IQoo 3 first impressions: A make-or-break situation
We spent some time with one of India’s first 5G smartphones, iQoo 3. Here’s our initial thoughts on the smartphone’s features, pricing and competition.
A couple of months ago there was hardly anyone who heard about the smartphone brand 'iQoo'. It existed under Vivo's umbrella for quite some time but was limited to China for the most part. However, within the past couple of months, the brand rose to fame in a big way, thanks to its bold claim of launching India's first 5G smartphone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. Although it missed the 'India's first' spot by a day with Realme stealing the thunder, it still is the second brand to officially launch its 5G smartphone in the country at today's date.
The handset we are talking about is the iQoo 3, which has been a part of several teasers, rumours and leaks off lately. Launched at ₹36,990 (for the base model), there is more to what meets the eye with this piece of hardware. It's not just 5G that we are talking about but also a smartphone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, 55W fast charging tech and of course its rivalry with sister brand Realme's X50 Pro 5G smartphone that comes in the same range.
Being priced nearly the same as the X50 Pro 5G, iQoo 3 has a lot to prove itself when it comes to offering. But we can only jump to conclusions once we are done with the review. However, in our limited time spend with the iQoo 3 the smartphone did manage to impress us in certain areas.
Of course, you can't miss the fact that the smartphone supports 5G connectivity, which although is still a couple of years away from being implemented in the country, makes the handset future-proof. The point here is to compete with the global standards and keep the smartphone up to date with the latest tech. This is definitely a plus point here if nothing else.
And all the 5G goodness that you get in iQoo 3 is because of Qualcomm's most powerful processor till date, the Snapdragon 865. Although we are yet to test the processor and its capabilities in real life, it is safe to assume that the performance won't be a disappointment by any means. The iQoo 3 also comes in 8GB and 12GB LPDDR5 RAM options, which are enough to bring the best out of the processor.
On the not-so-bright side of things, we did notice some bloatware in the form of apps and services that one may hardly use. For instance, you not just get iQoo's own web browser app but also Opera and Google's Chrome, which means three web browser apps in a single smartphone. There's also iQoo's V-Appstore and Game Centre, both of which are portals for you to download apps that are already available in the Google Play Store. These come in addition to 'Hot Apps' and 'Hot Games' folders, both of which are another set of portals from where you can download apps. We will talk more about the UI and apps in our upcoming review.
IQoo is betting big on the smartphone's camera this time. In our limited use we did find the camera impressive. The user interface is pretty clean and straight-forward. The highlight here is the 48-megapixel sensor, which can be found in the 'More' section in the carousel. As crisp and sharp images as this Sony IMX582 sensor takes, it doesn't come with any of the extra features that you get with the standard 13-megapixel sensor. We are talking about missing out on zooming capabilities, auto scene detection and other such features. The background HDR works fine though.
But a 48-megapixel (f/1.7 aperture) + 13-megapixel telephoto (20x digital zoom with f/2.4 aperture) + 13-megapixel wide angle (f/2.2 aperture) + 2-megapixel bokeh (f/2.2 aperture) setup is not bad at all. At the front you get a 16-megapixel Samsung S5K3P9SP04-FGX9 sensor with f/2.4 aperture, which takes sharp images and has the 'Beauty' mode set to 50% by default. We are yet to see how it performs in low light situations.
Adding to the 'premium-ness' here is the FHD+ resolution Super AMOLED screen, which is not as 'punchy' as what you see in Samsung AMOLEDs but still good to look at. Unfortunately, the panel sticks with 60Hz refresh rate. There is no 90Hz or 120Hz options in this one. However, the customization options for the 'Always On' feature, Dark Mode, on-screen navigation keys/gesture mode and more are enough.
All that said, if we were to give your initial impressions of the iQoo 3. The only possible area where it may get some bashing is when it comes brand recall. Realme has had decent presence in the budget market now and that will definitely help it garner more customers against iQoo. And the fact that iQoo has launched itself in India as a separate entity, might make it even more difficult.
If you talk spec-wise, both are balanced considering iQoo has more battery, UFS 3.1 storage and is priced slightly less while Realme X50 Pro 5G has 90Hz screen, 64MP primary camera and dual front camera. But all in all, iQoo does seem to be delivering the basics right at this point. We will test the handset through its paces and will make a final call in our review, so stay tuned.