It was 2019 when iQOO first entered the market and grabbed the attention with its performance-heavy competitively-priced smartphones. And honestly, it had to. Breaking into the Indian market as a new brand is never easy. And what it lacked in brand value, it intended to compensate with aggressive specifications. What’s interesting is that, three years later, that compensation has become its strongest USP as the company keeps offering segment-leading specifications at a very competitive price. And that’s why when I first looked at the Vivo T1 Pro, err, the iQOO Z6 Pro, I was a little confused.
See, you will have to forgive me for my mistake because the iQOO Z6 Pro is eerily similar to the Vivo T1 Pro. The parent company Vivo’s smartphone not only resembles the iQOO Z6 Pro, but they share similarity in majority of the specifications.
However, bringing out “rebranded” smartphones has been a recent strategy which we have also seen from Xiaomi and Realme. The sub-brands claim to improvise on a blueprint of an existing model to save costs and sweat the same assets over and over. For consumers like us, however, it makes it trickier to know which smartphone offers a better value. But here’s the thing. On paper specifications are a different thing but real-life experience is when a smartphone really gives itself away.
So, with cautious optimism, I have been using this smartphone for two weeks and here is what I found.
The iQOO Z6 Pro follows its own iconic design language which we have seen since the iQOO 7, although with a unique (as long as you don’t think about the Vivo T1 Pro) camera module. The rear panel is made of plastic and has a smooth and shimmery matte finish which looks brilliant under the light. It also does not let dust or fingerprints settle on it, maintaining its appearance even after a long day. The smartphone has a boxy design with narrow curves around the corners, yet it does not feel uncomfortable to hold in the hand.
The camera module is probably the most unique and eye-catching part of the smartphone. It has a large square module instead of the rectangular ones we have seen in recent times from the company. The module houses two large rings which house three camera sensors. The top ring keeps the primary camera while the bottom one has the ultrawide and the macro lenses. While some may not be a fan of such a large and flashy camera panel, I personally liked it a lot. It offers something different than the hundreds of similar looking smartphones in the market.
It is not a large smartphone. With a 6.4-inch display, 8.5 mm thickness and a weight of 180 grams, the smartphone is very light and easy to carry around. I was quite comfortably able to use it with just one hand. On the front, the iQOO Z6 Pro comes with a notch design, which struck me as odd, considering its predecessor iQOO Z5 had a punch hole camera cutout. I personally would have preferred that design as the notch feels a little dated to me. However, if you are a fan of the notch, then Z6 will definitely give you better value over its previous generation.
Another letdown is that the smartphone does not have any 3.5 mm port for earphones, so you either have to use wireless earphones or be content with the speakers. This is again a surprising move as this is the first time the iQOO Z series comes without any wired earphone slots.
The iQOO Z6 Pro features a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate. The display is unlike the usual Xiaomi, Realme and Oppo AMOLED displays and the color production is inclined towards true-tone and it can make the display feel a little faded as the colors are not saturated. While initially it felt a little odd, my eyes quickly adjusted to the display quality and honestly, I prefer this much more than the AMOLED displays where colors are accentuated because it is both easier on the eyes and lets you experience videos and images close to real-life. However, this is a personal preference, and if you prefer more vivid displays, you can opt for the Realme 9 Pro+.
It was also surprising that iQOO did not give the smartphone 120Hz refresh rate as both the predecessor iQOO Z5 as well as the cheaper iQOO Z6 feature it. While it is definitely not a deal breaker as you will likely not notice the difference, it would have made sense to provide it as many smartphones in this price range do offer the higher refresh rate.
The iQOO Z6 Pro has a really high brightness which not only improves the display experience but it also ensures that no visibility is lost outdoors. The smartphone does come with HDR10+ support to provide a high-quality streaming experience but some platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are not supported. This can change with a future update but for the time being, you will not be able to watch videos in HDR. The viewing angles are also very good on the smartphone.
If the refresh rate is an issue for you, the Realme 9 Pro+ also offers a 120Hz refresh rate. My overall experience with the display was quite pleasant and honestly, despite gaming and scrolling through social media a lot, the lower touch sampling rate and refresh rate was not noticeable to me.
The iQOO Z6 Pro is equipped with the Snapdragon 778G chipset, which we have also seen previously in the iQOO Z5. The chipset is a tried and tested processor for its capabilities in the mid-range and can handle almost any task with ease. During my time spent with the smartphone, I put it through some extensive tasks like playing high-end games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9, while running Spotify in the background and it did not even flinch. Other times, I could be in a Zoom call while switching through apps and doing 5 different tasks simultaneously and it was still able to keep up without any hiccup.
