iQOO Z3 5G Review: Questing its Way into the Mid-Segment
Taking the middle path
- The iQOO Z3 5G is iQOO’s first phone targeted at the mid-segment of the Indian phone market.
- The phone is the first phone in India to come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 768 processor. It also comes with a 120 Hz refresh rate display which can adjust as per the content being shown on it.
- Although priced at a very competitive starting price of Rs 19,990, the iQOO 7 5G will face a fair amount of competition especially from the Poco X3 Pro, the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and perhaps even the OnePlus Nord CE.
It has so far been the Vivo sub-brand with a strong gaming accent specializing in phones with flagship-level specs at flagship killing prices (oh yes, that reminds us of someone), but iQOO is now looking at other market segments too. And with the Z3 5G, the brand whose initials stand for “I Quest On and On” now has set its sights on the mid-segment. But does the iQOO Z3 5G have what it takes to survive in what has become a super competitive zone of late?
First with a Snapdragon 768
The highlight of the iQOO Z3 5G is its processor. This is the first phone in the country to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 768. As its name indicates, this is an update over the much-acclaimed Snapdragon 765, and well, while the difference in performance from a Nord (the original) will not jump at you, the iQOO Z3 5G seems very snappy. Moreover, it has plenty of RAM and storage to spare – the variants are 6 GB/ 128 GB, 8 GB /128 GB, and 8 GB / 256 GB, with RAM being LPDDR4X and storage being UFS 2.2. Storage is, incidentally, expandable using a microSD card, provided you are ready to give up one of the two SIM card slots. Speaking of SIM slots, the phone comes with support for 5G connectivity, so it does have a certain level of future proof-ness.
A good performer
In terms of performance, the combination is pretty much mostly on point. No, it will not challenge flagships in the gaming department, but you can play Call of Duty and Asphalt at maxed-out settings. Again, the experience will not be crazy smooth (as on the Snapdragon 870 or 860), but the chip can handle heavy gaming. And, of course, it sails through casual titles without breaking a sweat at all. Speaking of sweat, this being an iQOO, you get a five-layer liquid cooling system, so the phone hardly ever heats up. Multi-tasking on the phone is a smooth experience as well – we were able to run more than a dozen apps without the phone ever showing any signs of discomfort.
The large 6.58-inch full HD+ display is an LCD one, but it is full HD+ and has a 120 Hz refresh rate. What’s more, it is a Smart Switch display, which automatically switches from a higher to a lower refresh rate depending on the content being shown on the phone. This is a great battery-saving tactic. You can also switch between 60 Hz, 90 Hz, and 120 Hz manually if you wish.
Some might be disappointed at the absence of AMOLED (which is becoming a staple feature in this segment) and would miss its poppy, over-the-top colors. Still, the general viewing experience was very good. Where the iQOO Z3 5G loses out a bit in terms of multimedia and gaming is in the absence of stereo speakers. The single speaker on the phone delivers impressive volume levels. Still, it cannot deliver the sort of encompassing experience that two speakers can – and notably, a number of the device’s competitors are offering this option. There is a 3.5 mm audio jack, though, and the phone comes with support for Hi-Res audio.
Cameras that are full of color
The iQOO Z3 5G comes with a triple rear camera arrangement – a 64-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 2-megapixel main camera. And the main sensor certainly turns in a very impressive performance if you are the type that likes bright colors. The ultrawide sensor is a decent enough one, and the macro sensor is largely decorative, but the main sensor saves the day for the iQOO Z3 5G. We got very colorful shots, with bright and poppy colors. A shade of pink did seem to appear in many shots, making even snaps taken in bright sunlight appear a little evening-ish. But by and large, we think most folks will like the main sensor on this phone. There are a few minor focusing issues at times, but nothing that we have not seen on other devices. We were in particular impressed by how well the phone sometimes captured colors even in low light conditions.
