Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > Smart Living> Innovation > iQOO Neo9 Pro review: Powerful performance at a promising price

iQOO Neo9 Pro review: Powerful performance at a promising price

The iQOO Neo9 Pro faces strong competition from the likes of OnePlus and Oppo but stands out thanks to its impressive design and strong hardware performance

The iQOO Neo9 Pro is a headturner. The phone starts at  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>38,999.
The iQOO Neo9 Pro is a headturner. The phone starts at 38,999.

Undoubtedly, the 40,000 segment in the smartphone industry is one of the most competitive ones. The OnePlus 12R, Nothing Phone 2, Vivo V30 Pro, Redmi Note 13 Pro+, and more are crowding this segment. The iQOO Neo9 Pro, which launched recently, is now right in the mix of things.

The iQOO Neo9 Pro is a head-turner. The Fiery Red variant (that comes with a dual-tone vegan leather back material) is the one I reviewed, and I’ve been left impressed. From the surface level, the Neo9 Pro, which is available for 38,999, is ahead of the curve with its design language. But does it have the hardware and battery performance worthy of being a standout in this segment?

The fiery red variant is a winner

When I took the Neo9 Pro out of the box, I knew I’d love using the smartphone. There’s a white strip on the left-hand side of the rear panel along with the iQOO logo. The cameras are vertically aligned. The bezels are red and made of metal. The form factor is superb and the smartphone is grippy, lightweight and easy to hold.

There’s one downside to the design though. The smartphone gets dirty easily and is attracted to stains. The alternative is to use the transparent TPU case included in the box. All this is based on the Fiery Red variant. There is also an all-black colour option.

Performance and software

The Neo9 Pro is no slouch -- thanks to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset under the hood along with 12GB of RAM and 25GB of storage. The Neo9 Pro flies through all tasks. Stuttering and lags are a thing of the past. I used the smartphone, over my review period, for watching YouTube videos, clicking hundreds of photos, calling and texting, and much more.

Even during prolonged gaming sessions of Call of Duty: Mobile, the smartphone never slowed down. Yes, it did heat up after about 15 to 20 minutes of gaming, but not nearly enough that I had to put down the smartphone and let it cool down. I didn’t notice any throttling even after an hour of continuous gaming. The Neo9 Pro isn’t the fastest smartphone in the segment, but it's right up there with the best.

The software experience, however, was a letdown. The Neo9 Pro runs on Funtouch OS 14 (based on Android 14) and comes with a couple of pre-installed apps including Netflix and Snapchat. V-Store, though, was the one app that was the most annoying. There are almost zero reasons to have a separate app store, and Vivo has been persistent with it. Furthermore, once you open the V-Store, you’re bombarded with several unwanted advertisements.

Funtouch OS isn’t the cleanest Android UI out there. It’s far from what OnePlus offers with OxygenOS. iQOO guarantees 3 years of OS updates and 4 years of security updates.

What about those cameras?

The Neo9 Pro isn’t overloaded with unnecessary sensors. It’s got a simple, yet powerful, dual rear camera setup. There’s the 50MP primary camera (with a 1/1.49-inch Sony IMX920 sensor with f/1.88 aperture and optical image stabilisation) and an 8MP ultra-wide angle camera (with an OmniVision OV08D10 sensor and f/2.2 aperture). On the front is a 16MP selfie camera (with a Samsung S5K3P9SP04-FGX9 sensor with a f/2.5 aperture).

The Neo9 Pro lives up to its big brother’s (the Vivo X100 series) camera chops. In the 40,000 segment, the Neo9 Pro has one of the best cameras on a smartphone. The smartphone delivers clean and crisp photos consistently. The reason why the Neo9 Pro is at the top is because the photos are pleasing to the eye along with true-to-life colours. The photos don’t come out overexposed.

As far as portraits go, the Neo9 Pro has a 2x portrait mode, which is a game-changer and hardly seen on any smartphones in this range. Clicking portraits was fun as they came out with vibrant colours, a lot of details, and a natural-looking blur. It sometimes delivered an uneven background blur on certain occasions but was far from being a dealbreaker.

The primary camera outshines the ultra-wide camera, turning out to be one of the most reliable phone cameras out there, especially in good daylight conditions. Most phones in this range struggle in low-light conditions and that applies to the Neo9 Pro also.

Battery life and charging

The 5,160mAh battery inside the Neo9 Pro delivers fantastic results. I was able to get an all-day battery even with a medium-to-heavy usage pattern. My screen on time (SoT) was consistently over seven hours. The smartphone comes with a bundled 120W charger. The phone can be juiced up in just 35 minutes.

Verdict: A power-packed smartphone

The iQOO Neo9 Pro is one of the best smartphones in the 40,000 range. It may not be the best at gaming, or have a clean OS, but it has a lot else going for it. It’s got a top-notch primary sensor (which delivers fantastic photos), fast and fluid performance - thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 - and all-day battery life.

There are many competitors in this price segment: the OnePlus 12R, Nothing Phone 2, Oppo Reno11 Pro, and others. Most of those have slower processors, slower charging and slower internal storage.

In my opinion, it’s a straight fight between the OnePlus 12R and the iQOO Neo9 Pro. The latter wins, by a small margin, thanks to a superior camera setup, faster charging, and an eye-catching design language.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla.

Also read: Vivo X100 review: Ticks just about all the boxes

Next Story