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Save for the likes of China, there’s almost nowhere in the world that has such a competitive smartphone market as India. From more well-known western brands such as Apple through to a panoply of Chinese and domestic manufacturers, it seems that almost everyone is looking for a piece of what remains one of the great ‘untapped’ markets.
With an exciting list of specifications and an interesting style of its own, it certainly stands out from the bog standard smartphones we are now used to seeing on these rainy shores – but will this be enough to help the company establish a secure foothold? Read on for our full review.Design & Build
Designed in conjunction with BMW
Mostly glass construction
Fit and finish issues
Upon first receiving the 9T it becomes clear that its design has been a major consideration. The box for the device comes with a BMW blazon, promising a collaboration with the veteran car manufacturer, in the same vein as the various ‘Porsche’ edition devices released by various smartphone companies in the past. We’ve seen this already on devices like the iQoo 7 Legend and iQoo 9 Pro Legend.
If the average smartphone in 2023 is a relatively uninteresting glass and metal rectangle, then the iQoo 9T is an average smartphone but with the tricolour stripe running down the back with ‘Fascination Meets Innovation’ embossed on it. But beyond this there is a black and white two-tone effect glass, aluminium frame and a large rectangular camera ‘island’ that display none of the same spirit.
Where the likes of the Realme GT 2 explore new colours and materials with their design, the iQoo 9T seems as though it is trying to sit on a fence bordering ‘interesting’ and ‘plain’. There is a clear effort in some areas to stand out, but not so much so that the design becomes off-putting. By holding back, however, all that has resulted is a device that is certainly nice to hold and somewhat premium but lacking a personality to match up to the marketing.
There are also some abrupt transitions, such as between the display and the frame, that leave the device feeling less premium than might have initially been intended. This is only exacerbated by the cheap-feeling pre-installed screen protector and bog standard clear TPU case included.
Away from design, build quality is another story. At 206g and with dimensions of 165 x 77 x 8mm, the 9T is not built to be used with one hand – this is a big smartphone. This won’t be an issue for some, but if you have small hands or value reachability there are other, better options available on the market. The Galaxy S22 is a particularly fine example of a compact flagship phone.
For the most part, the device feels solid and sturdy and importantly lacks the suicidal tendency of many glass-backed smartphones to slide towards the nearest hard surface with impunity. This is thanks to the relatively grippy finish applied to the rear glass. Given the weight and size, however, this is a smartphone that will need a case to survive any significant collisions.
There is no full waterproofing as the device is dust and splash-resistant.Screen & Speakers
Display mostly matches competition
Decent stereo speakers
Only 1080p resolution
The iQOO 9T does nothing to major disappoint in the display department, matching most of the competition and even exceeding it in some regards.
The panel on the 9T is 6.78in across, and has a resolution of 1080p. This AMOLED panel offers ‘1 Billion’ colours, is HDR10+ certified, refreshes at up to 120Hz and has a (localised) max brightness of 1500nits. Widevine L1 certification is also offered, meaning that the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime videos can be played in high definition.
For the average person, the above means that this is a smartphone with a nice display indeed. But for a higher resolution or LTPO tech (where the refresh rate can be dynamically adjusted) it might have been a truly great one. Still, it’s a very good effort.
Sean Cameron / Foundry
It has colours that are saturated but not overbearing, the potential to get sufficiently bright to combat the summer sunlight and dim enough to allow comfortable bedtime reading. The high refresh rate makes the experience of using the phone feel pleasantly smooth, while viewing supported content in HDR is as cinematic as a small screen will allow.
While it’s an excellent panel for most use cases, it does lack a little ambition. There isn’t much in the Android world that can give the likes of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 cause for concern, pushing the resolution past 1080p would give the device a means by which to stand out in a world where Full HD is the norm. The addition of LTPO tech, usually found on the likes of ‘Ultra’ branded devices would also have allowed a little more differentiation by delivering a requisite increase in battery life.
These additions may have pushed the price up too much, so perhaps it’s too much to ask.
With regards to the speakers, they are stereo and they are loud, with enough rumble in the bass to fit most content. There’s no illusion of stereo imaging or particular highlight to the listening experience, but they are effective general use speakers and will make do for most.Specs & Performance
Flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 processor
Great performance for the most part
Gets too hot to handle under load
The Snapdragon processor line has been through quite the journey across the past decade or so, coming from general obscurity to total ubiquity. There’s seldom a flagship smartphone today that comes without an ‘8’ branded chipset, and the iQoo 9T is no exception, sporting the latest 8+ Gen 1 Snapdragon SoC from Qualcomm.
Paired with up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage this should theoretically mean that there is precious little in the Android space that can challenge the 9T, and this proves to be the case.
Sean Cameron / Foundry
As might be expected, from the most intense games through to the lightest social media there is nothing that can give the iQoo 9T any pause. PUBG and Genshin Impact both ran at stable framerates while high graphics options were activated, something perhaps aided at least in part by the included ‘Ultra Game Mode’, which promises to free up system resources and increase gaming performance.
Given that most flagship devices now come sporting much the same chipset and other specifications, the question hanging over performance is not quite what heights can be reached, but how long they can be sustained. Thermal performance is now the name of the game almost more than anything else as passive cooling components continue to evolve in their capabilities.
No great claims are made regarding the cooling potential of the iQoo 9T, but I found that the device gets very warm under sustained load, sometimes becoming too hot to hold. This was following a particularly intense benchmark test, however, it doesn’t speak well either to the cooling solution used and potentially to the longevity of the device. Mobile games may need to tread carefully if this ends up as their smartphone of choice.
On the whole, this is a smartphone that provides completely adequate performance for almost any conceivable use case. It flies through anything, and on that metric is a resounding success – provided it isn’t pushed so hard that it has a minor meltdown. The chip also means you get 5G connectivity which may be an important tick box for some users.Cameras
Offers a x2 telephoto lens
Comes with ‘gimbal’ stabilisation
Features a V1+ chip for extra noise reduction in low-light video
Camera modules and components on smartphones have long been the primary means by which manufacturers have tried to differentiate their offerings from the rest. When it comes to BBK electronics and its subsidiaries, however, the situation becomes a little more complex.
