Vivo-backed iQOO debuted as a gaming-centric smartphone brand in 2019. It has, since then, expanded to more markets internationally and launched several smartphones across different price segments.
However, of all its offerings, it’s the numbered series that’s captured the most attention: iQOO’s been offering high-end specs on these models with an above-average camera and an attractive design for a relatively low price than its competition. And for the most part, it’s worked out well for the company.
With its latest offering, the iQOO 11 5G, iQOO continues with the same tried-and-true formula. As such, you get the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, a 144Hz refresh rate AMOLED display, 120W charging, Android 13, and an attractive design—all at a starting price of Rs 59,999.
But will this approach work out for iQOO this year too? We’ve been using the iQOO 11 5G for a couple of weeks, and here’s what we feel.
iQOO 11 Review: Design and Build
One of the most striking aspects of the iQOO 11 – besides the new chipset – is the design. Those familiar with iQOO know that this is nothing new: The company has been offering visually striking backs of its numbered series for some time now, with some models even getting a racing design inspired by the BMW M paint job thanks to the partnership with BMW.
The iQOO 11 also gets the same treatment. It’s available in two color options: white (Legend) and black (Alpha), with the Legend edition featuring a white faux leather finish on the top of the fiberglass, similar to previous Legend edition models, along with BMW M Motorsport branding. This branding is essentially a three-color stripe on the back of the device that runs vertically along the right edge. The Alpha colorway has an AG back in black with only the iQOO branding on the bottom edge.
We really like the Legend variant over Alpha. It has a striking appearance that makes the device stand out from most smartphones in the same price bracket. (On a few occasions, we even had people come up to us asking about the device). Plus, aesthetics apart, this back also offers a good grip in hand, thanks in part to the leather finish and the curved back, which makes using it with one hand easy. Having a white back, of course, raises concerns about discoloration for some people. However, we were surprised it didn’t: we used the device without a case throughout our testing, and it managed to hold pretty well.
Another aspect of the device’s back that stands out is its oversized camera module. It’s a metal island housing three cameras and an LED flash. All three lenses have round, CD-like rings around them, which give them a rather unique appearance. And although huge, this camera module doesn’t protrude from the body much, and, as such, there isn’t a noticeable wobble when using the device on a table.
Moving to the sides, the iQOO 11 comes with a metal frame for better strength. Along the top edge, you get an IR blaster (a rarity these days) and a mic. Meanwhile, the bottom has a dual-SIM card tray, a mic, a USB Type-C port, and a speaker grille. There’s also a secondary speaker located along the top edge of the display, and it doubles as a microphone. Along the right edge, the phone features volume rockers and a power button, both of which offer good tactility.
Overall, we like the design and build of the iQOO 11. It feels like a premium device and offers a good in-hand experience. Sadly, there’s no word from the company on the ingress protection available on the device, which can be a letdown for some people.
iQOO 11: Display
Moving to the front, the iQOO 11 features an upgraded screen over the one found on the iQOO 9 series. It’s a 6.78-inch AMOLED display with QHD+ (3200 x 1440px) screen resolution, 1800 nits of peak brightness, and a 144 Hz refresh rate.
iQOO’s used an LTPO panel for the display this time around, which means it supports variable refresh rates, i.e., the screen can refresh from 1Hz all the way up to 144Hz as required, and therefore, consume less battery than a standard OLED display. Another major highlight of the screen is that it’s an E6 panel. For those unaware, what this means is that it can refresh two segments of the screen at different refresh rates—albeit its use cases are limited, at least as of now.
We’re impressed with the overall display quality of the iQOO 11. It gets sufficiently bright—even outdoors—and produces nice and vibrant colors. What also works in iQOO’s favor is that this is a flat panel, which, generally speaking, is better suited for content consumption and gaming. Besides, iQOO offers enough customization options for the display, so you can tweak different aspects of the screen, like the refresh rate, screen resolution, and screen colors, as you like.
Among other things, the iQOO 11 comes with Widevine DRM certification (L1) and HDR support (YouTube only). Combined with the stereo speakers, this makes the device perfect for streaming content across various apps like Netflix and YouTube. Last but not least, the display comes with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus protection, which can withstand scratches and drops much better than other types of protection.
iQOO 11: Performance
Under the hood, the iQOO 11 5G runs on a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which makes it the first device in India to come with this processor. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 debuted in November 2022, and it builds upon the success of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.
