iQoo 12 Review: Maximum Performance, Minimum Price

The iQoo 12 was launched in India earlier this week as the country’s first smartphone equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip. The gamer-focused handset is likely to set customers’ expectations for phones arriving with Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line chip in the coming months. iQoo’s previous flagship models have typically focused on performance, and while last year’s iQoo 11 5G debuted with improved camera specifications, it also had a higher price tag than both its predecessor and the new iQoo 12.

The combination of these high-end features and a relatively low price could make the iQoo 12 a compelling option — at least on paper — if you’re looking for a phone with flagship-grade performance. Read on for our review of the phone to find out if you should buy this phone or wait for other Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered flagship phones to arrive in the coming months.

iQoo 12 price in India

Pricing for the iQoo 12 starts at Rs. 52,999 for the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage model, and the phone is also available in a 16GB + 512GB RAM and storage variant that will set you back by Rs. 57,999. The smartphone ships with a transparent TPU case, a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable, and a 120W SuperVOOC charging brick.

The phone is available for purchase via Amazon and comes in Alpha and Legend colourways with AG glass and porcelain enamel glass for the rear panels, respectively.

iQoo 12 Review: Design

We tested out the iQoo 12 ‘Legend’ review unit with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which is white in colour and has flat metallic sides with curved corners. The rear panel is glossy and feels slightly slippery, but the TPU cover that ships with the phone helps you grip it more effectively while preventing it from picking up fingerprints and smudges.

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iQoo 12 in the white Legend colourway

 

The camera module located on the left side of the rear panel is in the shape of a rounded square surrounded by a metallic ring with a ridged edge. While it’s on one side, it does not make the phone wobble when placed on its back. The iQoo 12 weighs 203.9 grams, and it doesn’t feel particularly heavy, even after holding it for a while.

The display has slim bezels on all sides, and a centre-aligned hole-punch cutout at the top of the screen houses the selfie camera. The phone has the BMW Motorsport logo at the bottom on the rear panel, but it’s very subtle, unlike the long racing stripe on the iQoo 11 5G. The handset has an IP64 rating for dust and splash resistance, which is a first for this series. It means the phone should be fine if you’re caught outdoors with some rain.

iQoo 12 Review: Specifications and software

The iQoo 12 runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor along with the company’s in-house Q1 chip that is used to optimise gaming performance. It has a 6.78-inch AMOLED screen with an under-display fingerprint scanner and is equipped with up to 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM, and you can get up to 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage.

The smartphone offers support for 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4, and NFC connectivity, along with a USB 2.0 Type-C port for data transfers and charging its 5,000mAh battery. The phone ships with a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable and a 120W SuperVOOC charging brick.

The smartphone maker has promised three years of operating system and security updates, followed by an additional year of security updates for the iQoo 12. The phone runs on Google’s latest Android 14 operating system, with Vivo’s Funtouch OS 14 running on top. It’s straightforward to use and has features from Android 14, including lock screen customisation and Vivo’s improvements to multitasking, RAM usage, and motion blur while opening and closing apps.

iQoo 12 notification spam from the V-Appstore over a few days (tap to expand image)

 

You’ll see a few preinstalled apps like Netflix, Spotify, Snapchat, Facebook, and PhonePe, but these can be uninstalled with a couple of taps. However, the built-in V-Appstore will regularly send notifications every few hours, prompting you to try out new apps.

The V-Appstore will also ask you to download a list of apps from time to time — these are pre-selected, and the skip button isn’t where you’d expect it to be. The store also showed a popup to set up Hot Apps and Hot Games, after which the two promotional folders were visible on the home screen — both of these can be removed manually.

iQoo 12 Review: Performance

The iQoo 12 is currently the most powerful Android smartphone you can buy in India at the time of writing this review. The phone can handle some of the most demanding games like Genshin Impact and Fortnite. Genshin Impact runs at the “Highest” graphics setting, while Fortnite runs on the Epic setting at 90fps with the high-resolution textures pack. There was no throttling, lag, or stuttering, even after around 50 minutes of gameplay.

