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iQOO Neo 7 Pro 5G review: More than just gaming performance on a budget

The iQOO Neo 7 Pro 5G is an out-and-out gaming-focused smartphone that performs equally well as an everyday device on all fronts without any major issues

The iQOO Neo 7 Pro 5G starts at  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>34,999 and comes in two color variants: Fearless Flame and Dark Storm.
The iQOO Neo 7 Pro 5G starts at 34,999 and comes in two color variants: Fearless Flame and Dark Storm. (iQOO)

Even as flagship phones continue their march upwards the price ladder, there’s a void forming in the mid-range for the ‘OnePlus of yore’, of phones that can deliver strong performance without stretching the wallet beyond the 30-40K figure.

One brand that’s been doing really well to fill that void is Vivo’s sub-brand iQOO. The iQOO Neo 7 Pro 5G really shines at its starting 34,999 price point (for the base 8GB memory/128GB storage variant). Offering last year’s flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip – yes, that’s the same chip that powers the OnePlus 11R ( 39,999), the Oppo Reno 10 Pro+ ( 54,999) and the Nothing Phone 2 ( 44,999) – the iQOO promises a lot for the price, but have corners been cut for the impressively low price?

Design and feel

Pick up the Neo 7 Pro in its rather distinctive Fearless Flame colorway, and you get a premium faux-leather finish on the back panel alongside the curved edge polycarbonate frame. This finish is a lot more grippy in the hand than the almost muted-in-comparison, shimmery dark blue AG glass rear panel on the Dark Storm variant I tested which, at 8.5 mm and 199.5 g, is somewhat heavy and thick. The Fearless Flame variant is certainly the one to get for those who want to show of that rather bright but unique color.

While the phone feels durable in the hand, it is rated at IP52 dust/splash resistance, which doesn’t match up to the IP68 durability of its peers. You get an infrared blaster and a stereo speaker setup, and the screen haptics and in-screen fingerprint scanner are good for the segment.

The screen merits a special mention – the 6.78-inch 120Hz full HD+ AMOLED display gets rather bright at a solid 1,300 nits peak brightness, which makes for an expansive canvas for HDR10+ content. Contrast levels are excellent, and colors are vivid, though you can choose to tame the saturation levels via color modes. The loud dual speakers are a great accompaniment for the screen while consuming streaming content.

Processor and performance

The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a tried and tested chip with a good balance of flagship-grade performance and battery efficiency, as we’ve seen in a number of phones launched late last year. You can pick between two memory/storage variants, with the top 12GB/256GB variant ( 37,999) still undercutting the base 8GB/128GB OnePlus 11R on price.

iQOO is going big on targeting gamers, and it shows in the device. There’s a dedicated gaming chip that lets you enable ‘frame rate interpolation’ in games via an Ultra Game mode. This is the ability to add in extra frames in the visuals during gameplay for a smoother experience, either bumping frame rates up to 120 frames per second in compatible games or maintaining a higher frame rate for longer than would be possible on the Snapdragon chip alone.

Pushing Battlegrounds Mobile India to the highest settings in terms of quality and frame rates, one consistently saw 60 frames per second gameplay, even on high frame rate settings with HDR graphics. High frame rates with no lags were my experience across multiple games I tried on the iQOO Neo 7 Pro. Even after an extended session of gameplay, the phone wasn’t running too hot or throttling performance to rein in temperatures, which is courtesy the large vapor cooling chamber.

The Neo 7 Pro runs on Android 13-based Funtouch OS 13.
The Neo 7 Pro runs on Android 13-based Funtouch OS 13. (iQOO)

Software, battery experience

The Neo 7 Pro runs on Android 13-based Funtouch OS 13, which brings in a bunch of UI personalization and battery optimization features, but the two years of promised operating system upgrades fall short of the industry average. The experience is also marred somewhat by the excessive presence of preinstalled apps, and while many can be easily removed, the very presence of the Hot Apps and Hot Games folders take the otherwise premium experience down a notch.

Equipped with a 5000 mAh battery, the Neo 7 Pro lasted well over six hours of moderate everyday use (including some streaming, some gaming and responding to WhatsApp and social media), which translates to about a day and a half of use. Heavy gaming will bring this estimate down to under a day, of course. What sets the Neo 7 Pro apart is the 120W fast charging, which tops up the battery to 50 percent in less than 10 minutes and all the way to full in under 30 minutes. Perfect for the splash and dash as you get ready to head out in the morning.


Finally, the triple camera setup, which is to be found in the stylish yet sizable square-shaped camera module on the rear. The 50-megapixel primary camera is accompanied by an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel macro sensor, and a 16-megapixel sensor on the front handles selfie duties. Shooting with the primary camera is highly recommended – it captures good details with a reasonably good dynamic range and colors. The ultrawide manages to maintain color parity with the primary sensor but expectedly suffers on account of poorer detail levels and less than usable images in low-light scenarios. Selfies are spot on with skin tones, but the macro is – as all 2-megapixel macros are wont to be – rather pointless in their inclusion.

The final word

Price-to-performance ratio wise, the iQOO Neo 7 Pro 5G punches significantly above its weight category, and far ahead of similarly priced options like the OnePlus Nord 3.

This is unabashedly an out-and-out gaming-focused smartphone that does equally well as an everyday carry for folks just looking for a smartphone that performs well on the multimedia, camera and battery fronts without any major headaches. You’ll have to look past the bloatware issue on the phone (at least until you uninstall the apps you don’t plan to use) and the below-average software support, though.

Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, posts @2shar.

Also read: OnePlus Nord 3 5G review: An upgrade in almost every other way

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