Where performance and design go hand in hand, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro emerges as a formidable contender. This device is not just another addition to the ever-expanding smartphone market; it represents a significant leap in the gaming phone segment. iQOO, an offshoot of the well-established Vivo brand, has carved out a niche for itself in the realm of performance-oriented smartphones. The brand known for its commitment to delivering high-performance devices, has once again raised the bar with the Neo 9 Pro.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro, released as an addition to the already competitive Neo series, stands out with its cutting-edge hardware and tailored features for an enhanced gaming experience. It marks a shift in iQOO’s strategy, aiming to balance high-end performance with other crucial smartphone aspects like camera quality, design aesthetics, and battery efficiency. This model, in particular, has garnered attention for being one of the first few to house the Dimensity 9300 chipset, promising a blend of top-tier performance with energy efficiency. Also, featuring a 1.5K 144Hz super-sensing screen, the device promises a visual feast.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

This review delves into the various facets of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro, dissecting its capabilities, features, and overall value proposition. As we explore this device, we aim to provide a clear picture of where it stands in the current smartphone hierarchy. From its design and display to its gaming and camera performance, every element will be scrutinized to help you understand the strengths and limitations of this intriguing device.

iQOO Neo 9 Pro Features

  • Elegant Design with Slim Profile
    • Red and White Soul Version with Dual-Texture Leather
  • Mediatek Dimensity 9300 Flagship Processor
  • 6.78″ 1.5K AMOLED Display, 144Hz Refresh Rate
    • Global Excitation Brightness of 1400nit, SGS Low Blue Light Certification
  • Self-developed Esports Chip Q1
  • OriginOS 4 based on Android 13
  • Up to 16GB RAM + 1TB ROM
    • Full-blooded LPDDR5X + UFS 4.0
  • 50MP Sony IMX920 Main Camera + 50MP Ultra-Wide Angle
  • 5160mAh Battery + 120W Ultra-Fast Flash Charging
  • 5G Dual SIM, Bluetooth v5.3, NFC, Wi-Fi 6/7
IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

Design and Build Quality

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro makes a bold statement in its design language, combining functionality with style. Available in striking color variants – the ‘Red and White Soul’, ‘Nautical Blue’, and ‘Combat Black’, each color offers a unique visual appeal. The ‘Red and White Soul’, in particular, is a nod to nostalgia, reminiscent of classic gaming consoles. This version uses a two-tone, double-textured leather splicing process that blends carbon fiber texture in the off-white area with a skin-feeling lychee texture in the red area, offering a tactile experience as diverse as its visual one.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The build quality of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro reflects a careful balance of durability and comfort. While the ‘Nautical Blue’ and ‘Combat Black’ models use sophisticated glass technologies – micro-curved and fluorite AG glass, respectively, for a refined feel, the ‘Red and White Soul’ variant employs a blend of textured leathers that not only enhances grip but also adds to the device’s premium feel. Weighing around 190g to 196g, depending on the variant, and measuring a slim 7.99mm in thickness, the phone is designed for ease of use and comfort in hand. The golden width of 75.7mm further ensures that the phone sits comfortably in the palm, making it a pleasure to use over extended periods.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The rear camera module of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro adopts the “Exquisite Square Design,” which not only complements the phone’s overall aesthetics but also minimizes the protrusion on the back, ensuring the camera does not interfere with the grip. This design harmoniously blends geometric shapes, balancing practicality with visual appeal.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

Moving to the front, the phone sports a 6.78-inch 1.5K resolution 144Hz refresh rate screen, characterized by its 8T all-weather super-sensing capability. The display, with a global excitation brightness of up to 1400 nits and a peak local brightness of 3000 nits, ensures vivid and clear visuals under various lighting conditions. The narrow screen bezels, achieved by eliminating the screen bracket, provide an immersive visual experience while contributing to the phone’s sleek design.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

Despite its slim profile, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro does not compromise on build robustness. The materials used in its construction are selected for their durability and ability to withstand the rigors of everyday use. The combination of high-quality glass and leather in the construction not only adds to the phone’s aesthetic value but also contributes to its structural integrity. In summary, the Neo 9 Pro stands out in the crowded smartphone market with its distinctive design and superior build quality.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

Ports and Buttons Layout

On the right side of the phone, you’ll find the power button and volume rockers. These buttons are crafted to provide a tactile and responsive feel, making them comfortable and intuitive to use.