Video is steady enough for most social networks, and you can record 4K video at 60 FPS. Selfies are surprisingly not saturated, although some skin smoothing does happen even with the beauty mode turned off. The phone runs on FunTouch OS 11.1 on top of Android 11. While that does mean a slightly more cluttered interface than is usual, especially in the face of the more Spartan Oxygen OS and Xiaomi’s revamped MIUI 12.5, you do end up getting a lot of snapping and editing options. So if you are patient enough, there is a lot you can do with these cameras. An interesting UI touch is that the camera switches to “portrait mode” by default when you switch to the selfie camera. Of course, you can go for a normal snap too, but this is a nice touch.
A battery that charges really fast
Making sure that all this keeps ticking is the job of a 4400 mAh battery. Keep the Smart Switch option on, and you will get through a day or normal use easily. But if you keep the refresh rate at 90 Hz or 120 Hz, you will struggle towards the end of the day. It is a good performer, but some might feel a little let down when you compare it with the likes of the Mi 10i and the Galaxy M51, which come with bigger batteries and better battery lives. However, on the flip side, the phone comes with a 55W charger with support for FlashCharge, which charges the battery in about fifty minutes, which is very impressive. Honestly, the speed of charging compensates for the slightly below-par battery life.
A phone that looks striking enough
All of this is packed inside a phone that looks very smart indeed. There are no major surprises – the front is all-display with Panda protection, although a drop-notch at this price point seems a little odd. The back is curved and shiny, with a rather slim, rectangular camera unit that juts out ever so slightly. The back is carbonate, but it looks quite beautiful and comes in two colors, Ace Black and Cyber Blue. We got the Cyber Blue variant, and it was notable for the way in which it reflected different shades. We also loved how the camera unit had a certain shiny element to it. A fair lot is happening on the back of the phone if you get the Cyber Blue edition, and that is a good thing, in our opinion.
The phone rests on an aluminum frame with a swiftly working fingerprint scanner on the side (you can hear us cheering!), and it is impressively slim at 8.5 mm and tips the scales at a not-very-heavy 185 grams (that slightly smaller battery helps, perhaps). No, this is not exactly a small phone, but it is definitely a sleek one. One that you would not mind flaunting at all. What’s more, it can take a splash of water too, thanks to an IP 52 rating. This is one of the better-looking phones out there.
A good start, but against some stiff competition
At Rs 19,990 for the 6GB / 128GB variant, Rs 20,990 for the 8GB / 128 GB variant and Rs 22,990 for the 8GB / 256GB variant, the iQOO Z3 5G is a promising debut by iQOO in the mid-segment. It is first off the mark with the Snapdragon 768 chip, comes with an eye-catching design and has no major weaknesses. It, however, goes up against some very formidable challengers.
Gamers would be tempted by the Poco X3 Pro, which may not have 5G, but easily has the most powerful processor in any device below Rs 25,000, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 860. Then is the forthcoming OnePlus Nord CE, which fights on a cleaner user experience. Also in the reckoning are Xiaomi’s surprise hit of the year, the 108-megapixel toting Mi 10i, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, which adds a Super AMOLED display and a 108-megapixel camera to the mix, although it misses out on 5G. And finally, there is the little matter of the massive battery toting Samsung Galaxy M51, and slightly more expensive but way more powerful Galaxy F62 – neither has 5G, but both come with good cameras, superb displays, and massive batteries.
The iQOO Z3 clearly has its hands full. But to its immense credit, it does not concede major ground to any of its rivals. So if you are questing for a good mid-segment phone with 5G connectivity, the iQOO Z3 deserves to be on your radar.
- Neat and eye-catching design
- Smooth performance
- Fast charging battery
- Decent (if oversaturated) cameras
- Battery life comparatively on the low side
- Some might expect AMOLED at this price
- No stereo speakers
|Design & appearance||
The iQOO Z3 5G is iQOO's first phone targeted at the mid-segment of the Indian phone market. Although priced at a very competitive starting price of Rs 19,990, the iQOO Z3 5G will face a fair amount of competition.