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iQOO 9T Review: Bang for the buck

Exemplary performance at an attractive price, the iQOO 9T impresses on all fronts.

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Vivo’s subsidiary iQOO has been putting out spec-heavy smartphones at competitive prices for a while now, with the iQOO Neo 6, Z6, and 9 Pro doing fairly well in the market. On top of that, the bold design choices and firm build make iQOO’s products stand out. Every new player faces some initial challenges and roadblocks when it comes to establishing its brand, but iQOO seems set to carve out a notable market share for itself, having no misses in its product catalogue. We’ve been testing iQOO’s latest offering, the iQOO 9T, for almost a week now, and have been quite impressed with its overall performance. Are there aspects we’d like to see improved upon in the future? Certainly. But for now, iQOO surely holds its own in the highly competitive mid-premium smartphone category. Here is our comprehensive iQOO 9T review for our lovely audience who are planning to buy a new mid-segment smartphone.

Read Also: Best smartphones with Android 12

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Table of Contents

iQOO 9T review: Design and Display

The iQOO 9T is currently available in two variants – the all-black Alpha and the BMW-partnered Legend versions. The only point of difference between the two versions is the back panel, where the Legend version boasts the three BMW stripes along the white back. For the review, we got our hands on the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage Legend version, which is currently priced at Rs 54,999. The 8GB + 128GB version can be bought for Rs 49,999.

iQOO 9T review: Design and Display
iQOO 9T: Unboxed

The iQOO 9T (Legend) comes in a rectangular all-black box with iQOO and BMW Motorsport branding on it. Inside, you’ll find the smartphone, a clear protective cover, a power adapter with a USB Type-C charging cable, and the warranty card with a quick start guide.

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The smartphone has a Gorilla Glass 5 front and a glass back. The aluminium frame feels quite sturdy when you’re holding the phone and gives it a more premium feel. Weighing almost 206g, the iQOO 9T certainly makes its presence felt.

iQOO 9T review: Design and Display
iQOO 9T: Back Panel

Flipping it around, you’ll notice the bolder design choices, with one-third of the back panel dedicated to the camera unit. This shiny black portion has a very glossy feel to it, and you’ll find the V1+ branding alongside the camera unit. The camera unit itself is quite eye-catching, consisting of a 50MP primary lens, a 13MP ultrawide lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens. The LED flash sits at the bottom of the unit.

At the lower end of the back, you’ll find the iconic blue, violet, and red BMW stripes running along the side with iQOO branding and the BMW ‘Fascination Meets Innovation’ tag imposed on top of it. The stripes offer a great contrast to the white panel, but the ‘Fascination Meets Innovation’ text seems pretty contrived and unnecessary on an otherwise great design.

iQOO 9T review: Design and Display
iQOO 9T: Top View, Bottom View, & Side View
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The USB Type-C charging port is housed at the bottom of the phone along with the primary speaker, microphone, and SIM card slot. The secondary speaker and infrared blaster find their way to the top. The volume rocker key and power button are placed on the right side of the frame, leaving the left side button free. 

Moving on, the iQOO 9T offers a 6.78-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. The E5 AMOLED display can reach a peak brightness of 1,500 nits and comes with HDR10+ certification. Even in bright outdoor surrounds, the display performed well and we didn’t find ourselves struggling to browse the phone with a hand covering the screen.

iQOO 9T review: Design and Display
iQOO 9T: Display

We played content on YouTube and Netflix, and the display was able to translate the high-resolution videos quite well, producing vivid and sharp images without a drop in quality. The 87.4% screen-to-body ratio and 388 ppi density also pitch in to create an immersive viewing experience. The dual speakers do a decent job of producing a passable audio output, and you won’t feel the need to have your headphones on all the time.

While gaming, the refresh rates held up quite well. Unlike the iQOO 9 Pro, the 9T is only able to switch between 60Hz and 120Hz. But the standard touch sampling rate of 360Hz and the immensely impressive instant touch sampling rate of 1200Hz are able to produce a brilliant gameplay experience. The ‘Monster Touch’ is able to map the triggering points on either side of the screen and can identify four finger touches. We’ll dive into the gaming experience later in the review.

With the iQOO 9T, you also get an in-display fingerprint sensor which, while not being the fastest in this category, works quite smoothly. Overall, we were quite pleased with the display and touch reception. If you’re looking for a smartphone that can enhance the gaming experience with its cutting-edge display, iQOO 9T should definitely be on your list.

iQOO 9T review: Performance and Camera

The iQOO 9T is powered by the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, which has been capturing flattering headlines everywhere, already being hailed as a remarkable improvement over its predecessor. This chipset is paired with the Adreno 730 GPU. On top of that, it is also equipped with Vivo’s V1+ chip which increases the frame rate and optimises the colours on the screen, along with helping in noise reduction while capturing pictures and videos in Night Mode.

