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iQOO 9T review

Introduction and specs

The iQOO 9 lineup from this year is big. In addition to the vanilla iQOO 9 and the 9 Pro, we have the 9 SE, a vanilla option just for China and now a 9T. The latter seems to be the second refresh of a biannual upgrade scheme, and it’s supposed to be a direct successor to the iQOO 9. However, the iQOO 9T has a lot more in common with the Pro model.

Instead of relying on a last-year chipset like its predecessor, the 9T boasts the latest and greatest from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which is also a marginal upgrade over the 9 Pro. Additionally, the 9T borrows the competent 50MP main camera with OIS from the Pro version while retaining mostly the same secondary camera setup as the vanilla. One notable upgrade is the aperture of the telephoto camera as the 9T has it impressively large at f/2.0.

Moreover, the 9T is powered by the same 4,700 mAh battery as the 9 Pro and offers 120W fast charging. No wireless or reverse wireless charging capabilities, though.

vivo iQOO 9T specs at a glance:

  • Body: 165.0×77.0x8.0mm, 206g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), aluminum frame, glass back; Dust and dripping water resistant.
  • Display: 6.78″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1500 nits (peak), 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 388ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.19 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.75 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 12, Funtouch 12.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.9, 1/1.57″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS; Telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.0, 47mm, PDAF, 2x optical zoom; Ultra wide angle: 13 MP, f/2.2, 16mm, 120˚, AF.
  • Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.5, (wide).
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60fps, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS.
  • Battery: 4700mAh; Fast charging 120W, 50% in 8 min, 100% in 19 min (advertised).
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, ultrasonic); NFC; FM radio; Infrared port; stereo speakers.

Compared to the iQOO 9, the 9T offers a modest upgrade in the display department as well. A bigger 6.78-inch 120Hz OLED panel is now at hand and promises higher peak brightness, protected by Gorilla Glass 5, instead of Panda Glass. Interestingly enough, the 9 Pro offers the same 6.78-inch diagonal but with a higher resolution.

Despite all the similarities, all iQOO 9 phones have different designs, so it’s quite easy to tell them apart. An interesting approach, given that most brands go for one, recognizable design language for all phones in the same lineup.

iQOO 9T review

Asking about INR 50,000, the iQOO 9T looks like a pretty solid deal, although recent price cuts of the 9 Pro could make some users think twice before buying. Both devices are too close in terms of pricing and feature sets, and luckily, we have reviewed the 9 Pro and the vanilla 9, so it’s going to be an interesting comparison. Follow us onto the next pages to see which one of the iQOO 9s deserves your hard-earned money.

Unboxing the iQOO 9T

No matter which paint job you get, the iQOO 9T comes in a BMW M Motorsport-branded box, which in turn is quite rich in content. At least compared to other retail boxes.

iQOO 9T review

In addition to the 120W-rated charger and USB-C to USB-C cable, there’s also a transparent silicone case and a 3.5mm audio to USB-C dongle. A rare find these days, so kudos to iQOO.

Design and ergonomics

Although the iQOO 9T has a design on its own, it’s closer to the 9 Pro than to the 9. About two-thirds of the back is covered in frosted glass, which is a bit grippier than your usual soft-touch matte finish, while the area around the camera island remains glossy. You can see the carbon fiber-inspired pattern under the right lighting conditions.

On the other hand, the camera island doesn’t extend along the width of the phone and is much smaller now. The camera arrangement inside is identical to the 9 Pro.

iQOO 9T review

Once again, there’s a version with the BMW M Motorsport-inspired paint job with the famous three stripes – that’s the Legend variant. We have the Alpha option, though, which is all black.

When it comes to ergonomics, the first thing we noticed is that the handset feels quite balanced in hand. The curvatures on the back are comfortable but form a bit of an annoying ridge with the middle frame. It’s nice to see the camera bump trimmed as it doesn’t stick out as much.

iQOO 9T review

Speaking of the middle frame, it’s made of aluminum, and it features a matte finish. The power button and the volume rocker are both placed on the right side and are comfortably positioned and spaced apart. The power button has a patterned finish, so you can recognize it more easily. The bottom holds the USB-C connector, the SIM card tray and the loudspeaker grille.

iQOO 9T - iQOO 9T review
iQOO 9T - iQOO 9T review

iQOO 9T - iQOO 9T review
iQOO 9T - iQOO 9T review

iQOO 9T

Sadly, the iQOO 9T is yet another phone with its fingerprint reader placed too close to the bottom edge of the screen. It’s a bit uncomfortable to reach when holding the phone securely in your hand. In short, it requires some finger gymnastics.

iQOO 9T review

Going around the front, we see a centered punch-hole selfie camera and razor-thin bezels, including the top and the bottom. We don’t like that there’s absolutely no curvature to the front glass sheet as it forms a sharp ridge with the side frame and ultimately makes the phone feel cheap.

iQOO 9T review

Finally, the iQOO 9T offers IP52 certification, which is basically protection against small sprinkles and maybe rain.

iQOO 9T review

For a phone asking about INR 50,000, the build quality is nice but could have been a tad better. And we don’t mean the materials used – we are happy to see Gorilla Glass 5 on the front, but putting things together is just as important. The sub-optimal fingerprint reader position and the small ridges around the front and back keep us from giving the phone an excellent score in this regard.