Funtouch OS is optimised for the iQoo 12 and runs smoothly without any glitches while scrolling through the interface. Switching between apps and several apps is possible without the OS reloading them. I could jump back into Genshin Impact without reloading the game on more than one occasion — this was after a few hours of using other apps and capturing some images with the camera.

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iQoo 12 runs on Funtouch OS 14 out-of-the-box

 

In our benchmark tests, the phone scored 1,983,471 points on AnTuTu v10. This is higher than most other smartphones available today — the OnePlus 11 scored 1,189,556 points on AnTuTu v10 when we reviewed the handset earlier this year. However, you do have to keep in mind that OnePlus 11 has a QHD+ display while the iQoo 12 settles for a full-HD+ panel.

In the Geekbench 6 single-core and multi-core tests, the handset scored 2,225 points and 6,726 points, respectively. Once again, these are much higher than other phones available today but are lower than the iPhone 15 Pro with Apple’s A17 Pro chip that scores 2,903 points in the single-core test and 7,223 points in the multi-core test.

The phone was able to display content at 143fps in the GFXBench T-Rex and Manhattan 3.1 tests — it managed 127fps in the GFXBench Car Chase benchmark. The iQoo 12 also “Maxed Out” 3DMark’s Slingshot, Slingshot Extreme (OpenGL), Wild Life, and Wild Life Unlimited benchmarks.

The iQoo 12 sports a sizeable 6.78-inch quad-HD (1,260 x 2,800 pixels) LTPO AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate and a 1,200Hz instant touch sampling rate. The display — with a claimed peak brightness of 1,400 nits (3,000 nits in high brightness mode) — is clear, and colours are displayed accurately if you enable the natural display mode.

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iQoo 12 has an LTPO AMOLED screen that can be viewed when it is bright outside

 

The display gets quite bright in auto brightness mode, especially when you’re outdoors in bright sunlight. When it’s dark, the phone gets pretty dim with 2,160Hz pulse width modulation (PWM) dimming support. Touch response is excellent, and you won’t have issues while playing games like Call of Duty: Mobile or Battlegrounds Mobile India. The phone is equipped with stereo speakers that get quite loud, with minimal distortion.

The iQoo 12 is equipped with a 5,000mAh battery that can be charged at 120W, and we were able to charge the phone from 0 to 100 in under 30 minutes (28 minutes on average). In our HD video loop test, the phone managed 19 hours and 25 minutes on a single charge, which is average for a phone in this segment. Despite the powerful processor on the phone, it lasts for a little more than a day with a mix of gaming, browsing the web and social media, and recording photos and videos.

iQoo 12 Review: Cameras

There are three rear cameras on the iQoo 12 — a 50-megapixel primary camera with a 1/1.3-inch sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS), a 64-megapixel (OIS) periscope telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and a 50-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a 120-degree field-of-view. There’s a 16-megapixel selfie camera on the front with an f/2.5 aperture.

The camera interface on the iQoo 12 with Funtouch OS 14 is easy to use, and most of the settings and options are easily accessible with a few taps. Some features are tucked away into the interface, but the app will automatically suggest different camera modes depending on the scene. You can also use a slider to move between camera modes. Images shot with the primary camera are clear, and colours are mostly accurate, and the camera performs best in situations with ample lighting.

iQoo 12 portrait camera sample (tap to enlarge)

 

The portrait mode on the primary camera tends to default to f/1.4, so you might want to set it to f/4.5 or a little higher for better results.

The 50-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera is the least capable among the trio on the iQoo 12. While it is capable of capturing a lot of detail, it can’t capture colours as accurately as the primary camera. It also tends to overexpose the sky during the day. There are no issues with warping around the edges.

I found myself stepping backwards and taking shots with the primary camera instead of relying on the ultra-wide-angle camera on more than one occasion. This camera does not let in enough light in low light conditions, and images captured are quite dark — another reason to use the more capable primary camera instead.

