iQOO Z3 5G review: Solid gaming smartphone in a tricky midrange segment

Vivo’s spin-off brand iQOO continues to make strides in the gaming smartphone segment with the launch of the iQOO 3 5G. Priced Rs 19,990, the smartphone is packed with features and specifications not common in the midrange segment. For starters, it is the first smartphone in India powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G 5G mobile processor. Moreover, it packs a fullHD resolution screen of 120Hz refresh rate and 180Hz touch sampling rate, a 64-megapixel based triple rear camera array, and a big capacity battery supported by 55W fast charger. The iQOO 3 5G seems to be a solid midrange smartphone. Is it? Let’s find out:

iQOO Z3 5G: Design

It is easy to find a smartphone in the midrange segment packed with top-of-the-line specifications, but the search gets difficult if you throw in the thin and lightweight design requirement. Thankfully, the iQOO 3 5G does not compromise on the design front. It has a thin profile (8.5mm) and lightweight  (185.5g) build. The phone comes in ‘Cyber Blue’ and ‘Ace Black’, both made mostly of polycarbonate with matte finish on the back cover to resist fingerprint smudges. The Cyber Blue colour (review unit) is reminiscent of the Vivo V20 Pro (Review) with vibrant hues of blue colours on the rear panel.

 

Speaking of the rear panel, it boasts a flashy design with subtle iQOO branding but prominent and protruding camera module. Like the back cover, the frame is made of plastic. It sports the volume rocker keys and the power button (with fingerprint sensor integrated) on the right side. The top side of the frame is home to the SIM card tray, and the bottom side is covered by a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB-C port, and the speaker.

The iQOO Z3 5G is IP52 rated for dust and water-resistant. Though incapable of being submerged in water or to take the serious dust abuse, it is good to see there is some protection for the phone to stay protected against light splashes of water and dust. As for the build quality, it is solid. Moreover, the in-hand feel is good, thanks to the curved edges and the non-slippery finish of the rear cover.

iQOO 3 5G: Display

The iQOO Z3 5G sports a 6.58-inch fullHD+ IPS LCD screen with Panda Glass protection layered on top for scratch resistance. The screen is of 120Hz refresh rate and 180Hz touch sampling rate, both of which aids the phone’s multimedia and gaming capabilities. For smooth user experience, iQOO has added ‘Smart Switch’ mode in the display setting that allows the phone’s screen to use variable refresh rate in accordance with on-screen content requirement.

Though the screen is good, it leaves unreasonable bezels on the sides and a big one on the chin. The teardrop notch is another minor but prominent design element that shows corners are cut to keep the pricing low.

Coming back to the display, it has a pixel density of 401ppi and is HDR10 compliant. It looks sharp and offers good viewing angles. Besides, the variable refresh rate makes it a good deal to experience different genre content like movies, text, web pages, games, etc. The screen is good for indoor use but the limited peak brightness level and glossy glass costs the sunlight legibility.

iQOO Z3 5G: Performance

iQOO is known for affordable performance-centric smartphones, and the Z3 5G is no exception. It is the first smartphone in India powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G system-on-chip. The phone supports 5G, making it future-ready. The iQoo Z3 comes with 6GB RAM + 128GB storage, 8GB RAM + 128GB storage, and 8GB RAM + 256GB storage configurations. The 8GB RAM models boast virtual RAM features, which treats a portion (3GB) of storage as RAM to facilitate demanding tasks.

Details aside, the iQOO 3 5G is a solid performer. It performs well irrespective of usage -- multitasking, social media, video streaming, texting, gaming, etc. Complementing the performance is the thermal efficiency. The phone features a five-layer liquid cooling system, which helps in keeping the thermals in check.

Being a gaming smartphone, the iQOO 3 5G covers a wide spectrum of in-gaming enhancements. There is an ‘Ultra Game Mode’ which optimises CPU/GPU, RAM, and more when playing games. This makes it ideal for gaming.

The only downside to the iQOO Z3 5G is the Android 11 operating system-based Funtouch OS 11.1 skin. It brings major improvements over the previous iterations but still has a long way to go to deliver good user experience.

iQOO Z3 5G: Camera

 

Cameras are not usually considered a strong area for any gaming smartphone, but the iQOO 3 5G is different. It sports a triple camera array on the back, featuring a 64-megapixel primary sensor (Samsung ISOCELL GW3), an 8MP ultra-wide lens, and a 2MP sensor with an f/2.4 lens. It has a 16MP sensor on the front.

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

 

Overall, the camera works well in everyday photography with crisp and sharp pictures. You might see over saturation in some cases, especially bright conditions.

The 16MP selfie camera is good too. It takes vibrant pictures with good colour tones and sharpness. It, however, does not work well with portraits. The Portrait Mode smoothens the skin tone, making it look too artificial and there is unusual and inconsistent blur on the contours.

 

The camera is a bit weak for low-light photography, though, as it lacks the accuracy that you usually expect. The ultra-wide lens manages to click decent pictures but the edges are usually noisy. The macro lens is plain disappointing, though.

iQOO Z3 5G: Battery

 

The phone packs a 4,400mAh battery supported by a 55W fast charger. iQOO claims the phone’s battery gets a 50 per cent charge in just 19 minutes, and it manages to come close to the claimed numbers in real life. The phone takes about an hour to charge fully and it lasts for about a day on regular usage -- photography, social media, and gaming.

iQOO Z3 5G review: Verdict

 

The iQOO Z3 5G is a solid gaming smartphone in the midrange segment, but not an all-rounder due to mediocre camera performance and inconsistent custom-made Android 11 OS. Nevertheless, the phone covers a wide spectrum of features and specifications that are otherwise not easy to get in mid range smartphones. That said, consider the iQOO 3 5G primarily for the performance. For an all-round package, you might like to check out the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max (review), OnePlus Nord CE, and Samsung Galaxy A52 (review).

 



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