Flagship 120Hz OLED display

The iQOO 9T offers a mix between the vanilla 9 and the 9 Pro’s displays. The 9T borrows the FHD+ resolution (1080 x 2400px) from the standard iQOO 9, while offering the 9 Pro’s diagonal of 6.78″. It’s still 120Hz, though, and boasts a 360Hz touch sampling rate. The HDR enhancements cap at HDR10+, which is perfectly fine for most content on major streaming platforms.

A software feature enables real-time conversion of SDR content to HDR, which also works on most major streaming platforms, including Netflix and YouTube. It’s all thanks to the V1+ custom display chip that offloads the chipset in tasks related to the refresh rate and other graphics enhancements. The said chip is also responsible for some photography, particularly at night.

iQOO 9T review

There’s also some game frame rate interpolation artificially boosting refresh rate to 90Hz from 60Hz, but we recommend leaving that off as it causes a smearing effect.

Interestingly enough, the iQOO 9T’s display did a little better in most regards compared to the 9 Pro and is a big upgrade over the vanilla 9. The maximum recorded brightness in manual mode is 503 nits, which is pretty solid, but this value more than doubles in auto mode – 1033 nits. Moreover, iQOO advertises 1500 nits of peak brightness, which is achieved on a small surface area during HDR video playback.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
iQOO 9T 0 503
iQOO 9T (Max Auto) 0 1033
iQOO 9 Pro 0 438
iQOO 9 Pro (Max Auto) 0 1000
iQOO 9 SE 0 481
iQOO 9 SE (Max Auto) 0 863
iQOO 9 0 455
iQOO 9 (Max Auto) 0 749
Google Pixel 6 (Max Auto) 0 846
Google Pixel 6 0 477
Xiaomi 12 Pro (Max Auto) 0 1050
Xiaomi 12 Pro 0 506
Realme GT2 Pro 0 482
Realme GT2 Pro (Max Auto) 0 778
OnePlus 10T 0 517
OnePlus 10T (Max Auto) 0 819
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G 0 792
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G (before second slide) 0 385

Color accuracy is also great, with the Professional mode producing the best results. We got an outstanding average dE2000 of just 0.8, whereas the maximum is only 1.7. There are no blue-ish whites or grays either. There’s a color temperature slider at your disposal, so you can always adjust that to your liking and maybe keep the saturated colors of the default color mode.

HRR control

Since this is no LTPO display, granular refresh rate control is out of the question. There are three modes – Smart Switch, 120Hz and 60Hz modes. The first two are almost identical as far as functionality goes. In both modes, the system would render at 60fps if you are not interacting with the display or you’ve opened a video player app, such as Netflix, YouTube or the default Gallery app.

However, it turned out that most third-party apps we tried were locked at 60fps when the Smart Switch mode was active, while the 120Hz mode fixed this issue. So given that the 120Hz mode is still somewhat dynamic, we recommend using this mode to ensure all third-party apps take advantage of the HRR display.

Battery life

Having the same 4,700 mAh battery as the iQOO 9 Pro, identical software and running on similar hardware (Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 vs. Snapdragon 8 Gen 1), one would expect similar battery results. However, the iQOO 9T blows the Pro out of the water with an exceptional overall endurance score.

iQOO 9T review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

The iQOO 9T got a solid standby runtime, long 3G call runtime and, more importantly, great screen-on scores in our web and video battery tests. But since the difference between the iQOO 9T and the 9 Pro is big, we would like to think the software is the one to blame. At the time of writing the iQOO 9 Pro review, the software wasn’t final so vivo improved in this regard quite a bit.

Aside from its Pro sibling, the 9T outperforms many of its direct rivals too.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we’ve tested.

Charging speed

Interestingly enough, we found a difference between the 9T and the 9 Pro’s charging times, albeit much smaller. The 120W charging brick is capable of topping up the battery in just 18 minutes from 0%, which is about three minutes faster than the iQOO 9 Pro and a lot faster than most similarly priced smartphones.

iQOO 9T review

It’s important to note that the 120W charger works well with the Power Delivery 3.0 protocol capping at 65W. However, the provided USB-C to USB-C cable isn’t PD-compliant, so you have to get yourself a suitable third-party cable to charge your PD-enabled devices using the 9T’s charging brick.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • iQOO 9 Pro
    100%
  • iQOO 9
    100%
  • iQOO 9T
    100%
  • OnePlus 10T
    100%
  • IQOO 9 SE
    91%
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    91%
  • Google Pixel 6 (65W)
    48%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • iQOO 9
    0:16h
  • iQOO 9T
    0:18h
  • OnePlus 10T
    0:19h
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    0:21h
  • IQOO 9 SE
    0:38h
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    0:40h
  • Google Pixel 6 (65W)
    1:50h

Speakers

Just like its close siblings, the iQOO 9T packs a pair of stereo speakers in the most common setup – a bottom-firing main speaker and a secondary one that doubles as an earpiece. To our surprise, we got different results from the previous two iQOO 9s, suggesting that the OEM used different ones for the 9T. It’s somewhat of a mixed bag, though.

