iQOO may be a new smartphone brand but its first phone, the iQOO 3, belies that notion. After using this phone as my daily driver for the week or so it has impressed a lot. It has exhibited traits that one associates with products from much-loved mature smartphone vendors.
The first thing that will strike you is the sheer fit and finish of the device with its metal chassis and glass front and back, it exudes are solidity that’s not often seen on phones other than Apple’s leviathan.
It also is a looker in an understated way with a couple of color options including a unique orange finished matte model which is certainly eye-catching. I tested the tornado black which had a glossy finish that was attracting smudges. Despite this, I felt the phone was very nice to look at.
The elegance is equally matched by a 6.44-inch OLED screen that’s worthy of anyone’s attention. Sure, it doesn’t have chest-thumping specs like a 120Hz refresh rate but it is just naturally very nice to view any kind of content. It also manages to add the nicety of a hole punch front camera and an Uber fast touch response rate of 180Hz which makes it a delight to use.
iQOO has paid special attention to the haptics of this phone. They are prominent and nuanced at the same time so much so that I was very comfortable hammering out this very article on the phone itself using Google Docs. The haptics also helps with gaming as that’s a huge focus for this device considering it has cutting edge specs and even air triggers for playing games.
The internal hardware is obviously impressed with my review unit being powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chip which is basically the best in the business coupled with UFS 3.1 storage which is also a first on a smartphone in India. Suffice to say, this phone flies. It also helps that it packs 12GB RAM and has a thermal cooling system which makes it ideal for long sessions of Call of Duty Mobile.
But what’s more surprising is that the software is up to scruff as well. The new iQOO UI is based on Android 10 and it feels like a lovechild between Xiaomi’s Mi UI and OnePlus’s supple Oxygen OS. It sure does come with its fairs share of crapware but once you get past that, you have a responsive and functional user interface which isn’t a visual eyesore. That’s quite the achievement for a new brand.
The battery life is also up to the mark. I managed to clock more than a day’s battery life regularly with its 4,440mAh battery which was juiced up at warp speed thanks to its 55-watt pill-shaped charger. Anyone would find its battery life excellent with even heavy usage.
There are some additional niceties like support for high-resolution audio including the 3.5mm headphone jack which I appreciated as I like to listen to my music on Hi-Fiman headphones using lossless FLAC files. The fingerprint scanner was also fast and accurate while the frosted case inside the box was also of very high quality.
The one thing that didn’t work that well were it’s quad cameras on the back. Sure, it uses the same 48-megapixel camera as the OnePlus 7T Pro but its performance is light years behind. The wide-angle camera is decent while the telephoto lens does the advertised zoom decently but inherently pictures looked washed out lacking in contrast, brightness, and saturation. iQOO can fix all this with a software update but I wouldn’t be betting on a dramatic change as cameras are hard to crack and they take a lot of time. Similarly, videos were crisp in daylight but choppy on low light lacking adequate levels of stabilization. The cameras are a low point for this phone but there is hope for the future.
All in all, the iQOO 3 is not just a very impressive first attempt but simply a great well-rounded phone which is geared towards gamers. If you want a powerful phone which does the basics right then the iQOO 3 is a solid contender. It also helps that it is affordable as right now it is the cheapest Snapdragon 865 based handset in India. If you go for the top of the line model, you get the added benefit of being 5G ready even though our networks aren’t. It’s basically a fantastic phone just held back by an average camera that could work well if you’re aren’t obsessed with image quality.