As for connectivity, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro is equipped with a USB Type-C port at the bottom, for fast data transfer and charging. Alongside the USB port are the speaker grilles, which play a crucial role in delivering clear and robust audio for media playback and speakerphone usage. The SIM card tray, located on the side of the phone, supports dual SIM functionality. It’s worth noting that it does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, As wireless audio solutions become more prevalent, many modern smartphones have started to exclude this feature.

Display and Visual Experience

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro is equipped with a 6.78-inch display, boasting a 1.5K resolution (2800×1260 pixels). This large screen size, coupled with the high resolution, offers crisp and detailed visuals, making it suitable for various media consumption, gaming, and productivity tasks. The display uses an 8T all-weather super-sensing technology, a cutting-edge feature that enhances the screen’s responsiveness and performance across different lighting conditions.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

One of the standout features of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s display is its 144Hz refresh rate. This high refresh rate ensures ultra-smooth scrolling and animation, providing a significant advantage in fast-paced gaming scenarios where every millisecond counts. The LTPO technology incorporated into the display allows for an intelligent dynamic refresh rate adjustment, ranging from 1 to 144Hz. This adaptability not only caters to different content requirements but also helps in conserving battery life.

The screen’s global excitation brightness peaks at 1400 units. This high brightness level ensures that the display remains legible and vibrant, even under direct sunlight. It covers a broad color gamut, ensuring accurate and vivid color reproduction. This makes the display appealing to users who enjoy streaming high-definition content and those who use their phones for photography and video editing.

In real usage, the display of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro stands out for its sharpness, fluidity, and vibrant colors. Whether it’s browsing through websites, watching videos, or playing graphics-intensive games, the display delivers a consistently high-quality visual experience. The seamless blend of high resolution, adaptive refresh rate, and exceptional brightness makes the display a key selling point for this device.

Eye Comfort and Protection

Addressing the growing concerns about eye health, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s screen comes with SGS low blue light certification and SGS low flicker certification. These certifications indicate that the display minimizes eye strain and reduces potentially harmful blue light emissions. The full high-frequency dimming mode further enhances eye comfort, especially during prolonged use.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

Audio and Multimedia Experience

In the realm of multimedia, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro does not disappoint. The device boasts high-fidelity speakers that deliver a rich, immersive audio experience. Be it for gaming, streaming movies, or enjoying music, the sound quality is remarkably clear and enveloping. This auditory experience is further elevated by the support for Dolby Atmos, which provides a surround sound experience, enhancing the overall multimedia consumption.

Performance and Hardware

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro marks its territory in the realm of high-performance smartphones with the incorporation of the MediaTek Dimensity 9300 chipset. This flagship processor, built on TSMC’s advanced 4nm process, is a leap in performance engineering. It veers away from the conventional tri-cluster CPU design, adopting an “all-big-core” architecture. This design comprises four Cortex-X4 super-large cores, peaking at 3.25GHz, along with four Cortex-A720 large cores operating at 2.0GHz. This configuration ensures that the Neo 9 Pro stands out with its raw processing power, making it a formidable contender in both everyday tasks and demanding applications.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

For graphics-intensive tasks, especially gaming, the Dimensity 9300 is paired with the Immortalis-G720 GPU. This GPU is not only a powerhouse in rendering high-quality graphics but is also 40% more energy-efficient compared to its predecessors. Its peak performance has seen a significant 46% increase, promising an immersive gaming experience with enhanced ray-tracing capabilities. Gamers and graphics enthusiasts can look forward to a more realistic and visually stunning experience.

Memory and Storage

iQOO Neo 9 Pro doesn’t hold back in memory and storage configurations either. It is equipped with the full-blooded version of LPDDR5X RAM and UFS 4.0 storage, ensuring lightning-fast data transfer and app loading speeds. This combination of cutting-edge memory technology contributes to a snappy and fluid user experience, further enhancing multitasking and reducing load times in high-end games and applications.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro is tailored to meet the diverse demands of users with its varied RAM and storage options. The device starts with an 8GB RAM variant, which is more than capable of handling everyday tasks like social media browsing and casual gaming. For more demanding users, there’s a 12GB RAM model and a 16GB version designed to cater to the needs of those who engage in heavy gaming, run resource-intensive applications, and multitask extensively. It ensures a seamless, lag-free experience even under the most demanding conditions.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

In terms of storage, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro offers a range that starts from 128GB, suitable for users who do not require extensive internal storage. The 256GB storage variant and 512GB model. This variant is particularly useful for users who store a lot of high-resolution media, large games, and other data-intensive applications. And for the ultimate storage needs, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes in a massive 1TB version, which is a rare find in smartphones.