Although they ostensibly compete with one another as well as those on the wider market, Oppo, OnePlus, Realme, Vivo and iQoo all share the same designs and supply chains, meaning there is often a lot of common design language between their devices.
As such, the 9T has a highly similar ‘gimbal’ optical stablisation system to that found on the likes of the Vivo X80 series, and offers a specific night video mode typically allowed by the MariSilicon found inside the Oppo Find X3 Pro (in this case provided by the V1+ chip included). This isn’t an issue in the slightest, but it is interesting to note.
From a pure ‘spec’ point of view, the 9T offers a 50Mp (binning to 12.5Mp) main sensor, an x2 12Mp telephoto and a 13Mp ultrawide, followed by a 16Mp selfie sensor. The inclusion of a short telephoto is a little unusual, but highly welcome as an alternative to the ubiquitous (and always terrible) macro sensors found on many budget brand devices.
All rear sensors are stabilised using the mentioned ‘gimbal’ system, which promises to be more effective than more traditional stabilisation options.
The camera app doesn’t particularly entice when first launched, somehow looking a little barebones and cluttered simultaneously. Switching between different photo modes and the rest is suitably quick and the device is generally fast when achieving initial focus, key for those moments when you need to catch something quickly.
Photo quality is, on the whole, excellent. Barring a tendency at times to make colours go nuclear, the iQoo 9T is a highly dependable mobile shooter in most situations. Detail captured from the main sensor is plenty and well represented, even with complex foliage. Colours are on the whole nicely saturated, with skin tones in particular rendered pleasantly.
The auto HDR means that dynamic range is typically wide, though some images can feel a little flat as the contrast can be taken away a little too dramatically on occasion. This is generally echoed with the telephoto and the ultrawide, although both capture inferior detail to the main sensor.
When the lights go out, the picture remains positive. The included night mode ensures that images taken have well-balanced exposure, detail and enough saturation to leave them relatively natural, and if pushed can almost ‘see in the dark’. The usual caveats apply regarding moving subjects, which prove to be too much of a challenge, but on the whole, this is a highly capable low-light shooter.
The only area that gives the 9T pause is autofocus. When it comes to easy subjects, there isn’t an issue, however take a puppy and toddler together and you will receive only a blurred mess. This is a common issue with even more expensive smartphones though.
If you are a keen mobile shutterbug there’s a lot to like with the 9T, which offers a lot of versatility and quality for a relatively small outlay when compared to the more premium competition.Battery Life & Charging
120W fast charging
Over 50% of charge in under 15 minutes
With a powerful processor and a big bright screen paired with a 4700mAh battery, the iQoo 9T has a lot to prove when it comes to battery life. Of particular interest is Snapdragon chipset used, which comes from a lineage fast becoming known for being especially power hungry but the 8+ Gen 1 is meant to be a lot more efficient.
I was pleasantly surprised by the longevity offered by the iQoo 9T. With ‘average’ usage, such as watching video, using GPS, messaging frequently and browsing throughout the day I found that on average around five hours of screen on time could be achieved. This isn’t quite as impressive as the likes of some gaming phones with their often enormous cells, but will be more than enough for the average user.
This isn’t a two-day smartphone, but should be able to make it through most heavy days without issue.
What this means is that charging the device up ceases to be any kind of issue. No matter the situation, there is nearly always enough time for a quick top-up to see you through the day. Topping up becomes a fifteen-minute job in the morning rather than an all-night affair and relieves a lot of worry in the process.Software & Apps
Indian apps included
Ads in the notification tray
Software is mostly low-key and well thought out
Sean Cameron / Foundry
The only real customisation added by the manufacturer to the interface is a Spotlight aping universal search with a swipe down. On the whole, this is a simple and functional version of Android, easily avoiding the worst excesses of the likes of MIUI from Xiaomi.
Beyond the apps geared towards the Indian market, there are unfortunately a few duplicates on offer. There’s Album, Music, Browser and a few others to clutter things up, which again cannot be uninstalled, which is annoying but more of an inconvenience than a big impediment.Price & Availability
The iQoo 9T is available now in India directly from the manufacturer and major retailers such as Amazon for prices beginning at ₹54,999 (around $690/£585) for the 8GB/128GB option, while a slightly more expensive 12GB/256GB model ₹59,999 (approx $750/£630) is also on offer.
Two styles are available, Alpha (black) or Legend with the BMW stripes, and there is no word yet on UK or European availability.Verdict
As such, for most people, this will be a smartphone that will meet their needs and maybe even exceed them in most ways, and for a price that won’t leave a huge hole in your pocket. Though it doesn’t quite have the ‘x factor’ to make it a true knock-out superstar, the iQoo 9T is a well-considered, accomplished smartphone that does enough to earn a recommendation, if not an immediate one.Specs
Android 12 with FunTouchOS;
6.78in Wide Full HD (2198×1080) Dynamic AMOLED, 120Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen1+ processor
128/256GB internal storage
50Mp f1.9 gimbal OIS rear camera
13Mp f2.0 ultrawide
12Mp f2.2 telephoto, x2 zoom
16MP f2.5 front camera
Under screen Fingerprint scanner
2D Face Recognition
GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, QZSS
4700mAh non-removable battery
120W fast charging
165 x 77 x 8mm
Launch colours: Black & Legend
You're reading Vivo Iqoo 9T Review: Earning Its Racing Stripes
Occasional software glitches
If you’re in a part of the world that has the iQoo 7 5G available, then it’s a good option. The design is smart, camera quality is good, battery life goes on forever and the price is fair.
Vivo is one of those Chinese companies that quietly gets on with releasing a variety of mid-tier and premium smartphones around the world without ever really hitting the same kind of headlines as OnePlus, Oppo or other similar brands.
Now, the company has another offering for your consideration – the iQoo 7 5G – which joins the iQoo 7 Legend. The question is whether this will be the one that makes you stand up and take notice?Design & Build
Vivo seems to have a lot of confidence in the iQoo 7 or a least a sense of fun when it comes to the packaging. The box, which features sporty angled yellow stripes across the carbon-fibre style design, opens up to reveal a carboard insert with Monster Inside emblazoned across the top.
