vivo iQOO 3 5G review

GSMArena team, 23 April 2020.


What makes a gaming phone? Powerful internals, high refresh rate display, flashy design, extreme cooling, extra controls? Well, the vivo iQOO 3 5G has only some of these checkboxes ticked, but is that a bad thing? We'll set off to find out.

vivo iQOO 3 5G review

Okay, the extra controls are there - in the form of the Monster Touch shoulder buttons on the right side of the handset. Speaking of monsters, Monster Inside is the tagline for the iQOO 3 5G, and if that alludes to the Snapdragon 865, we'd agree - it's as potent a chipset as they come on an Android smartphone right now. The fastest-available UFS 3.1 storage can only be found inside this vivo and a handful of other phones at the time of writing, so the powerful internals are accounted for as well.

Vivo advertises a 'Carbon Fiber Vapour Cooling System' which isn't quite as extreme as a built-in (nubia Red Magic 5G) or a snap-on (ROG Phone II) fan, but it's something - we'd say the iQOO is half-way there on the 'extreme cooling' bit.

For better or worse, the iQOO 3 5G is missing that 'gaming' design with sharp lines and bright red or green colors. It does come in a striking orange color option, which we'll have a look at on the next page, but it's otherwise an inconspicuous handset. So - no gaming aesthetic, but in a good way.

vivo iQOO 3 5G review

Which brings us to the one major omission when it comes to the iQOO 3 5G's gaming aspirations - it's only got a a 'plain' 60Hz screen. More is better when it comes to the refresh rate, and other gaming phone alternatives deliver. It's still a pretty great AMOLED screen as our tests will show, and with a 180Hz touch sampling it should be plenty quick to detect action.

Here's rundown of the iQOO 3 5G's key specs before we move on.

vivo iQOO 3 specs

  • Body: 158.5x74.9x9.2mm, 215g; Gorilla Glass 6 front and back, aluminum frame.
  • Display: 6.44-inch Super AMOLED, 1080 x 2400px, 409ppi; HDR10+ certified; 60Hz refresh, 180Hz touch-sensing.
  • Rear camera: Primary: 48MP, 1/2.0", f/1.8, PDAF; Telephoto: 13 MP, f/2.5, 50mm, PDAF, 2x optical zoom; Ultra-wide: 13 MP, f/2.2, 16mm AF; 2MP, f/2.4 depth sensor; LED flash; 2160p@30fps video recording, gyro-EIS.
  • Front camera: 16MP, f/2.5.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (7nm+): Octa-core (1x2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 585), Adreno 650.
  • Memory: 128GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, 128GB 12GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS: Android 10; iQOO UI 1.0.
  • Battery: 4,400mAh, 55W Super FlashCharge 2.0 fast charging.
  • Connectivity: 5G (only on the 256GB 12GB variant in India), Dual SIM, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ax/ax, dual GPS, USB-C.
  • Misc: Monster Touch Buttons, 4D vibration, in-display fingerprint reader, AK4377A independent audio chip with Hi-Res audio certification.

vivo iQOO 3 5G unboxing

The iQOO 3 5G comes in a distinctive box with a black carbon fiber print and the brand name stamped on top in shiny gold letters. A sticker indicates that ours is the 5G version (fully tricked out with 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM), but 4G-only options are also available with less storage and RAM. The lid's sides diagonally cut which is a nice accent.

vivo iQOO 3 5G review

Inside the box, there's the phone in a plastic tray. Below that, you'll find a paper sleeve that holds a frosted plastic protective case and the USB cable with a red-and-white pill-shaped connector on the phone end that leads the cable at a 90-degree angle away from the device.

Digging deeper, there's the 55W charger - it's big and heavy, no two ways about it, but it's also fast. The list of accessories also includes a set of in-ear buds.

Reader comments

IQOO says there will be an official android 11 update and security/software support for 3 years.

I agree. Problem is not many care about audio quality. They just want sound out from their headphones.

Granted this could be one reason. I've definitely heard about this before in comments.. But even their existing test, I found was a somewhat acceptable index of the phone's audio capability. For example, Redmi Note 2 was an audio disaster, their...