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iQOO 7 review: powerful, affordable gaming flagship

On: May 8, 2021

iQOO made its entry into in the Indian market in February last year, with the intention of launching affordable gaming phones. I reviewed the iQOO 3 5G  and was impressed by its price to performance ratio. The iQOO 3 was the world’s first phone to feature UFS 3.1 flash storage with LPPDR5 RAM, and was powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset. After a year’s gap, iQOO is back in India with the iQOO 7 and iQOO 7 Legend flagships.

Also read: Mi 11 Ultra review: Xiaomi’s ambitious flagship is a winner

The iQOO 7 doesn’t feature the Snapdragon 888 chipset that powers the iQOO 7 Legend,  but that doesn’t make it any less of a flagship. With loaded specs like a 120Hz display, Snapdragon 870 SoC, 66W fast charging and starting price of Rs 31,990, the iQOO 7 competes directly with the recently launched Xiaomi Mi 11X. So, is it a compelling buy in the Rs 30k segment? Let’s find out.

Design and display

  • 163 x 76 x 8mm , 196g
  • 6.62-inch AMOLED, FHD+, 120Hz refresh rate, 300Hz touch sampling rate, 1,000Hz instant touch sampling rate, HDR 10+, 1,300nits peak brightness, Eye Care Display, MEMC, SDR to HDR, intelligent display chip

As you can see from the renders above, iQOO has overhauled the design of iQOO 7 significantly compared to its predecessor. Gone is the super-rounded camera module and back panel. Instead, the iQOO 7 features a more industrial, boxy design inspired by Vivo devices. You get a rectangular camera module housing three cameras with LED flash, and the module extends a fair bit to accommodate the iQOO branding. The fascia remains identical with the only difference being the selfie camera punch-hole, which is now center-aligned.

The iQOO 7 has a glass back panel with a plastic chassis and is significantly lighter than iQOO 3 (215g) at 196g. The back panel features AG frosted glass, which is silky to the touch and feels premium. It has an even weight distribution, which makes it comfortable to use for a longer duration. iQOO is offering the smartphone in Storm Black and Solid Ice Blue, of which I received the former. The Storm black colourway looks stunning with a gradient finish and is also impervious to fingerprint smudges. Unfortunately, there’s no IP rating for protection against dust and water.

The iQOO 7 has physical volume keys and a power button on the right, whereas the left edge has been left bare. The bottom edge houses the dual nano-SIM tray, USB Type-C port, and a speaker grille. On the top, there’s a single noise-cancelling mic. The earpiece also doubles up as a stereo speaker, which is a plus. For security, the smartphone features an in-display fingerprint scanner, which is placed lower than usual but is extremely fast and accurate. There’s a face unlock method as well, which is also quite fast and took me to the homescreen as soon as I picked up the phone.

The iQOO 7 is equipped with a flat 6.62-inch AMOLED display with 2,400 x 1,080 pixels resolution. The colours are punchy and the text is sharp thanks to the AMOLED panel. Additionally, the display has a 120Hz refresh rate with a 300Hz touch sampling rate, which makes the experience all the more smooth. Users can choose between 60Hz, 120Hz, and Smart Switch, which automatically adjusts the refresh rate based on the app open. The panel offers a peak brightness of 1,300 nits and I didn’t have to squint my eyes to read what’s on the screen even in direct sunlight.

The display also features HDR1o and HDR10+ support with Widevine L1 certification, enabling high resolution streaming on supported OTT platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube. I watched a few episodes of Shadow and Bone on the iQOO 7, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The iQOO 7 is the first smartphone in this segment to feature an intelligent display chip, which facilitates SDR to HDR conversion and MEMC. However, this chip springs into action only when you’re gaming and therefore I’ll touch more upon it in the performance section of this review.

Cameras

  • Rear: 48-megapixel primary sensor, 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera, 2-megapixel mono lens
  • Front: 16-megapixel sensor

The iQOO 7 has a triple rear camera setup with a 48-megapixel customised Sony IMX598 sensor with OIS at the helm. The main camera is assisted by a 120-degree 13-megapixel ultra-wide lens and a 2-megapixel mono sensor. The ultra-wide lens also doubles up as a macro lens. On the front, there’s a 16-megapixel shooter. The camera app is loaded with features such as Night Mode, Portrait, Panorama, Live Photo, Slow-motion, Time-Lapse, Pro Mode (Photo and Video), AR Stickers, Extreme Night Vision, Pro Sports Mode, and Ultra-Stable Mode.

The primary camera captures great outdoor shots with a saturation pop, which many love. The camera was able to retain a good amount of detail with decent dynamic range. The 13-megapixel ultra-wide lens captures good images as well, however, I did notice details being softer in this mode. On the bright side, there’s no visible edge distortion. The macro shots captured with this lens are detailed, thanks to the high resolution sensor. Portrait shots captured using iQOO 7 turned out to be impressive as well with good subject background isolation and natural-looking blur, however, the edge detection is not the best.

