers EIS (electronic stabilization) to steer the stability even in the ultrawide and selfie camera.

SOFTWARE & BATTERY

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The iQoo 9 Pro ships with the Vivo’s custom skinned Funtouch OS 12 which is based on Android 12 out of the box. The Funtouch OS 12 promises a stock-like Android experience that also offers nifty UI customization which deserves applause. The notification shade is now got free from the Jovi smart assist which used to disturb the user experience in the past. Meanwhile, it doesn’t bombard spammy notification shades but comes with various pre-loaded bloatware which includes apps like Cred, Josh, Moj Lite, Moj and Sharechat which can be uninstalled easily. It also comes with the ‘Hot Apps and Games’ app by default which can be easily removed by long pressing on the home screen and then visiting home settings and turning off the Hot Apps and Games.

iQoo 9 Pro holds a 4,700 mAh battery which usually lasts for 6-7 hours in our daily usage which reflects that software optimization plays a major role in the device. Throughout our day, we were able to churn out almost a day with moderate usage of around 7 hours which includes listening to music, playing graphic-intensive games like BGMI for an hour on maximum settings and chatting over social media platforms. If you’ll churn out the most performance out of it like playing some BGMI sessions or watching Netflix, it will last around 5 hours. iQoo 9 Pro attempts to make up for the battery’s shortcoming with a 120W Flash charge. With that, it also ships with a 120W Flashcharge brick in the box as well. iQoo said that it can charge from 0% to 50% in 8 minutes and 0% to 100% in 20 minutes. I found those numbers to be fairly accurate, we were able to juice from 0%-100% in 22 minutes. The impressive charging performance also applies to wireless charging where it supports 50W wireless Qi-charging. Lastly, it also supports reverse wireless charging which is capped to 5W.  

VERDICT

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The iQoo 9 Pro is available in two RAM configurations:- 8GB RAM + 256GB storage is priced at Rs. 64,990 and its maxed out variant i.e, 12GB RAM + 256GB storage is priced at Rs. 69,990.

With its first flagship, they’ve made the right footsteps in this direction with no compromise. The iQoo 9 Pro is a solid performer whether it is the cameras, the gorgeous 2K display, rapid 120W fast charging or the raw performance it offers with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. It also offers stereo speakers, an appealing design to flaunt coupled with Funtouch OS 12 software which delivers a near stock-like experience with various customizations on the table. At such an affordable price, iQoo 9 Pro becomes an easy recommendation to anyone who is looking for a pure flagship experience without burning a hole in their pockets.

If you’re looking for other alternatives apart from this, Vivo X70 Pro+ delivers a flagship experience with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+, a revamped quad-camera setup, gimbal stabilization for buttery stable videos, powerful SOC under the hood, and a luxurious design which stands it apart from the crowd. It also bundles up a QHD+ Display, Wireless Charging, and IP68 Water and Dust Resistance. Samsung S22 comes at the same price as the iQoo 9 Pro with the same performance cluster but offers a smaller battery with a slow charging speed, and a low-resolution AMOLED display. The Samsung S22 Ultra matches the same display and performance specs on paper but the camera setup offers a way more fluid experience than the iQoo 9 Pro which makes it cost around Rs. 1,20,000.

Disclaimer: We tested the iQoo 9 Pro (12GB+256GB)  for two weeks before writing this review. All our reviews are unbiased and are published without the brand getting to read them before you guys. We don’t change our reviews on pressure from brands and that’s the reason we are not sent review units from companies like Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi, and a few more.

By Anmol Bhatia

20 | Capture Eye Candy Shots while writing about gadgets | Keen interest in TECH since childhood.

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