iQOO 11 Review: Snappy performance with top-tier camera experience
- iQOO today launched its flagship smartphone - the iQOO 11 - in India.
- It is the first smartphone to be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.
- It starts at a price of ₹59,999 for the 8GB RAM & 256GB storage variant.
AdvertisementiQOO launched its flagship device in India today, the iQOO 11 5G. A smartphone boasting the tag of ‘World’s fastest’ thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. The first device to be powered by Qualcomm’s flagship chipset, iQOO 11, has set itself up with some high expectations. But that’s not all, initially pitched like an independent brand, iQOO now shares more with its parent company Vivo than before. So, by the onus of being the flagship, iQOO 11 also has to be the smartphone that helps a consumer differentiate between the brands. Is it successful in its attempt? And does it live up to its claim of being the world’s fastest smartphone? I answer that in my full review.
Price & Availability
iQOO 11 is available in two variants. There is a variant with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, offered at ₹59,999. Finally, there is a variant with 16GB of RAM paired with 256GB of internal storage priced at ₹64,999. The device is available on Amazon India’s website.
iQOO 11’s design is developed over the outgoing 9 Pro and not the regular 9. The building blocks for all three smartphones are similar, with familiarity in design and execution. For example, when you first look at iQOO 11, you can observe familiarity. It sports a blocky design, a healthy mix of curved and flat edges.
This is a big phone, standing tall with a 6.7-inch display, yet it is easy to hold. It’s not a light smartphone, but the weight distribution combined with the design gives you a confident grip. However, I have massive hagrid-like hands, so it was easier for me to adapt. A colleague of mine with small hands was not very comfortable holding the device. Take that as a heads-up.
Coming to aesthetics, the smartphone is available in 2 colors. The one with me is the white one sporting the BMW M branding. This is my favorite color since it screams exclusivity, and also because I am a gearhead. The red and blue stripes running across the back add a character to the device, being well executed and not looking out of place. The white also sports a textured back where the material used is of top quality and hasn’t registered any ugly smudges so far. It also provides a better grip.
For people with a subtle taste, there is also a black color variant that you can get. It’s definitely less flamboyant but also misses out on the textured back.
The back also houses the most peculiar design detail of the device. The massive camera module. Unlike the 9 Pro’s horizontal camera placement, the iQOO 11’s camera is vertically placed. Despite being massive, it is not protruding to the point that it annoys you. The metal encasing around it also looks rather premium. To give you a real-life example, I have had people come up and ask what device it was by just looking at the back.
The build quality also reflects on the fit and finish of the device. The volume rockers and the power button are sturdy. At the bottom, we have a speaker grill next to a USB Type-C charging port and the SIM card tray. The smartphone supports two nano SIMs.
iQOO also provides a Type-C to AUX converter inside the box for wired earphones, something we don’t see often. A small addition, but enough for a shoutout in this review.
AdvertisementThe iQOO 11 improves upon both the iQOO 9 and 9 Pro in terms of display quality while maintaining the same size of 6.78 inches. This is an E6 AMOLED screen with a 1440 x 3200 pixels resolution. The E6 represents the smartphone’s peak brightness, which is 1800 nits.
This specced-up panel delivers one of the best visual experiences I have witnessed so far. Backing up the numbers, the screen indeed brings to life the content you are watching with sharpness and details. The color accuracy here is also top-notch. I watched Andor on Hotstar with the iQOO 11 and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The HDR was spot on, and the motions on the CGI-heavy show were smooth and clear. Black levels on the screen were also very deep and well-balanced, with no inconsistency.
The display, with its optimum brightness, is also easy to look at outdoors. I have gone out on sunny days with the iQOO 11 and have not faced any issues reading the content on display.
This is also prevalent with the always-on panel; it does dim down but maintains a good balance.
There is an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is fairly quick to unlock the device. However, It’s not as snappy as the one we see on Samsung Flagships like the S22 plus. But, this is something I could notice as a reviewer, a regular consumer might not even bother with it.
The screen also supports a max refresh rate of 144Hz, a bump from the iQOO 9 series. As one would expect, the screen also doesn’t falter in this aspect. The refresh rate is fluid and keeps up with the demand of the visual. I like to read a lot of blogs online while scouting through memes and tweets at the same time. This is a section where a high refresh rate comes in handy. While smooth in motion, the display is also easy to control and doesn’t necessarily create a jarring effect while you switch between apps.