Similar to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is also built on TSMC’s 4nm node. However, unlike its triple-cluster (1 + 3 + 4) structure, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 uses a quad-cluster (1 + 2 + 2 + 3) structure instead, which makes it more versatile for various kinds of use cases in everyday use. This configuration includes one Cortex X3 super large core clocked at 3.2GHz, two 2.8GHz Cortex A715 large cores, two 2.8GHz Cortex A710 medium-sized cores, and three 2.0GHz Cortex A510 small cores.
To handle the graphics, the iQOO 11 has an all-new Adreno 740 GPU, which promises a 20% increase in performance over that of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. Assisting the processor further is Vivo’s latest V2 chip. It kicks in to help the chipset with frame interpolation and night photography.
As for memory and storage options, the iQOO 11 comes with 8GB / 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 (non-expandable) storage options. The phone offers support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, and there’s also support for 5G (SA and NSA) across several bands.
In day-to-day use, what all of this translates to is super fast performance. With most everyday tasks like calling, opening apps, streaming content, and social media, the iQOO 11 glides through with ease. Additionally, being a gaming-centric device, it also manages to hold up well during gaming.
We played titles like Real Racing, Call of Duty, and Apex Legends as part of our testing, and the iQOO 11 didn’t disappoint a bit. In fact, if anything, we were surprised to see how well it performed in the highest graphics settings across all of these games with no sign of lag or stutter. That said, there were some instances where we felt the device heating up a little. Most prominently, these were during extended gaming sessions, camera use, photo editing, and video streaming (over 5G); the latter wasn’t an issue over 4G or Wi-Fi.
As for the miscellaneous stuff, the iQOO 11 has stereo speakers on board. These get pretty loud and sound really good. Additionally, you also get support for AptX HD codec too, so if you consume a lot of content on your phone, you’ll love the experience on this one.
When it comes to authentication, iQOO bundles an in-display fingerprint scanner on the iQOO 11. It’s super quick and accurate, although, had the position could’ve been a little higher, it would’ve made unlocking a little more comfortable. Then, there’s also a dual X-axis linear motor underneath for haptics, and it offers fairly good feedback.
iQOO 11: Software
In terms of software, the iQOO 11 comes pre-installed with FunTouch OS 13 (based on Android 13) out of the box. While iQOO’s managed to get many things right with this software, the overall experience is plagued by a few issues.
For one, there’s a ton of bloatware present on the device. Although you can uninstall most of it, there are a few apps you can’t uninstall. Then, there’s the V-Appstore, which pushes unsolicited and irrelevant notifications throughout the day and brings along annoying and unwarranted Hot Apps and Hot Games to the device. Thankfully, iQOO lets you disable it from the V-Appstore, which you should do right after setting up the device.
Another frustrating pre-installed app is iManager. Every time you install an app on the iQOO 11, it scans it for viruses (and tells if it’s safe to open or not) and, along with that, throws a bunch of other app suggestions in the mix. Not only does this create friction by requiring you to close the screen every time, but it also spoils the overall user experience on the device. Similarly, other things that affect the experience further are the confusing Settings categorization and the Global search option, which crops up every time you swipe down to access the notification shade.
Besides these points, though, FunTouch OS 13 performs well for the most part and includes a range of customization options that you can use to personalize the experience as per your requirements.
iQOO 11: Battery Life and Charging
Battery life is another strong suit of iQOO 11. The device packs a massive 5000mAh that offers a solid battery life: we managed to get more than one day’s worth of use with a single charge. Even with 5G enabled, we were able to get around 6 hours of screen-on-time on the device.
As for when the battery runs out of juice, 120W bundled charger comes in handy for a quick top-up. We used to charge our device with it during testing, and it almost always charged up the battery from anywhere between 2-10% to 100% in under 20 minutes.
iQOO 11: Camera
iQOO uses a triple camera system on the iQOO 11, with a 50MP primary camera, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens. The primary camera is essentially the same 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN5 sensor used in the iQOO 9T. Although this sensor is old, it generally performed well in the iQOO 9T. To achieve better image quality in the iQOO 11, iQOO now relies on its improved image processing capabilities, especially in low-light conditions, thanks to the V2 chip.
As for its imaging capabilities, the 50MP sensor can click some good shots in daylight conditions. The images come out sharp with enough details and good dynamic range. Subjects are exposed properly, and human skin tones are also kept intact. Similarly, it also manages to keep the color temperature quite close to how the surrounding appears in real life, which makes it a reliable shooter.
