Set the tone for the Android flagships of 2023

iQuest On and On, or iQOO as it’s popularly known, may have started in 2019 as a gaming-focused sub-brand of Vivo, but its “performance above all” motto soon made iQOO a strong company. all general purpose smartphone brand in its own right. From the iQOO 7 Legend to the iQOO 9 Pro, iQOO has grown in popularity and refinement. And after using their latest iQOO 11 in his Legend avatar, I’m starting to understand why.

Attentive observers of the flagship segment will also know that the iQOO 11 is also the first smartphone to feature the new and much-anticipated Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 system on the chip, paving the way for the OnePlus 11 and the Samsung S23 series knows that will follow soon. You can pick up the iQOO 11 in two configurations – a base model with 8GB of LPDDR5X storage and 256GB of speedy UFS 4.0 storage (Rs. 59,999) and a full-featured 16GB/256GB variant, both in one of two colorways available – a sober black model and the Legend variant with a white back panel and a racing stripe design inspired by BMW Motorsport. Whichever variant you choose, you’ll get an AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, 120W fast charging, and Android 13 – there’s a lot to like!

In my hand is the iQOO 11 Legend variant with the visually striking BMW Motorsport inspired tri-color racing stripes that we’ve seen on iQOO phones in the past that just don’t get old! The finish is also a bit different, with a layer of faux leather (silicone) on the glass, which together with the metal midframe feels super good in the hand and very premium. In the two weeks I’ve worn the device, the white backing hasn’t discolored or stained. But there’s also a clear sleeve in the box if you want to be extra careful. It’s undoubtedly a big phone and a range for most hands; but the weight distribution and grippy, curved rear edges make this 205-gram phone feel comfortable in your hand. This slightly oversized triple camera island on the back is inspired by Vivo phones in the recent past, but stabilizes the phone on a flat surface. Interestingly, the iQOO 11 includes an IR blaster to control your home appliances, but what it lacks is likely to draw more attention (and disappointment) at this price point – an official IP rating and wireless charging.

The front features a greatly upgraded 6.78-inch E6 AMOLED panel with 4th Gen LTPO technology that dynamically refreshes the screen between 1Hz and 144Hz based on screen content while conserving battery power. I’m yet to see many apps and games that take advantage of the E6 panel’s extra refresh cycles or twice the refresh rate, but I suspect some app tweaks will come over time. With a resolution of 2K/1440p and a peak brightness of 1800 nits (outdoors), the content viewing experience is crisp and vivid, especially when watching HRD10 content (though no support for the Dolby Vision standard). A snappy optical fingerprint scanner, a decent feel and the Victus protection made of Corning Gorilla Glass are on par with the course.

iQOO was first with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset which we launched back in November and while the jury is out on the OnePlus 11 (not for long though!) and with the Samsung flagships for 2023 , which are yet to come onto the market, the iQOO can lay claim to the title of “fastest Android in circulation”. Building on the success of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 with a brand new Adreno 740 graphics chip and the added support of Vivo’s V2 chip (boost camera, display and games), the iQOO 11 is capable of pretty much any task you want to throw at it . I’ve played a few games from Call of Duty: Mobile to Apex Legends, at the highest frame rates/graphics, and the phone responded deftly without heating up as much as I expected, albeit during short gaming sessions. Some of that is due to the huge vapor cooling chamber on board, while others are due to the choice of faster LPDDR5X RAM and faster UFS 4.0 storage. There is even an option to add extra frames for games that don’t support high frame rate games. Remember that the iQOO 11 is suitable for gaming. For sustained performance over extended periods of play, we’ll have to wait for a ROG phone for a consistent gaming package. Battery consumption isn’t too bad, with the 5,000mAh battery in the iQOO 11 lasting a day for everyday use (including some games and map navigation). When it’s draining, the included 120W fast charger fully charges the battery in less than 25 minutes, which is fast enough for all intents and purposes.

The iQOO 11 runs FunTouch OS 13 based on Android 13, and iQOO guarantees three years of OS and four years of security updates, both of which are great steps. While one likes the customization options and the clean UI, there is a lot of preinstalled bloatware on the phone and spam notifications that take the shine off the device. Fortunately, most can be disabled or uninstalled.

This massive camera module isn’t just for looks; It also houses a 50-megapixel Samsung GN5 camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 13-megapixel telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. iQOO phones have performed well in the past, benefiting from Vivo’s strong skills in manufacturing the X-series flagships and the added boost of the custom V2 chip and new image signal processor on the Snapdragon chip. Daylight performance is good, with images where colors are a bit saturated (red and green are most often confused), but dynamic range is good, with well-exposed shadows. The autofocus is fast and the camera snaps pictures quickly even in low light. The ultra-wide, on the other hand, lacks detail and suffers from poorer dynamic range. The telephoto 2x shooter performed slightly better in good light, but had mixed results in fading light. There’s certainly room for improvement, but iQOO has tested the 11’s cameras well, one that it should certainly build on in future software updates.

The iQOO 11 5G starts the year fairly impressively for Android flagships, with top-of-the-line performance and a sleek design, and without compromising on display and fast charging, at a price point that will give both OnePlus and Samsung some pause in pricing theirs flagships. It’s competitively priced but lacks the right IP rating and wireless charging, two elements of hygiene in phones operating in this territory, and the ultrawide requires a bit more work. Regardless of the outcome in the coming weeks, the iQOO 11 is in the company of its competitors, but one would certainly wait and see what Samsung and OnePlus have to offer.

iQOO 11 5G
Advantages: Premium build and design, excellent display, good performance, good primary camera with low light output, Android 13, fast charging and good battery life
Disadvantages: No IP rating, weak ultrawide camera, bloatware and notification spam
Valuation: 8/10
Price: Rs. 64,999 (16/256GB), Rs. 59,999 (8/256GB)

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