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iQOO Neo 6 review

The iQOO Neo 6 is basically an iQOO 9 SE Lite in spirit. Like the iQOO 9 SE, the idea here is also, presumably, to give you a high-end gaming experience at slightly more affordable prices.

You could probably look at the iQOO 7 if you’re looking for something like that. It’s roughly selling at around the same price as the Neo 6 at the time of writing. But as brilliant as it is, it won’t be as future proof whether it be in software (it will be updated to Android 13 tops) or 5G (it, infamously, supports only one band). We understand that some of you may be fine with that, in which case, the iQOO 7 should be the way to go.

The Neo 6 naturally runs the latest Funtouch OS 12 with Android 12 at the helm, and it will get two major OS and three years of monthly security updates, iQOO has confirmed. It also supports more 5G bands –four to be precise – which is always a nice thing to have. There are a few more benefits. It has a bigger battery, and it can charge faster (80W versus 66W). The design, too, is getting a slight refresh. So is the main camera.

But perhaps the biggest sales pitch is the asking price. The iQOO Neo 6 starts at just under Rs 30,000.

PERFORMANCE & BATTERY LIFE

The iQOO Neo 6 with Snapdragon 870 is one of, if not the most powerful phone you can get in this segment. The chip maybe a year-old but it’s easily among the best that Qualcomm has ever made. It is fast, reliable, and very efficient. Sticking to its guns, iQOO is –once again— pushing this hardware to its limits squeezing virtually every ounce of performance out of the SD870 in the process. And to keep things cool, it has added a new “Cascade Cooling System” inside the phone, which includes— among other things – an elaborate 5-layer 3D graphite cooling plate.

iQOO Neo 6 review
iQOO Neo 6 in Dark Nova. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

At a time when many brands are limiting the performance in their high-end phones, in part because almost every new flagship Qualcomm chip tends to run hot, iQOO is doing the opposite by giving you more performance per watt than probably any other brand than we can think of. It’s easier said than done in more affordable midrange phones like the Neo 6 –than say a high-end one like the iQOO 9 Pro (review) – because there, you also have the cost factor to look at. Good thermals and tuning are something that’s often overlooked in order to keep the price low. A phone like the iQOO Neo 6 is breaking from convention there, too.

The choice of the chipset, we believe, is key here. iQOO could have gone with a Snapdragon 888 or a Dimensity 1200 for that matter, which would have – understandably— made the Neo 6 slightly more powerful than it is, with a Snapdragon 870, on paper and in benchmarks. But it would have come with its own set of challenges and maybe the Neo 6 wouldn’t eventually have turned out to be as “value for money.” It’s abundantly clear that iQOO was dead set on pricing the phone in a certain way, which is also probably why the Neo 6 launching in India is different from the version sold in China. There, the same phone is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. But we digress.

iQOO Neo 6 review
You get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 inside. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Neo 6, with SD 870, does almost everything you throw at it with ease and barely a hiccup. It is more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks. High refresh rate gaming is no problem for this phone either except maybe for a few fringe cases like Genshin Impact and Fortnite. (To be clear, you can play these games on the Neo 6 at medium graphics settings.)

The phone doesn’t throttle incessantly giving you consistently good, sustained performance, too. Most importantly, it runs cool. The Neo 6 was able to complete the 20-minute 3DMark Wildlife stress test with 98.5 percent stability— which is impressive. We also ran the 45-minute AnTuTu stress test on this phone, CPU Throttling as well for 30 minutes, and again, the phone remained as calm and confident as ever. 

iQOO Neo 6 review
The phone supports 80W fast charging. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

All this naturally bodes well for battery life. The 4,700mAh battery inside the Neo 6 does well to take you through the day with ease. The phone lasted 13 hours and 28 minutes in our video loop test, which is a respectable figure. Moreover, you get 80W fast charging. The compliant charger charges the phone from 0-100% in around 39 minutes.

