iQOO Z3 Review: A solid performer in mid-range segment

iQOOZ3

With the imminent 5G network becoming the talk of the town, Vivo’s spin-off brand iQOO is all geared up to cash in on the opportunity. All four smartphones, including the more recent iQOO Z3, launched by the brand till date support 5G. With gaming being at the core of the smartphone brand, the iQOO Z3 falls in the mid-range segment and comes in three RAM/ROM (6GB+128GB, 8GB+128GB and 8GB+256GB)configurations and two-colour options- Ace Black and Cyber Blue. Having some really interesting features and specs, this is the first smartphone in India powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G SoC. Meanwhile, the one that I had for review was the top-of-the-line 8GB+256GB variant priced at Rs 22,990. Although it looks solid on paper, is it so in practical too? Let’s find out.

Design

The Cyber Blue review unit that I received will give you a feeling of the Vivo V20 Pro with vibrant shades of blue colours on the rear panel. It’s lightweight and thin and has not compromised on the design front. The smartphone’s frame and rear panel are made of polycarbonate with matte finish on the back to resist fingerprint smudges.

The smartphone flaunts an eye-catchy design at the rear panel with a protruding vertical camera module on the top left and an iQOO branding at the bottom. While the left side of the device is plain, you get the volume rockers and the power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor on the right. There is a SIM card tray at the top, whereas at the bottom you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB-C port, and a speaker.

Going with the trend, the smartphone is dust and water-resistant, thanks to the IP52 rating. Although it’s a foolish idea to submerge any device in water, this feature is enough to give you the confidence of protection against light splashes of water and dust. Overall, the iQOO Z3 is solid in build quality and will give you a premium feel in your hand, aided by the curved edges and the non-slippery finish at the backside.

Display

The smartphone houses a 6.58-inch Full-HD+ IPS LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 180Hz touch sampling rate, both of which aid the phone’s multimedia and gaming capabilities. The company has added ‘Smart Switch’ mode in the display setting for a smooth user experience. It allows the phone’s screen to use variable refresh rate in accordance with on-screen content requirements. It has a 90.61 screen-to-body ratio which is not bad. The screen further comes with Panda Glass protection layered on top for scratch resistance. The display has very thin bezels on the sides and a big one on the chin, which looks a bit awkward at this price point. The waterdrop-style notch that houses a selfie camera, is another minor but prominent design element that shows corners are cut to keep the pricing low.

The display offers a pixel density of 401ppi and is HDR10 compliant. It looks sharp and offers good viewing angles. It’s a good deal for watching movies, reading texts, viewing web pages and playing games. The screen is good for indoor use but struggles a bit in sunlight conditions owing to limited peak brightness level and glossy glass.

Platform

As mentioned above, iQOO Z3 is the first smartphone in India powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G system-on-chip paired with integrated Adreno 620 GPU. The 8GB RAM model that I reviewed comes with virtual RAM features, which treats a portion (3GB) of storage as RAM to facilitate demanding tasks. As for its operating system, the iQOO Z3 5G runs Android11 based Funtouch 11.1 and uses LPDDR 4X RAM and UFS 2.2.

In terms of performance, the smartphone is super smooth and will not let you down. It performs really well while multitasking, video streaming and gaming, besides normal usage such as browsing the internet and social media. Its solid performance is further complemented by thermal efficiency, as the handset features a five-layer liquid cooling system, which helps in keeping the thermals in check. It’s also good for a long-duration GPS navigation stretch, as the phone doesn’t get hot.

Since gaming is a part of the iQOO gene, the smartphone works reasonably well. It covers a wide spectrum of in-gaming enhancements. There is an ‘Ultra Game Mode’ which optimises CPU/GPU, RAM, and more when playing games. Taken as a whole, it’s a seamless smartphone for gaming.

On the flipside, there’s lots of bloatware present, which you have to manage as per your preference.

Cameras

The iQOO Z3 packs a strong triple rear camera setup, featuring a 64MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, and a 2MP sensor with an f/2.4 lens. It sports a 16MP sensor on the front, for selfies and videos.

Performance-wise, the cameras work categorically well in everyday photography with crisp and sharp pictures. The 64MP sensor, in particular, does its job suitably, and photographs in both dim light and excessively bright, broad daylight do well to retain colour accuracy and acceptable dynamic range. The 16MP selfie camera is good too. It takes vibrant pictures with good colour tones and sharpness. The cameras, however, struggle a bit in low-light conditions.

On the videography front, the camera is capable of recording 4k videos at 60 fps. The rear camera supports EFB (eye, face, body) autofocus tracking, and Super Night Mode supported by several filters for low light photography.

Interestingly, the iQOO Z3 breaks the stereotype of gaming smartphones where cameras are usually not considered a strong area.

Battery

The latest smartphone by iQOO comes equipped with a 4,400mAh battery backed by 55W FlashCharge fast charging. Standing tall on its claim, the phone takes merely 20 minutes to charge 50 per cent and nearly an hour to charge fully. It lasts for about a day on regular usage including gaming, watching videos, photography and browsing the internet and social media. Its battery life is definitely quite impressive.

Conclusion

The iQOO Z3 looks pleasing to the eyes and is future-ready owing to 5G support. It has some outstanding features and specs such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G processor, which are not present in every mid-range smartphone. It excels in gaming but definitely not that good in photography because of its average low-light camera performance. It has unpredictable custom-made Android 11 OS but is good enough to be shortlisted. Taken as a whole, it’s a great value for money phone.

Ramesh has over 12 years of experience in different departments of journalism. Having a strong nose for news, he has worked with The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Delhi Press, News Wire Service and Governance Today in different capacities. He is a Delhi University graduate and an alumnus of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Delhi, and St. Xavier's School, Muzaffarpur. He loves writing over issues of social relevance. His craving for smart technology brought him to My Mobile where he has grown up to be a tech journo.

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