Overall loudness is underwhelming with just -28.8 LUFS, but the phone does impress with sound quality. At higher volumes, the highs are just a tad distorted, but tracks sound clear and full overall. The bass is quite prominent and gives the music a lively and warm vibe. Those are definitely one of the good-sounding speakers out there and we would trade loudness for sound quality any day. And it seems iQOO is on the same page.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Android 12 with FuntouchOS 12

The iQOO 9T runs on the exact same software as its other two siblings – the vanilla 9 and the Pro. We’ve got Android 12 underneath vivo’s custom FuntouchOS 12. The latter significantly departs from Funtouch 11’s “core values”. The stock-ish looking and functioning main UI elements and menus have been substituted with a highly customized and customizable UI. Some of the changes are pretty nifty, too, including the system menus being tailored toward a single-handed use. Samsung’s OneUI and OnePlus’ OxygenOS have a similar approach. Some of the menus’ content moves to the lower half of the screen when you swipe down, but not all, which is odd. Perhaps the only stock-ish looking thing about the software is the notification shade and the quick toggles. Unlike stock Android, though, this software offers a quick switch for automatic brightness control right next to the brightness slider itself.

iQOO 9T review

The recent apps menu, for example, has some other proprietary features. You can choose between the standard carousel formation and a horizontal tiles layout – sort of like MIUI, only scrollable horizontally.

Home screen, app drawer, settings menu - iQOO 9T review
Home screen, app drawer, settings menu - iQOO 9T review
Home screen, app drawer, settings menu - iQOO 9T review
Home screen, app drawer, settings menu - iQOO 9T review

Home screen, app drawer, settings menu - iQOO 9T review
Home screen, app drawer, settings menu - iQOO 9T review
Home screen, app drawer, settings menu - iQOO 9T review

Home screen, app drawer, settings menu

The app drawer, although stock-ish looking, has an expandable recommended apps category on the top (most commonly used ones), whereas using the vertical scroller on the right would highlight the apps beginning with the selected letter.

Notification shade, recent apps, - iQOO 9T review
Notification shade, recent apps, - iQOO 9T review
Notification shade, recent apps, - iQOO 9T review
Notification shade, recent apps, - iQOO 9T review

Notification shade, recent apps,

The notification shade has been revamped too, in terms of looks mostly – the quick toggles are now square-shaped, and the accent color around the menus (including the quick toggles icons) is blue, and there’s no way to change either. Applying different themes would only change the icon pack and wallpaper.

The rest of the UI gets plenty of love, too. In the Dynamic effects sub-menu, vivo has grouped quite a few customizable aspects of the home screen, lock screen, animation effects, etc. There are even various charging and facial recognition animations.

Dynamic effects and Always-on display - iQOO 9T review
Dynamic effects and Always-on display - iQOO 9T review
Dynamic effects and Always-on display - iQOO 9T review
Dynamic effects and Always-on display - iQOO 9T review
Dynamic effects and Always-on display - iQOO 9T review
Dynamic effects and Always-on display - iQOO 9T review

Dynamic effects and Always-on display

The Ambient light effect gets more granular control with the option to enable it only during a limited time period, or you can choose which apps to trigger it.

The always-on display settings are in a different sub-menu, however, but the phone still gives you plenty of options to tinker with – a wide selection of animations, clock styles, colors, backgrounds, etc.

The Themes app offers many free themes.

You can also change the animation of the fingerprint scanner, the face unlocks, and even the charging animation.

Fingerprint animation - iQOO 9T review
Fingerprint animation - iQOO 9T review

Fingerprint animation

Speaking of the fingerprint scanner, it is kind of always-on. Sure, you cannot see the icon, but it lights up the moment you touch the glass around its area. And it is quite fast and reliable, among the fastest UD solutions on the market.

The Smart motion menu holds a handful of familiar screen-on and screen-off gestures along with some new additions. One of those requires you to wave in front of the screen during an incoming call to answer hands-free – useful if you’re cooking, for example.

Smart motion and screen-off gestures - iQOO 9T review
Smart motion and screen-off gestures - iQOO 9T review
Smart motion and screen-off gestures - iQOO 9T review

Smart motion and screen-off gestures

Holding the volume down key can be used to launch an app or do a certain task, although the list of the latter is limited to launching the camera app, turn on/off the torch or start recording audio. The so-called Quick action feature doesn’t work when playing music for obvious reasons. Why isn’t there a double-press option for Quick action, though?

