After flagships and mid-range devices like the iQOO 11 and the iQOO Neo 7, iQOO has come up with its first sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone for 2023, the iQOO Z7 5G. The iQOO Z7 has been launched in India as the company’s latest offering at a price of Rs 17,499 onwards, meaning it will take on the likes of the Redmi Note 12, Realme 10 Pro, and the Moto G73.
So I have been using the iQOO Z7 5G for about a week now and have tested the smartphone enough to give you an idea if this is worth the Rs 17,499 asking price or does the latest from iQOO fall behind competition in terms of value-for-money? Let’s find out.
iQOO Z7 5G Review: DESIGN
In terms of design, there is nothing special about the iQOO Z7 5G. The smartphone borrows a lot from its predecessor, the iQOO Z6 5G. For example, the flat-edged build. We get a flat-edged smartphone with a plastic back and frame, with the power button and volume rockers placed on the right side.
At the back, we get a polycarbonate panel, which has a gradient-like finish and a matte-like feel to the touch. The rectangular camera module is placed on the top left corner of the back panel. The camera module has a dual tone finish, with the lenses placed inside the black glass module, and the LED flash placed in the frame of the device.
One thing to note here is that the iQOO Z7 5G is a super lightweight smartphone, weighing a mere 175 grams, as against the company’s claim of 173 grams. The smartphone is also easy to hold, and even during prolonged usage, it never felt uncomfortable in my hands. Further, the quality of polycarbonate used is also pretty decent, so the in-hand feel is also good.
The size of the iQOO Z7 5G is also average – not too big or too small. The smartphone only has a 6.38-inch display, with slim bezels, but a significant-sized chin. This makes the size pretty good for single-handed usage, and the iQOO Z7 5G can easily fit in any pocket.
iQOO Z7 5G Review: DISPLAY
Display of the iQOO Z7 5G is a 6.38-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel with a 90Hz refresh rate and a claimed peak brightness of 1,300 nits. In terms of size, as mentioned above, the iQOO Z7 5G is neither too big nor too small. The colour accuracy is also good. It’s an AMOLED display, so the blacks are deep, the reds are vibrant, and the details are sharp. The iQOO Z7 5G also supports HDR content on apps like YouTube and Netflix.
The display is 90Hz, so it is responsive, but there are smartphones in this range that offer a 120Hz refresh rate, so this isn’t the most responsive in this segment. This display felt slow after using the likes of Redmi Note 12 and the Realme 10 Pro. Both of which have 120Hz refresh rate. As compared to competition, the iQOO Z7 5G’s display lags behind in terms of responsiveness or smoothness.
iQOO claims a peak brightness of 1,300 nits on the Z7 5G. We tested the brightness on the iQOO Z7 5G using a Lux Meter, and the smartphone showed a highest of 750 nits of brightness on a blank white screen. The minimum brightness on a white screen, according to our test, came out to be 6 nits on the iQOO Z7 5G.
iQOO Z7 5G Review: PERFORMANCE
Performance is iQOO’s strongpoint. Here, the iQOO Z7 5G does justice to its DNA. The smartphone runs on a MediaTek Dimensity 920 SoC paired with up to 8GB of RAM. We get 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage, with the option to expand to up to 1TB via a microSD card slot. In most benchmark tests, the smartphone showed better results than most competitors, barring the recently launched Motorola Moto G73 (read review here).
On AnTuTu, the iQOO Z7 5G scored the highest among all the under Rs 20,000 smartphones launched in 2023, with a score of 479,779. On other CPU-based benchmarks like Geekbench, PCMark and Mobile XPRT3, the iQOO Z7 5G showed very good numbers, but fell short as compared to some rivals, like the Moto G73, Redmi Note 12 5G, and the Realme 10 Pro.
In storage-based benchmark tests, the iQOO Z7 5G outperformed all its rivals, showing the highest read and write speeds with the UFS 2.2 storage. The smartphone, however, maxes out at 128GB internal storage, which could be less for some users.
Coming to gaming, something that the Vivo sub-brand claims to have as its USP, the gaming experience is also pretty good. I played games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9 on the iQOO Z7 5G, and the experience was pretty decent. The games run on high graphics, and I didn’t experience much lags or frame drops. Though over longer sessions, I did experience slight frame drops in Call of Duty: Mobile, but overall the experience was pretty smooth. Coming to the frame rate while gaming, the iQOO Z7 5G didn’t impress me in terms of the frame rate, but the smartphone showed better stability than rivals. The smartphone maxed out at 40FPS in Call of Duty: Mobile, with a stability of 100%, according to Gamebench testing.