Heat Management

Understanding the demands of high-performance hardware, iQOO has implemented a sophisticated cooling system in the Neo 9 Pro. The 6K canopy VC liquid cooling system, with a projection covering 48.82% of the internal space, ensures efficient heat dissipation. This system, complemented by 3D stainless steel stamped VC and a full-coverage graphite heat dissipation film, manages the thermals effectively, keeping the device cool even under prolonged heavy usage.

Overall Performance Benchmark

In benchmark tests like AnTuTu and 3DMark, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro showcases its prowess with scores that place it at the apex of current mobile performance capabilities. These scores reflect its ability to handle a variety of demanding tasks, from advanced computational processes to high-resolution gaming, with remarkable ease.

AnTuTu Benchmark:
The iQOO Neo 9 Pro shines in benchmark tests, most notably in the AnTuTu benchmark. It achieves an impressive AnTuTu score of 2,178,696, reaffirming its position as a performance powerhouse. This score demonstrates the Neo 9 Pro’s ability to effortlessly handle a wide range of resource-intensive tasks and mobile applications.

Geekbench 5 Score:
Single-Core Score: The iQOO Neo 9 Pro achieves a single-core score of 2,244. This high score indicates exceptional performance in tasks that rely on a single CPU core. It ensures that the device can handle tasks like web browsing, app interactions, and certain computational processes with ease and efficiency.
Multi-Core Score: With a multi-core score of 7,302, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro demonstrates its prowess in handling tasks that require multiple CPU cores working in tandem. This score is particularly relevant for applications and processes that are multi-threaded, including many modern games, video editing software, and other complex applications.

Gaming Performance

Tailored for gaming enthusiasts, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro boasts a self-developed e-sports chip, the Q1. This chip, in tandem with the robust hardware, elevates the gaming experience to new heights. It allows for game super-scores, super-frames, and other enhancements that not only boost the frame rate but also augment the overall visual fidelity of games.

iQOO has incorporated features that resonate with gamers’ needs. The touch response has been finely tuned for low-latency interactions, crucial for real-time strategy and FPS games. The phone also supports wet-hand control, which means sweaty hands during intense gaming won’t hamper the touch response. Moreover, iQOO offers additional gaming accessories like the iQOO Cooling Back Clip 2, which provides enhanced cooling, enabling the phone to maintain high performance for extended periods.

Genshin Impact: A Test of Graphics and Fluidity

“Genshin Impact,” known for its intensive graphics and fluid gameplay requirements, serves as the perfect testbed for the iQOO Neo 9 Pro. In the High Definition + 60 FPS setting, the device impressively maintains an average frame rate of 59.6 FPS. This remarkable performance is complemented by a power consumption of only 4.2W, and the maximum temperature peaks at a manageable 40.6°C, showcasing the efficiency of the device’s cooling system.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The inclusion of the iQOO-developed e-sports chip Q1 is a game-changer. It introduces game super-resolution technology, which significantly enhances the visual fidelity of games like “Genshin Impact,” offering options like 900P and 1.5K resolutions. Additionally, the super-frame technology pushes frame rates to new limits, providing options for smoother gameplay.

In the 1.5K resolution with 72 frames super-frame mode, “Genshin Impact” maintains an average frame rate of 36 FPS, which effectively doubles to 72 FPS thanks to interpolation. Similarly, in the 900P resolution combined with a 144 FPS super-frame, the game achieves an average frame rate of 48 FPS, interpolated to 144 FPS. These modes illustrate the phone’s capability to enhance image quality while maintaining fluidity.

Honkai Impact 3rd: Balancing Performance and Power

Another graphically demanding game, “Honkai Impact 3rd,” when set to its highest quality, reveals the iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s balanced approach to power and performance. Over a 15-minute test, the phone averages a frame rate of 59.1 FPS. While the power consumption slightly increases to 7.08W, the device manages to keep a maximum temperature of 45.9°C, a testament to its effective heat management strategy.

