iQOO Neo 9 Pro Review

Flamboyant looks and capable hardware combine

₹ 39,999

12GB RAM / 256GB storage

In an age where smartphone design and the tendency to experiment with looks seems to be plateauing, iQOO is working at changing things up a bit. Instead of the classic glass back, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes with an interesting leather-like dual-tone design and texture (on the red variant) which gives it a rather eye-catching and unique look. There’s also some impressive specifications on offer, putting this smartphone just below the flagship iQOO 12 in the company’s pecking order.

Much like the iQOO 12, the Neo 9 Pro also doesn’t quite commit to being a specialist in any one department. There’s promise of gaming chops, everyday performance, camera capabilities, and of course the new-age design that promises to help this one (and its user) stand out in a crowd. Read on for our review of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro, which is priced at ₹35,999 onwards in India, and goes on open sale (for certain variants) on February 23.

iQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: Design

iQOO Neo 9 Pro

Although there’s a lot more to the iQOO Neo 9 Pro than just how it looks, the design is perhaps the most striking element here. Now it’s not like this hasn’t been done before, but given the recent trends of having glass back panels and minimalist styling on smartphones, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s design feels fresh and lively on the red variant. The leather-like finish and two-tone design at the back, as well as the bright red metal frame, make this smartphone a looker from just about any angle.

Many might even like the sharp lines in the shape and form of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro, since this ensures a flat screen devoid of the curved edges that you tend to see on high-end devices. A closer look at the back will also reveal that the back is in fact a textured finish, and the stitch lines separating the white and red portions are just part of the texture itself with no actual thread holding things in place. You obviously have to look very closely to notice this, and from a distance you won’t really be able to tell.

You’ll also be able to spot the dual-camera setup at the back, with each camera module sitting in its own fairly large enclosure alongside the flash and autofocus components. All of this has the iQOO Neo 9 Pro feeling compact and reasonably easy to hold, despite its large size and dimensions. All of that said, it doesn’t necessarily look and feel like a phone that costs 35,999 to us…

iQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: Display

iQOO Neo 9 Pro

The large screen concept is here to stay, and the iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes with a large 6.78-inch 2800x1260-pixel (Full-HD+ resolution) LTPO AMOLED screen. The refresh rate is stated to go up to 144Hz during gaming in certain scenarios, but tops out at 120Hz in regular use or drops to 1Hz for the always-on screen functionality. Screen brightness can bump up to 3000nits under specific use cases. There’s also support for HDR10+ content with compatible apps and services. Interestingly, there is also wet-hand touch technology, which lets you use the touch screen display accurately even with wet or sweaty fingertips.

Usefully, despite the large display, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro retains a relative sense of compactness (in the larger scheme of things) thanks to its slim profile, easy-to-grip design, and classic look. It’s a fairly straightforward and non-complicated approach that fits in with the price level, and many might even appreciate the no-nonsense positioning of the display on this smartphone.

iQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: Specifications and Software

iQOO Neo 9 Pro

Considering that iQOO is a subsidiary of Vivo, it isn’t surprising that the Neo 9 Pro has the same software package as current-generation Vivo smartphones. You get FunTouch OS 14 (based on Android 14) at the base of the device, but there are some additional changes and software-based features that line up with iQOO’s typical positioning as a gaming-focused smartphone maker. FunTouch OS has its quirks that some may find annoying, but on the whole it’s a decent overlay that benefits from Android 14’s significant standardisations for the platform.

On the performance front, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform (released with flagship devices from 2023), along with LPDDR5X RAM (8GB or 12GB) and UFS 4.0 storage (256GB). Like many devices in this segment, there is also an extended RAM feature which lets the device ‘borrow’ some storage to extend the RAM as per necessity by up to 12GB. This is claimed to allow for up to 46 apps to run in the background at the same time.

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro also features the SuperComputing Chip Q1, a self-developed chipset for the device which promises to improve performance in certain popular mobile games such as BGMI, Genshin Impact, and Clash of Clans, among others. This includes an increased refresh rate of 144Hz through frame interpolation, better resolution for improved sharpness, and more.

Other key specifications worth mentioning include dual-SIM (nano) support with 5G connectivity, Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 7 support, and a 5160mAh battery with USB Type-C charging. There is no wireless charging or eSIM support here - this is, after all, one step below the flagship iQOO 12 which was released in early 2024.

Our review unit is the 12GB/256GB variant, which is priced at 39,999. You can also get the 8GB/256GB variant for 37,999, while the 8GB/128GB variant will launch on March 21 for 35,999. 

iQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: Cameras

The iQOO brand isn’t typically known for its camera capabilities, and is instead focused on gaming and other performance-based features as its USP. That said, the close association with Vivo means that iQOO gets to borrow some of its parent brand’s camera chops. This helps the device deliver a fairly consistent and reliable camera experience even with the hardware on hand.