To be fair, the Solid Ice Blue livery that bedecks the rear of the handset, isn’t monstrous at all. In fact, it’s somewhat fairy-tale in the way it shimmers. It imparts the faintest impression of 3D, so maybe there is a monster lurking somewhere in the depths?
If you prefer something less angelic, then there are Black, Storm Black (I’m not sure of the difference) and Monster Orange. I sense some kind of theme here.
The 163.3 x 76.4 x 8.4mm dimensions show that it’s a tall phone but not too fat around the waist, making it quite manageable in one hand. Of course, this is a modern smartphone, so it’s essentially made out of soap (it’s very slippery), but Vivo includes a clear silicon case in the box which provides a little more grip.
A weight of 196g isn’t exactly light, but the iQoo 7 5G feels well balanced in the hand and not that heavy to use.
On the metal chassis, you’ll find all the control buttons are located on the right side, including a double-length button for the volume controls, with the power button just underneath.
I have to say that latter being just above the middle of the phone’s height did make it the first place my finger would go, so I often turned the screen off when meaning to adjust the volume. A texturing of the power button would be a great addition to the next generation if Vivo is listening.
Along the top edge, there’s a groove that extends almost for the entirety of the surface, only punctuated by a small hole on the right end. This is for one of the two speakers in the iQoo 7, the other having a more traditional grill on the bottom edge. Down there is also home to the USB-C port, microphone, and Dual-SIM card tray.
There’s no listing of an IPX rating for the iQoo 7 5G, so assume that it shouldn’t go near water or lots of dust. Not one for the beach then.Display
6.62in AMOLED display
120Hz refresh rate
Decent embedded fingerprint sensor
The ample frame allows for a 6.62in AMOLED display, boasting a Full HD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution and a refresh rate of 120Hz. The latter makes scrolling smooth, aided by the 300Hz touch sample rate and 1000Hz instant touch sampling rate, so any gestures or taps are executed immediately, which is good news for those who like to game on their smartphones.
The panel delivers rich colours and crisp text, making it a very pleasing place to spend time. Viewing angles are good, with the screen not losing any of its brightness or saturation, even when looking at it from almost 90 degrees (although this behaviour is admittedly a bit odd).
Under the centre of the lower area of the display is an embedded fingerprint sensor. Initially this seemed a little finicky, but after a small time of adjusting to where I should position my thumb, it soon became second nature to unlock the phone with a minimum of fuss.
It’s fast, reliable, and while I can’t vouch for exactly how secure it is (not from suspicion, more that I don’t have access to all the intricacies of the technology), it certainly proved easy to use.Specs & Performance
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
Up to 12GB RAM
Up to 256GB UFS 3.1 Storage
Vivo has fitted the iQoo 7 5G with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G processor, which is the same one found in devices like the Poco F3, Motorola G100 and ZTE Axon 30 5G. It’s joined by the Intelligent Display Chip, which handles the more enhanced frame rates for gaming along with HDR colours and contrasts for richer graphics.
No doubt this is helped by the generous 12GB of RAM on my test model (there are other variants that come with 8GB), which can be extended by an additional 3GB with the system offloading work to the onboard storage. This doesn’t act as a bottleneck though, thanks to the fact that it’s UFS 3.1 storage, rather than the cheaper (and slower) sort you may have previously found at this price point.
I didn’t need to worry about going short on space either, as the model I tested came with a generous 256GB. Again, lower options are available, with the base model using 128GB instead.
Gaming is very smooth, with Asphalt 9 moving along at a blistering pace with no jitters or slow-downs. Everything is kept to a reasonable temperature thanks to the liquid cooling system employed by Vivo. During the heavy benchmark testing, the back of the phone did heat up, but it was still comfortable to hold, which is good news for serious gamers.
Here’s how the Vivo iQoo 7 compares to similar models in its class:Cameras
48Mp main camera
13Mp Wide Angle/Macro camera
2Mp Mono camera
A ttiple-camera array is found on the rear of the iQoo 7 5G, comprised of a 48Mp f/1.8 Wide, 13Mp f/2.2 Ultra-wide and 2Mp f/2.4 Mono. The latter is used for depth and assisting the portrait modes, while the other two offer a nice combination of framing and options.
Images captured on the main camera are generally very nice. Focus is quick and accurate, while the colours are maybe a little over-saturated at times (but that’s not unusual with smartphone image processing), with maybe a tendency to over-expose, resulting in a loss of detail on highly contrasting scenes.
That being said, I was impressed with many of the images I took with the iQoo 7 5G, including the samples below that covered general out-and-about shots, a few macros for good measure, night shots and switching between the x0.6, x1 and x2 focal lengths.
It’s the night mode which really impressed me. I was able to (without using a tripod) capture the stars in moonlit scenes, which was always a cool surprise. And several late evening shots came out much better than I anticipated.
If there was a weakness it was in subtlety. Creating moody images with pools of light proved a little tricky, as the cameras always wanted to capture more light and thus lose those smaller halos. I did get a few, but it felt harder than expected, especially when the night mode was generally so good.
On the front, you’ll find a 16Mp f/2.0 selfie camera that can take some decent photos, plus a wide range of Beauty effects and filters. I gather this is more of a thing in South East Asia and other parts of the world, but to be honest I found it all a bit silly.
Video is very usable. The built-in stabilisation kept things steady, even when I was chasing the dog around the garden. I did see some lens flaring and overexposing when the camera came into strong sunlight, but overall it recorded solid footage with a maximum quality of 4K at 30fps.Connectivity & Security
As you may have surmised from the device’s name, the iQoo 7 5G can indeed connect to 5G networks, as well as 4G and 3G, so coverage shouldn’t be a problem, no matter where you are. It also has a bang up to date antenna, meaning you’ll also be able to make use of any Wi-Fi 6 networks you encounter. So, in terms of networks speeds, the iQoo 7 5G has got you covered.
Bluetooth 5.1 also means that connecting wireless headphones is a doddle, with stable performance for the hours that I listened to Spotify and Audible during the test period.
