Vivo iQoo 9 Pro Legend full review
Vivo has launched the iQoo 9 series in India – phones designed with gaming in mind. The flagship model in the series is the Vivo iQoo 9 Pro, which comes with a sleek design and some serious performance via the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.
I have been testing out the Legend Edition of the phone, which is made in partnership with BMW M Motorsport. If you would like to see how this phone performs in day-to-day life, then keep on reading.
Design & Build
- Unique BMW design
- No IP rating
- No headphone jack
Vivo produces some of the sleekest looking phones on the market right now and the iQoo 9 Pro Legend Edition continues with this trend.
The most striking thing about the Legend Edition of the 9 Pro is the design inspired by BMW M Motorsport. It comes in a white carbon fibre finish that catches the light and overall, looks sleek and high-end.
The rear features a tri-colour stripe on the right-hand side – though the paintwork on this does feel like it may be susceptible to scratches.
If the racing-inspired colourway is not for you, then you can also get the iQoo 9 Pro in Dark Cruise – Vivo’s fancy term for basic black. Both phones come with matching protective cases to protect them from drops and knocks.
The back of the phone features a large camera module that stretches across the width of the phone – one of the biggest design differences between the model and the older iQoo 7 Legend.
At 8.83mm thick, it is a slim device but does sit on the taller side – something to consider if you need to slip the phone into small pockets or bag compartments.
While this is part of Vivo’s gaming phone range, it doesn’t have a typical gaming design. You won’t see the extra buttons and triggers that you’d find on the Asus ROG line.
Although the iQoo 9 Pro Legend boasts a USB-C slot for charging, there is no headphone jack. However, you can use the USB-C slot for earphones, or alternatively, use a Bluetooth pair.
There is no IP rating for dust and waterproofing on the Vivo iQoo 9 Pro which is a letdown compared to some other high-end phones which have more proven durability.
Screen & Speakers
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Bright, 2K AMOLED display
- 300Hz touch-sampling rate
For playing games and watching videos, the 6.78in display on the iQoo 9 Pro Legend is brilliant. It comes with a 2K E5 AMOLED panel with HDR10+ and quoted 1500nits peak brightness. It is clear and produces rich colours, even when used under direct sunlight.
The phone boasts a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, though you can swap this down to 60Hz to conserve battery power or use ‘Smart Switch’ - a dynamic refresh rate between 1 and 120Hz that chooses where to give those optimum graphics and where to conserve them.
The iQoo 9 Pro comes with a touch sampling rate of 300Hz, making it super quick to respond to gestures, presses and swipes both during general tasks and in gaming.
Though the under-display fingerprint sensor is larger than most, it is not always successful. I found it better to use face recognition or a classic password/pattern.
The phone is fitted with dual stereo speakers. Unlike the Vivo X70 Pro, the sound is quite punchy, making it good for gaming. However, it is not as good as other high-end phones such as the Asus ZenFone 8.
Specs & Performance
- One of the first phones with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
- Either 8/12GB RAM
- More strenuous games cause phone to heat up
The iQoo 9 Pro is fitted with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the newest flagship chip from Qualcomm at the time of writing. There’s only a handful of phones on the market that also sport this chip, including the Samsung Galaxy S22 series (in the US, that is)
The chip is paired with either 8 or 12GB LPDDR5 RAM, and 256GB worth of storage. I tested the 12GB configuration. The phone also supports 5G connectivity.
You can see how the phone stacks up against the competition in our benchmarking tests:
Day-to-day performance for the iQoo 9 Pro is solid. It can easily multi-task, with social media, video-watching and messaging simultaneously giving away no lag.
It can also handle some quite demanding games, with Call of Duty Mobile able to run smoothly, even set on the highest graphics settings. It was able to run Genshin Impact on Medium without overclocking, but this strenuous game did see occasional stutters.
Both when installing Genshin Impact and playing it (even on medium settings), I found that the phone would heat up, despite being fitted with a vapour chamber liquid cooling system. Although it didn’t seem to influence performance, it could well do during longer sessions.
- Excellent main 50Mp GN5 rear camera
- Natural-looking portrait mode
- Front 16Mp camera not as impressive
The camera set-up is what sets the iQoo 9 Pro Legend apart from other gaming phones on the market right now. Vivo’s tech is always quite solid, and whilst photography was not quite as good as what we have seen on the top-end X70 range, it is not anything to sniff at.
The phone has a triple camera set-up. This is led by a 50Mp main camera, with GN5 gimbal stabilisation. This is complemented by a 50Mp wide-angle ‘fisheye’ camera and a 16Mp 'portrait' camera - aka a telephoto.
The main camera performs well, producing realistic-looking textures and letting in the optimum amount of light, even when photos are taken in conditions that aren’t so bright. It sometimes struggled with the sun getting in the shot, or with moving subjects such as animals. However, on the whole, it was simple and easy to get an impressive shot with the iQoo 9 Pro.
