iQoo Neo 9 Pro: Revolutionising ‘Flagship Killers’ in 2024

While the smartphone market is flooded with extremely expensive phones for flagships and mediocre mid-range devices, the iQoo Neo 9 Pro offers incredible value.

March 15, 2024 02:54 pm | Updated March 20, 2024 01:26 pm IST

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro features last year’s top chipset along with an improved screen and cameras.

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro features last year’s top chipset along with an improved screen and cameras. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

In a market where smartphones are getting costlier, it is harder than ever for users to pick a phone that offers commendable value with competent specifications at a modest price. iQoo has been known to launch various devices “touted as “flagship killers” by offering premium hardware at a price lower than the competition.

The company recently released its iQoo Neo 9 Pro device that offers impressive features on paper. While the phone doesn’t venture into the 45-55k price segment, which is home to most ‘budget flagships’, the company seems to have carefully devised a phone that is sure to appeal to a lot of users.

 The iQoo Neo 9 Pro offers impressive specifications.

 The iQoo Neo 9 Pro offers impressive specifications. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

Priced at ₹37,999 for the base model, the iQoo Neo 9 Pro features last year’s top chipset along with an improved screen and cameras, and markets itself as a proposition that will allow a lot more users to get a taste of high-end devices.

Design

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro comes in two variants, giving users the option to choose between a glass or vegan leather rear panel. We received the ‘Fiery Red’ model that exudes class and elegance.

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While flagship devices are typically constructed from high-end materials, the use of glass in their construction can amount to a slippery in-hand feel. Additionally, glass is not the most durable substance and this results in most users investing in a case to protect their investment which can seem a bit counterintuitive.

The iQoo 12’s( Fiery Red) back panel is constructed with a leather like material which elevates the aesthetics and practicality, making the device extremely comfortable to handle.

The frame is constructed out of plastic. The dual-tone textured back panel donned in red and white is an eye-candy and the omission of glass instils confidence and does not warrant the over-use of a case unlike good-looking flagship devices.

The phone measures 8.34mm in thickness.

The phone measures 8.34mm in thickness. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

The phone measures 8.34mm in thickness and weighs 190 gms. The weight distribution is on point and the device appears to be sleeker than its billed measurements. Both the volume rocker and the home button are located on the right hand side of the handset.

The device features a flat AMOLED screen and the textured back panel is adorned with a vertical dual camera module and subtle branding. The phone’s 6.78-inch display features a centre-aligned selfie camera housed in a punch-hole cutout at the top.

Display

The smartphone comes with a 6.78-inch FHD+ LTPO AMOLED (2800x1260 pixels) with support for 144Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ certification and 3000 nits’ peak brightness. The display boasts impressive brightness levels, ensuring comfortable outdoor usage even in direct sunlight.

The smartphone’s display impresses with high-contrast visuals, deep blacks, and Widevine L1 support for flawless Full-HD streaming on Netflix- and other streaming platforms. The LTPO panel intelligently adjusts refresh rates based on usage. The phone features customisable color modes for the display including ‘Standard’, ‘Professional’, and ‘Bright’.

The device comes with support for 3000 nits’ peak brightness.

The device comes with support for 3000 nits’ peak brightness. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

Opting for the Bright mode, we were treated to vibrant and saturated visuals, providing an immersive viewing experience. The Pro mode, on the other hand, delivers more natural colour tones, while the Standard mode strikes a balance between vividness and subtlety in different scenarios.

The phone comes with stereo speakers support.

The phone comes with stereo speakers support. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

Navigating web and social media is smooth, thanks to a large screen and high refresh rates. Whether on Netflix or YouTube, the display delivers excellent contrast, vivid colours, and optimal saturation. The onboard stereo speakers are ample in terms of loudness, though audio tuning is average.

Battery

The iQoo Neo 9 Pro houses a 5,160mAh battery. For daily use involving moderate gaming and app usage, the battery easily extends throughout the day, with the built-in power saver mode offering even more longevity. The star of the show, however, is the 120W SuperVOOC charger, capable of fully charging the phone in just 26 minutes.

Cameras

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes with a dual rear camera setup headlined by a primary 50-megapixel shooter with 1/1.49-inch Sony IMX920 sensor and an f/1.88 aperture and OIS. The device also features a 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera.

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes with a dual rear camera setup.

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes with a dual rear camera setup. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

Shots taken via the primary sensor are sharp with ample amounts of detail across different lighting conditions.