As mentioned earlier, there’s a fingerprint sensor under the display, and it performs very well. You can also use your face to unlock the phone, all of which happens at lightning speed.
One curious thing though. While trying (on multiple occasions) to set up Google Pay with my regular bank card, I received the message, ‘Couldn’t finish setup to pay in shops. This phone can’t be used to pay in shops. This may be because it is rooted or altered in some way.’
I contacted Vivo and it stated that this isn’t a normal problem they’ve seen, so it seems very likely that it’s just a problem with the test unit I had. If you’re intended to buy an iQoo 7 then it should be able to use Google Pay without this issue.Battery & Charging
66W Fast Charging
No wireless charging
Vivo boasts a full recharge from 0% to 100% in thirty minutes via its 66W Fast Charger. Well, that’s simply not true…it takes 32 minutes. Yep, from flat to full in just over half an hour and reached 98% in our usual 30-minute test. That’s pretty mad and more than twice the speed of the more expensive Pixel 6.
Just in case you think this is due to the iQoo 7 5G having a tiny cell, well that’s not the case, as it comes with a 4400mAh battery. This is an efficient one too, as I regularly got well into a second day of use before needing to think about charging the phone once more.
In short, battery life on this device is very good.Software
Funtouch OS 11
Bloatware that can’t be removed
You don’t get vanilla Android on the iQoo 7 5G, as Vivo deploys its own Funtouch OS 11.1 (which is based on Android 11). Initially, this means there is a lot of bloatware on the device, with a suite of Vivo apps which also include the company’s own app store.
Thankfully, some of this can be removed, but you will have to put up with several that refuse to go away. You’ll also want to silence the notifications from those bloatware apps, and spend plenty of time agreeing to permissions.
When all of this is out of the way, Funtouch OS is not a bad skin for Android. The QuickStep launcher is fast and has the Google News page to the left of the Home screen.
One glitch I did see quite regularly was that the Notification area would be blank, with the heading text overwriting itself. This looks like something that would be fixed with an update, so hopefully, by the time you try the device, this problem will have been fixed.Price & Availability
Vivo has launched the iQoo 7 5G in China and India, but there are no plans at the moment for the handset to go on general release in the US, UK or wider European market.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get hold of it in those territories though, as there are plenty of import options that can deliver the handset. As usual, be sure to check any import duty or other costs before going down this route.
At the time of writing, you could buy it from AliExpress for £433.51/$562.99/€604, but a quick Google search will reveal other international retailers from which you can order the iQoo 7 5G.
The device was initially launched In China, back in January 2023, with an asking price of CNY 3,798 (around £433/$588/€510), but you can also buy it in India direct from Vivo for ₹34,990 rupees (around £340/$463/€400).
Not sure what phone to buy? Check out our best mid-range phones chart.Verdict
There’s a lot to like about the iQoo 7 5G. Firstly, it’s an attractive device that’s nice to use. The 120Hz display is lush and smooth, while the Funtouch OS does take a little sorting out at first, but then delivers a decent Android experience. Plus the long battery life is a true bonus.
The cameras are very usable, with the night mode, in particular, impressing me during the test. There are a few niggles here and there, such as the glitches in the Notification area and problems setting up Google Pay in the UK, but for the most part the iQoo 7 5G is a solid contender in the mid-range space.Specs Vivo iQoo 7 5G: Specs
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
256GB UFS 3.1 storage
6.62in AMOLED display (2400 x 1080 resolution)
48MP f/1.8 Wide angle camera
13MP f/2.2 Ultra-wide camera
2MP f/2.4 Mono (Depth) camera
16MP f/2.0 Selfie camera
Max Video Quality – 4K @ 30fps
Funtouch OS 11.1 (based on Android 11)
USB-C charging port
4400mAh battery (supports Fast Charging)
163.3 x 76.4 x 8.4 mm
There’s not a lot to dislike about the Nex 3. Importers – especially in the US – are probably better off ditching the 5G and sticking to the regular 4G model, but beyond that this phone offers almost everything you might want from a 2023 flagship. The huge curved panel is beautiful, the battery is banging, and the internal specs rival just about any other phone on the market. The only real letdowns are the lack of waterproofing, an occasionally clunky operating system, and a camera that’s good but can’t quite keep up with the best out there.
The Vivo Nex 3 is the company’s first foray into 5G as part of its Nex line, and it’s going all out, with headline-grabbing specs from the display to the cameras, together with novel design choices like ditching physical buttons (almost) entirely.
With a design that’s reminiscent of Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro – announced just a week after the Nex 3 – it’d be easy to overlook Vivo’s phone, but with a notchless display and Google app support, this might have the edge on the Mate in at least some respects.Price and availability
The Nex 3 is available to buy now, but only in China and select other Asian markets – there are no plans for any western release, so don’t hold your breath waiting for one.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy it – like most other Chinese phones, it’s easy enough to import. You can find the Vivo Nex 3 on grey market import sites like Aliexpress and Banggood. Prices vary, but at the time of writing are typically around £700/$800 for the 4G model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage and more like £800/$900 to jump up to 5G, which also ups the storage to 256GB.
Those prices are for the global ROM versions – essentially models shipped to Asian markets outside of China – which means it should ship with Google Play services pre-installed, just like any phone in the west. There is also a 5G model with 12GB RAM but we can only find that in a Chinese ROM, which means no Google services (or apps) out of the box. You can get around this using the same method as for the new Huawei phones, but it’s an extra bit of hassle – and risk of problems down the line – that we’d recommend avoiding if you can.Chasing waterfalls
The first thing that’s likely to catch your eye on the Vivo Nex 3 is the curved screen, which runs almost all the way to the top and bottom bezels while wrapping most of the way round the sides – with noticeably more curve than even the Galaxy Note 10. It’s a beautiful visual, though this is undeniably hitting the limits of usability when it comes to curves.
It’s what Vivo is calling a ‘Waterfall FullView’ display, and the company claims it delivers a 99.6 percent screen-to-body ratio. I’m not quite sure how it reached that number – those top and bottom bezels, while incredibly slim, look like more than 0.4 percent of the phone to my eyes – but either way this phone offers more screen than just about any other out there.