However, I have a gripe with the execution here in terms of options for selecting the refresh rate. The iQOO 11 offers three modes for screen refresh rate. There is the basic 60Hz, then the maxed-out 144Hz, and the smart switch. While the smart switch here generally works well, there is a noticeable lag when you switch to a game from the web browser. Yet, this is at par with the OnePlus 10T, which also impressed me with switching refresh rates.
Better yet, I feel an option for 90Hz would have also helped here since that would provide a fluid experience without compromising the battery. Asus ROG Phone 6 had done this, with multiple options for refresh rates, which made the experience even more intuitive.
Coming back to the positives, iQOO has not held back with the audio setup. We get a dual stereo speaker setup here, which is fairly loud and worthy of the display it is paired with. The output also retains details. This is handy when watching content since you can easily differentiate between the dialogues, background action, and music.
AdvertisementNow, we come to the section in which iQOO faces the most critique, the UI. iQOO smartphones now include the iQOO 11 feature Vivo’s FunTouch OS. A UI available across Vivo smartphones.
Purists who were first-round buyers of iQOO complain about this, saying iQOO smartphones should have dedicated skin.
I take a neutral stance on this. The philosophy - if it isn’t broken, why fix it? is how you can look at this situation. Fun touch OS is mostly reliable and easy to use. And with custom tuning with the hardware on board, you get a different experience than a Vivo device. Of course, you can always install more skins or launchers if you want to. Yes, iQOO ideally should come up with a different skin, but if it doesn’t, even then, it can’t be a deal breaker.
The iQOO 11 runs Android OS 13 with FunTouch UI 13, the experience of which is very familiar to me. The execution is much better here with the better processor and the latest Google OS. I want to start with the positives of the UI first.
Primarily customization and accessibility. FunTouch OS provides some decent options for customizing the skin. We are talking about wallpapers, themes, and text fonts as well. If you like to give flavor to your device, then FunTouch OS has plenty of options.
AdvertisementHowever, I find it odd that the BMW edition with me doesn't have a dedicated BMW skin. Yes, the phone looks exclusive with the BMW branding, but a dedicated theme in the phone would have made it even more appealing and exclusive.
The UI was also very stable and bug-free, I have been using it for a week and have yet to find an issue. I was also greeted with familiar and my favorite add-ons on the FunTouch OS. Like the voice recorder app, which is very well-versed. You can increase the speed of recording and even edit audio here. Very helpful if you are a video producer like myself and do voice-overs.
The widgets on FunTouch OS 13 are also useful; my favorite is the calendar. Mostly because of the blocky texts and bold fonts.
But everything is not perfect here. FunTouch OS also brings back bloatware. While in check and mostly uninstallable, it still baffles me why it exists on a flagship device. While third-party apps can be uninstalled, the suggested app windows dubbed hot games & hot apps can not be removed. These windows hold suggested applications that you can download from the Play Store. There are also app suggestions on the drop-down menu.
The saving grace is I have yet to come across any shady apps here, but this situation shouldn’t exist on a device of this caliber. Another reason to give iQOO a clean chit here is the update cycle. The brand has promised three years of Android updates and four years of security updates on the device. The ads may be controlled with an OTA update in the future.
This section sets the iQOO 11 apart from the competition. And I am talking about devices priced twice as this smartphone. Under the hood, you will find the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which makes the iQOO 11 the first smartphone to carry the chipset.
While expecting a blazing-fast performance, I thought of running a Geekbench score for the device. And I was astonished.
The single-core score for the device was 1340, while the multi-core score was 3994. This is a significant bump over the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which I recently encountered in the Asus ROG Phone 6. The single-core score there was 1095, and the multi-core score was 2806.
I also ran a 3D-mark wildlife test on the phone, and the result was surprising, to say the least. The overall score read in bold letters - maxed out! And the frame rates were constant between 48-96fps.
While those are some concrete numbers, how is the real-world usage of the device? Excellent.
iQOO 11 is an overkill to handle most of the tasks we throw at it. Basic computing feels like a puny task. The bootup speeds were snappy, and the apps would load up in a jiffy. I am talking about both heavy and light apps.
Gaming on the iQOO 11 is also unparalleled. I played COD Mobile on the device, and the phone failed to falter even one bit. I am talking about maxed-out graphics with respectable frame rates and fluid motion. The 144Hz refresh rate on the screen combined with the SOC makes the experience even more immersive. The rendering speed was also top-notch and reminded me of my time with the ROG Phone 6, specifically designed for gaming. I hope iQOO works on the game mode a bit more here since it is quite generic right now. Maybe creating different profiles and set-ups can extract even more from the smartphone. Admittedly I am being greedy here.
