iQoo 11 reviewon January 19, 2023 at 16:47 Tech Advisor

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At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Outstanding performanceSolid camerasGreat battery life120W charging

Cons

Big and slippery designLoaded with bloatwareNo wireless chargingNo IP rating

Our Verdict

The iQoo 11 is a superb high-end phone with the best Android performance on the market, great battery life, and surprisingly good cameras for the price. You just might not be able to buy it.

The highest compliment I can pay the iQoo 11 is I could happily use it as my main phone for the foreseeable future. That’s not something I can say about many of the phones that come across my desk for review.

It’s a pleasant surprise given this is a phone from the sub-brand of Vivo, a company that barely sells phones in Europe and has no presence in the US. iQoo itself doesn’t sell the iQoo 11 or any other phones officially in those regions.

That’s a real shame as this is a superb phone. It’s the first to ship with Qualcomm’s high-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and it shows. This is one of the fastest, most responsive Android phones I’ve ever used.

The software could still use some improvement and there’s a gross amount of bloatware pre-installed, but you’ll be rewarded with great battery life, excellent cameras, and top performance that makes this an excellent option for mobile gamers if you can get your hands on it.

And that’s the catch here, because the iQoo 11 is only on sale in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and India.

Design & build

No frills design……Unless you get the white oneVery, very slippery

The iQoo 11 I reviewed is a subtle, plain matt black glass model. It’s subtle but one of the slipperiest phones I’ve ever used. Although I dislike the cheap plastic case included in the box, I used it because otherwise, the phone was constantly falling out of my (small) hands and off sofa arms.

This model is in sharp contrast to the other version, which is a bright white with BMW branding and a blue and red stripe down the back. I prefer the black model.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

On the rear of the phone is a rectangular camera module that’s quite large but has flat glass panel covering protecting the triple cameras and flash. It’s a smart look that takes its cues from phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Metal rails around the edge are only broken by a volume rocker on the right above a power button, with a USB-C port, SIM tray, mic and speaker grille on the bottom.

I don’t love the ‘ULTRA SENSING’ branding underneath the camera housing but it’s more subtle than on some other phones out there and is a small nod to traditional camera design and lettering. There’s also no IP rating for dust and water resistance, which is a shame.

Screen & speakers

Flat Samsung E6 panel6.78in, 144Hz, AMOLEDDual stereo speakers

Like many modern phones, the iQoo 11 is absolutely enormous thanks to its 6.78in AMOLED screen. I think it’s too big, but I prefer small phones thanks to my tiny hands.

It’s one of the first phones to use Samsung’s E6 display, an AMOLED panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and a 2K resolution of 3200 x 1440. It’s very good and has a peak brightness of 1,800 nits making for clear reading outdoors.

With that high refresh rate also comes LTPO 3.0 which can intelligently vary the refresh rate between 60- and 144Hz to save battery power. It looks great, though not as smooth to my eyes as similar tech on the iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

It’s also practically impossible to tell the difference between 120- and 144Hz, so you shouldn’t go for this phone purely based on that spec. Better is iQoo’s clunkily named ‘dual monster touch’ which means you can operate the left and right sides of the screen simultaneously in landscape mode while gaming with up to four touch points for more flexible control.

Dual stereo speakers are good to see (and hear!) and are perfectly adequate for gaming and some casual YouTube watching.

Vivo and iQoo made sure the iQoo 11 was the first phone to market with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. It’s great to see

Specs & performance

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Vivo’s V2 chip256GB storage/16GB RAM

Vivo and iQoo made sure the iQoo 11 was the first phone to market with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. It’s great to see, as sometimes we see new chips launched but phones announced later still with the previous generation of silicon.

The 8 Gen 2 feels like a solid step up, at least in this phone. Sometimes upgrades are incremental but looking at the raw benchmark scores as well as performance when multitasking and gaming, the iQoo clearly delivers.

Rounds of Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt 9 were flawless with frame rates sky-high and no visible lag.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

iQoo has a gaming focus as a brand and that’s evident with the inclusion of Vivo’s V2 chip in the phone which the company says increases frame rate and reduces power consumption. I’m not sure if it’s the chip doing that specifically, but the gaming experience is top notch and comparable with other gaming phones, most of which look far more outlandish in design than the subtle black model I was testing.

It also helps that the phone comes with 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM, a fast and capable memory standard that means this phone flies through everything. Plus, 256GB storage is more than enough for me too, but there’s no expandable option.

The phone barely ran hot even when I put it under intense load, which might be down to the inclusion of what iQoo calls a vapour chamber liquid cooling system. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t actually contain liquid, instead using thin layers of graphite and stainless steel to dissipate the heat created by the chipset and components when gaming, for example.

iQoo says this can reduce the heat increase in the upper part of the phone by more than two degrees centigrade.

The haptics on the phone are also very good, with little pips for the keyboard vibrations that aren’t as good as on the latest iPhone but come quite close.