The 6.89in panel is POLED (i.e. plastic OLED) with a glass layer on top, with a FHD+ resolution of 2256×1080 – not hitting QHD is one of the few compromises here. The panel itself comes from Samsung, and is pretty gorgeous in use, with especially bright, vivid colours. I’m used to using the OnePlus 7 Pro – which packs one of the best screens around – and the 60Hz refresh rate is really the only thing that lets the Nex 3 down in comparison.
Palm rejection software does its best to mitigate the main annoyance of curved screens, and is probably the best I’ve ever used – I don’t think I’ve had a single accidental touch registered in almost two weeks of using the phone. The added curvature here creates another problem though: buttons. There’s just not the space for physical buttons – and besides, they’d ruin the sleek effect – so Vivo has instead built in capacitive pressure-sensitive buttons for power and volume, with haptic feedback to let you know when you’ve hit them. Sensibly there’s a ribbed section for the power button to help you find it without looking, and the volume controls sit above and below so they’re easy to activate too.
It’s tech that the company demoed in the Apex 2023 concept phone, but put into a retail phone for the first time in the Nex 3. Once you learn the spots to hit (aided by some subtle on-screen prompts) the ‘buttons’ are surprisingly easy to use, and you can customise the pressure for each individually to help avoid accidental touches. In one change from the Apex, Vivo has also thrown in a small physical power button along the top edge of the phone, for those worried about the touch buttons failing if the phone ever freezes.
It’s a much better setup than the clunky compromise in Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro, where you have to double-tap on the side of the screen to activate the on-screen volume controls, then slide up and down to change them. Vivo’s approach works even when you’re not looking, feels like a button, and covers power too – something Huawei didn’t quite dare to take off a real button.
The back of the phone looks almost as great as the front, with a reflective glass back available in two finishes: Liquid Galaxy or Glowing Night. Those are basically a silvery white and black respectively, and the former in particular picks up the light in some fairly pretty patterns.Pixel power
Vivo has Samsung to thank for more than just that curved panel: the Korean giant also supplies the 64Mp camera sensor that’s the star of the Nex 3’s triple rear camera setup. The f/1.8 shooter follows phones from Xiaomi and Realme with the same OTT megapixel count, but remember that between pixel binning and sensor sizes there are limits to the benefits you can expect from the extra Mp.
Still, the Nex 3’s main lens is impressive, with vibrant colours and about as much detail as you’d hope for given the pixel count. Colours do run slightly on the over-saturated side unfortunately, so true-to-life isn’t quite what the Nex delivers, though its’ far from the worst in that respect. There’s a good dynamic range though, and it handles low and difficult lighting without too much loss of detail. There’s a dedicated Night mode too, which is competent but far from the best out there.
The main lens is joined by 120-degree wide-angle and 2x telephoto lenses (both 13Mp), the latter of which will let you get as far as a blurry 20x zoom with some digital help. Thanks to smaller apertures you don’t see quite the same dynamic range from either of these, but there’s minimal distortion on the wide-angle at least.
Finally, to keep the display uninterrupted Vivo has opted for a 16Mp pop-up selfie camera, which slides out in a wide apparatus that includes its own flash light – and the option to have it play a slightly annoying sound effect every time it does so. I quickly turned that off. Otherwise, it’s a solid selfie cam that highlights one of the camera apps biggest annoyances: an AI facial recognition that has a beauty mode on by default. A beauty mode that includes 13 distinct sliders and no way to turn it off except by turning off every single slider individually.
All in all, the Nex camera setup is good, but not as good as the on-paper specs might suggest – a healthy reminder that most of the best smartphone cameras right now are driven by larger sensors (and not just more pixels) and arcane algorithms. Still, this is a camera that will more than meet most people’s needs even if it’s not quite best-in-class.Specced out
With all that fuss over the display and the camera, you’d think Vivo might have skimped on specs, but if anything it’s the opposite – the company has gone all out to keep up.
For starters there’s the new Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset, currently the most powerful on the market for Android devices. It’s joined by either 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage. Between all that the phone runs seriously smoothly, and should happily keep up with demanding streaming, or the latest Android games or video rendering needs.
That carries through to our benchmark results. As you’d expect, our review model – the 8GB/256GB configuration of the Chinese ROM – holds its ground against all the biggest flagships from the second half of 2023 so far, even outperforming some on the more intense graphical tests. This is one of the most powerful phones in the world right now from a pure performance perspective, and should comfortably hold up for years to come.
The 4,500mAh battery comfortably lasts a day and just about stretches to two – the Nex 3 managed 13 hours in our battery test, beating even the 6,000mAh ROG Phone 2, though I’d say the real-world performance has been strong, but not quite as phenomenal as our artificial benchmark shows, suggesting some unusual optimisation at work. Charging is a breeze though – the 44W fast charging topped the phone up to 68% from empty in just 30 minutes, which is amongst the fastest we’ve seen so far.
There’s no wireless charging at all though, as the company hasn’t yet embraced the tech. There’s also no IP rating, though Vivo reps insist it has been tested for water and dust-resistance.
Connectivity is unsurprisingly solid, with NFC and Bluetooth 5.0, plus the aforementioned 5G if you opt for that model. There are six antennae across the phone to help improve the reliability of 5G connections, using the Sub-6GHz spectrums – the type most common in Asia and Europe, but not yet in the US, where mmWave is more readily available. That means European importers can probably expect typical 5G performance – though with the slow rollout of the service that isn’t saying much, even in a city like London – but if you’re in the US the Nex 3’s 5G model probably wouldn’t be a great choice.
The only other thing really lacking here is software. The Nex 3 ships with Android 9 – not 10 – and Vivo’s Funtouch OS is not quite as fun to use as the name would suggest. It’s not the worst, but with more bloatware than I’d like and some odd UI decisions – like moving the settings shortcuts to a swipe up from the bottom left, rather than above the notification tray – left me occasionally frustrated. Some of this may be better on the global ROM – there’ll probably be less bloatware and at least the Google stuff will come pre-installed – but even so the OS is the main thing that keeps me from feeling like I could switch over, say, the OnePlus 7 Pro.Verdict
There’s not a lot to dislike about the Nex 3. Importers – especially in the US – are probably better off ditching the 5G and sticking to the regular 4G model, but beyond that this phone offers almost everything you might want from a 2023 flagship.
