We don’t see a new smartphone every day that takes on the responsibilities of being well-established in the premium segment, the latest hardware has been made available before anyone else, but iQOO 3 5G has done just that. The phone was launched in early 2020 and was originally one of the first to offer Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 in India, the chipset that became the basis of the Android flagship. The smartphone is offered in two variants. One with 4G support only and the other with support for both 4G and 5G. We got the 5G variant for review.
Without the 5G network still functioning in India, the 5G variant may be hard to find, but the 5G variant of iQOO 3 comes with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage and the price it is being offered is quite reliable. Considering this is a brand new, is iQOO 3 5G worth your money?
For an independent brand, launching a flagship right away can be a hit or miss. But looking at the hardware inside, the iQOO 3 5G begs to be pushed harder. The new Snapdragon 865 (which explains the 5G part), along with the latest LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage, and even a carbon-fiber heat sink. The company uses the “Monster Inside” tagline, and after viewing the space-sheet I agree with that statement. But how does this ‘monster’ really work? Criteria may have one answer –
On AnTuTu, the iQOO 3 5G scored 585579 while in the Geekbench 5 single-core and multi-core test, it scored 928 and 3289, respectively. The 3DMark Slingshot Extreme, which tested the Adreno 650 on the Snapdragon 865, scored an impressive 7262 in the OpenGL test, while the Vulkan test scored 6631. Looking at the numbers, the iQOO 3 5G is clearly leading our top bench pack. Seen on an Android smartphone this year. That’s a way to make an entrance.
But you don’t really need a benchmark app to know if this smartphone is fast and powerful. Using iQOO 3 5G is, in general, a smooth experience. UI activities are fast and tidy and there is no lag in launching apps The phone boots up in less than 30 seconds, and from unlocking it to slip to Call of Duty: Launch an app like Mobile, it all happens instantly. That being said, the experience could have been better if the iQOO 3 5G had come with a higher refresh rate display. Despite all this Firepower, UI operations are considered slower than the Realme X2 Pro or OnePlus 7T because the screen refresh rate is still at 60Hz.
The Chinese iQOO brand is primarily known for making gaming smartphones. And, we’ve seen some of that here in India as well. The iQOO 3 5G comes with two pressure-sensitive “Monster Buttons”, one on each end which doubles as additional controls for gaming. We’ve seen this feature again on ROG phones II and Nubia Red Magic 3S, and personally, I rely heavily on them when playing games like COD: Mobile. While I still consider the ROG Phone II to be the best, the monster buttons on the iQOO 3 5G are also quite handy. They work the same way, only the intensity of the hepatic response is not consistent which leads to killing a few misses in the game.
To test how well iQOO 3 5G can play games, we played a round of COD: Mobile and PUBG mobiles with Gamebench attached to see how the CPU behaves during gaming.
To give you a quick overview, we’ve played both COD: Mobile and PUBG Mobile in their maximum possible settings. COD: Mobile provides 60 FPS with 100% stability while PUBG Mobile runs at 40 FPS with 100% stability. The numbers reveal that iQOO 3 5G has no problem offering the best possible performance when gaming because both the frame rate and the stability number are as high as they can go.
The iQOO 3 5G runs on the iQOO UI based on Android 10, which looks a lot like Vivo’s latest version of FunTouchOS but with some nifty new additions. For one, you have the option of having an app drawer, which is quite easy for users like me who have a tendency to install many apps. Second, quick settings are placed on the notification panel instead of being accessed by swiping tiles from bottom to top.
There’s an additional AI button on the side that, when pressed together with the pressure-sensitive buttons, turns on Monster mode, which is basically the phone’s gaming mode. But don’t expect too much from it right now. It only clears resources and prevents calls and notifications from interfering with your gameplay, in addition to launching monster buttons and haptic responses. You can’t fix CPU and GPU settings like the Asus ROG Phone II’s Armory Crate.
Like most affordable flagship smartphones, the hardware is in most cases, the software prevents it from providing a truly flagship experience. iQOO 3 5G is no different. It has all the flaws that Redmi and Realmy offer flagships. Unwanted notifications that flood the phone (and even the lock screen), unwanted apps (we counted nine in the app drawer installed by default), and minus one screen that throws out all kinds of uncomfortable content, something you should know before you buy this phone .
The iQOO 3 5G is one of the first smartphones powered by Snapdragon 865 and it gave us a good peek at the screen-on that we can expect from phones powered by the flagship SoC. The iQOO 3 5G has a rather large 4,400mAh battery that is topped up by a 55W fast charger included in the box.
Despite a large battery, screen-on times are rather frustrating. With the launch of 4G data, the iQOO 3 5G provides heavy usage for almost a day’s worth, including one-hour gaming, 40-minute episodes streaming on Netflix, and browsing social media. If you also take videos and photos on it, the battery will run out in the evening. In Wi-Fi, the battery drain is a little less aggressive and you can get a day’s worth of battery life even after heavy use.