The phone shoots vivid photos with an extra bit of saturation.

The phone shoots vivid photos with an extra bit of saturation. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

The phone shoots vivid photos with an extra bit of saturation which will allow casual users who appreciate exaggerated colours to directly upload images to their social media feeds without much tinkering.  

The primary camera shoots clean images in good lighting conditions.

The primary camera shoots clean images in good lighting conditions. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

We were particularly impressed with shots taken in challenging lighting scenes as the device captures clean shots free of undue noise using the primary shooter. However, at times, the device does over sharpen some images.

Shots taken using the primary camera in low lighting scenes come out clean.

Shots taken using the primary camera in low lighting scenes come out clean. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

Images clicked in challenging lighting conditions using the ultrawide sensor are not as sharp when compared to the primary shooter. 

Images clicked in challenging lighting conditions using the ultrawide sensor are not as sharp when compared to the primary shooter.  | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

Additionally, images captured in challenging lighting conditions using the ultrawide sensor are not as sharp as those taken with the primary shooter.

Here is an image sample clicked using the digital zoom feature.

Here is an image sample clicked using the digital zoom feature. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

Compared to its predecessor, the iQOO Neo 7 Pro, the 9 Pro’s camera offers better noise processing and more fine detail. If we had to nitpick, we did notice that in some scenarios the HRD performance misfires but this can easily be fixed with a software update.

The 8MP ultrawide camera will allow users to click images with a notably different perspective capturing more area in a single shot. While the camera works decently, the low-resolution sensor holds it back if you plan on cropping images. The primary sensor can record 8K videos. However, we would recommend you to record videos at 4K 60FPS or opt for the ultra-stabilisation mode (Full-HD, 60fps). The 16-megapixel front camera excels in delivering detailed selfies and video chats.

Software

Running on Funtouch OS 14, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro delivers a feature-rich software experience. Though not the epitome of refinement, the OS comes with a range of functionalities that enhance usability. Pre-installed apps like V-Appstore and vivoCloud are present, but they don’t disrupt the overall flow.

The OS surprises with a multitude of features. Notably, the ability to clone apps stands out, allowing seamless use of dual accounts for a single app directly on the device – a functionality that surpasses third-party alternatives in stability.

The device introduces practical features like app encryption, providing an additional layer of security with password protection for specific apps. The ‘App hiding’ feature takes privacy up a notch by concealing chosen apps from plain sight, and both functions seamlessly deliver on their promises.

While the software might not boast absolute refinement, occasional notifications and promotional messages can be managed through notification permissions or app data clearing. iQOO’s commitment to 3 years of OS updates, plus an extra year of security updates, ensures the device remains up-to-date with the latest advancements.

Navigating through different screens on the home interface and scrolling through the app drawer felt remarkably smooth, free from unnecessary delays or glitches.

Performance

Under the hood, the iQoo Neo 9 Pro houses the formidable Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, coupled with up to 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM. This combination results in a powerhouse capable of handling diverse tasks seamlessly.

Gaming enthusiasts will appreciate the phone’s ability to handle demanding titles like “Call of Duty: Mobile”.

Gaming enthusiasts will appreciate the phone’s ability to handle demanding titles like “Call of Duty: Mobile”. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

From day-to-day activities like emails and messaging to resource-intensive tasks like video editing and gaming, the Neo 9 Pro excels without a hint of lag. Gaming enthusiasts will appreciate the phone’s ability to handle demanding titles like “Call of Duty: Mobile” and “Genshin Impact” at high graphics settings.

While the phone may heat up during extended gaming sessions, it performs much better than some other flagship phones we have tested.

Verdict

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro is a confident device and the company exhibits a clear sense of purpose with the device.

The iQOO 9 Pro reflects a conscious decision by the company to prioritise and excel in the essentials.

The iQOO 9 Pro reflects a conscious decision by the company to prioritise and excel in the essentials. | Photo Credit: Varun Krishan

While flagship devices may boast additional features like wireless charging, IP ratings, and multiple cameras, they do not add anything substantial to everyday use. The iQOO 9 Pro reflects a conscious decision by the company to prioritise and excel in the essentials of what makes a flagship device competent, and offers the same at roughly half the price.

Boasting a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, fast charging, an adept camera system, and a sleek design, the phone is an all-round powerhouse and will not disappoint users who want to get their taste of a flagship experience at a fraction of the price.

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