The benchmark numbers in terms of GPU-based tests, however, are much ahead of the competition. For example in benchmarks like GFXBench and 3D Mark Wildlife, the iQOO Z7 5G beat out all the under Rs 20,000 smartphones that we at Digit have tested in 2023.
iQOO Z7 5G: Battery
Battery on the iQOO Z7 5G is also pretty decent. The smartphone comes with a 4,500mAh battery with support for 44W fast charging. The battery backup is pretty good. The 4,500mAh panel is enough to last a whole day easily or more, in some cases. During my brief usage of the device, I was able to get more than 5 hours of on-screen time easily.
The battery optimisation during certain tasks like gaming, using GPS, watching content, or using the camera is very good. During our tests, the smartphone lost only 3 percent of the battery while playing Call of Duty: Mobile for 15 minutes. 1 hour of GPS navigation drained 6 percent of the smartphone’s battery, and 30 minutes of watching videos on YouTube at the highest resolution drained 4 percent of the iQOO Z7 5G’s battery.
Charging on the iQOO Z7 5G is also fast. The smartphone has 44W fast charging if you use the charger inside the smartphone’s box. We charged the iQOO Z7 5G from 0 to 100 using the smartphone’s in-box charger, and it took just over 60 minutes for the smartphone’s battery to fill-up. Pretty good.
iQOO Z7 5G Review: Camera
Now cameras are very often what makes or breaks a buyer’s decision to go towards a product. The iQOO Z7 5G here offers a dual rear camera setup that includes a primary 64-megapixel shooter with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and a 2-megapixel portrait sensor. Apart from this, there are some other camera features like double exposure, Vlog Movie, and more.
The primary camera captures good images. Wide images of a street or a garden capture colours accurately and the details are also sharp. On singular subjects, the iQOO Z7 5G’s primary shooter adds a bit of a depth effect on its own, making the subject stand out. The OIS makes it easier to focus on a subject, and the photos out of the iQOO Z7 5G’s camera are quite nice for your basic social media posting.
The images in low light are also pretty decent. The iQOO Z7 5G’s images don’t lose sharpness or details in low light. However, in certain conditions, where the camera can not source much light from any source in a scene, the images in low light are grainy and lack sharpness.
In portrait mode also, this camera performs well. The edge detection is nice and the background blur is also pretty good. In some cases, however, the edge smartphone gets confused and the edges aren’t as smooth. Another thing I didn’t like about the iQOO Z7 5G’s portrait mode is that the smartphone smoothens the subject’s skin. While many people prefer this as it removes all imperfections, I usually prefer if the details of the skin and facial hair are retained.
In weird lighting conditions, this camera also blows up the light, resulting in a significant amount of burn. Like in this portrait of my colleague Yetnesh, where the light is too close to his face, resulting in a burn. Still, the image doesn’t lose much detail, as you can see in his beard and hair.
The front camera on the iQOO Z7 5G is brilliant. Images out of this 16-megapixel selfie snapper are sharp and nicely detailed. I clicked a few images from the front camera and every time, I was surprised at the details that this smartphone could capture. I even put the selfies side-by-side with some of the selfies from recent flagship smartphones and the iQOO Z7 5G’s photos turned out to be better in many cases. Great stuff.
iQOO Z7 5G Review: Verdict
So the iQOO Z7 5G is the first sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone from the Vivo-owned brand in 2023. The smartphone has a slim and light form factor, weighing at just 173 and measuring 7.8mm in thickness, so that makes it super-pocketable. We also get a nice 6.38-inch AMOLED display, which looks good but feels slow as compared to rivals. The iQOO Z7 5G is a pretty solid performer, showing some of the highest benchmark numbers in its budget.
The battery is small in size as compared to competition, but we get a decent battery backup with 44W fast charging that charges the device in a mere hour (again, fastest in this segment). We also get a pretty decent dual rear camera setup with OIS, which is something unheard of in this budget. The images out of this front camera are absolutely stunning, making the iQOO Z7 5G an easy smartphone to recommend for selfie lovers