League of Legends: Wild Rift – Smoothness Personified

For “League of Legends: Wild Rift,” the iQOO Neo 9 Pro easily handles the highest resolution combined with a 60 FPS frame rate. The game runs seamlessly, a credit to the frame rate sensing technology 2.0 integrated into the device, ensuring stability and fluidity in gameplay.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

Camera Capabilities of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro boasts a dual-camera setup that combines hardware prowess with software finesse. The primary camera is a 50-megapixel Sony IMX 920 sensor, renowned for its large 1/1.49-inch size, ensuring excellent light capture and detail. Complementing this is a 50-megapixel Samsung JN1 ultra-wide-angle lens, capable of macro photography, thus offering versatility in shot composition.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The camera interface is user-friendly and intuitive, with easy access to various modes and settings. Features like AI scene detection, Pro mode, and Night mode enhance the shooting experience, catering to both novice and seasoned photographers.

Main Camera: Clarity and Color Reproduction

The main camera’s large sensor size plays a crucial role in image quality. With its wide aperture, it excels in various lighting conditions, capturing detailed and vibrant images. The color reproduction is notably accurate, providing a natural yet vivid color palette that brings photos to life. This sensor’s performance in low-light conditions is particularly impressive, with its noise reduction capabilities ensuring clarity and reducing grain in night-time shots.

Ultra-wide and Macro Photography

The ultra-wide-angle lens, with its 119-degree field of view, allows users to capture expansive landscapes and architectural shots without distortion. The inclusion of macro photography is a boon for those interested in close-up shots, revealing intricate details that often go unnoticed.

Software Enhancements: NICE Algorithm

iQOO has integrated the NICE (Neo Imaging Camera Engine) algorithm, which significantly enhances the camera’s capabilities. This software enhancement sharpens details, improves texture representation, and ensures better dynamic range. It intelligently adjusts settings based on the scene, ensuring optimal results in various shooting environments.

Portrait and Low-Light Performance

The camera system shines in portrait photography, delivering sharp subjects with well-rendered background blur, creating a professional depth-of-field effect. Low-light photography is bolstered by the large sensor and software optimizations, resulting in clear, bright images with minimal noise.

Video Capabilities

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s video capabilities are robust, offering 4K recording with excellent stabilization. The focus is quick and accurate, making it ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects. The color accuracy and dynamic range are maintained in video mode, producing high-quality footage suitable for content creation.

Navigating the Software and User Interface

The launch of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro brought with it the exciting introduction of OriginOS 4, based on Android 14. This UI represents a significant leap in smartphone interfaces, melding the versatile foundations of Android 14 with iQOO’s vision for a more intuitive, user-centric experience. It’s not just an overlay; it’s a reimagining of how users interact with their devices. The UI brings a fresh aesthetic, characterized by fluid animations, crisp graphics, and a layout that prioritizes ease of access and information readability.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

One of the highlights of the UI is its uncluttered nature. Unlike some custom UIs that are often criticized for bloatware, iQOO’s approach is to offer a cleaner, more streamlined experience. This not only enhances performance but also improves ease of use.

Customization at Its Core

One of the standout features of OriginOS 4 is its deep customization options. Users can tailor their experience to an unprecedented degree – from choosing themes and icon packs to customizing the always-on display and edge lighting and adjusting everything from the color scheme to the animation styles. The level of personalization extends to the system animations and sound schemes, allowing users to create a device experience that is truly their own.

AI Integration and Smart Features

AI features heavily in OriginOS 4, enhancing various aspects of the user experience. The AI in OriginOS 4 is not just about learning user patterns; it’s about anticipating needs and offering solutions proactively. This includes optimizing battery life based on usage patterns, intelligently categorizing notifications, and providing context-aware suggestions.

AI integration is a standout feature in the iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s software. The phone comes equipped with intelligent algorithms that optimize performance based on user behavior. This includes battery optimization, which learns the user’s charging habits to extend battery life, and screen brightness adjustment, which adapts to the user’s preferences and environmental conditions.

OriginOS 4 brings significant improvements to the camera experience. It leverages AI to enhance photo and video quality, offering features like scene detection, night mode enhancements, and portrait optimizations. These features work in tandem with the iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s robust camera hardware, producing stunning visuals that rival professional photography.