The cameras on the iQoo 11 are surprisingly excellent.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Camera & video

Excellent 50Mp main sensor13Mp telephoto/portrait camera8Mp ultra-wide camera

The cameras on the iQoo 11 are surprisingly excellent. The main 50Mp sensor isn’t as good or well calibrated as the equivalent on the Vivo X80 Pro, but it feels like Vivo passed on some of the image processing tricks of that great camera to this one.

Dynamic range is very good, and images have a lot of vibrancy, but the auto mode boosts blue skies and green grass to quite saturated levels. The sky in the first four images of the slide show showing St Pancras Hotel was as orange as they look – it’s the camera capturing the scene well rather than making it weirdly orange.

Some pictures are also over sharpened, giving an artificial feeling. I had to tap to focus a few times to get improved results, which the main sensor is definitely capable of. In the below image, the dangling chains from some of the cranes are not properly processed, and the image is very over-sharpened:

Henry Burrell / Foundry

But in the below photo the level of detail is excellent and the dynamic range is very representative of the scene:

Henry Burrell / Foundry

The imaging inconsistency is expected at a phone of this price, and for the large part, the main camera excels. The ultrawide is serviceable but less impressive, though the 2x optical zoom of the telephoto lens is nice to have and keeps a good level of detail and quality despite using a less powerful f/2.46 13Mp sensor.

I also had to make sure default settings for filters and beauty modes were turned off to avoid some funky software processing. It’s maddening that some of these are turned on by default, but this is a phone sold in markets that might prefer those sorts of features.

Video capture is also decent, and zooming in while recording is smooth and there’s a good degree of stability, even at 10x. The phone can record up to 8K at 30fps, too.

Battery & charging

Very good battery lifeSuper quick 120W fast chargingIn-built cooling for gaming

Battery life on this phone is incredible, particularly when considering the power of the chipset and the large, bright screen. In PC Mark’s battery test, it ran for 17 hours and 51 minutes, the best-ever score we’ve recorded for a flagship, and the second-best we’ve ever recorded (behind the crazy 24 hours 52 minutes for the mid-range Sony Xperia 10 IV).

Day-to-day usage on 4G and 5G with my main SIM card in it, the phone easily lasted a day and usually a few hours into a second before I was reaching for a charger.

The 120W charger comes in the box and really changed how I charged my phone. No more plugging in overnight necessary when you can plug it in when you get up and it’s fully charged in a mind-boggling 27 minutes. There’s no wireless charging compatibility, though.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Software & updates

Android 13Tons of bloatwareOnly two years of updates

The iQoo 11 runs Vivo’s Funtouch OS based on Android 13. It’s good to see the latest version out of the box, though the company only promises two platform updates to Android 15.

It’s a shame that Funtouch OS is so, well, boring. It includes neat touches like a nano music player widget but the Material You colour theming from Android 13 is nowhere to be seen. The phone’s menus almost feel like an Android phone from 2017.

The phone comes with a gross amount of bloatware installed, too. When I first booted it up I came across a pre-installed folder called ‘Hot Apps’ which, to be fair, hasn’t actually installed 60 (!) apps but they are a one-click install away. There’s a similar folder called ‘Hot Games’, both of which install these apps via Vivo’s V-Appstore.

While it’s common for Android phones outside of Western markets to have more than one app store, it’s still galling to have what basically amounts to folders full of app adverts pre-loaded onto a phone you will have paid good money for. iQoo also pre-installs its own Phone and Messages apps but you can use Google’s if you prefer.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

There are a few other pre-installed apps such as Viu, SnackVideo, Shopee and Lazada. Worry not, Google Play Store is here and the phone runs Google services without a hitch. I ran the phone with all my usual apps available.

Better software additions are the gaming modes that auto-run when you fire up a game. Swiping in from the left while in-game gives you a panel with read outs of CPU and GPU usage and tabs to select three gaming modes including monster, which jacks up the phone’s performance for the best gaming experience possible.

… the company only promises two platform updates

Price & availability

The iQoo 11 is on sale in Indonesia for IDR10,999,000 which is about $720/£590 at the time of review in January 2023.

The phone is also on sale in India from ₹61,999, in Thailand from ฿27,990.00, and in Malaysia from RM3,499.

Verdict

The iQoo 11 is easy to recommend. It has stunning performance in a plain design (if you get the black one) which will suit gamers looking for a capable phone but don’t want a garish design.

The battery life is excellent, the flat screen is superb, and the cameras are outstanding for the price range. More annoying is the amount of bloatware and the general blandness of Funtouch OS, with a measly two years of version updates.

If you live in a country where the iQoo 11 is sold, then it’s a fine purchase and one of the most performant phones you can get in this price range. For anyone else, I suggest buying something in-country rather than importing the iQoo 11 and potentially losing out on warranty and after-purchase service from the company.

Specs

Android 13 with Funtouch OS 13Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 26.78in 3200 x 1440 144Hz AMOLED display256GB non-expandable UFS 4.0 storage16GB LPDDR5X RAM50Mp f/1.88 main camera sensor8Mp f/2.2 ultrawide13Mp f/2.46 2x optical telephoto5000mAh battery120W wired fast chargingBluetooth 5.3GPSNFC164.86 × 77.07 × 8.40 mm208g

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