Wednesday, July 24, 2024

iQoo Neo 9 Pro Review: The Premium Midrange ‘Flagship Killer’ to Beat

Smartphone companies face intense competition in the premium midrange segment in India, and any handset that debuts under the Rs. 40,000 mark needs to be a jack of all trades — with a powerful chipset, reliable cameras, and a modern design. iQoo has now launched the Neo 9 Pro, a handset that is equipped with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and a 50-megapixel primary rear camera. This handset will compete with the OnePlus 12R, the Samsung Galaxy A54, Nothing Phone 2, and Oppo Reno 11 Pro.

iQoo Neo 9 Pro price in India

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro is priced at Rs. 37,999 for the 8GB+256GB RAM and storage configuration, while the 12GB+256 variant is priced at Rs. 39,999. A third variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will be available at Rs. 35,999 on March 21. The phone ships with a USB Type-C to Type-C cable in the box, along with a 120W SuperVOOC charger and a transparent TPU cover.

The handset is available via Amazon in a Conqueror Black colourway with an AG Glass Fiery Red finish, and a Fiery Red colour option with a dual-tone vegan leather back material.

iQoo Neo 9 Pro Review: Design

Depending on which version of the phone you buy, the iQoo Neo 9 Pro is equipped with a rear panel that is made of glass or vegan leather. I tested the Fiery Red model equipped with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of inbuilt storage. This handset has a flat AMOLED screen along with flat edges that are red in colour with a matte finish that doesn’t pick up fingerprints.

There’s a centre-aligned selfie camera located in a hole punch cutout at the top of the screen. The display has a pre-applied thin plastic scratch protector. At the back, there’s a vertical dual rear camera module located at the top left corner, with a metallic ring around the camera glass.

iqoo neo 9 pro rear design ndtv iqoo neo 9 pro

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro Fiery Red colourway has a vegan leather rear panel

There’s a small iQoo logo located at the bottom of the screen, and the words “Neo” and “Power to Win” are faintly embossed on the white vegan leather material, under the rear camera. Aside from these, there’s no other text or branding on the handset.

The rear panel is part white, part red and feels soft to the touch. Due to the light colours, it’s likely to pick up marks and stains over time, so you’re probably better off with a transparent case if you want to show off the phone’s bright colours. The phone isn’t very slippery, even without the included TPU case.

iQoo Neo 9 Pro Review: Specifications and software

iQoo has equipped the Neo 9 Pro with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC— Qualcomm’s premium mobile processor launched in late 2022 — paired with the company’s dedicated Q1 chip. This phone sports a 6.78-inch AMOLED screen. The handset is equipped with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of inbuilt storage. It supports Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4, 5G, 4G LTE, and GPS connectivity. The phone has a USB Type-C port for data transfers and charging. There’s no headphone jack on the iQoo Neo 9 Pro.

Running on Android 14-based Funtouch OS 14 out-of-the-box, the Neo 9 Pro features the same interface that is available on the company’s other smartphones, including the iQoo 12 that was launched last year. There are four preinstalled apps on the phone — Netflix, Spotify, Snapchat, Facebook, and PhonePe. iQoo says the phone will get 3 years of OS updates with an additional year of security updates.

iqoo neo 9 pro interface ndtv iQoo Neo 9 Pro

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro runs on Android 14-based Funtouch OS 14

The handset comes with Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, PhonePe, and Snapchat — you can uninstall all of these apps. While reviewing the iQoo 12, I was regularly spammed with notifications asking me to try apps, with more than one notification on some days. However, with the iQoo Neo 9 Pro, I discovered that clearing the V-Appstore’s data and never opening it — or disabling the notification permission for the app — prevented any promotional messages from being displayed.

iQoo Neo 9 Pro Review: Performance

With a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and up to 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM (the model that I tested), the iQoo Neo 9 Pro is a very powerful smartphone that should be able to tackle nearly anything you can throw at it. This includes day to day tasks like responding to work emails, chatting on WhatsApp, to editing and exporting high-resolution videos.

In terms of gaming, I was able to play Fortnite with the “Epic” (90fps) graphics preset and there was no lag or stutter after about 40 minutes of playtime. Meanwhile, MiHiYo’s very demanding Genshin Impact also ran on the “High” setting, with little to no impact on performance. This phone can also run other popular games like Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty: Mobile effortlessly, without any throttling after an hour of gameplay.

iqoo neo 9 pro benchmarks ndtv iQoo Neo 9 Pro

Performance on the Neo 9 Pro is on par with other handsets with the same chipset

With Funtouch OS 14 based on Android 14, the iQoo Neo 9 handles multitasking quite well, with 12GB of RAM. The smartphone’s memory is also optimised, and apps are retained in memory even when a demanding app or game is launched, or the camera is used. Copying files to and from the device — especially the former — is also very fast, thanks to the UFS 4.0 inbuilt storage.

On the AnTuTu v10 benchmark test, the iQoo Neo 9 Pro scored 1,585,868 points. That’s a lot higher than the Mi 13 and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which have 1,541,517 and 1,496,078 points, respectively. iQoo’s new handset scored 2,050 and 5,741 points in the Geekbench 6 single core and multi core tests, beating the Galaxy S23 Ultra which scored 1,900 and 5,034 points in the same tests.

