iQOO, as one of the smartphone brands offering great performance-for-money ratios, seems to be rivalling OnePlus in the affordable flagship space. Now the company is building on its recent success in the mid-range segment to take on the likes of Realme and Xiaomi. I had recommended the iQOO Z5 (review) from last year as the best gaming phone under Rs 25,000 thanks to its incredible processing prowess. The successor to the device, iQOO Z6 Pro, is a mix of downgrades and upgrades from the previous iteration while keeping a few key specs the same. Priced at Rs 22,999, the Z6 Pro finds itself going head-to-head against the Realme 9 Pro+ (review), a device which I categorised in my review as the mid-range smartphone to beat this year. Obviously, the iQOO Z6 Pro has big shoes to fill and in this review, I’ll try to find out exactly how good the device actually is.
The iQOO Z6 Pro has the performance flair that’ll attract a lot of mobile gamers in the mid-range market. It is also backed up by a nice AMOLED panel, great battery life and an intuitive software skin. However, photography is an aspect that could do with some improvement.
- The iQOO Z6 Pro gets a smooth matte-finished plastic back with an anti-glare coating that has been quite prevalent on Realme and Xiaomi phones as of late. However, it isn’t particularly lightweight and I think it has to do with the massive vapour cooling chamber inside the phone. I have the Phantom Dusk variant which resembles a light shade of black with a glittering look that is emphasised by the matte finish. The rails on the edges are plastic but with a matching colour scheme that carries over to the volume rocker and power buttons. An easily distinguishing feature of the Z6 Pro is the massive camera rings that give the impression of two large sensors with superlative image-taking prowess.
- In reality, the device has the same triple-lens setup as the Z5 with the macro and ultra-wide shooters housed in the bottom ring while the 64MP primary camera resides in the oversized upper ring. The camera housing does cover a significant portion of the phone’s upper half and its glossy finish marks a stark contrast with the back panel. Curves on the sides make the device quite grippy although the typically large display size means one-handed usage on the device is quite tough. The phone’s bottom gets a USB C port and a single speaker unit.
- One of the upgrades from last time comes in the display department wherein the Z6 Pro gets an AMOLED panel upfront as compared to the LCD on the previous version. On the flip side, the refresh rate is 90Hz down from 120Hz, although only eagle-eyed smartphone enthusiasts can really make out a proper difference between the two. The iQOO Z6 Pro, like a couple of other OLED totting phones in the same price bracket, is HDR10+ compliant but several OTT platforms, like Netflix and Prime, don’t support it. The device does however get excellent colour accuracy, viewing angles and contrast ratios that are hard to find on a comparative LCD screen.
- At 1300nits of peak brightness, the screen has the luminosity to sustain viewing in harsh sunlight like the one currently being experienced by northern parts of India. A waterdrop notch can be seen on the screen, giving it a rather dated look in the world of punch-hole displays. Incidentally, the iQOO Z5 used the latter for housing the selfie camera and its omission on the successor strikes me as odd. Even so, the Z6 Pro’s 90Hz screen refresh rate works quite smoothly and without any jitters to provide a fluid browsing experience.
- On the camera front, there is a 64MP primary shooter, an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro sensor while the selfie camera has a 16MP resolution lens. Daylight shots are decent enough with good dynamic range on offer and saturated colours that sometimes don’t do justice to the scene being captured. Focusing speeds are quick and sharpness levels vary with the amount of sunlight falling on the subject. Exposure levels are fine, the highlights are not overblown and auto HDR works its magic effectively most of the time.
- The ultra-wide sensor has a soft focus across the frame and a much warmer colour temperature as compared to the main shooter. However, for the most part, the shots are quite serviceable with the obvious added benefit of getting more into the frame. The macro shooting capabilities are not great with dull colours and poor focusing speeds.
- Moving on to photography in low light, the Z6 Pro leaves a bit to be desired. Image processing via the dedicated night mode doesn’t change the dynamic too much either. Shots are generally out of focus with a lot of noise creeping in. Colours are quite dull and details are oversharpened quite vociferously. In terms of videos, the device can shoot 4K videos but only at 30fps while slow-mo shots are capped at 720p @ 240fps. I was, however, quite happy with how the selfie images turned out in terms of facial detailing, keeping background exposure under control and maintaining skin tones accurately.
- Processing on the iQOO Z6 Pro is handled by the Snapdragon 778G SoC which also ran things on the iQOO Z5. I have extensively reviewed phones that make use of this Qualcomm silicone and my experience has remained quite positive. The 778G has benchmark numbers to rival flagships from a couple of years back and it is visible when operating the device. In essence, the Z6 Pro can handle any task thrown its way ranging from opening heavy apps to graphically intensive BGMI gaming.
- iQOO also touts a massive vapour cooling chamber that the company claims can reduce phone temperatures by 12 degrees. I did feel that the gaming performance remained smooth after an hour of gameplay on BGMI’s Extreme (60fps) settings and Smooth graphics. The company has also used fast 8GB of LPDDRR5 RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage although there is no slot for expansion using a microSD card.
- There is no stereo speaker setup on the Z6 Pro, which is yet another downgrade over the Z5, and the bottom-firing unit frequently gets muffled during gaming sessions. On top of that, the headphone jack is also missing this time around although I have long transitioned to wireless audio solutions. Thankfully iQOO has retained the 4D Game vibration linear motor which provides excellent haptics while gaming and while typing on the phone in general. In terms of connectivity options, the phone does have 5G capabilities but cannot leverage it with the current telecom infrastructure. Authentication is snappy with the in-display sensor along with facial recognition.
- The device comes with Android 12 out of the box and runs Vivo’s proprietary FuntouchOS 12 skin. iQOO has added its trusty Ultra Game mode sidebar which optimises the CPU and GPU to increase gaming capabilities. Apart from that, the skin has a lot of customisation options in terms of icon packs and themes. Bloatware issues persist but most apps can be uninstalled. You can read more in my iQOO 9 review.
- When it comes to battery life, the Z6 Pro actually has a smaller 4,700mAh battery than the 5,000mAh cell on the Z5. However, to compensate the latter actually has a faster 66W charging solution. Running the PCMark Battery 3.0 test on the device, I got a remarkable score of 19 hours 8 minutes, which is the highest I’ve seen on a smartphone that has less than 5,000mAh battery capacity. In terms of charging speeds, the device can be juiced up from 0 to 100 in just under 40 minutes.
The iQOO Z6 Pro does a few things quite well such as providing ample headroom for performance needs aided by fast memory and storage. In terms of the viewing experience, the OLED panel does a serviceable job of colour accuracy and brightness levels while the battery life is quite stellar. However, if you are someone who needs better cameras, the Realme 9 Pro+ will be a much better choice.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Good design and in-hand feel
- Decent display
- Strong performance
- Excellent battery life
- Low light photography is not up to the mark
- No HDR10 streaming on Netflix
- Lacks stereo speakers