Regular
Regular
Regular
Regular
Macro
Close up
Macro
Artificial light
Regular
Night mode
Regular
Night mode
Portrait
Portrait
Selfie

Due to the ongoing lockdown, I couldn’t test the low-light prowess of the smartphone extensively. However, the camera clicks good shots with high details even in standard mode, albeit with a fair amount of noise, which is visible in the sky in background. Turn on the dedicated night mode and you get a bump in the exposure with good details even in the shadow areas and reduced noise.

Toggle the selfie mode, and the 16-megapixel camera on the front also performs well. The selfies I clicked had good details and accurate skin tones. The portrait mode also works well with good edge detection.

Performance, software, and battery

  • Android 11 with Funtouch OS 11.1 Global
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 with Adreno 650
  • 8GB + 128GB, 8GB + 256GB, 12GB + 256GB
  • 4,400mAh battery, 66W fast charging

The iQOO 7 features the 7nm Snapdragon 870 SoC with X55 modem for 5G and Adreno 650 GPU. The processor is backed by up to 12GB LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. The smartphone utilises Vivo’s memory fusion technology to use up to 3GB of UFS 3.1 storage as Virtual RAM like the Vivo X60 Pro. This means in a heavy usage scenario, the background apps do not occupy the actual RAM, to enhance performance. I received the 8GB + 128GB variant for the purpose of this review.

Just like the Vivo X60 Pro (review), the iQOO 7 multitasks like a champ even with 15-20 apps open in the background. Honestly speaking, during my stint of over a week with the iQOO 7, I didn’t even once kill apps running in the background. Despite that, the smartphone usage was buttery smooth till the end. However, iQOO 7 is more of a gaming device compared to X60 Pro and has some extra tools up its sleeve.

The intelligent display chip I mentioned before comes into the picture when you game on the iQOO 7. This chip basically facilitates MEMC and enables HDR while gaming. The MEMC technology upscales 30/60fps games to 90-120fps thus making full use of the 120Hz display and HDR to bring out more details in the game graphics.

iQOO has also equipped the smartphone with 4D Game Vibration with a linear motor, which makes the whole back panel vibrate to give realistic in-game feedback for actions like firing. There’s also a graphite layer full-coverage liquid cooling system to keep the handset cool during intensive gaming and barring Genshin Impact, I didn’t encounter any thermal throttling during my stint. I enjoyed playing Badlands, Alto’s Odyssey, and Call of Duty: Mobile on the iQOO 7. In short, the iQOO 7 will serve mobile gamers very well.

Coming to the software, the iQOO 7 boots Funtouch OS 11.1 Global based on Android 11. The software has its share of bloatware including DailyHunt, Moj, Snapchat, Netflix, Facebook, Flipkart, and Google suite of apps. The good news is that apart from Google apps, all other third-party apps can be uninstalled to free up storage. Furthermore, the iQOO 7 features the Quickstep launcher just like the Vivo X60 Pro, but without the pesky notifications from stock apps. You get several bells and whistles like a dedicated app drawer, Google Feed, revamped settings menu, always-on display, phone clone, multi-turbo, gesture support, and more.

Coming to the battery, the iQOO 7 has a 4,400mAh battery under the hood with support for 66W flash charging. iQOO is providing the 66W flash charger in the pack and claims that it can charge the smartphone from zero to 100 percent in 30 minutes. I put the claim to the test and found that the smartphone charges fully in under an hour and touches the 70 percent mark in 30 minutes, which is nowhere close to what the brand claims. During my stint, I used iQOO 7 as my primary device and used it for YouTube, Netflix, Slack, WhatsApp, gaming, and a lot of Twitter. I usually had around 20 percent battery left by the time I went to bed, which is commendable.

Bottomline

The iQOO 7 starts at R 31,990 for the base 8GB + 128GB variant and ticks a lot of right boxes for the price. If you’re looking for an all-round smartphone in the range of Rs 30,000, the iQOO 7 is an easy recommendation. You get a stunning 120Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 870 SoC, good cameras, clean software, and superfast charging. If I had to nitpick, the absence of any sort of IP rating is a bummer.

The only other Snapdragon 870-powered smartphone at this price point is the Xiaomi Mi 11X, which starts at Rs 29,999 for the 6GB + 128GB variant and goes up to Rs 31,999 for the 8GB + 128GB model. The Mi 11X goes toe-to-toe with iQOO 7 with its 6.67 FHD+ AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, 4,520mAh battery, and 48-megapixel triple rear cameras. It has a higher resolution 20-megapixel selfie camera but slower 33W fast charging.

If I had to put my money on one device out of these two, I’ll personally go with the iQOO 7. This is because of the advanced gaming performance of the iQOO 7 and much faster charging speeds.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works

  • Powerful performance
  • Brilliant display
  • Good cameras
  • Superfast charging
  • Clean interface

What doesn’t

  • Bloatware on Funtouch OS
  • MEMC only works in gaming
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.