The Sound menu holds a few pleasant surprises. Just like Samsung, vivo pays attention to people with hearing problems, and you can calibrate the sound to be heard by elderly people or those with impaired hearing. Additionally, notifications and calls get separate volume sliders. The vibration intensity can be adjusted for calls and notifications independently.

Quick action and sound options - iQOO 9T review
Quick action and sound options - iQOO 9T review
Quick action and sound options - iQOO 9T review

Quick action and sound options

All in all, the new Funtouch 12 runs great, and you can even make it snappier by disabling most of the animations and speeding up the transitions. Yes, Funtouch 12 gives you the freedom to do so. However, those that want to use Android as Google intended might not be okay with the colorful iconography and the highly customized system menus and animations.

Synthetic performance

Compared to the iQOO 9, the 9T offers a substantial upgrade in terms of raw performance, but it’s also an improvement over the 9 Pro, even if more modest. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 promises 30% better power efficiency in the CPU and GPU department compared to its predecessor since Qualcomm changed from Samsung’s fabs to TSMC’s (both are still 4nm, though). Performance gains are smaller – 10% on both CPU and GPU, mainly due to the higher clock speeds.

The octa-core CPU consists of the same 1+3+4 core combo (1x Cortex-X2 + 3x Cortex-A710 + 4x Cortex-510), but clocked at 3.20 GHz, 2.75 GHz and 1.80 GHz, respectively. The Adreno 730 GPU runs at 900Hz.

Aside from the CPU and GPU, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is also bringing a new Spectra ISP, premium Snapdragon Sound and more power-efficient NPU computing. The ISP can now record 8K HDR footage and video bokeh effect alongside face tracking simultaneously. The NPU’s capabilities have been bumped up 20% per watt.

There’s also the Volumetric rendering support and improved power efficiency during gaming, and those alone theoretically boost gaming time by about an hour. Now, off to the benchmarks to see how well it fares against the competition and see how good iQOO’s implementation is.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • iQOO 9T
    4059
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 average
    3937
  • OnePlus 10T (High performance mode)
    3907
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    3708
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Max processing)
    3542
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
    3528
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    3501
  • iQOO 9 SE
    3442
  • OnePlus 10T
    3401
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    3049
  • Google Pixel 6
    2899

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 10T (High performance mode)
    1321
  • iQOO 9T
    1276
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 average
    1252
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    1238
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    1231
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
    1165
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    1096
  • iQOO 9 SE
    1095
  • OnePlus 10T
    1043
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Max processing)
    1037
  • Google Pixel 6
    1030

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • iQOO 9T
    1045901
  • OnePlus 10T (High performance mode)
    1016958
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    997948
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    966251
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 average
    957286
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
    886916
  • iQOO 9 SE
    846231
  • OnePlus 10T
    786238
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    719696
  • Google Pixel 6
    676831

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • iQOO 9T
    65
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 average (1080p)
    61
  • OnePlus 10T
    60
  • OnePlus 10T (High performance mode)
    60
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
    50
  • Google Pixel 6
    46
  • iQOO 9 SE
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    38
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    36
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    36

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • iQOO 9T
    46
  • OnePlus 10T
    46
  • OnePlus 10T (High performance mode)
    46
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 average
    43
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    42
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
    31
  • Google Pixel 6
    30
  • iQOO 9 SE
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    24

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • iQOO 9T
    67
  • OnePlus 10T
    60
  • OnePlus 10T (High performance mode)
    60
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 average (1080p)
    59
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
    51
  • iQOO 9 SE
    43
  • Google Pixel 6
    43
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    39
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    38
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    37

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • iQOO 9T
    52
  • OnePlus 10T
    51
  • OnePlus 10T (High performance mode)
    51
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 average
    47
  • Realme GT2 Pro
    46
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    44
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
    34
  • iQOO 9 SE
    30
  • Google Pixel 6
    30
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    25

It’s not a surprise to see the iQOO 9T on top of the charts as it runs on the best SoC in the Android world right now. It even manages to outpace your aver Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1-powered smartphone but we think that’s mostly due to statistical error than anything else. The difference isn’t that noticeable. Then again, the GPU-heavy benchmarks show a substantial difference between the iQOO 9T and other SD8+ Gen 1 smartphones and we are not entirely sure why that is. It could be that iQOO 9T enters some high-performance mode once it recognizes a benchmark running but that would be cheating. It’s not the first time a smartphone OEM is cheating in benchmarks.

Sustained and gaming performance

Even though the iQOO 9T isn’t a full-blown gaming phone, the company adds a couple of neat features to the software that boost the gaming experience. According to iQOO, the 9T is E-Sports-level ready. There’s the In-display Dual Monster Touch feature that splits the screen into two halves and you can map buttons in-game for more comfortable gaming during fast-paced battles. Unfortunately, this feature is available only in Call of Duty Mobile.

iQOO 9T review

The iQOO 9T also boasts one of the most responsive displays on the market with 360Hz touch response rate and reduces the latency below 50 ms.

