“I Quest On and On”, or IQOO, may not be a brand everyone has heard of, but to put things in perspective, it’s a Vivo offshoot from the same stable as OnePlus, Oppo and Realme: that would be BBK Electronics. IQOO has been busy carving out its place in the Indian market with that tried and trusted formula - offer surprising value at a price one can’t argue with. IQOO’s happiest customers have been tech enthusiasts and gamers on a budget as they find they can get flagship-grade performance for a third of the price of the glitzy smartphones they can’t afford. IQOO is now doing it again with its new IQOO 9T 5G, a powerful phone that competes head on with the OnePlus 10T and other 2022 phones. 

The sheer weight of the box that houses the 9T will start to signal value from the moment you hold it in your hands. Besides the phone, you have a charger that looks like it could start a car. You may not even feel the need for a transparnt back case, a solid thick charging cable, and the usual bits of literature. As for the phone itself, it has a design consistent with its other 9 series phones, which in turn is reminiscent of the Vivo X80 Pro (the one with the great camera), which means it has the top one-third of the back in a glassy section surrounding the cameras while the bottom two-thirds are in a nice silky glass finish that not only feels nice to touch but retains no smudges. It looks premium, in my opinion, though this is so subjective.  

The IQOO 9T is not lightweight at 206 gms and it tapers off on the edges to make them thinner. This looks nice, but the sides are then slippery in your hand, and the corners of the phone dig into your palm a lot. Our unit is black, and it looks pretty elegant in that colour. Part of its weight may come from its 4,700mAh battery, but the rest is apparently thanks to a vapour cooling chamber. This phone is from the handful of devices that charge at lightning speed of some 22 minutes using the 120W charger. 

The 6.7-inch display on the IQOO 9T is vivid and has pleasing colours. It is an FHD+, E5 AMOLED HDR10+ panel with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Like the OnePlus 10T, this also doesn’t switch automatically to a lower refresh but allows a manual drop to 60Hz. Brightness is at 1,000 nits but can boost to 1,500 nits when the content or task calls for it and in sunlight. It’s a great screen to work with and has very slim, even bezels and a centre-based small camera dot to leave the remainder of the screen’s real estate free to be used to consume content and game away. The phone also has a dual X-Axis linear motor for some nice haptic feedback for gamers. 

The 9T is the first phone other than the gaming-centric ROG. To bring the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 to India. This SoC is slightly faster than the regular 8 Gen and less prone to thermal throttling issues. Prolonged extreme gaming produces some abrupt heating, according to some gamers. The device has impressive benchmark test results all around. It runs with up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM plus 4GB of expandable virtual RAM. Our unit has 256GB of UFS 3/1. It also features Vivo’s V1 chip, which aids photography, frame rate and more. 

Android 12 on the iQOO 9T is the base system and will upgrade up to version 15 in the coming years. On top of that, we have FunTouch OS, which could do with some more polish and finesse. There’s a smattering of the usual bloatware that should be banished at this price point. 

The triple set of cameras on board is quite nice. There’s a primary 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN5 sensor with OIS, a 13MP ultra-wide lens and a 12MP portrait sensor. The primary camera results in sharp and detailed images. These are somewhat saturated, but the average user isn’t looking for realismand would rather shoot Instagram-ready photos. There’s a decent dedicated night mode. The ultra-wide doubles up as a macro shooter.The front camera is a 16MP and does a pretty good job. Video shooting at 4K is possible at 60fps. 

The 8GB/128GB variant: ₹49,999 and the 12GB/256GB variant ₹54,999. Overall this is a well-rounded package full of high-end specs offering great value at its price points.