We put these specs to test by playing Garena Free Fire MAX, Apex Legends, and FIFA Mobile. The SD8+ shines in this aspect, with the gameplay being totally throttle free with no lag or frame drops whatsoever. The Vapor Chamber Cooling System does a brilliant job of handling the temperature of the phone, and we didn’t notice any overheating at all even after an hour of playing Apex on it. Even when the phone got warmer over an extended period of gameplay, the game itself was not affected by it.

The ‘Monster Mode’ makes full use of the processor, activating the ‘Monster Touch’ and going into high-performance mode. The battery will naturally deplete faster in this mode, but the performance is unparalleled and you’re bound to get the most out of your device. Highly recommended for gamers.

When it comes to general usage, you can feel the upgraded processor pulling its weight with dozens of apps running in the background and negligible load time. Even while using the split screen mode, we didn’t get to notice any pesky lags or drops in speed. The phone works seamlessly no matter what heavy tasks you throw at it. The iQOO 9T scored 1,276 points on the Geekbench 5 test, which placed it above OnePlus 10T and even the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Quite impressive for a phone that is priced at just Rs 49,999.

Performance and Camera
iQOO 9T: Geekbench 5 test result

The 4,700 mAh battery puts in a great performance as well. The phone lasted an entire day with an additional 20-30% left to spare. We used the iQOO 9T as the primary driver and even with more than an hour of gaming and above-average screen time, the battery held up quite well. The 120W power charger fully replenished the battery in almost 25 minutes, which is something not many smartphones can boast about.

Moving on to the OS, the iQOO 9T runs on Android 12 with Vivo’s Funtouch 12 OS on top of it. This is where we have slight issues with iQOO. The Funtouch 12 OS offers a pretty generic UI that doesn’t feel like anything special. It certainly takes a bit away from the ‘premium’ experience that iQOO 9T is striving for. There are a bunch of themes you can download and customise your phone with, but they all seem gaudy and excessive. 

The extra animations also drain the battery out faster. iQOO could’ve benefited from Android’s Material You, but they seem to be putting a lot of faith in the Funtouch OS. However, the ‘Ultra-game’ mode is a nice feature, that can be drawn over the game you’re playing and offers quick shortcuts for voice changer, screen record, WhatsApp picture-in-picture, and esports mode. The processor and battery usage levels are also listed along with the shortcuts.

Performance and Camera
Outdoor shot with the 50MP Primary Lens

Coming to the camera, the iQOO 9T again performed better than we expected. Pictures taken from the 50MP ISOCELL GN5 primary rear lens were of brilliant quality, in both indoor and outdoor surroundings. The colours produced were vivid and the images overall were quite detailed and sharp. The enhancement from the processor is noticeable as the colours do ‘pop’ quite a bit. It may feel oversaturated to some, but we found the results to our liking.

Performance and Camera
Outdoor Shot with 13MP Ultrawide Lens

The 12MP telephoto and 13MP ultrawide also put in an adequate performance, but the drop in colour levels is noticeable when you compare it with the primary lens. The telephoto lens offers 2x optical zoom and produces detailed images even when you’re utilizing the zoom.

Performance and Camera
Portrait Mode

The photo modes offered by the camera come in handy in different situations. The portrait mode has an intuitive edge detection which works quite well without having to move the camera around a lot. The Night Mode is what impressed us the most, as the images captured were very sharp with minimal noise, thanks to the V1+ chip.

Performance and Camera
Regular shot vs Night Mode

The processor does a great job of brightening up the images without messing with the subject in the frame. Other modes offered include the Pro Sport Mode which can capture a moving subject with ease, and the dual view mode which lets you record from the front and rear camera at the same time. Also offered are the Pro Mode, Slo-Mo, Ultra-HD Document, and Panoramic mode.

The 16MP front selfie camera is decent and on par with other smartphones in this category. It can record 1080p videos at 30fps and comes with gyro-EIS which offers greater image stabilisation. The rear camera can record 4k and 1080p videos at 30 and60 fps.

Read Also: Mid-year: Best smartphones seen so far in 2022

Verdict

In terms of performance, the iQOO 9T can match any of the premium smartphones that are above its category. The design and looks are refreshing and the phone certainly stands out among its competition. For the price of Rs 49,999, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other phone that offers these specs. Our only minor complaint is with the Funtouch 12 OS, which lacks any real personality of its and seems quite generic. But overall, the iQOO 9T should be an ideal smartphone for enthusiasts and casual users alike.

Pros

  • Fast processor
  • Display
  • Gaming Performance
  • Fast Charging

Cons

  • OS needs a slight boost

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Design
Display
Performance
Cameras
Value For Money
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iQOO 9T Review: Bang for the buckVivo’s subsidiary iQOO has been putting out spec-heavy smartphones at competitive prices for a while now, with the iQOO Neo 6, Z6, and 9 Pro doing fairly well in the market. On top of that, the bold design choices and firm build make iQOO’s...