Battery Life and Charging

Where performance and camera quality often steal the limelight, battery life, and charging capabilities remain pivotal yet sometimes underrated aspects. The iQOO Neo 9 Pro, a high-performance smartphone, stands out not only for its processing power and gaming capabilities but also for its battery life and charging features. The Neo 9 Pro is equipped with a substantial 5160mAh battery, which is a slight increase from its predecessors. This large capacity is designed to cater to the high energy demands of the powerful Dimensity 9300 chipset and the advanced gaming features the phone boasts. In real scenarios, this translates to a battery life that can comfortably last a full day of mixed usage, including browsing, social media, video streaming, and moderate gaming.

For heavy users, particularly gamers, the battery life is understandably reduced, but it still manages to hold up impressively under strenuous loads. During our testing, a continuous gaming session with graphics-intensive games like “Genshin Impact” showed the battery dropping by approximately 15-20% per hour, which is commendable given the phone’s high performance.

A major highlight of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro is its 120W ultra-fast flash charging capability. This feature significantly reduces the downtime associated with charging. In our tests, the phone charged from 0 to 100% in approximately 27 minutes, which is incredibly fast by current standards. Notably, the first 50% of the battery charges in just about 10 minutes, offering a quick boost that is particularly handy for users on the go.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The charging technology employed is not just about speed; it also ensures safety and battery health. The phone intelligently manages heat during charging, preventing excessive temperature rises which can degrade battery longevity. The dual-cell battery design aids in this by distributing the charging load, further enhancing battery life over time. Another forward-thinking aspect of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro’s charging system is its compatibility with up to 100W PD protocol and 100W PPS protocol. This compatibility implies that users aren’t restricted to the proprietary charger and can use other high-wattage chargers while still enjoying relatively fast charging speeds.

Connectivity and Network Performance

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes equipped with the latest Wi-Fi standards, including Wi-Fi 6/7 compatibility. This ensures faster data rates, increased capacity, and improved performance in environments with many connected devices. Additionally, Wi-Fi 6/7 offers lower latency, which is crucial for gaming and streaming high-definition content. For short-range connectivity, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro supports the latest Bluetooth 5.4 version, ensuring faster transfer speeds and a more extended range. NFC is also a part of the package, facilitating seamless contactless payments and easy pairing with compatible devices.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

A significant highlight of the iQOO Neo 9 Pro is its 5G readiness with Dual SIM support. Equipped with an advanced modem, the phone can latch onto 5G networks, offering blazing-fast internet speeds, lower latency, and a more reliable connection. This feature future-proofs the device in regions where 5G is rapidly rolling out. In areas where 5G is not available, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro gracefully falls back to 4G LTE networks. It supports VoLTE, ensuring that voice calls are of high clarity and consume less battery.

In real tests, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro demonstrates excellent network stability and speed. Users report seamless streaming of high-definition videos, smooth online gaming experiences, and consistent download/upload speeds. The phone efficiently handles network hand-offs (switching between Wi-Fi and cellular data) without noticeable interruption.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

For navigation and location services, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro comes with GPS, GLONASS, and BDS. These services ensure accurate and fast positioning, enhancing the experience in location-dependent apps and services.

Final Thoughts:

In the fiercely competitive smartphone market, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro emerges as a remarkable contender, especially in the high-performance segment. This in-depth analysis focuses on the pricing strategy and overall value proposition of the Neo 9 Pro, evaluating how it stacks up against its rivals. The iQOO Neo 9 Pro is positioned in the premium mid-range segment, offering advanced features at a competitive price. The starting price of $400 for the base model is an aggressive strategy to penetrate a market dominated by established brands like OnePlus, Realme, and Xiaomi. The top-end variant, priced at $600, still undercuts many flagships, providing a high-end experience without the hefty price tag.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

The iQOO Neo 9 Pro stands out as a high-performance smartphone, especially appealing to gamers and tech enthusiasts. Its key strengths include the powerful Dimensity 9300 chipset, efficient cooling system, and a vibrant 1.5K 144Hz display, ensuring a top-notch gaming and multimedia experience. The device’s sleek design and comfortable ergonomics, along with its robust battery life and rapid charging capability, add to its appeal.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?

When compared to contemporaries like the OnePlus 9R or Xiaomi’s Mi 11 series, the iQOO Neo 9 Pro offers a compelling blend of features at a similar or lower price point. What sets it apart is its focus on gaming-centric capabilities, a niche that its competitors only partially address. For instance, the integration of the Dimensity 9300 chipset and the e-sports Q1 chip in the iQOO Neo 9 Pro offers a unique selling point.

IQOO Neo 9 Pro Review: The New Flagship Killers - Is it the Best Value Phone of 2023?


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