If you're out to buy a new smartphone, you'll be spoilt with choices. But it will also add to your confusion if you are flexible on certain aspects such as brands and price. Even if you're in the market for a value-for-money handset, the options are plenty. iQOO 9 SE competes in the sub-Rs 40,000 smartphone category and here's what makes or breaks it.
iQOO 9 SE comes in two configurations, 8GB+128GB for Rs 33,990 and 12GB+256GB for Rs 37,990. The smartphone comes in two finishes, Space Fusion and Sunset Sierra. We got the former.
Design and display
iQOO 9 SE is in line with the brand's signature styling. The Space Fusion has a nice grey finish with a soft gradient effect. The rear panel and the frame are made of polycarbonate, but it is of good quality so you don't get that cheap feel. The rear camera module is only slightly elevated and houses three sensors with dual-LED flash. The matte rear panel managed to keep fingerprint smudges at bay.
The frame has a shiny finish, complementing the phone's colour, mimicking an aluminium frame. The sleek profile makes the phone handy, but it is also slightly slippery - nothing a case won't fix.
The physical buttons are on the right side of the phone, and the power button has a texture, which makes it easy to identify with touch. The USB-C port, speaker and SIM card tray are all at the bottom. The phone doesn't have a 3.5mm jack.
The phone has a large 6.62-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate. There's a punch-hole camera on the display, which is protected by Panda glass not Gorilla. There's also an in-display fingerprint scanner, which works efficiently and rarely returns any error.
The display is good for multimedia and gaming, given its punchy colours and HDR10+ certification. The 120Hz refresh rate is adaptive, which means it alternates between 60Hz and 120Hz based on the kind of content you're viewing.
iQOO 9 SE has a triple rear camera setup and a humble 16MP front snapper. The 48MP primary camera with OIS is paired with 13MP ultra-wide-angle sensor and a 2MP sensor.
The primary sensor was capable of shooting good details with remarkable dynamic range under natural light conditions. The colours produced were natural, crisp and vibrant. The ultra-wide-angle camera captures a wider landscape, but the edges loses some details. The overall image is acceptable with accurate dynamic range and exposure. The AI mode made images more vivid, much to the liking of social media.
In low light, the camera captures decent details and noise is visible in distant areas of the image. In portrait mode, the results are quite impressive, especially while capturing humans and animals rather than objects. But the focusing speed in all cases is spectacular. The skin tones and colours are retained well and the depth effect with accurate edge detection is impressive. The macro mode is remarkable on the device, capable of shooting subjects from close range without struggling to focus.
The selfies are acceptable in well-lit areas, but suffer in low-light. The night mode for selfies slightly improved the image quality, not worth comparing. The front camera is pretty average.
Check out some samples below:
iQOO 9 SE is powered by last year's flagship chip, Snapdragon 888, which has proven its mettle in plenty flagships last year. This choice of chipset gives the 9 SE an edge over rivals. The performing chipset ensures your day-to-day tasks are taken care, and even the gaming needs are met.
iQOO 9 SE managed to handle multi-tasking with ease, internet browsing was seamless and the rest of the demanding tasks didn't cause much strain. For gamers too, this is a suitable budget offering. We ran Asphalt 9: Legends and with high quality graphics and BGMI with Extreme settings and managed to run without any issues. The phone did get a tad warm on extended sessions.
The phone runs FunTouch OS out-of-the-box, which has minimal bloatware and the interface is quite straight forward. We also didn't notice any lags or stutters while using the phone, although the apps would take some time to launch if they aren't running in the background.
iQOO 9 SE is powered by a 4,500mAh battery, which is topped up using a 66W fast-charging. The phone does get an adaptor inside the box. The phone fully charges in under one hour and 30-minute charge can give almost a full day's worth of use. Our average use of the phone was regular amount of calls, a lot of IMs, Internet browsing and some music. With this, the phone lasted a whole day and had some juice left before plugging in for charge. If you can be stringent with the usage, the phone can even go longer than a day, perhaps a day and half.
iQOO 9 SE's pros outweigh the cons. It is a performance-centric smartphone with the right design, bright display, and capable cameras. The battery is also reliable with fast-charging being a bonus. The low-light camera performance is the area where there's room for improvement. For its asking price, the iQOO 9 SE is certainly a solid option if you can live without IP certification and sub-par low-light camera performance.
Even with the competition in the market, the iQOO 9 SE is a compelling choice starting at Rs 33,990.