On the other hand, the telephoto camera is quite impressive when shooting images at up to 10x — even 30, if you have steady hands. The camera app has a horizontal slider that lets you pick custom zoom values, and you will begin to see stabilisation issues as you zoom past 30x.

iQoo 12 supports up to 100x digital zoom (tap to enlarge)

 

There’s a handy preview that shows you which part of the scene you’re zooming in on. Pushing the camera up to 100x digital zoom requires the use of a tripod, and the final shot looks a little overprocessed and smoothened, but you can clearly identify the subject.

The portrait mode in the camera app has 1x, 2x, and 3x modes. The first two use the primary camera, while the third one uses the telephoto camera. The latter provides excellent portrait images of people and pets, with just the right amount of bokeh — although you can also adjust this for portrait images clicked with the primary camera using the inbuilt gallery app.

In low light scenarios, the smartphone uses the primary camera for both 1x and 3x shots (digitally cropped), while during the day, it switches to the telephoto for the latter. The camera prompts you to switch to the built-in night mode, but only images captured using the primary camera (1x zoom) are worth using. Zooming in further produces blurry photos with very little detail — we took these images with a tripod.

iQoo 12 macro images are clear and detailed (tap to enlarge)

 

The telephoto camera also enables a useful Super Macro mode that takes extremely detailed images. Selfies clicked with the iQoo 12 are reasonably clear, and skin tones are mostly accurate, but you have to manually disable the skin smoothening option that was enabled by default. You’re probably better off relying on the rear camera and a tripod if you want to record a video of yourself, as it had some issues with focus and exposure when moving from brightly focused areas to dim areas and vice versa.

The primary camera can record up to 4K at 60fps with OIS, while 8K recording is capped at 30fps, and there’s no OIS in this mode. Videos shot in daylight with the iQoo 12 are smooth and do not have any tearing or artefacts, and stabilisation works as expected when recording at up to 4K at 60fps. In low-light situations, it’s best to record at 1x with the built-in Night Mode — it supports digital zoom up to 3x using the same primary sensor.

The camera app includes a motion autofocus feature that can be set to auto or manual — the auto mode worked well in my experience. You can’t switch between front and rear cameras once you start recording. There’s also a handy microphone selector tool tucked away in the settings section that allows you to choose among the phone’s microphone, an external microphone connected using the USB Type-C port, or one connected via Bluetooth.

iQoo 12 Review: Verdict

At the time of writing this review, the iQoo 12 is the only smartphone with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip that you can buy in India. It currently competes with the OnePlus 11, the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, and the iPhone 13. All four smartphones are equipped with different processors and offer varying amounts of software support.

When we reviewed the iQoo 11 5G, we recommended that its predecessor (the iQoo 9 Pro — Review) offered a better camera setup at a lower price, as the iQoo 11 5G was launched at Rs. 59,999. Earlier this week, the iQoo 11 5G price was lowered to Rs. 51,999, while a bank discount brings the price down to Rs. 49,999.

However, that’s the same price that you can buy the new iQoo 12 in India, if you avail of eligible bank card offers. Even at its MRP of Rs. 52,999, it offers much better value than its predecessor, considering it will have a longer software support window.

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iQoo 12 is currently the only Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 phone in India

 

If you’re looking to buy a smartphone with a powerful processor as well as a reliable camera, then the iQoo 12 is a decent option to consider at its current price point. The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE (Review) is equipped with an Exynos 2200 chip, so it won’t be able to match the iQoo 12 in performance — but it doesn’t display promotional content — while the iPhone 13 (Review) doesn’t have a telephoto camera, but offers better ultra-wide-angle camera photos and low light photography.

You can also consider the OnePlus 11, which has a triple rear camera setup, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which should also be capable of handling high-end games and heavy tasks. It’s also worth considering that while the OnePlus 11 (Review) doesn’t have a periscope telephoto camera like the iQoo 11, the low light photography beats iQoo’s flagship phone — which is quite subpar in this regard — by a considerable extent.

Should you buy the iQoo 12 today? It depends on whether you simply want to purchase a phone with the latest chipset. If that’s the case, you could wait for a few weeks before new phones with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 — like the OnePlus 12 — make their debut in India, but going by the price of their predecessors, the pricing for these phones is unlikely to match the iQoo 12 when they are launched in the country.


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