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iQOO Z5 review: performance meets value

iQOO is back once again, and after its successful induction into the mid-range category with the iQOO Z3, the company is now entering another hotly contested arena. The iQOO Z5 is logically the successor to the Z3 but for all intents and purpose, it is another smartphone from the brand catering to an audience in the sub-Rs 25,000 price band. iQOO Z5 continues to work on the goodwill of the Z3 by giving priority to performance and value.

Also readiQOO 8 Legend to launch in India soon: expected launch date, specifications

iQOO has ambitions to compete with the best in the business, and devices like the iQOO Z5 is need to be the vehicle for its take off. So, does the new iQOO phone deliver on the early promise of this brand? I find out in this review.

Design and display

  • 164.7 x 76.7 x 8.5 mm, 193 grams
  • 6.67-inch LCD FHD+ display, 120Hz refresh rate, 650 nits brightness

Right off the bat, I will admit that most may not find the fit and finish of the iQOO Z5 to their liking, and that’s ok. Call me old school but somehow my preference for looks of a phone is based on its durability and appeal. The Z5 ticks both of these boxes for me in its own ways. Compared to the plain-ish iQOO Z3, this one’s got a more polished touch. The textured back panel ensures you neither have to worry about finger smudges or scratches owing to rough usage.

When you take that part out of the way, iQOO Z5 starts to make sense. Yes, doesn’t feature the slim design of the Xiaomi 11 Lite NE or premium look of the OnePlus Nord 2, but it works. The use of a bigger battery makes it over 10g heavier than the iQOO Z3. But you don’t feel the difference while holding or using it.

Thankfully, iQOO Z5 sports a punch hole screen design, which increases the overall display footprint. The functional buttons are on the right, the headphone jack at the top, and USB Type-C port alongside the SIM slot and the speaker.

As for the display, the 6.67-inch FHD+ unit once again misses out on AMOLED panel, in favour of giving you adaptive 60Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate support. You had the same feature with the iQOO Z3, but for a higher priced phone, an AMOLED screen along with Gorilla Glass protection should have been a given.

That said, despite the screen bleeding light from the edges, the quality is pretty good. The 120Hz refresh rate is snappy and gives you a smooth experience when it comes to navigation. You can easily use the screen outdoors, and the extra bump of 650 nits brightness helps make that happen.

Cameras

  • Rear: 64-megapixel primary sensor, 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle sensor, 2-megapixel macro sensor
  • Front: 16-megapixel sensor

iQOO Z5 sees marginal upgrades on the imaging front, especially in terms of the quality. The phone’s got a 64-megapixel triple rear camera setup, which includes an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor and a 2-megapixel macro shooter. The functional modes available on the primary sensor are 64MP, night, portrait, Slo-mo, Time-lapse, Panorama and Dual view. In the front, iQOO Z5 features a 16-megapixel shooter.

The 64MP primary shooter clicks some decent photos in most conditions. Its low light capability benefits from having the night mode. The colours are mostly balanced, with rich level of details that should satisfy users.

The secondary cameras on the iQOO Z5 are a mixed bag. The ultra-wide camera captures the perspective, but images are low on detail. The macro sensor also has a hard time correcting the edges in bokeh mode. The front camera gives you basic results. The face textures remain intact, and the colours seem natural enough.

All in all, the cameras on the iQOO Z5 are good enough for for most use cases, but don’t offer anything exceptional.

Performance, software and battery

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G
  • 8GB + 128GB, 12GB + 256GB
  • 5,000mAh battery, 44W fast charging
  • Android 11 with Funtouch 12 OS

iQOO Z5 is marketed as a performance-centric device, most of which is credited to the use of Snapdragon 778G chipset. Qualcomm’s latest SoC promises reliability and enhanced power management. The results of both were clear as daylight during my one week stint with the handset. iQOO sent us the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage variant in the Arctic Dawn colour.

Since iQOO has offered 8GB as the base RAM variant, most people will find it sufficient for daily tasks. Whether you’re an average user using the phone to make calls, browse the web and scroll through social media, or a power user who wants to multi-task and play games, the iQOO Z5 is there to serve in both cases.

You might find the camera module warms up a bit after an hour of gaming, but the body remains cool, making it easy to use it without any discomfort. This is probably where the choice of materials for the back panel comes through.

I loved playing games on the device. Be it Call of Duty Mobile, FIFA Mobile or NFS No Limits, the overall package of iQOO Z5 made sure even a light gamer like me spent a good couple of hours binging on games.

iQOO Z5 sees an upgrade on the software front, with the addition of Funtouch 12 OS version built over Android 11. The look and feel of the interface is familiar, given that Vivo shares most of its resources with iQOO. The good thing about the software is that you get plenty of customisation options. All the controls work effectively, and I barely noticed any lag during our time with the phone.

But the amount of bloatware continues to be an issue. iQOO Z5 buyers will be greeted with apps like Amazon, BYJU’S, CRED, Dailyhunt and Moj to name a few. And if that wasn’t enough, you have GameSpace, iQOOCloud, Tips and more iQOO apps to further eat up the space. Most of them can be uninstalled, but I would like iQOO to cut down the number in the next software iteration.

The iQOO Z5 packs a bigger 5,000mAh battery compared to the 4,400mAh unit on the iQOO Z3. However, the company has brought down the charging speed from 55W on the iQOO Z3 to 44W speed on iQOO Z5. Thankfully, the bigger battery provides adequate backup, and if you’re an average user, the phone will last you for well over a day on single charge.

Bottomline

At a starting price of Rs 23,990, iQOO Z5 continues the company’s tradition of giving buyers the best value for their money. It uses the powerful Snapdragon 778G chipset which delivers performance in tandem with power efficiency. With 8GB/12GB RAM on board, the phone suffices for multi-tasking too. But using this hardware has forced iQOO to make cutbacks in other areas. Most notably, the 6.67-inch display lacks an AMOLED panel.

Add to that, your storage needs are limited to the space offered inside, which means no memory card slot either. iQOO is using the Funtouch 12 version which scores high on most fronts, except for its nagging bloatware problem. The primary rear camera produces decent images in normal and low light conditions with the help of night mode. But the other two sensors are average at best. The battery life improves with the use of a bigger unit, but again, you get 44W fast charging speed, which is another sign of the cost cutting, perhaps?

All in all, there is very little to complain about iQOO Z5. But if you prefer looks over other aspects in a phone, the Xiaomi 11 Lite NE (review) gives you a lightweight body and AMOLED display, but slower charging speed and a higher price tag of Rs 26,999. You also have the Realme GT Master Edition (review) in the mix, but again, it’s priced higher at Rs 25,999. To sum up, if you want performance and value in the sub-Rs 30,000 price range, the iQOO Z5 ticks most boxes.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

What works

  • Snappy 120Hz display
  • Impressive performance
  • Decent primary camera
  • Long battery life

What doesn’t

  • No AMOLED display
  • No Gorilla Glass protection
  • Boring design
  • Secondary cameras are average
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