I generally averaged about 2 hours of COD Mobile every night with long sessions with my friends. And in that time, I wouldn’t notice any uncanny heating on the device. The battery drainage was also fairly good, considering I had the settings maxed out. The phone does heat up a bit, but only when we shoot with the camera. I touch upon that in the camera section.
The variant with me packs in 16GB of RAM, which not only provides quick speeds, but app retention here is also commendable. I would generally have up to 20 apps working in the background, including COD Mobile, and the phone won’t hang. Yes, of course, we do have to consider that this is a brand-new device. There is also an option for RAM boost, which I can’t find a use case for here.
The internal storage on my variant is 256GB, which is more than enough to store most of the apps.
The smartphone packs in a 5000mAh battery, and anything less would have been a disappointment. I was particularly curious about the battery backup on the 8 Gen 2 chip. And so far, the experience has been at par with the 8+ Gen 1, which is respectable. The average screen time on the iQOO 11 was five and a half hours, which would go up to 6 hours on lighter days.
The 120W fast charger would take about 30 minutes to take the smartphone from 0-100%, with mobile data turned on.
The iQOO 11 features a triple camera set-up, all of which have a unique utility. There is a primary 50MP sensor paired with a 12MP telephoto lens and an 8MP ultrawide sensor. Yes, there is no macro sensor here, but frankly, the telephoto lens brings more promising features like the supermoon mode, which I will cover here.
I want to start with the primary sensor, which delivers stunning output. The daylight performance from the camera is really good, with the camera retaining details and colors. The dynamic range is also surprisingly good, and the white balance is spot on. However, I would like to point out that these results were generally good with the natural color switch enabled in the camera app. There is a visible difference between the results if you turn it off.
The full 50MP resolution images look the same on the surface, but when you try to crop them, you realize the images are better detailed.
The telephoto sensor is something that had me excited. The 2X zoom here is solid, and the images looked very sharp in broad daylight. That being said, switching to the telephoto does have a change in color tone, which is noticeable. Also, the amount of noise increases significantly under artificial lighting or low lighting.
Similarly, the ultrawide sensor delivers undersaturated colors but opens up the frame for some amazing shots. I wish iQOO could have upgraded to a better ultrawide sensor here since this is the weakest link against the other two.
The portrait shots here are standard, but that doesn't mean they aren’t good. The edge detection is spot on, and you can control the bokeh.
Now, iQOO is promoting the V2 chip on the smartphone and claims the low light photography is to watch out for. After my testing, I can say they are halfway through it.
The images taken in default mode by themselves look pretty decent, and in low-light shots, the camera takes some time to process. However, the results surprised me 10/10 times compared to what I saw on the viewfinder. The saturation was spot on, and the details were well-maintained. However, you do have to take your sweet time to set up a frame. Random shots might look underwhelming.
In the dedicated night mode, the images look mostly the same; however, the colors tend to get a tad bit better. Significantly the reds. There is a negligible amount of bump in sharpness, and the noise is reduced to some extent.
iQOO 11 is the phone that has surprised me a lot with its post-processing prowess. The supermoon mode is the primary example. While clicking the image, the camera continuously detected the moon, sometimes not even showing it in the frame. But after the snap, the results were stunning. Yes, not as detailed as what we see on the S22 Ultra, but not underwhelming by any means.
For video performance, the camera can record 8K videos up to 30FPS, which might be overkill for most users, and the normal 4K does a fair job. The sweet spot is 4K 30FPS. The results are solid, with the camera holding focus and registering details. The color reproduction was spot on; frankly, you can shoot quality content with the device.
That said, the results do dip when you record videos in low lighting, with the noise largely eating the details.
The audio recorder from the in-built microphone is solid and does eliminate the noise significantly.
The selfie camera is a 16MP shooter, and definitely one of the better sensors I have tested in a while. The skin tones here were closer to the source, and the images were crisp.
The video quality from the front camera is also pretty solid, and you can record vlogs with it as well. It provides a wide frame which is always helpful for this content format.
iQOO 11 delivers pretty much everything it promises. The hardware choices here are top-notch, from the chipset to the camera and display. These components make it a top-tier device worthy of the flagship smartphone title. What holds it back is the UI, which might trouble you like a sore thumb. If you can look past that, then you have a winner in your hands.
If you can’t look past the bloatware, then there is another device famous for its camera prowess, the Pixel 7. With a stock Android experience and Google’s Tencer chip, it provides a stable experience.
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