Unfortunately, when it comes to HRR gaming, only a handful of games were able to take advantage of the 120Hz refresh rate. At least according to Android’s built-in refresh rate counter, which in all fairness, might be unreliable. In reality, the game might be running at lower frames per second while the display still reports 120Hz refresh rate. The discrepancy between the two isn’t a new phenomenon.

In any case, the iQOO 9T is supposed to provide good sustained performance as well, which is just as important in our opinion. There’s a 3,939 mm2 vapor chamber made of copper and graphite for optimal heat dissipation.

Of course, we put that to the test using an hour-long stress test of the CPU. For the first 30 minutes, although a bit wavy, the graph goes down steadily before stabilizing at around 80% of the theoretical performance. It remained there for another 30 minutes without dipping below 78%.

CPU stress test: 30 min - iQOO 9T review
CPU stress test: 60 min - iQOO 9T review

CPU stress test: 30 min • 60 min

For a flagship SoC, this is actually a great result. It could be due to some software optimizations, or TSMC’s 4nm node is indeed more efficient and the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 isn’t getting that hot. We were surprised to see the phone ever so slightly warmer – the back glass and the middle frame were both perfectly fine to the touch.

GPU stress test - iQOO 9T review
GPU stress test - iQOO 9T review

GPU stress test

Surprisingly enough, the GPU didn’t do all that well as the average frame rate was too low and the stability was just 53%, meaning performance dropped by half, comparing the first and the last, 18th loop.

No non-sense camera setup with a potent main sensor

The iQOO 9T’s camera setup is a bit different from the 9 Pro and the vanilla 9. It features a 50MP Samsung GN5 sensor but skips the gimbal OIS and instead uses a regular optical image stabilization. The sensor itself is decently big – 1/1.57″, the pixel size is 1.0µm, and it’s paired with an f/1.9 lens.

The telephoto camera, which is also marketed as a “professional portrait camera”, has a 12MP sensor paired with a wide f/2.0 aperture and focal length equivalent of 47mm, which in turn means 2x optical zoom. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to confirm other specs and the make of the telephoto camera.

iQOO 9T review

The ultrawide unit is also fairly mysterious, but given its similarities with the ultrawide used for the iQOO 9, one would assume the maker reused it. If true, we should be dealing with Samsung’s 13MP ISOCELL (S5K)3L6, 1/3.0″, 1.12µm sensor with an f/2.2 lens capable of a 120-degree field of view. The ultrawide also has autofocus and can do close-ups 3-4 cm away from the subject for crisp macro shots.

The selfie is likely the same 16MP Samsung S5K3P9 1/3.1″ shooter with f/2.45 aperture.

Camera menus

No major changes were made to the default Funtouch camera app since the vivo X70 series. There’s a straightforward zoom selector with a planet (fisheye), 0.6x, 1x and 2x shortcuts.

Accessing the Super Macro mode is done from the flower icon next to the hamburger menu, but it has an auto-on option that kicks in when you get very close to a subject.

Camera menus - iQOO 9T review
Camera menus - iQOO 9T review
Camera menus - iQOO 9T review
Camera menus - iQOO 9T review

Camera menus

The main modes are arranged in carousel formation, and you can switch between them by swiping. The More tab lists the rest of the modes, and from there, you can also customize the modes you have available in the viewfinder.

Camera menus - iQOO 9T review
Camera menus - iQOO 9T review
Camera menus - iQOO 9T review

Camera menus

The Pro mode gives you all the freedom to adjust the autofocus, white balance, shutter speed, ISO and exposure. You can do so on all three cameras, too. There’s helpful information explaining all of the options above in case you are just getting into photography. Shooting in RAW is also an option.

Daylight samples

Main camera

The main camera produces nice 12.5MP photos with plenty of detail and good sharpness overall. However, that last bit may vary. In some of the photos, the foliage may look smeared, and some elements on the buildings look softer than they should, but for the most part, it’s fine. Dynamic range is wide, but the software can sometimes go for a brighter exposure, and it’s particularly noticeable on white buildings, cars or other subjects.

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2488s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2404s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2747s - iQOO 9T review

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2252s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2933s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/1799s - iQOO 9T review

12.5MP daylight samples

Noise is virtually non-existent, and contrast is great. Color reproduction isn’t accurate, but it’s definitely likable. Pretty much all colors look oversaturated, which is desirable by many users, so iQOO went for a more appealing rendition.

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/923s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 282, 1/646s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/1815s - iQOO 9T review

12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/1282s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 238, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review
12.5MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 2463, 1/13s - iQOO 9T review

12.5MP daylight samples

Taking the phone inside doesn’t reflect sharpness, noise and dynamic range all that much. It seems that the main camera is perfectly capable of handling more challenging lighting conditions. We did notice, however, that general color reproduction is more conservative inside.

The 50MP mode delivers considerably softer photos, albeit with more detail. Noise also starts to creep in while overexposure is a frequent sighting resulting in clipped highlights.

50MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2525s - iQOO 9T review
50MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2410s - iQOO 9T review
50MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2564s - iQOO 9T review

50MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/2237s - iQOO 9T review
50MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/1818s - iQOO 9T review
50MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/633s - iQOO 9T review

50MP daylight samples - f/1.9, ISO 50, 1/1842s - iQOO 9T review

50MP daylight samples

2x telephoto camera

The telephoto camera delivers impressive shots, even indoors. The overall rendition is quite similar to the main camera’s but without the overexposure. We can even go as far as saying that the telephoto camera outperforms the main camera in terms of detail and sharpness. With one small caveat, though – there’s obviously some artificial sharpening going on in the background – just notice the sharpening halos on the leaves or the foliage on the ground.

Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/2457s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/5495s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 82, 1/1372s - iQOO 9T review

Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/5495s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 84, 1/2028s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 54, 1/712s - iQOO 9T review

Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/3731s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/4065s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight 2x telephoto samples - f/2.0, ISO 84, 1/50s - iQOO 9T review

Daylight 2x telephoto samples

Those halos can often be seen only upon closer inspection, and they are not enough to ruin the samples overall. In fact, we like this processing a bit more than the one we observed on the iQOO 9 Pro. The wider aperture could be part of the reason. This is easily one of the good 2x telephoto cameras in this price bracket.

Ultrawide camera

The ultrawide camera is a mixed bag. On the one hand, we have nice colors, a wide dynamic range, high contrast and а fair amount of detail. Sharpness, on the other hand, needs improving, and fine detail is smudged away. We also noticed some soft patches appearing in some scenes. And we are not talking about edges softness, mind you.

Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 84, 1/766s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 55, 1/900s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 109, 1/1965s - iQOO 9T review

Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 56, 1/1033s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 65, 1/791s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 54, 1/574s - iQOO 9T review

Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 404, 1/2183s - iQOO 9T review
Daylight ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 262, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review

Daylight ultrawide samples

Nevertheless, the iQOO 9T offers good ultrawide photography compared to all 8MP solutions in the same bracket. A big bonus is the autofocus support, which makes it ideal for dramatic, sharp close-up shots. It’s still hard to beat the likes of Realme GT2 Pro or the Pixel 6, though.

Speaking of autofocus, the ultrawide shooter takes on the images are detailed, with good contrast, and juicy colors, and the autofocus makes it much easier to focus even on a slightly moving subject.

Macro samples - f/2.2, ISO 99, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review
Macro samples - f/2.2, ISO 208, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review
Macro samples - f/2.2, ISO 254, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review

Macro samples - f/2.2, ISO 269, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review
Macro samples - f/2.2, ISO 466, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review

Macro samples

Low-light samples

Main camera

The main camera produces some impressive low-light photos, even without resorting to the full-fledged Night mode. There’s definitely some HDR and image stacking going on in the background, and the software often prompted us to wait for a second or so as we took the samples in the default Photo mode.

Anyway, the samples below are bright enough, maybe even brighter in the shadows than we would have liked, quite sharp, with lots of fine detail, well-developed highlights and light sources, excellent contrast, virtually no noise and juicy colors. Quite honestly, there’s nothing bad to say about those samples. They look great.

Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 4030, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 10422, 1/14s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 5890, 1/14s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 3179, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 5609, 1/14s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 4929, 1/14s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 5639, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 6068, 1/17s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 5854, 1/14s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light main camera samples

Resorting to Night mode doesn’t drastically change the scenery, but you do have to wait for more than a second or two. There’s little to no difference between the standard shots and those taken with the Night mode. Only after some pixel-peeping were we able to find a small difference in overall clarity and sharpness. It seems that the Night mode adds a little bit of artificial sharpness and boosts fine detail, mostly in the shadows. It does make the images slightly more appealing, but you won’t be missing out if you decide to opt for the standard Photo mode.

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 1683, 1/7s - iQOO 9T review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 3843, 1/5s - iQOO 9T review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 3028, 1/7s - iQOO 9T review

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 1691, 1/9s - iQOO 9T review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 3102, 1/7s - iQOO 9T review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 1770, 1/8s - iQOO 9T review

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 2033, 1/7s - iQOO 9T review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 2838, 1/7s - iQOO 9T review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 3247, 1/6s - iQOO 9T review

Night mode main camera samples

2x telephoto samples

We were surprised to see the software opting for the actual telephoto camera instead of cropping from the main sensor in low-light conditions. Still, the results aren’t amazing, and even the Night mode isn’t enough to fix the general softness and loss of fine detail. Noise is easier to spot on the non-Night mode shots, though.

Low-light 2x telephoto: Normal - f/2.0, ISO 5491, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 5054, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 4027, 1/50s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 3430, 1/25s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 4487, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 4902, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 3453, 1/50s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 3005, 1/33s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 3767, 1/25s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light 2x telephoto: Night mode - f/2.0, ISO 4058, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light 2x telephoto: Normal • Night mode

Then again, the dynamic range is wide, contrast is good, color reproduction is on point, and you can see the noise only if you look close enough. So for causal social media posting, the 2x telephoto camera does a good job after dusk. Just don’t expect anything resembling the main camera’s quality at night.