Although we still can’t figure out exactly what is putting so much pressure on the battery, the good news is that the 55W fast charger can top up the battery in about 50 minutes.
While most of the focus will be on the internal hardware, the iQOO 3 5G’s camera setup also looks impressive. The back has a 48MP quad-camera setup with a 13MP ultraviolet lens (with f / 2.2 aperture), another 13MP telephoto lens (with 2x optical zoom and f / 2.5 aperture) and another 2MP depth sensor. On the front, you’ll find a 16MP f / 2.0 lens drilled into the AMOLED display and it could be the smallest punch-hole camera ever seen on a smartphone. How well do they perform?
The 48MP primary camera gives sharp details in photos in its native 48MP mode. Yet, without applying any AI scene recognition, the contrast appears to be exaggerated which explains the idea that the image is well detailed. The same 100% percent crop reveals that it is not. In its original 8000×6000 resolution, the details look smoky, especially the pages that iQOO is trying to mask using high contrast.
The pixel-binning turns out to be quite balanced. They reproduce sharp, fine color and carry a lot of detail. The dynamic range is also quite impressive. The pattern above shows the color, and the leaf details in particular were largely captured without clipping the blue sky so much.
Indoor, performance is higher than average. AI Scene Recognition can quickly recognize what you are shooting, and as a result the image comes out again in a balanced way and does not require too much post-processing. The camera quickly gets all the elements under focus, and the details are similarly captured across the frame.
The 13MP telephoto lens carries enough sharpness and detail as we have seen from the 48MP lens. However, the colors become too full and vivid which creates some level of inconsistency. The shutter’s response is slightly slower than that of the primary lens, enough to cause you to miss the moment if you are shooting a moving object.
The iQOO 3 5G’s ultraviolet lens quickly became a favorite. With a good balance of color and exposure with sufficient sharpness across the frame, this 13MP ultraviolet lens is fun to use. If you’re shooting a medium-distance object, there’s not much distortion, but more than that, you can use it even before sunset, but the scene is illuminated with artificial light.
Here is an example of an ultraviolet lens used after sunset:
While this is not the best result you can expect, I especially like the details that make it possible to make no noise around the center. However, the shutter is kept open for a long time to blur the motion if something is moving inside you. Frame.
The first thing I noticed about the night mode on the iQOO 3 5G (besides what it has) is that the frame is much wider than the normal photo mode. This is probably because binned photos also crop part of the sensor. But I didn’t really find much difference between the normal photo mode except for the shots taken from the night mode and the slightly higher illumination.
Normal mode crops the frame and so in addition to letting you get closer to your subject, it carries much more detail than a picture taken from night mode. However, with sophisticated hardware, results can be further improved through software updates. For example, enable night mode across three lenses.
The 16MP selfie camera offers many options for taking selfies and although I am not a selfie-taker, I quite like the portrait selfie mode on this device. It manages to illuminate the display with a warm tone to control the background lights and illuminate the details of the face better.
Design and display
While the iQOO 3 5G makes a terrible impression in terms of performance, the design of the phone is optimal, average. There is no element in the phone that is different from the rest of the body except the colored power button. Although it has a predictable design, it does not make it less ergonomic. The rounded corners and a compact form factor make the phone easier to hold and use. However it carries quite a lot of allowances, probably because of all the hardware inside.
The iQOO 3 5G’s AMOLED display measures 6.44-inches diagonally and the selfie camera is drilled in the upper right corner. Considering that the monster buttons are also placed on the right edge, it would be more practical to place the in-display camera in the upper left corner to prevent confusion.
A good decision from iQOO is to offer 180Hz touch sampling instead of high refresh rate as it directly affects your gaming. While it’s still not as high as the ROG Phone II, the touch response time is quite neat and I’ve been able to get a lot of kills on COD: Mobile because of it.
The panel is HDR10 + certified and hits 531 lux at maximum brightness in direct sunlight. Inside the house, the brightness drops to a minimum of 4 lux.
The last row
The iQOO 3 5G is clearly a contender to be one of the best smartphones of the first half of 2020. With impeccable hardware that takes the user to the modern edge of smartphone technology, the iQOO 3 5G ticks all the boxes for a heavy user – excellent gaming capabilities, fast app loading and switching, responsive UI, a compact design and above average camera. The flagship experience is only affected by annoying notifications and a bloated app drawer. We don’t have a record of how soon iQOO will push updates for this device and for how long, but for it to be relevant enough to use its 5G features, it should have at least two years of active support. Since iQOO has also launched a 4G version of the device that costs a lot less (you get less RAM and storage), it is now prudent to invest in a lower priced 4G variant than to splurge on more 5G support. . Either way, you won’t be disappointed if you look past the offensive push notifications.