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HomeNewsThe iQOO 9T is a killer phone that you probably can't buy

The iQOO 9T is a killer phone that you probably can’t buy


Pros

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor
  • Capable triple rear cameras
  • Fast 120W wired charging
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • No wireless charging
  • Form factor can be a bit wide
  • Limited availability

Last month we evaluated the OnePlus 10T and found it to be a solid Android smartphone with a reasonable $649 price. The iQOO 9 was recently released for smartphone customers in India for ₹49,999.00 (approx USD$625), about the same price as the 10T. While I had limited connectivity and couldn’t fully test its cellular performance, I was able to spend a few weeks with the Alpha black model. iQOO also offers one in the Legend color that has BMW Motorsport striping on the back.

The iQOO 9T is one of the few phones sporting the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, superfast LPDDR5 RAM, and 120W FlashCharge.

These are primarily flagship specifications for a price hundreds less than most flagships. It is a big phone, but feels great in the hand with a metal frame and frosted rear glass panel.

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I’ve been using the 12/256GB model of the phone with my T-Mobile SIM card. LTE is well supported on five bands by T-Mobile with the n41 band providing 5G connectivity. It worked well enough for me to carry out communications and also was perfectly fine on Wi-Fi.

Specifications

Processor Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 Mobile Platform
Display 6.78-inch, 2,400×1,080-pixel resolution
Operating system Android 12 with Funtouch OS 12
RAM 8/12GB options
Storage 128/256GB options
Cameras 50MP main, 13MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto. 16MP front-facing camera.
Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, NFC, FM radio
Sensors Accelerometer, In-Display Fingerprint Sensor, Electronic Compass, Gyroscope, Proximity Sensor, Infrared
Battery 4,700-mAh non-removable with 120W wired fast-charging
Dimensions 165 x 77 x 8 mm and 206 grams
Color Alpha Black and Legend White

Hardware

Looking at the specifications, the iQOO 9T has nearly all flagship specifications and is a lovely piece of gear. The RAM is even Enhanced LPDDR5 with Enhanced UFS 3.1 on the internal storage, so the phone is a screamer and it never lagged or got held back by anything I threw at it.

The display supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz with a smart-switch option that automatically adjusts the refresh rate based on application usage and system power consumption. It has a peak brightness of 1,500 nits with HDR 10 Plus certification and looks fantastic. The front-facing camera is centered in a hole-punch design at the top of the display.

Also: iPhone 14 Pro makes the notch come alive, finally

iQOO 9T balanced on its box on a pebbled surface.

The iQOO 9T is available in black or white with BMW Motorsport striping.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The hardware of the iQOO 9T is fantastic, with a rock-solid feel and elegant design. The phone is a bit wide and large, but that also means that media content plays well on the phone’s gorgeous AMOLED display. It certainly helps that the stereo speakers also sound great.

Speaking of media and entertainment, gamers will appreciate the V1 Plus chip that increases the frame rate and optimizes colors. The latest generation of under-display fingerprint sensors is present, and in my testing, it worked flawlessly. I used it in combination with the face unlock feature with a speedy and consistent response.

IQOO 9T from the side

The volume and power buttons are on the right side

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The phone has a mic and IR port on the top, and a speaker, USB-C, mic, and SIM card tray along the bottom. The power and volume buttons are on the right side.

Also: OnePlus 10T review: Speed is the name of the game, but is it enough?

On the back of the iQOO 9T we find three camera lenses and a flashlight. The top left camera is the primary 50MP GN5 camera with dual pixel technology and OIS. The 13MP ultrawide camera is positioned below it while the 12MP portrait camera is off to the right of the 13MP camera lens.

The flat, rectangular camera section of the IQOO 9T

Three rear cameras power a capable shooting experience

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The back glass has a frosted matte-black finish with a glossy black upper third around the camera array. The frame is metal, and the front has a full glass display with no cutouts for the camera or fingerprint sensor.

Wireless charging is not supported on the 9T, but wired fast-charging is, and a 120W charger is included. iQOO says the phone can be charged to 50% in 8 minutes and to 100% in just 20 minutes.

Software

The iQOO 9T launches with Android 12 and Funtouch OS 12 Global. Our review unit came with the Aug. 1 Android security update and it has received a couple of minor phone updates since its arrival.

The Funtouch OS 12 user interface provides a fairly stock Android experience; a swipe over on the home screen reveals Google Discover, and a swipe up on the home screen shows the app launcher and widgets to choose from. The widgets are made for the Funtouch OS user interface.

iQOO 9T's back

The matte frosted glass looks and feels great.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The other area where I see some custom influence is in the settings options available on the phone. Dynamic effects, ultra game mode, and shortcuts/accessibility have device-specific options such as animations, 4D game vibration, and various notifications.

We also see some apps specific to the device for web browsing, photo albums, an infrared remote app, and theme options. There are a couple of other suggested apps, but these are not installed, so it is a fairly clean smartphone.

Also: The 8 best Android phones: Better than the iPhone?

Bottom line

The iQOO 9T is nearly equivalent to the OnePlus 10Tin terms of specs and pricing, with the iQOO 9T being slightly wider and taller. The 9T may have slightly better cameras and feels a bit more premium thanks to the metal frame.

While I haven’t been connected to all of the available 5G networks, I did use the phone with a T-Mobile SIM that had LTE coverage. The large-capacity battery performed well, easily lasting through more than a day of heavy usage. I don’t game much on my phones, but I did load up and play some racing games to check out the iQOO 9T’s performance. It was a blast to smoothly cruise around courses without lag or the phone heating up.

The iQOO 9T is a solid flagship phone with an upper midrange price. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the photos and could use this phone as my daily driver.

Alternatives to consider

It’s great to see phones with flagship specifications available for hundreds less than the flagship models from Samsung, Google, and Apple. Here are some other phones to consider in the $500 to $700 price range.



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