Ultrawide camera samples

While we are on the fence regarding the telephoto’s nighttime performance, we are straight up disappointed by the ultrawide’s ability to shoot low-light scenes. Samples are generally soft, noisy and lack fine detail even in well-lit areas. The Night mode doesn’t seem to be helping at all – we couldn’t find any substantial differences between the default photos and the Night mode ones. The good news is that contrast is good, colors are punchy, and the dynamic range is decently wide.

Low-light ultrawide: Normal - f/2.2, ISO 3731, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light ultrawide: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 3715, 1/17s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light ultrawide: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 6745, 1/10s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light ultrawide: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 7325, 1/8s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light ultrawide: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 5610, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light ultrawide: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 4587, 1/12s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light ultrawide: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 4746, 1/20s - iQOO 9T review
Low-light ultrawide: Night mode - f/2.2, ISO 4195, 1/14s - iQOO 9T review

Low-light ultrawide: Normal • Night mode

And here are photos of our usual posters taken with the iQOO 9T. You can see how it stacks up against the competition.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

iQOO 9T against the Pixel 6 and the Realme GT2 Pro in our Photo compare tool

Portraits

Portraits taken with the main camera are great. You can expect a natural skin tone that won’t make your subject’s skin too pale or flat. The rest of the colors are juicy and pleasant, too. Sharpness and fine detail are solid throughout all lighting conditions, and fine detail suffers just a little in low light. The dynamic range is on point as the subject is always well-exposed without clipping the background. The edge detection is quite accurate too, and can be fooled only by relatively long and messy hair.

Portrait: Main camera - f/2.0, ISO 80, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review
Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/128s - iQOO 9T review
Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/922s - iQOO 9T review

Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/1865s - iQOO 9T review
Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/681s - iQOO 9T review
Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/1227s - iQOO 9T review

Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 488, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review
Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 105, 1/50s - iQOO 9T review
Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 567, 1/100s - iQOO 9T review

Portrait: Telephoto - f/2.0, ISO 108, 1/33s - iQOO 9T review

Portrait: Main camera • Telephoto

The telephoto camera, which is marketed as a “professional portrait camera”, is really good at taking bokeh photos as well. In fact, even more challenging lighting conditions weren’t enough to trip the telephoto. You can expect mostly the same rendition as the main camera but with higher contrast and more saturated colors, which can oftentimes miss the subject’s natural skin tone. We’ve also noticed a bit of over-sharpening, which in turn brings out skin imperfections and facial hair with sharpening halos.

Selfies

Selfies are solid! They may appear a bit grainy at times, especially in the background and shadows, but we are quite impressed with the overall sharpness, detail, natural color reproduction and the competent HDR algorithm that keeps the subject’s face always well-exposed. Of course, with a drop in brightness, sharpness deteriorates, and noise can be seen more easily, but that’s to be expected.

Selfies: Normal - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/798s - iQOO 9T review
Selfies: Portrait - f/16.0, ISO 50, 1/2801s - iQOO 9T review
Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 82, 1/50s - iQOO 9T review

Selfies: Portrait - f/5.6, ISO 80, 1/50s - iQOO 9T review
Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/688s - iQOO 9T review
Selfies: Portrait - f/5.6, ISO 50, 1/697s - iQOO 9T review

Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 50, 1/255s - iQOO 9T review
Selfies: Portrait - f/5.6, ISO 50, 1/256s - iQOO 9T review
Selfies: Portrait - f/2.5, ISO 236, 1/33s - iQOO 9T review

Selfies: Portrait - f/5.6, ISO 239, 1/33s - iQOO 9T review

Selfies: Normal • Portrait

Video recording

The iQOO 9T can do up to 2160p videos at 60fps, although the hardware is perfectly capable of capturing 4320p footage as well. But the company has decided to leave the 8K video recording for its Pro model. And despite not having a gimbal stabilization, the software allows for gimbal-like electronic stabilization that caps at 1080p@60fps in order to emulate action camera-like recording.

Let’s start with the standard 4K footage taken with the main camera. It seems to be sharp enough with plenty of fine detail, excellent dynamic range, a rather accurate color reproduction and good contrast. Our only minor complaint would be regarding the exposure – the footage seems a bit too bright, and some white buildings and cars look clipped.

The ultrawide camera, on the other hand, is capped at 1080p, and we can’t recommend shooting with it. Even for 1080p footage, it looks too soft, lacks adequate contrast and colors are washed out. The dynamic range doesn’t seem to be on the main camera’s level, either.

The 2x zoom video recording is just a crop from the main camera, so don’t expect good results. The overall rendition is the same, but as one would expect, it’s way softer after the crop.

