iQOO 9 Pro review

For BMW fans on Volkswagen budget

₹ 64,990

Legend colourway with 12GB + 256GB

Vivo smartphones have always been known for their excellent camera performance without costing upward of a lakh. iQOO smartphones, on the other hand, are just Vivo smartphones with a focus on fast performance. So does that mean you inherently get excellent camera performance from the parent brand? 

Not entirely. iQOO 9 Pro is a great smartphone, but it’s entirely for a different type of folks. It’s purposefully designed to be performance-oriented with a fast processor, plenty of RAM, blazing-fast charging speeds and a fast display. If this fits the bill, by all means, keep reading.


Design: Three stripes

Even though the insides of the iQOO are not very different from a Vivo smartphone, the outside is what truly separates the smartphone from the crowd. It’s got a white back with a carbon fibre-esque pattern within the rear glass. The smartphone cover, which is included in the box, is also made from DuPont Kevlar so it’s tough as nails. Although slamming a cover on the iQOO 9 Pro feels like a crime. 

The device feels adequately premium and the rear glass back is really nice to touch. The cover case matches the smartphone colour and the three stripes at the back. You might be fooled by the three stripes because the colours closely resemble the BMW Motorsport badge, but it’s not. Although there is a BMW partnership in place, that’s just for bragging rights.

The iQOO rear camera module has a massive black bar across the top which is unique but weirdly excessive in my opinion. Although, these things are down to personal preference. My old folks think the iQOO 9 Pro looks attractive meanwhile the Stuff HQ thinks it could’ve been a bit subtle.


The display itself is phenomenal on paper. iQOO 9 Pro really checks out all the necessary bits for a premium smartphone on the spec sheet alone. It’s got 2K resolution (3200x1440 px) spanning across the 6.78in of the AMOLED display. That’s a really pixel-dense display for a smartphone and you best believe that the whole thing looks razor sharp! 

It’s also very nicely calibrated. It’s got even tones and blacks across all the content with 1500 nits of peak brightness. In practice, it doesn’t get as eye-searing as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra from last year, but you won’t find us complaining one bit under harsh sunlight. Text is readable and scrolling through eBooks and websites is as smooth as running a hot knife through butter.

Obviously, much of that smoothness is down to the 120Hz refresh rate display. It’s fast for everyday use and even better for gaming. It’s also got a 300Hz touch sampling rate which is useful for gaming or when you’re furiously swiping through Tinder.

The display curves over the edge like most premium Android flagship these days. Although, that curvy bend has a green tint and it can be distracting. In short, this display is great but only if you don’t pay attention to the green tint. Something the enthusiast crowd won’t be able to ignore.


Speaking of enthusiasts, the iQOO 9 Pro is brimming with power. It’s locked in for gaming performance with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and 12GB of RAM. The whole thing is simply begging to be pushed to the limits. 

There’s also an iQOO Gamepad for ₹2,999 that attaches to the left side (camera side) of the smartphone. It's basically a smartphone controller like the Razer Kishi but cut in half. There’s a left thumbstick with L1, L2 and R1 keys on the bumper, and a nice clicky D-pad with two extra buttons on top as well. The thumbstick can also be pressed in like most controllers these days.

It’s useful for precise character movement in Call of Duty, Genshin Impact and other such games, but the fatigue sets in very quickly on your right hand. Since it’s half a controller, your right hand will lack the palm grip necessary to hold this hulking smartphone in place. And that’s where the thing gets a bit annoying for long gaming sessions. Allow me to be literal with this one — on one hand, the controller is great, but on the other hand, half of it is absent. So the uneven palm grip can take some getting used to.

That said, Call of Duty in high settings is absolutely fun to play on this. The Gamepad definitely helps a lot while playing but we would much rather have a full gamepad. The iQOO 9 Pro doesn’t heat up quickly while gaming also. It stays relatively cool but if you push the graphics settings all the way up, get ready to feel some heat chewing into your skin. Even with Genshin Impact. There’s a fine line between great graphics and cool performance, and the iQOO 9 Pro manages that very well. Especially with games that allow you to fine-tune the graphics settings with PC-like accuracy.


iQOO spent most of its budget on cramming the insides with top specs for delivering really fast performance, so naturally, the camera takes a step back or else the ₹64,990 price tag might easily shoot upwards. It’s not terrible, but some smartphones with a lesser price tag do a better job.

