iQOO has chosen to position itself as a performance-oriented smartphone brand. Its offerings, which are now available in a variety of price brackets, have always impressed me, especially in terms of the cost-to-benefit ratio. Shifting focus away from iQOO’s signature flagship lineup, the company’s Neo series caters to a more budget-friendly audience. I have with me the iQOO Neo7, a successor to the extremely compelling iQOO Neo6 (review) from last year. The brand is labelling the new model as a gaming-centric smartphone, more than anything else. So let’s find out in this review if the iQOO Neo7 can become your default choice for gaming in the affordable segment.
The iQOO Neo7 comes across as a solid mobile gaming companion and will not disappoint in any facet related to performance. You also get a nice display, long battery life, and a capable stereo speaker setup. However, camera aficionados might be left wanting more.
Let’s first get into the design of the iQOO Neo7. I have to say that the company has definitely nailed the basics. The device does not employ any fancy build materials with iQOO opting for a standard polycarbonate back that has a matte-blue finish. There’s a bit of extra curvature on the sides which makes it easy to grip the phone and I appreciate all the buttons being located on one side. Apart from that, the phone’s weight feels balanced in my hand and at 193g, it is also relatively light.
The camera module doesn’t sit flush with the chassis but its protrusion is very minimal. As for the housing itself, the circular portion is home to two lenses while a tertiary sensor sits just below it along with the LED flash module. The phone’s bottom edge has the regular assortment of a USB Type-C slot, a dual-SIM tray, and a speaker grille.
In my opinion, the Neo7 doesn’t exude a super premium vibe like the Realme 10 Pro+ or the OPPO Reno8 T (review). However, for users not concerned with how flashy their handset looks, the Neo 7 will certainly pass the litmus test.
In the display department, the Neo7 makes use of an AMOLED panel that measures 6.7 inches diagonally and comes with FHD+ resolution. It refreshes at 120Hz, as per the usual standards now being seen in this segment. iQOO has kept in mind the needs of gamers and provided up to 300Hz touch sampling rate. For OTT platforms, Netflix has certified the device to display HDR10 content which I tested out by taking in the jaw-dropping visuals of Our Universe. Peak brightness levels were also decent enough at 1,300nits which made outdoor reading quite legible. Finally, I like that the bezels on all sides are quite even and the punch-hole up top for the selfie shooter is rather small.
For a device that doesn’t seem to be emphasising its camera prowess, the iQOO Neo7 sure takes some decent shots. Even though I don’t like how the company has dropped the ultra-wide shooter from the last iteration, the 64MP primary shooter on the Neo7 does a more than acceptable job for regular wide-angle shots. As far as daylight conditions go, the device churns out detailed shots rich in dynamic range and vibrant with its colours. There are, of course, AI-based scene optimisations that do little more than saturate your overall shot. You can also play around with the various camera features like Vlog mode or Dual mode which can come in useful at times. Shutter speeds and auto-focus capabilities of the sensor are on point.
The iQOO Neo7 can also do respectable low-light shots although the phone does have a tendency to overexpose. This is easily fixed with the manual exposure slider in the viewfinder. Actually, in most conditions with sufficient ambient light, I prefer regular shots to what the dedicated Night mode offers. Of course, the latter is highly useful in scenes where there’s just not enough light.
Apart from that, the phone also clicks excellent selfies with perfect skin tones. Finally, the macro and depth shooters look like they’ve been added more for camera padding than actual usage.
Coming now to the performance on the device, MediaTek has supplied its new Dimensity 8200 SoC for the Neo7 making it the first device to get this SoC. It is a 4nm-based chipset that makes it more energy efficient as compared to the Diemnsity 8100 from last year. Benchmark numbers paint a clear picture of how good the Neo7 actually is in terms of performance. On Antutu v9 the device got a very healthy score of 854,741, which is comparable to some flagships from last year. More impressive still is that the device can maintain up to 82 percent of its maximum performance under sustained load and has a GPU stability score of 99.4 percent.
Let’s also talk about gaming, which is a big selling point for the iQOO Neo7. The device has a 2,392mm² vapour chamber and multi-layer graphite 3D cooling systems in place for a seamless and lag-free experience. iQOO has even customised BGMI, PUBG New State, and CoD: Mobile to run on 90fps although for each title the graphics have to be set to Low to achieve this. On an individual testing level, I saw that CoD: Mobile consistently maintained 87-90fps even after an extended amount of time. BGMI on the other hand did not give accurate readings of frame rate via the in-built fps counter or third-party apps. For PUBG: New State I was getting more in the range of 75-80fps in most cases but the title did touch the 90fps mark initially. Even so, the overall experience of playing these demanding titles was largely enjoyable. The haptics being employed along with the new Motion control functionality added to the pleasure. The phone has up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM which can use virtual swap memory to reach 20GB and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage which is non-expandable.
There are dual speakers on the phone which sound quite exceptional and make video consumption more immersive. I also like how fast the in-display fingerprint sensor can unlock the device. The Neo7 also supports all major NSA and SA 5G bands that are operational and my testing on Jio’s 5G network returned fruitful results.
Talking a bit about the software, FuntouchOS 13 based on Android 13 is running on the handset. My usage of the interface has been fairly positive with things like animations and theme customisations. A separate Game sidebar can also be utilised to get various metrics and settings while you are playing a heavy game. If iQOO just reduces the bloatware to a certain degree, I think FuntouchOS has the potential to become a solid Android skin when compared to other Chinese OEMs.
In terms of the battery, the Neo7 packs in a 5,000mAh cell that lasts quite a while. However, this depends on the time being devoted to gaming as too much GPU activity will eat into the battery life. When I put the Neo7 through a couple of hours of BGMI, the phone usually ran out of juice around the evening. However, on moderate usage, I saw up to 40 percent of the battery still available. Even so, if you are expecting to charge up the device, the 120W FlashCharge solution does it for you at lighting-fast speeds. In my tests, the device could juice up from 0 – 100 percent in about 27 minutes. Also, I ran PCMark’s Battery test on the device and the score returned was around 18 hours, which I consider more than sufficient.
The iQOO Neo7 is a power-packed, performance-oriented device that will turbocharge your gaming. Its captivating display should also be a good selling point. The design is nothing out of the ordinary, though that’s just my personal opinion, and the handset could use a telephoto or ultra-wide shooter. However, I feel that for its target audience, the iQOO Neo7 has all the right ingredients.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Solid performance
- Good primary camera
- Decent stereo speakers
- Capable display
- Superfast 120W charging
- Could use an ultra-wide shooter
- Bland design
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