Coming to gaming in particular, the experience was really satisfactory. I was able to play COD: Mobile at the highest graphics setting and Apex Legends Mobile at either Ultra HD graphics with high frame rate or extreme HD graphics with normal frame rates. The game load times and the response time were very fast as well. Despite playing games for more than 2 hours at a time, I did not face any overheating related issues. Finally, there is an Ultra gaming mode, which gives you additional tools like eSports mode, eagle eye view, mute notifications, 4D game vibrations and more to make gaming more fun.
Do note that while it is a gaming smartphone, it is still a mid-range phone and if you’re someone who’s a professional gamer this will not be able to give you the ultimate power you need for gaming. You’d have to look into flagship gaming smartphones like Realme GT 2 Pro, Asus ROG 5s or the iQOO 9 Pro, but it will cost you a lot more than the iQOO Z6 Pro.
The smartphone runs FunTouchOS 12 which is based on the Android 12. While it is nice to see Android 12, many mid range smartphones are still being delivered with Android 11, the OS itself is not very polished and comes with some bloatware. In all fairness, FunTouchOS has improved a lot compared to its early days, but compared to more intuitive software like Samsung’s One UI or even Realme UI feel more intuitive compared to it. If you are one who prioritizes the ease of using a device, Samsung Galaxy F62 or Realme 9 Pro+ will give you a better time.
Another letdown is the speaker. The iQOO Z6 Pro features a single bottom firing speaker which keeps getting muffled while gaming. And if you’re someone who does not own wireless earphones, this will be very annoying especially while playing games like BGMI, COD or Apex where you need to hear the footsteps of the enemies to guess where they might be coming from.
Overall, if you can look beyond the OS and speaker issue, the smartphone definitely gives you a bang for your buck when it comes to performance.
The iQOO Z6 Pro sports a triple rear camera setup with a 64MP primary camera, an 8MP ultrawide camera and a 2MP macro lens. On the front, it has a 16MP selfie camera.
The main camera has good dynamic range and its color reproduction is close to real life, and if you are used to the Realme and Xiaomi cameras which often saturate the images, you will find it a little faded in comparison. But I personally liked these images. Daylight images are mostly consistent and offer good focus and sharpness, but night time photography can often add noise to the shots and make the pictures look blurred.
The ultrawide camera is also not different from most ultrawide cameras in this price range and while it can produce good images in daylight with enough exposure, low light photography is hit or a miss. The 2MP macro camera definitely adds nothing worth writing about. The camera also comes with multiple modes like time lapse, panorama, dual view, AR stickers and more. Overall, the camera performance is just above average.
If good photos are a priority for you, then Realme 9 Pro+ and Samsung Galaxy F62 both offer better value.
The smartphone has a 4,700 mAh battery and while it is a slight reduction from previous year’s 5,000 mAh battery, it still lasts an entire day with ease. The battery performance is really good and considering my moderate to heavy usage, it gave a really impressive performance. Most nights, I would find the smartphone with 20-30% charge still on it.
The smartphone also comes with a 66W fast charging support and it can take the phone from 0 to 100 in 45 mins easily.
At the core, the iQOO Z6 Pro is a performance-centric smartphone. And while the smartphone is not without flaws, I’d be lying if I did not admit that those flaws did not take away from the main smartphone experience at all. Yes, the lack of stereo speakers, 3.5mm port and average camera performance can be a mild annoyance to some, but what it actually delivers in terms of performance, gaming, multimedia experience as well as day-to-day smartphone tasks, is quite undeniable. And to pair it with a good battery life makes this smartphone a strong competitor in its price range.
However, it is important to know what to expect from the smartphone. It is not your camera focussed smartphone or has the best polished OS. But if you demand a great binging experience from your smartphone, do a lot of heavy tasks on the smartphone or are a gaming fan, then you can definitely consider the Vivo T1 Pro, I mean the iQOO Z6 Pro as one of the top smartphones in the category. Apologies for the mix-up but I believe we still have not addressed the elephant in the room, that is which of the two smartphones should a buyer go for.
It is impossible to talk about the Vivo T1 Pro without using them side by side, but you can take a look at its review here to understand the nuances between the two devices. However, on a surface level, it can be stated that iQOO devices are more optimized towards gaming and performance, so if you’re not looking for overall experience, iQOO Z6 Pro will keep you happy.
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