Gaming phones are a niche product. While offering flagship-level specifications (or better in many cases) and some very quirky features, gaming phones are not as popular as the former. Manufacturers have noticed this and gaming phones are making more and more sense as everyday usage devices with each passing day. Vivo sub-brand iQoo is one of the company’s that aims to do just this with its flagship offerings and with the 2022 flagship iQoo 9 Pro, the company has done that quite well.
The iQoo 9 series was launched in India that includes the iQoo 9 and iQoo 9 Pro. I got the iQoo 9 Pro Legend, the BMW M Motorsport edition for my review, and I have used the smartphone for the past month doing all sorts of things like gaming and social media. In this article, I will tell you if gaming phones like the iQoo 9 Pro are any good as normal Android flagships, what I like about the iQoo 9 Pro, what I don’t like about it, and if you should spend Rs 70,000 on the iQoo 9 Pro Legend Edition. Let’s start.
In terms of design, the iQoo 9 Pro looks very nice. While the smartphone is huge in terms of size, it has been designed very well. The iQoo 9 Pro has a curved display that gives the smartphone a a premium look. We got the Legend Edition of the iQoo 9 Pro that has a beautiful BMW Motorsport-inspired colour scheme with a plain white carbon fibre pattern back panel with BMW-inspired blue, black, and red stripes.
The camera module is rather huge. There is a triple rear camera setup with two larger sensors and a smaller one placed within the rectangular camera module that covers pretty much the whole top portion of the back panel. Now, I’m not sure if this whole black part is required for the camera with Gimbal Stabilisation, but it sure looks cool, at least to me. This chunky black camera module is the only thing about the design that may have mixed reviews, otherwise the phone looks very premium. Another caveat in the design is the big size. However, since it is a gaming phone, the big screen has utility. All in all, it is a very good looking phone and iQoo has given good attention to detail with things like a blue power button and cabron fibre-like pattern on the back panel.
The iQoo 9 Pro has a curved 6.78-inch display that is nicely immersive and vivid. The display is immersive and very responsive at a 120Hz refresh rate. The display on the iQoo 9 Pro Legend is vivid and super bright as well. Using the smartphone or even playing games in bright sunlight is not an issue at all, but gaming under the sun can leave you guessing at times. The display is also pretty immersive and watching YouTube and Netflix content is a pleasing experience.
The high refresh rate and touch response rate make the display feel super fast and responsive. While gaming, the iQoo 9 Pro’s curved screen, despite the premium look, is not the most convenient for gaming. Hoever, in terms of responsiveness and frame rate, the iQoo 9 Pro can be jacked up to maximum in games like Battlegrounds Mobile India and Call of Duty: Mobile. Users can also boost the frame rate to force a higher refresh rate on apps that do not support it.
PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY
The iQoo 9 Pro comes with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset paired with up to 12GB of RAM. As expected, the smartphone is super fast. App loading times are minimal and the smartphone never lagged during my time with it. In normal usage, the iQoo 9 Pro feels like a proper flagship and multitasking is also not an issue. The iQoo 9 Pro will never feel sluggish, even after long-term usage. I compared the app loading speeds of the iQoo 9 Pro with the Samsung Galaxy S22 and while the difference was just a fraction of seconds, the iQoo 9 Pro’s higher RAM allowed it to launch Battlegrounds Mobile India faster than the Samsung flagship (iQoo 9 Pro has 12GB RAM. Samsung Galaxy S22 has 8GB RAM).
For gamers, the iQoo 9 Pro has a ton of features like the above mentioned frame rate boost and gaming modes like Monster Mode that runs the processor and GPU at their highest speeds. There is also an Esports mode that locks the smartphone’s brightness and frame rate, along with boosting the GPU and CPU speeds. The smartphone also mutes notifications in Esports mode.
What I didn’t like in terms of performance and user experience is Vivo’s FunTouch OS. The Vivo Android skin is not the best UI for smartphone users. Setting up the smartphone is quite a task with scores of permissions and disclaimers at every step. There is also a lot of bloatware and there are loads of unnecessary apps that come preloaded with the iQoo 9 Pro.
The battery backup on the iQoo 9 Pro is very good. The smartphone easily runs for more than a dull day’s usage. I used the iQoo 9 Pro Legend with full screen brightness, locked at 120Hz refresh rate, but the smartphone still gave more than a full-day’s backup easily. The iQoo 9 Pro also comes with 120W fast charging which just sweetens the whole charging and battery situation. The iQoo 9 Pro takes about 30 minutes to charge from zero to 100! That’s stupid fast.
Coming to the camera, the iQoo 9 Pro comes with a triple rear camera setup that includes a 50-megapixel primary shooter, a 50-megapixel ultra wide angle lens with a 150-degree Fisheye wide angle sensor, and a 16-megapixel telephoto lens. On paper, this is a great camera setup and in real life also, the images look very sharp and good quality from the main camera. While the images do look stunning, the pop in colours isn’t true to life. In terms of detail also, the photos from iQoo 9 Pro’s camera are not very detailed and you can’t zoom very deep into the picture. The images are similar in terms of quality with the 2.5x optical zoom.
While the main camera quality is good, the moment you switch to wide angle, images from the iQoo 9 Pro’s camera get hazy instantly. Photos taken from the Fisheye mode are also not very great in terms of picture quality.
The iQoo 9 Pro’s camera also comes with Gimbal stabilisation. Now, while this is not the best camera in terms of the quality of videos it shoots, the Gimbal stabilisation works quite well. The videos shot with the iQoo 9 Pro are very stable, even more than Samsung Galaxy S22’s optical image stabilisation.
The iQoo 9 Pro is a proper flagship. The smartphone is a beast when it comes to speed and running games. During my usage, the iQoo 9 Pro never showed any signs of slowing down or heating up, even while gaming with active downloads in the background. The smartphone has a beautiful curved screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, which may not be convenient for gaming, but it looks very premium. The smartphone has a nice subtly design, especially the BMW M Motorsport paint job on the Legend edition, with a chunky black camera module on the top of the back panel. The smartphone also has a pretty decent camera if you click images mostly for Instagram, and has a killer battery backup with stupidly fast 120W fast charging. However, using the iQoo 9 Pro wasn’t up to the mark with the smartphone’s other features and specs, mainly due to Vivo’s FunTouch OS. The software does not make the Android experience any more easier or convenient, and the plethora of permissions to even do little things such as saving contacts or making phone calls is just annoying to say the least, and there are a lot of unnecessary pre-installed apps on the iQoo 9 Pro. This is a perfect case of a brilliant smartphone losing its charm due to an overcomplicated Android UI.