IQOO 9T Review: CHAMP Performance, But Not “Fun” Enough

Ultimately, the IQOO 9T is a well-finished Android flagship that is not only fast but also performs well. Should you still buy it?

You know you will get a lot of phones for the price when you browse the IQOO catalogue. Whether it’s the budget IQOO Z6 or the absolute flagship IQOO 9 Pro, you get all the top-notch specs and incredible features. The IQOO 9 Pro we reviewed earlier this year impressed us with a good set of cameras and a stunning design. However, it was plagued with the typical problem associated with a Vivo-branded device: a poor software experience.

The software experience hasn’t been resolved with the IQOO 9T, which is now the latest addition to the IQOO 9 series. This phone sticks to the same “IQOO formula” to deliver amazing specs but suffers from the same old Fun Touch OS experience that it lacks refinement and sophistication. If you can get around the operating system, the IQOO 9T is truly a great phone for the price it sells and anyone who buys it won’t be disappointed.

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IQOO 9T Theme

IQOO loves having motorsport references on its phone, and the IQOO 9T gets it in abundance. The Legend variant gets the familiar BMW stripes on a matte white back, while the Alpha variant opts for a stealthy all-black theme. Black or white, this glass back beautifully sports a two-tone matte finish on the bottom and a glossy black top half that wraps around the camera hump. Oh yeah, you get your dose of carbon fiber in the top half.

The rest of the phone is no different from the IQOO 9 5G, which itself was a pretty generic-looking phone aside from the exciting paint finish. An edge-to-edge display with narrow bezels and high-quality buttons in the usual place completes the IQOO 9T. The glass and metal sandwich design make it a heavy phone. IQOO also introduces an IP52 rating for water and dust resistance, which is a nice touch.

IQOO 9T Display

The compromises of the IQOO 9T benefit the display somewhat. You get a pretty standard 6.7-inch AMOLED FHD + display with a 120Hz refresh rate. IQOO prides itself on using the Samsung E5 panel with HDR10 + support, which in itself is fantastic. In the real world, this is a great display with typical OLED characteristics: rich colours, high contrast, deep blacks and exceptional brightness levels. Unlike other flagships, you forgo variable refresh rate technology. Also, there is no support for Dolby Vision. However, for Rs. 50,000 smartphones, these are acceptable omissions and you won’t have any major problems. Oh, you also have a regular optical fingerprint sensor.

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IQOO 9T Performance

All IQOO phones dominate here, and the IQOO 9T is no exception. Get the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip here, which is currently the fastest chip you can have on any Android phone. You know what? Works well as it promises on paper. Compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, this chip runs longer and maintains its peak performance. I was able to play Call of Duty: Mobile for up to an hour at the highest possible graphics settings and no frame drops were observed – a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phone usually becomes unbearable to hold.

Part of that could also have to do with the massive cooling of the vapor chamber and the optimization of the IQOO’s software. So if you want a phone to play with, you will love the IQOO 9T. It is simply fast and can maintain its performance even under stress.

Unfortunately, I wish IQOO could do something for the software. Vivo FunTouch OS 12 UI looks dated and unpolished. Although Android 12 is among them, you cannot see any of the Material You themes. The UI is inconsistent and I’m not sure about the two preinstalled fonts either. FunTouch OS 12 is feature-rich and almost as customizable as MIUI 13, but somehow you don’t enjoy it. All the third-party themes and wallpapers from the theme store are paid, and all of them lack flavor. It’s time for both IQOO and Vivo to change something about the software interface on their high-end phones – after all, I don’t want a poorly designed user interface filled with preinstalled junk apps and bloatware. Grab a leaf from Nothing’s book, IQOO.

Audio performance is also decent compared to the stereo speaker setup. They get loud and the sound focuses on the mids. However, they cannot yet keep up with the speakers of the Xiaomi 12 Pro and the Apple iPhone 13.

I had no problems connecting to Jio’s 4G network and the call reception was good too. The same goes for Wi-Fi connectivity.

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IQOO 9T Cameras

IQOO phones have always amazed us all at HT Tech with their cameras, and the IQOO 9T does it again. IQOO uses the 50MP Samsung GN5 sensor along with OIS for the main camera, a 13MP ultra wide/macro camera and a 12MP portrait camera with 2x zoom. This is backed up by the V1+ chip for improved low-light performance.

The main camera does a good job in daylight. The photos are rich in detail, show a good dynamic range and suppress noise well. However, the camera tends to lighten and oversaturate tones, which can annoy photographers. In addition, despite the OIS, the GN5 sensor struggles with details in low light and at night: subject details are often blurred. Hues are saturated beyond reality. I can’t see how the V1+ chip helps here. The same type of fine-tuning applies to both the ultra-wide camera and the telephoto lens – both are over-processed with sharpness and colours. The same goes for video performance. The 16-megapixel front camera is also decent, although it tends to capture boring photos with unwanted colors. With good lighting, you get overexposed subjects and soft facial details.

See Some Example Photos

The IQOO 9T certainly doesn’t have the prettiest of cameras, but compared to a Motorola Edge 30 Pro and a Realme GT 2 Pro, this is the better choice. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE remains our top pick for camera phones in this segment.

IQOO 9T Battery Life

The advantages of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and Vivo’s FunTouch OS 12 interface are evident in the battery life data. Despite a 4700mAh battery, the phone can easily get through a day with 30-35% remaining capacity. This usage included calls, texts, web browsing, and a total of one hour of gameplay.

And when you need to fill up, the 120W charger fully charges in just over 20 minutes. Fast battery charges on the IQOO 9T are handy – a 10-minute charge fills over 30 percent of the charge. Unlike some rivals, there’s no wireless charging here.


The IQOO 9T sticks to the same proven formula: all the latest specs at a pretty reasonable price. That’s not a bad thing for the average consumer, especially considering the performance on offer. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is worthy of being called a true flagship chip now, and you can extract all of its performance on the IQOO 9T. This chip will make Android flagships more practical to use.

The rest of the IQOO 9T is decent but nothing exceptional. Battery life and fast charging are the other highlights, while the cameras are decent. The build quality is great and I suppose most of you will find the design tasteful rather than childish (like the IQOO 9 Pro). My only gripe here is the FunTouch OS 12 experience, which simply takes away from the joy of using this phone. No third-party launcher can hide the clumsy UI this Android skin sports.

So if you are looking for top notch performance in your phone at a price of around Rs. 50,000, the IQOO 9T is an easy recommendation. However, those looking for a good Android experience can check out the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, Motorola Edge 30 Pro and Oppo Reno 8 Pro.

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