The huge curved panel is beautiful, the battery is banging, and the internal specs rival just about any other phone on the market. The only real letdowns are the lack of waterproofing, an occasionally clunky operating system, and a camera that’s good but can’t quite keep up with the best out there.Related stories for further reading Specs Vivo Nex 3: Specs
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus
128/256GB UFS 3.0 storage
6.89in FHD+ (2256×1080) POLED
16Mp (f/2.09) pop-up front camera
64Mp (f/1.8) rear camera with 13Mp (f/2.2) 120-degree wide-angle and 13Mp (f/2.48) x2 telephoto lenses
4G LTE/Sub-6GHz 5G
44W Super FlashCharge
In-display fingerprint sensor
iQOO continues to expand its gaming smartphone lineup with the launch of the iQOO 5 and iQOO 5 Pro in China today. Both of these phones include flagship hardware with some minor differences on the camera and charging front. You have a 120Hz display, Snapdragon 865 SoC, triple camera system, 60x digital zoom, and most importantly, 120W fast-charging support onboard.iQOO 5 Pro: Specs and Features
As you can see below, iQOO 5 Pro has been launched in special edition colorways. It’s because the company has become the global partner of the ‘BMW M Motorsport’ and these colorways honor the same. They look really premium and astonishing.
The front includes a 6.56-inch Full-HD+ AMOLED display with curved edges on the left and right. It boasts a 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch response rate, and 20:9 aspect ratio. The panel supports up to 1300 nits of peak brightness, 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, and HDR10+ certification. You also find a punch-hole cutout with a 16MP selfie camera at the top left and a fingerprint sensor under the display.
Under the hood, iQOO 5 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset and not its overclocked variant that was announced last month. There’s up to 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage onboard. The device runs Android 10-based iQOO UI 1.5, which is a skinned version of Vivo’s FunTouchOS 10.
The biggest highlight of the iQOO 5 Pro will, however, have to the 120W FlashCharge support. The company has baked a modest 4,000mAh battery pack into this phone, which it claims can be completely juiced up in about 15 minutes. You will find a USB Type-C port at the bottom, along with dual SIM support, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and GPS support to round up the connectivity features.iQOO 5: Specs and Features
The core design of iQOO 5 is almost the same as the Pro variant. Except for the front panel, which is flat as compared to the curved edges of the iQOO 5 Pro. It’s the same 6.56-inch Full-HD+ AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch response rate.
Also, the camera system largely remains the same. You have a 50MP primary sensor and a 13MP ultra-wide camera but the periscope lens is swapped out for a traditional telephoto lens with 20x digital zoom capabilities.Price and Availability
iQOO 5 has been priced starting at CNY 3,998 (~Rs. 43,099) while the iQOO 5 Pro has been priced starting at an exorbitant CNY 4,998 (~Rs. 53,899) in China. Here are the different configurations and price tags of the iQOO 5 series:
8GB+128GB – CNY 3,998 (~Rs. 43,099)
12GB+128GB – CNY 4,298 (~Rs. 46,399)
12GB+256GB -CNY 4,598 (~Rs. 49,599)
iQOO 5 Pro
8GB+256GB – CNY 4,998 (~Rs. 53,899)
12GB+256GB – CNY 5,498 (~Rs. 59,299)
Both the iQOO 5 and iQOO 5 Pro will go on sale starting from August 17 in China. The company does plan to bring these flagship phones to India and has been hyping up its launch on Twitter over the past week or so. There’s currently no timeline but you can expect a late-August or September India launch for the iQOO 5 series.
If you are definitely going to be able to charge it every night and you don’t mind paying for the LTE functionality you may not be able to use, then the LG Watch Sport is one of the best Android smartwatches ever made. Android Wear 2.0 is very good and is definitely the best choice over Tizen unless you’re using a Samsung phone. But the Google Assistant is weak for a headline feature and the battery life just isn’t good enough. Smartwatches that limp towards lunch on Day 2 still please, but the fact the Watch Sport sometimes dies before you’re home on Day 1 isn’t good enough. You shouldn’t have to turn off half the functions of the product to make it last the day. It’s is one of the better smartwatches out there, but like most of them, it’s not without its infuriating flaws.
Android Wear has been kicking about for a while, but it has taken some hardware and software mistakes for us to get to the LG Watch Sport. Google handpicked LG to release it, the first smartwatch to ship with Android Wear 2.0 along with the cheaper, less featured LG Watch Style.
It does so much right. It’s circular, it’s fast, build quality is brilliant, it looks the business (if you’re into grey) and the interface is an uncluttered pleasure to use. It is more intuitive than an Apple Watch.
But it’s large, and the battery lets it down big time. If you’re planning on a day of GPS navigation or hardcore run tracking, the Watch Sport might just let you down. For everyone else, it’s the very best of the frustrating charge-it-every-night smartwatch brigade.
Then again, we charge our phones every night, right?Where can you buy it in the UK?
Here’s the catch – there is till no UK release date for the Watch Sport despite the fact we’ve got our hands on one. It’s still US only, and retails for $349, though at the time of writing is available from $249.99 from AT&T on contract.
You should be careful if ordering from the US though. Because the watch can take a SIM, you need to get it on contract in the States. It’s a tad confusing and this review goes into more depth on that.Design and build
There’s no doubt that the LG Watch Sport is a premium thing. The heft is evident as soon as you pick it up, housed as the main unit is in a metal chassis. The attractive circular screen is a 1.38in P-OLED that brings Android Wear 2.0 to colour poppin’ life. More on that in a bit, but it’s good news. It’s also great to see no ugly flat tyre at the bottom of the screen.
If the Watch Style is breezy-take-it-easy in terms of design, then the Watch Sport is the no-nonsense version. It’s very different and these are two devices for two quite different consumers.