We’ve tested the main camera’s stabilization in the default 4K mode and in the advanced stabilization mode, and to our surprise, the standard EIS that works in 2160p looks better. And you get the benefit of shooting in higher resolution too. The advanced stabilization mode trims the field of view and produces unnatural sway from left to right, which wasn’t present in the 4K footage. Our general recommendation is to stick with the standard 4K stabilization – it’s great on its own.

The nighttime video recording capabilities of the iQOO 9T aren’t great. The video is noticeably noisy, rather soft, with blown-out highlights and light sources, and there’s this strange pink-ish tinge that’s bugging us.

The dedicated video Night mode is capped at 1080p, which makes the video even softer, but at least there’s less noise and a little bit more contrast. Still, it’s not flagship-level by any means.

Finally, here is the iQOO 9T in our video tool so you can make your own comparisons.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

2160p: iQOO 9 Pro against the Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G and the vivo X70 Pro+ in our Video compare tool

Competition

The iQOO 9T’s main market is the Indian one, and with a price tag of INR 49,999, it’s easily one of the main contenders for the flagship killer title. It runs on the latest and greatest SoC from Qualcomm, it has a flagship-grade display, albeit not LTPO, it offers a premium build, excellent sustained performance over time and an actual telephoto camera amidst smartphones with only digital zoom capabilities. Of course, the extra long endurance and fast charging are hard to miss, too.

It all sounds great on paper, but how does it stack against its few competitors?

iQOO 9T review

To our surprise, there’s no Xiaomi smartphone in this price segment, and Samsung’s presence is also absent in this category. The Galaxy S21 FE is a bit too pricey, while Xiaomi’s 12T series is still around the corner, and we have a very good reason to believe that some of the 12T phones will be a direct rival to the iQOO 9T.

The vanilla Pixel 6, on the other hand, fits the description perfectly and even undercuts the iQOO 9T by a couple of thousand rupees. The device is selling for INR 45,000 in the country but its only real appeal compared to the 9T is the clean Android experience and swift updates. One could make a case for the more premium build as well, and it’s marginally better photography skills, but that’s about it. iQOO’s contender has a far superior display, longer battery life, faster charging and a more versatile camera experience (the Pixel 6 lacks telephoto). The extra horsepower (Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 vs. Google Tensor) is a bonus.

Google Pixel 6
Realme GT2 Pro
OnePlus 10T
vivo iQOO 9 Pro

Google Pixel 6 • Realme GT2 Pro • OnePlus 10T • vivo iQOO 9 Pro

The most notable contenders are from the BBK Electronics family, though. We have the Realme GT2 Pro priced at INR 50,000, the OnePlus 10T at INR 50,000 and the iQOO 9 Pro ranging between INR 45,000 and 50,000 from third-party retailers.

To be quite frank, the OnePlus 10T has no chance against the 9T as the latter has a better display, a much better camera setup, longer battery life and the same level of fast charging.

iQOO 9T review

Compared to the GT2 Pro, however, things aren’t so simple. Realme’s offering has the upper hand in the display and camera department, although the iQOO 9T offers a proper telephoto camera, a good one at that, and nicer selfies. Battery life is similar while charging goes to the iQOO 9T. It all boils down to software and design preferences. Both are quite similar smartphones, though, and both deserve your hard-earned money.

iQOO 9T review

Now, when it comes to the 9 Pro, it’s surprising to see it even cheaper than the 9T, as some retailers are selling it for as little as INR 45,000. User experience on both handsets is largely identical, but the Pro adds a couple of premium features such as 50W wireless charging and 10W reverse wireless charging, more competent ultrawide, telephoto with further reach, gimbal stabilization on the main cam, LTPO2 OLED display and twice the storage by default. With this pricing in mind, why not get the extra features? The marginal upgrade from SD8 Gen 1 to SD8+ Gen 1 isn’t enough to tip the scales in favor of the 9T.

Verdict

The iQOO 9T is a capable handset with all the attributes to call it a flagship device. It excels pretty much in all areas, and there are hardly any smartphones to challenge the 9T in this price range. Some standout features include an extremely bright OLED screen, proper telephoto camera, blazing-fast charging, long battery life and great overall camera performance. What’s not to like?

iQOO 9T review

Well, if it weren’t for the homegrown competition under the BBK Electronics umbrella, it would have been an easy recommendation. However, we think you should consider some of the highlighted alternatives before pulling the trigger, as you will be getting a couple of extra features for the same price. But once the dust settles and the iQOO 9T’s price comes down, it’s going to be a steal.

Pros

  • Outstanding AMOLED, bright, 10-bit colors, 120Hz, 300Hz touch, HDR10+.
  • Very good battery life, class-leading charging speed.
  • Stereo loudspeakers with excellent quality.
  • Top-notch performance and good cooling design.
  • Excellent camera experience, especially telephoto and selfie.
  • Highly customizable Funtouch OS 12.
  • Wi-Fi 6, dual SIM, 5G, IR blaster, NFC, 3.5mm adapter and 120W charger in the box.

Cons

  • Limited availability for now (China and India).
  • No proper ingress protection.
  • Underwhelming nighttime video quality.
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