Most of these characteristics of the primary sensor are maintained even with night-time shots. However, depending on the lighting conditions, certain characteristics like saturation, color temperature, and sharpness can sometimes go for a toss. Thankfully, the night mode on the iQOO 11 is quite effective, and it can come to the rescue and shoot images while getting most of these things right.
Switch over to the telephoto lens, and you’ll be impressed with how closely its results resemble those from the main sensor. Images come out looking natural in most lighting conditions, and there’s no loss of detail or sharpness whatsoever.
In low-light conditions, however, the images turn out a little oversaturated and have underexposed shadows. We were expecting the HDR to be a little more useful in such conditions, but it failed to impress here.
Talking about ultrawide, the output from this sensor isn’t consistent at all. It’s erratic, and you never know what to expect from the shot: sometimes, it boosts the saturation and contrast, whereas other times, it produces dull and smooth images. This is quite common on most Android smartphones, though, but given the iQOO 11’s price, we were expecting it to be a little better.
On the front, the iQOO 11 sports a 16MP shooter underneath the display. It’s a decent performer, too, as long as you shoot images without any effects or modes. Images come out with a good amount of detail and sharpness in them, and their color representation is also pretty accurate.
HDR is only useful when there’s too much light in the background; in regular lighting conditions, you’re better off with the normal mode, as the HDR often tends to make images look unnatural. Likewise, portrait mode isn’t as effective too, and we wouldn’t recommend using it for selfies either since it smoothens the skin a little too much and makes the image look cartoonish.
iQOO also offers a few other shooting modes too, such as time-lapse, pano, supermoon, dual view, long exposure, and sports. If you’re feeling creative, you can test out these modes to capture some interesting-looking shots. Besides, if you want more control over different aspects of the image, there’s a pro shooting in the camera app that you can use to click pictures as you like.
As for video recording, the iQOO 11 can shoot up to 4K videos at 60 fps from the rear camera and up to 1080p videos at 30 fps from the front-facing camera. The videos came out average, and we weren’t too pleased with their overall quality. We initially thought the 50MP sensor would perform better in videography, too, like it did in photography. However, the recordings failed to get the colors and the temperature right most of the time. Besides, stabilization is another area where we thought iQOO could’ve done better.
iQOO 11 Review: Verdict
iQOO offers the iQOO 11 in two configurations, and here’s how they’re priced:
- 8GB + 256GB: Rs 59,999
- 16GB + 256GB: Rs 64,999
Taking into account the base variant, which comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for Rs 59,999, the device does justify the asking price to a certain degree and is a good purchase for someone coming from a few generations older processor. It’s got the latest chipset (that offers an excellent gaming experience), a stellar battery life, a 144Hz smooth AMOLED display, and an eye-catching design.
That said, the iQOO 11 does present some shortcomings, in our opinion. The lack of ingress protection, missing wireless charging, a not-so-great software experience, and average auxiliary cameras make up this list for us. And as such, we wouldn’t recommend buying it if these aspects matter to you. Or, for that matter, even if you’re already using a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 device and don’t necessarily want a handset powered by the latest chipset.
As for direct rivals, there is currently only one competitor on the market – the OnePlus 11, which will be launched in early Feb 2023 (look out for our review of that). The other potential competitor, the Xiaomi 13 Pro, isn’t yet on the market in India. So unless you’re in a hurry, we recommend waiting some time to find out how the iQOO compares to the competition so you can make an informed decision.
However, if you want a device right now, here’s a breakdown to help you decide if you should consider the iQOO 11 as of today:
Buy the iQOO 11 5G if:
- You want a smartphone with an eye-catching design
- You want a gaming-centric phone with top-notch performance
- You need full-day battery life and super-fast charging
- You need a 144Hz refresh rate display
Don’t buy the iQOO 11 5G if:
- You need a device with some ingress protection
- You want a clean software experience
- You need an all-round camera system
- You want wireless charging
- Striking design
- Superb display with 144Hz refresh rate
- Good primary and secondary cameras
- Super fast performance
- Excellent battery life with quick charging speeds
- Loud and clear speakers
- No IP rating
- Subpar ultrawide camera
- No wireless charging
- Back gets warm
|Design & Build|
iQOO 11 5G is the latest offering from iQOO in India. It comes with the all-new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, a 144Hz display, 120W charging, and much more. But is it worth your money? Check out the review to find out.
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