I also ran three GFXBench tests on the iQoo Neo 9 Pro — it ran at 120fps in the GFXB T-rex benchmark, and 119fps and 85fps in the Manhattan 3.1 and Car Chase tests, respectively. The phone “Maxed Out” the 3DMark Slingshot, Slingshot Extreme (OpenGL), and Wild Life tests. It scored 12,789 points on the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited benchmark.

iqoo neo 9 pro screen ndtv iQoo Neo 9 Pro

The AMOLED screen on the iQoo Neo 9 Pro is visible in bright sunlight

The phone is equipped with a large 6.78-inch 1.5K (1,260×2,800 pixels) LTPO AMOLED screen with a 144Hz refresh rate and 451ppi pixel density. While it’s certainly not as bright as flagship Android smartphones, the display is bright enough to be used in direct sunlight. You can also use the phone in low light scenarios without straining your eyes — it gets quite dim with 2,160Hz pulse-width modulation (PWM) dimming.

Equipped with a 5,160mAh battery, the iQoo Neo 9 Pro ran for 21 hours and 27 minutes on a single charge during our HD video loop playback battery test, and I could go an entire day without draining the battery completely — with a bit of gaming and moderate day-to-day app and camera usage. If you enable the built-in power saver mode, you should be able to get up to a day and a half of battery backup.

You can use the included 120W SuperVOOC charger to fully charge the phone within 26 minutes. There’s no wireless charging on this handset, but that’s par for the course with nearly all smartphones in this price segment. The phone has an IP54 rating for dust and splash resistance — it should be fine if you get caught in light rain while outdoors without an umbrella. The in-display fingerprint sensor is mostly responsive, but it’s not the fastest on a phone in this price segment.

iQoo Neo 9 Pro Review: Cameras

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro is equipped with a dual rear camera setup that includes a 50-megapixel primary camera with a 1/1.49-inch Sony IMX920 sensor and an f/1.88 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS), along with an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera with a OmniVision OV08D10 sensor with an f/2.2 aperture. On the front, there’s a 16-megapixel camera with a Samsung S5K3P9SP04-FGX9 sensor with a f/2.5 aperture for selfies and video chats.

Images shot during the day have a lot of detail (tap to expand)

The company has equipped this smartphone with a fully featured camera application, complete with a Pro mode. You can swipe on the viewfinder to switch between modes, and some modes can be found by swiping to the More option on the far right. After clicking several images with the iQoo Neo 9 Pro, I found that I ended up using the primary camera the most, as it is the most reliable on the handset.

Images captured with the primary 50-megapixel camera are full of detail at both 1x as well as the inbuilt 2x in-sensor zoom. When outdoors, there’s a great deal of detail and colours are displayed accurately. You can pick from three effects — Vivid, Textured, and Natural. Selecting the first one will result in images with vibrant colours, while the Textured mode results in sharpened images with a slightly moody tone — in my experience, the Natural mode delivered the best results.

iQoo Neo 9 Pro auto mode and low light mode (tap to expand)

The ultra-wide-angle camera on this smartphone captures decent images, but you’ll miss out on a lot of detail compared to shots taken using the main camera. The colour accuracy is also a little off — compare the colour of the sky in the image samples above. That said, images captured with this camera are perfectly usable for posting on social media, especially when you can’t get too close to a particularly large subject.

Switching to the 2x in sensor zoom will make the phone capture 50-megapixel shots and then crop into the middle of the photo. You get clear and sharp images with this mode, especially if you’re close enough to the subject. If the subject is further away, you’ll start to see some of the details are softened when zooming into images captured at 2x zoom.

The 2x in-sensor zoom lets you take more detailed images (tap to expand)

The primary camera captures a great deal of detail with the built-in night mode. It takes a few seconds to capture the shot, so this works best for idle subjects and static scenarios. Even when you’re not using the dedicated night mode, the main camera takes slightly longer than usual to capture a slightly brighter photo that also captures ample detail, considering it’s faster than the night mode. I couldn’t find a way to disable this in the camera settings, so it’s worth keeping in mind when clicking images in low light scenarios.

You can also use the built-in portrait mode at 1x and 2x zoom for detailed portrait shots with a pleasant bokeh effect. You can adjust this in the camera app or use the Bokeh option in the Gallery app to adjust it after the image has been captured. There’s no visible halo or blurring around subjects and the 2x zoom mode delivers great portrait shots.

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro takes good portrait shots of humans and pets (tap to expand)

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro lets you capture video at up to 8K resolution at 30fps — this mode doesn’t have OIS enabled — while the 4K and 1080p resolution options offer 30fps and 60fps modes. I found the 4K/ 60fps mode offered the best quality, without any tearing and artefacts — unless you have an 8K display to play your recorded videos.

iQoo Neo 9 Pro: Verdict

Should you buy the iQoo Neo 9 Pro if you’re in the market for a new smartphone around Rs. 40,000? The handset is equipped with a capable processor — the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 — and a reliable primary camera that can handle most scenarios. It also offers fast 120W charging and comes with a charger in the box.

This phone’s biggest competitor in India is the OnePlus 12R, which is also equipped with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, LTPO AMOLED screen, and runs on Android 14 out-of-the-box. However, it has UFS 3.1 storage and can be charged at 100W — both of these are slower than the Neo 9 Pro. The OnePlus 12R has a 2-megapixel macro camera, but you’re not missing out on much there.

There are other options in this price segment such as the Oppo Reno 11 Pro, Nothing Phone 2, and the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G. However, their processors are slower than the one inside the iQoo Neo 9 Pro. They are also equipped with slower internal storage and offer slower charging speeds than iQoo’s handset.

If you’re looking for a gaming-oriented smartphone with decent cameras and reliable battery life, then it’s easy to recommend the iQoo Neo 9 Pro for most users at its current price — the company’s ongoing sale offers can also lower the price by up to Rs. 3,000. Don’t forget to read our review of the OnePlus 12R that was launched in India last month before you make a decision.


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