DESIGN & DISPLAY

The design of the Neo 6 is within familiar territory. You can tell this is a Vivo/iQOO phone pretty easily. The colours, the gradients, the use of copious amounts of plastic, the two-stage camera assembly, the overall sleekness are all instantly recognisable. As is usually the case, there are almost always some new colourways accompanying a new launch like this. The Neo 6, too, is getting its own showstopper “Dark Nova” finish that’s a shade of green at heart but turns dark, almost black, when viewed from some angles. It’s very stealthy, very premium, very good-looking.

iQOO Neo 6 review
The phone is built well. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The build quality is standard for an iQOO phone which is to say, it’s good. The back has a soft matte, almost textured, finish that gradually melts into the sides—those are flat. Ergonomics are decent but this is still a big phone so your mileage may vary. For what it is worth, weight distribution is fairly spot-on. Plastic phones could end up feeling hollow and cheap. That’s not the case here. The Neo 6 is a well-built phone with a good amount of heft and no loose ends. iQOO still doesn’t offer any ingress protection.

iQOO Neo 6 review
HDR10+ is supported. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

On the front, you get a 6.62-inch 1080p flat E4 AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and hole punch cutout— same as the iQOO 9 SE and iQOO 7. You get up to 1200Hz instant (in supported games like Call of Duty) and 360Hz touch sampling rate and native support for HDR10+ playback in apps like Netflix. The panel can peak 1300nits. It’s a good display with rich colours, ample brightness, and pretty much all the bells and whistles you’d normally expect from a phone in its class. Biometrics are handled by an optical in-screen fingerprint reader. This is fast and reliable.

CAMERAS & SOFTWARE

For photography, the Neo 6 has a triple rear camera setup with a 64MP OIS main, 8MP ultrawide, and another 2MP macro camera. Gaming phones generally have a reputation for having less than ideal cameras, but, if you’ve come this far –and know a thing or two about iQOO— you’d know that the Neo 6, or for that matter any iQOO phone, doesn’t want to be just another gaming phone but a do-it-all.

We can’t vouch for its secondary and tertiary cameras, but we can confirm that the main sensor of the Neo 6 –which is a Samsung GW1— carries immense potential. It can capture good detail with fairly wide dynamic range and natural, almost true-to-source colours especially when lots of light is available. The sensor does well in indoor/artificial and low light too, mostly, but there is some room for improvement. The ultrawide is a little underwhelming. It takes soft(er) photos regardless of the lighting. The 2MP macro is just a spec-filler and nothing to write home about.

iQOO Neo 6 review
The phone has a 64MP main camera. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

You can record videos at up to [email protected], but stabilisation is available only at [email protected] – these are nice and crisp with natural tones and wide dynamic range.

The 16MP camera on the front is same as the iQOO 9 SE and iQOO 7. It takes good selfies, and pleasing portraits in good light. Low light selfies could be better. Front video recording tops out at [email protected]

Software inside the iQOO Neo 6 is pretty likeable with looks and feel close to stock Android, but there are a few odd twists and turns here and there. Google’s Android 12 Material You theming, for instance, could be implemented a little better. There’s a chance you won’t even notice it’s there in the first place. Our review unit runs the April 2022 security patch at the time of writing. We did not encounter any weird bugs or stutters during our testing. There is some bloatware, some spammy notifications also in this phone, but we’ve seen worse.

IQOO NEO 6 | SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

The iQOO Neo 6 follows in the footsteps of the excellent iQOO 9 SE (and iQOO 7) and tries to bring some of its most likeable traits and features to a more accessible price point. Purely on the performance front, iQOO has hit it out of the ballpark, here. But there’s more to this phone than just speed.

The Neo 6 is built well, has a good display, a pair of decent sounding stereo speakers, nimble haptics, a competitive main camera, fabulous battery life, and quick charging. This is an all-rounder phone in every sense of the word.

And iQOO has priced it well. The Neo 6 starts at Rs 29,999 for a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. A version with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will set you back by Rs 33,999.

There is a lot of competition at this price but iQOO has its work cut out. Much like the iQOO 9 SE, the Neo 6 is yet another winner it has pulled out of its hat.   

Pros Cons
Fast, fluid display No IP rating
Fast performance Ultrawide, Macro cameras could be better
Competitive main camera No storage expansion
Good battery life, quick charging
Great value

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Author: Howard Caldwell