The ultra-wide camera wasn’t too shabby either, with a large 150-degree field of view. This does lose some colour and depth compared to the main sensor but it's not a massive difference from what you would find on cheaper handsets. There is also the option to use the camera in fisheye mode, as well as other funky shot modes – though personally I didn’t find much use for these.
The phone can produce up to x2.5 optical zoom, which yields great results. As you get into the digital zoom, textures start to become very noisy and blurred – the maximum x30 zoom isn’t worth your time.
Portrait mode on the rear camera has just the right amount of background blur to give full focus on the subject. Night shots are quite decent on the iQoo 9 Pro as well. Colours are suitably lifted without looking overblown.
The front 16Mp camera isn’t quite as impressive, sometimes struggling in lower light conditions. Nonetheless, it still does a decent job with textures such as hair and clothes - though if you up the background blur, these can get lost.
Beauty mode is activated as standard, which airbrushes your skin and sometimes changes the shape of your features. I'd prefer if this feature wasn't set automatically, as it sets a precedent for unrealistic beauty standards.
The iQoo 9 Pro can shoot video up to 8K at 30fps. The main camera also features gimbal stabilisation on video, as well as EIS. This works remarkably well, keeping subjects steady, even if they're moving or if your hands are shaking.
Battery Life & Charging
- Decent battery life for a high-performance phone
- 120W fast-charging
- 50W wireless charging
The iQoo 9 Pro houses a 4700mAh cell which is small in the gaming phone world. In our internal battery tests using PCMark for Android, the phone achieved a decent score of 12 hours and 25 minutes.
This score does translate to real life as I was able to use the phone consistently for gaming, social media and videos for around a day and a half.
With 120W charging speeds, the phone can juice up extremely quickly. It's the fastest speed we've tested to date.
A 15-minute charge took it to a whopping 94% - so even a five-minute charge before you go out the door would give you enough to last the day. These types of charging speeds are only on a select number of phones, so this is a big plus for the iQoo 9 Pro.
During the middle of charging, I noticed the phone felt hot – again something to keep in mind for the longevity of the device. The iQoo 9 Pro is also capable of 50W wireless charging.
- FunTouch OS 12
- Some app clutter
- Ultra game mode
The iQoo 9 Pro Legend runs on FunTouch OS 12, which is a skin of Android 12. Google fans will find a lot of familiarity with the interface, with the layout practically identical to stock Android you find on devices like the Pixel 6. There is some app bloat, but these can be uninstalled if you don't like clutter.
One unique feature in the iQoo 9 Pro is the ultra game mode. This allows you to pull up a sidebar during gameplay to quickly change the settings your phone is running on (battery saving mode, standard or full performance) and more.
There is also a picture-in-picture mode available during gameplay, so you can swipe up with three fingers to display a small widow of apps. You can also turn on notifications of specific apps such as Twitter to get pinged during gameplay, should you not want to completely disconnect from your surroundings.
Price & Availability
It costs ₹74,990 (around £740/US$980 converted) for the cheaper 8/256GB model and ₹79,990 (around £790/US$1,050 converted) for the 12/256GB model tested here.
Although you can easily get it ₹10,000 less than those figures at the time of writing, it's fairly expensive for a new player in the Indian market.
Sadly, we do not know when – or if – the iQoo 9 Pro will hit shores outside of India. Vivo sometimes brings its handsets to the UK and other European markets, but it's not always the case.
If Vivo gives any more information about an international release of the iQoo 9 Pro, we will update this review.
That aside, the iQoo 9 Pro offers a lot for your money that goes beyond just gaming. There are of course other high-end phones on the market which offer a similar experience, such as the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra and even the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
There is a lot to love about the Vivo iQoo 9 Pro Legend, with a flagship chip, decent gaming performance, enviable rear camera, bold design and one of the fastest charging speeds seen on the market right now.
It does get quite hot when used strenuously, and the lack of IP rating may be a worry for some. This is also a device for more casual gamers, as others may find the lack of triggers and extra buttons an annoyance.
Finally, the lack of availability in the West is a disappointment. However, if you are willing to import this device (or you live in India or China), then this is a brilliant phone for both gaming and everyday performance.
Vivo iQoo 9 Pro Legend: Specs
- Android 12 with Funtouch OS 12
- 6.78in 2K E5 AMOLED, 120Hz, HDR10+
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
- 8GB/12GB RAM
- 256GB internal storage
- 50Mp main, f/1.75, GN5 Gimbal Camera
- 50Mp ultrawide, f/2.27
- 16Mp portrait, f/2.23
- 16Mp selfie camera, f/2.45
- Fingerprint scanner (in-screen)
- Dual stereo speakers
- Vapor chamber liquid cooling system
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 4700mAh non-removable battery
- 120W charging & 50W wireless charging
- Legend or Dark Cruise