The low light for instance is a hot mess in dark places. The camera scrubs the dark portions like an oil painting. Even as you point the camera to a sunset, the darker portions of the frame will be blurry and noisy at best. Colours are also a bit saturated for our liking. This camera would do well under a ₹50K smartphone, but not when the asking price is ₹65K.

Night Mode definitely fixes some of these issues but that’s still not enough to ignore its archaic camera smarts. Any challenging light conditions can really fluster the iQOO 9 Pro cameras.

Details in photos with indoor light are always compensated with some forceful sharpening but it works well for close up shots and portrait mode. Throw in some sunlight and the iQOO 9 Pro camera can dish out fine-looking photos but not good enough to take on Apple iPhone 13, Samsung S22 or our number one smartphone, the Vivo X70 Pro+.

The 16MP front-facing camera is good. It’s as good as the budget Vivo smartphones. Maybe not as great as the Vivo V23 Pro we tested recently, but good enough for decent photos.

OS and battery

The iQOO 9 Pro has a solid battery life to get through a day of excessive use. You can make it through 24 hours if your operations are strictly messaging and calls. The 4,700mAh battery is perfectly fine for daily use along with gaming. Although, I wouldn’t stress too much about battery life because the thing comes with a bundled 120W FlashChage charger! The smartphone went from 14% at 7:45 PM to 80% by 7:58 PM. That’s 66% of charge in 13mins! 

It’s ridiculously fast and the phone heats up a bit. Honestly, we wrapped the charger back into the case and moved over to our personal 45W fast charger, because I am personally not comfortable with such fast charging speeds. To put the matter into perspective, our MacBook Pro comes with an 87W charger. Although, it’s a matter of adopting the tech and understanding the charging tech behind iQOO’s fast speeds. It’s really commendable and doesn’t roast the phone to a pulp in the process also.

So battery life is not really an issue here. The iQOO 9 Pro uses 6C system battery cells that are charged using dual half-voltage charging chips. Basically, the charger is smart enough to not pump over and above an estimated voltage without ensuring the smartphone is ready. 

Aside from its aesthetics, everything about the iQOO is similar to Vivo. You get FunTouch OS 12 based on Android 12. and it has the same customisation options as the Vivo smartphone. We still think FunTouch OS needs a bit of polish and should kick annoying ads from their premium smartphones.

The iQOO 9 Pro default browser is allowed to push one ad notification per day if you don't deep dive into the settings and turn it off. Even wallpaper ads and forceful story links about random stuff are plastered in your notifications tray. It’s a shabby approach to such an otherwise neat smartphone lineup. Another alarming thing is the WhatsApp video call quality. The front camera degrades the quality of your pretty face while video calling on WhatsApp. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before and especially from a smartphone with a respectable front camera. Hopefully, it’s a software bug and might be fixed in the coming days.

Verdict: Should you buy it?

The iQOO 9 Pro sits in a comfortable spot with a proper price-to-performance ratio. Or so we thought. The smartphone is brimming with power, yes! But it is also riddled with an average camera and annoying OS ads. There’s also the lack of IP rating which makes this almost a head-scratching tale of confusion. Do you spend a bit more and bag a better OS and camera on the Apple iPhone 13 or the Samsung S22? Or do you simply forgo some performance for last year’s Vivo X70 Pro+? Or do you pay a little less and get the OnePlus 9 Pro? Or do you wait it out for the OnePlus 10? It’s all out there and you are definitely spoilt for choice.

One thing is for certain, the iQOO 9 Pro is a gamer's delight. You can expect exceptional gaming performance from this thing, and the camera is not as bad as the Asus ROG 5s either. So in terms of gaming and overall performance, the iQOO 9 Pro is a clear winner. Even the stereo speakers are nice and loud for mobile gaming. iQOO also bundles in the charger, cable, a case and Type-C to 3.5mm headphone jack converter.

Stuff Says

If you’re looking for blazing-fast performance without breaking the bank and cutting corners, the iQOO 9 Pro should be perfect for you
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Sharp display

  1. Fast and responsive performance

  1. Gaming is great on this

  1. Hella fast charging speeds

  1. It can do 50W wireless fast charging

  1. The screen has a green tint

  1. Ads are there if you don’t turn them off

  1. The camera is not on par with the competition

Processor: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4700mAh with 120W fast charger
Color: Dark Cruise/Legend
OS: Funtouch OS 12 based on Android 12
Display: 6.78in, 3200 x 1440 AMOLED with 120Hz
Camera: 50MP Clarity + 50MP (150° Fisheye wide Angle) + 16MP Portrait/Tele, Front - 16MP