I like the design but it is unquestionably masculine, the whole thing coloured titanium (though there’s also a blue version), paired with the mostly dark OS makes for something you might expect to see on the wrist of someone in a sci-fi epic.
It’s big and fairly heavy too. That’s because it’s got LTE tech, NFC, GPS and a heart rate sensor crammed into its tiny body. You control everything via the touchscreen and the three buttons on the right edge; the middle one is an excellently tactile crown that you can use to scroll through menus.
The strap is rubberised and sits circular, following the natural curve of your wrist. The whole thing might well dwarf that wrist though – I recommend trying one on in store if possible before taking the purchase plunge, but yes, you’ll have to be in the US.
The underside has a bit more chunk than you might expect, and this is to allow for a nano-SIM tray. A proprietary tool in the box allows you to take off the underside of the case to get at it. This cover also protects the heart rate sensor.
On my wrist I found it less intrusive and bulky than the initial impression gives. It catches on stiff cuffed coats a bit, and it won’t add to a dainty look, but I found it more comfortable to wear all day than the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier.
The buttons are wonderfully tactile, and the crown is just as good (and easier to turn) as the one on the Apple Watch.Features and specifications
The Sport’s spec sheet makes for good reading. It has everything you could possibly cram into a smartwatch in 2023. Google worked with LG to make sure it was the Watch Sport (and Style) that introduced the world to Android Wear 2.0, so we have a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 with 4G LTE powering the 1.38in P-OLED display. It looks great, with a 480×480 resolution and 348ppi.
The unit measures 45.4 x 51.21 x 14.2mm and is watertight to IP68 standards, but apparently only 1.5m for 30 minutes, so you can’t really swim in it. There’s 4GB of on board storage for music on the go without your phone, and a healthy 768MB RAM.
Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to test the LTE aspect of the Watch Sport as its functionality only works in the US. US networks AT&T and Verizon allows the linking of your phone’s SIM to a second SIM in the watch, allowing you to saunter off without your phone but still make and receive all your calls and messages.
UK networks don’t yet have the ability to offer this to consumers over their networks, and even when I put a nano-SIM in the Watch Sport just to test, nothing happened. At the time of writing, a UK price and release date is still unconfirmed, and the fact LG hasn’t produced a non-LTE model is probably why.
If you decide to import one though, I didn’t miss the LTE functionality, and it worked very well for me without it.
LTE for all regions is surely the next logical step in the evolution of smartwatches. Much like Samsung’s Gear S2 and Gear S3 though, any potential UK release is likely to remain Wi-Fi only on these shores.
GPS is also included on the Watch Sport, meaning you can go off on a run without your phone and the Watch Sport will track exactly where you’ve been. Oddly though for a watch called Sport, it doesn’t feel like a runner’s gadget such is its uniform design, but it performs well enough to earn its name.
Also crammed into it is Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, an accelerometer, barometer, microphone, speaker, NFC for mobile payments and an ambient light sensor that’s joyously hidden in the display, not in a black window at the bottom of the screen like on the Moto 360 2.
More annoying is the wirelessly charged 430mAh battery. Not that you can fit a larger one in this form factor, but with so much for a small power pack like that to run, I didn’t expect much. I was unfortunately right – the watch barely makes it through a day.
Taken off the bundled wireless charger at 7am, and without a workout that would need GPS, the watch limped towards 20% by about 6pm. 11 hours of continuous use maybe, but it bugged me. Sure, most charge an Apple Watch every day but even the first-gen Apple Watch can do a day comfortably.
It’s a poison chalice with smartwatches – if you want to use all the bells and whistles (and you do, that’s why you bought it) then the tiny cells in these things just aren’t enough for more than a day tops. That’s OK because you’re probably going to go home every night and stick it on the dock, but if you travel then this thing, like most, is going to die on you.
I got round the poor battery life by turning off the always-on display, turning down brightness, turning off NFC, Wi-Fi and GPS. It works, but it stunts the function and experience. It’s something all decent smartwatches suffer from.
We put up with it on our phones, but even though the simple fact that you can’t fit a larger battery in the Watch Sport, it’s still unacceptably bad battery life. I can’t help but feel LG could have worked closer with Google to optimise the noticeably quick drain.Software and everyday use Android Wear 2.0
Google made Android Wear 2.0 the headline act when the Watch Sport was announced, and rightly so as it’s a brilliant OS. Google Assistant makes its debut here on a wearable, and it works pretty well. It also only knows English and German at the moment though, the lazy rotter. Still, chatting into a watch almost makes more sense that barking commands at a smartphone, but it remains an unnatural thing to do.
Android Wear 2.0 is a visual improvement, with menus clearer and easier to navigate. The Sport’s rotating crown is excellent and makes it simple and intuitive to scroll through menus, though if you’re used to other smartwatch operating systems it might be a bit confusing.
You need to tap the screen to enter apps and swipe right to go back in a menu, but once learned it’s a breeze. I particularly enjoyed the Google Keep integration; it’s easy to assign a complication to your favourite watch face and view or add a note. It’s great for shopping lists for example, as you don’t have to clutch your phone, keeping your hands free.Google’s apps
In fact much like the Samsung apps on Samsung’s Tizen watch OS, the experience with the Watch Sport is best when you stick to Google’s own apps. The integration is brilliant, evidenced in my use of the Fit and Android Pay apps. Decent third party apps are the usual suspects such as Citymapper with its excellent turn-by-turn alerts.
I ran and cycled at the gym, recording both sessions with the watch (you can pick between outdoor and indoor for both of these). It gives you a live read-out of time, calories and distance but you can swap these for other metrics if you want (hard to do on a treadmill, so do it before you start).
This all works through the Google Fit app on the watch, syncing with the same app on an Android phone, but it also works with iOS. You also obviously need the Android Wear app to keep things ticking over from the start, but it’s an OS that allows you to do most of it on the watch itself, which I like. You have the Play Store is on your wrist, though limited to fewer apps of course.Google Assistant
The watch also has Google Assistant right there on your wrist. I had trouble pairing it with a BlackBerry KEYone though, so you may have the same trouble. It worked with an LG G6 and Google Pixel (two phones that have the Assistant built in, as opposed to the older Google Now).