The actual camera setup might come across as a bit simple for a smartphone in this price range; the iQOO Neo 9 Pro features a 50-megapixel IMX920 primary camera, along with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera. Usefully, the phone’s software capabilities ensure that it can do much of what the competition does using just these two camera sensors, including delivering decent low-light photography performance and portrait shots. 

What you do miss out on are specific zoom capabilities beyond basic digital zoom, but other features such as enhance night mode and moon photography hope to make up for it. You can also choose to shoot with all 50 megapixels of the primary sensor, or use Pro mode for a bit of control over your photos.

In practice, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro delivers straightforward and rather consistent performance with regular daylight photography and videography, and even does well with low-light images in the regular capture mode. Digital zoom at up to 2X produces acceptable results, but this isn’t really a lot and anything beyond will show a fair amount of detail loss. 

Portrait shots get the depth perception right, but tend to add too much post-processing beautification that takes away from the accuracy of colours and details. The specific ‘Night’ photography mode uses a bit too much post-processing, and changes the way the colours look entirely. You’re better off taking pictures with the regular modes - these look a lot more accurate and still have plenty of detail to be seen.

iQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: Performance and Battery Life

iQOO Neo 9 Pro

Unlike the situation a few years ago, you no longer need a flagship chipset to get premium-grade performance on an Android smartphone - it’s something that iQOO and other competing brands such as OnePlus have adequately demonstrated with their launches that are a step below their own flagship products. The iQOO Neo 9 Pro isn’t quite at the same level as the iQOO 12, but like the OnePlus 12R, it offers a premium experience at a more affordable price that will appeal to a broader set of buyers.

During our time with the iQOO Neo 9 Pro, we faced no trouble with performance at all - the device is more than capable of handling day-to-day functionality as well as high-performance gaming. BGMI ran smoothly at the highest graphics and frame rate levels, as did other casual games that we tried on the device. The device can manage all of this without any significant heat generation, thanks to Vapour Chamber cooling system which is also present in the iQOO 12. 

While the iQOO Neo 9 Pro doesn’t quite match up to proper 2024 flagship devices in terms of performance, it uses its combination of capabilities to offer a level of performance that is practically flagship-grade in most ways. Despite using a chipset that is now a generation old, the smartphone delivers in all the ways that count, thanks to help from the use of quality components such as current-generation RAM and storage tech.

Battery life is impressive as well; you can expect to get around two full days of use from the phone with normal use (no gaming), thanks to the 5160mAh battery capacity and generally efficient chipset, display, and software. The amount of hours you put into gaming will obviously affect battery life, but even long sessions of around two hours playing BGMI didn’t take too large a chunk out of the battery. You could reasonably expect to get over a day of battery life on the iQOO Neo 9 Pro even if you spend a couple of hours each day playing games.

Even if you do find yourself in a battery crunch, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes with 120W wired charging using the adapter and cable included in the box. You can get a full charge in roughly 30 minutes, which can come in very handy if you have a tendency to indulge in long gaming sessions that drain the battery quickly. Fortunately, even charging doesn’t create too much heat in the device.


iQOO Neo 9 Pro

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro is a surprisingly good smartphone for the price, offering a potent combination of performance, battery life, camera capabilities, and display quality. The design, while interesting and likeable in its own way, is perhaps the only parameter where things get too subjective. However, in all other ways, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro didn’t give us too much to complain about.

As good as the iQOO Neo 9 Pro is, we have to point out here - this smartphone isn’t for everyone. Looking past the obvious tendencies of brand recognition and design-based positioning, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro fits the requirements of gamers who don’t want to spend too much on a premium phone, taking advantage of the excellent Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and current-generation hardware to offer a reliable overall experience centred on gaming. It’s worth considering for young buyers looking for performance, while everyday users may be better off with the OnePlus 12R at around this price, although the iQOO Neo 9 Pro will give you more storage and RAM at the starting price of the 12R.

Stuff Says

Great for gamers who don’t want to spend flagship money
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Looks fresh and appealing to young buyers

  1. Decent performance, especially with gaming

  1. Good camera performance for everyday shots

  1. Very good battery life, fast charging

  1. Software and specific features may not be for everyone

  1. No wireless charging or eSIM support

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Display: 6.78-inch AMOLED with LTPO
Internal Storage: 128GB/256GB
Main Cameras: 50MP + 8MP
Front Camera: 16MP
Charging: USB Type-C, 120W fast charging
Software: FunTouch OS 14 based on Android 14