On first test with the Pixel, the Watch Sport reacted to ‘set alarm for 7:45am’ very quickly, doing just that. Then it struggled.
It recorded me asking ‘When is the Monaco match?’ but took at least fifteen seconds to give me a Google search result. Worse was when I said ‘email Chris Martin’; rather than open an email to my colleague it sent another Chris in my contacts the word ‘Martin’. Not only is this tech evidently still flawed, I now look like a weirdo.
The limits of the Assistant on a watch are more than on the phone. It has a way to go, and the fact it just doesn’t work sometimes isn’t good enough.
Home screen, Agenda, music controls and Google Assistant on the LG Watch SportDoes it work with an iPhone?
Use with an iPhone is limited too. You can’t interact with iMessage; you only get incoming notifications. Calendar syncing is also dodgy and you have to pick between Google or Apple. You will probably want both, but you can’t. Also you can only use one Google account at a time, and you need to connect to Wi-Fi to access the Play Store directly from the watch as you don’t have the Play Store on an iPhone.
Supposedly there is some Google Assistant functionality, but when I tried to set it all up on an iPhone 7, it left me with a spinning wheel telling me to ‘check your phone’. Nothing happened. I gave up.
Basically, don’t get the LG Watch Sport if you use an iPhone. There are far too many compromises, the integration is buggy and the experience is terrible. Get an Apple Watch.Everything else
On the bright side, when paired with an Android phone I used the Android Pay function with ease and the experience is seamless. It’s so handy once you start using it, and the LG Watch Sport makes it easy, as long as it hasn’t died on you by the time you need a pint after work.
There’s a ton of new things stuffed into the OS, like handwriting recognition for quick replies to messages, a surprisingly not fiddly thing to do well first time. Presentation is everything on wearables because of the limited size of display, and the combination of hardware and software here works well. You can tell LG and Google worked closely to achieve it.
Google has been smart to just clean up Android Wear with vibrant app icons and largely dark backgrounds to save battery life (whites use more power). The update makes the watch feel like a tiny Android phone, notification tray and all, even more so than the original version of the OS.
But as ever, you’re buying into the innate simplicity of a smartwatch. Simple is the most useful; Google’s charmingly uncluttered calendar interface, the ease of notification management, the music control widget. It’s all here, and it flows excellently and intuitively in day-to-day use.Specs LG Watch Sport: Specs
1.38in (480×480, 299ppi) P-OLED display
Android Wear 2.0
1.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 CPU
IP68 dust and water resistance
802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.2 LE
430mAh non-removable battery
5 best Force Feedback racing wheels [Thrustmaster, Logitech]
Racing wheels have been around for a very long time, almost since the first racing games appeared. They evolved and eventually incorporated technologies that further help simulate the feeling of you actually driving a real racecar.
One such feature is called Force Feedback, and it is the racing wheel’s ability to vibrate and move whenever you hit something during the game. This lets you feel every bump on the road and every collision you make.
Because there are plenty of them out there, we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the best racing wheels that feature Force Feedback that you can buy today.
Note: Deals are subject to change. Keep in mind that the price tag often varies. We recommend going on the vendor’s website to check the price. Some of the products may be out of stock by the time you’ve made your purchasing decision. So, hurry up and hit the buy button.
Realistic steering and pedal action for the latest racing titles
Durable solid steel ball bearings, stainless steel pedals, and hand-stitched leather wheel grip
Dual-motor force feedback
Easy-access game controls
Responsive floor pedal unit
Pedal piston sleeves: Polyoxymethylene thermoplastic (POM)
The occasional quality control issues
If you want to experience your PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and select PC racing titles in a way that you never did before, the Logitech G29 racing wheel is the right thing for you.
It is made to emulate all the aspects of real racing, from the steering controls to the dual-motor Force Feedback that will make you feel every mile you go on the racetrack.
Realistic steering and pedal action for the latest racing titles
Durable solid steel ball bearings, stainless steel pedals, and hand-stitched leather wheel grip
Dual-motor force feedback
Accelerate, brake, and change gears with the feel of an actual car
Issues with PC connectivity
If you want to feel the rush of going 200MpH without ever putting yourself in danger, then the Logitech G920 is a steering wheel that will provide you with that exact feeling.
It has realistic steering and pedal action for the latest racing titles, making them feel more immersive than the developers ever intended them to be.
900° force feedback base
Mixed belt-pulley and gears system, metal ball-bearing axle.
Xbox One certified embedded software
Also compatible with PC (Windows 10/8/7/Vista) ensured thanks to the Thrustmaster drivers
Large, optimized pedal set
Customer support isn’t reliable in case of issues with the product
The realistic controls and force feedback will make collisions and sharp turns feel more real than ever, elevating your gaming experience to the rank of extreme sports.
Full-size racing wheel and pedals optimized for authentic racing simulation
270-degree turn radius with adjustable output options
Mount security with sturdy clamp system
The product is not compatible with Xbox 360 and Windows PC
When talking about racing wheels for Xbox One and PCs, you probably expect the best.
The HORI Racing Wheel Overdrive is not a let-down as far as realism is concerned, as it will make PC and Xbox racing games feel like you are actually in the driver’s seat.
Thankfully, it is solid and sturdy enough to hold in case you go overboard with enthusiasm.
Official Racing Simulator for PS4 and PS3
1080 degree force feedback racing wheel
Built-in PS4/PS3 sliding switch
The large pedal set included
PlayStation4-certified embedded software and PS4/PS3 sliding switch
Some issues with the brake pedal that comes in the package
If you prefer the PlayStation console and not the Xbox One or PC, then you may like to hear about the Thrustmaster T150. This is the official racing wheel for the PlayStation, and it will elevate your racing game to a whole new level.
It features 1080 degree force feedback, making sharp turns and even U-turns feel like they are nothing.
Those of you that play console games are probably used to the vibration feedback that the controllers provide in the tensest moments.
If you too know that feeling, then try to imagine that Force Feedback is exactly that, allowing you to feel and not just see your favorite racing game.
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