iQoo Z5 Review: A Decent Step, But Not a Big Leap

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On paper, the iQoo Z5 doesn’t seem like a massive improvement over the previous model in this series, the iQoo Z3. There is no AMOLED display like there are competing smartphones for the Rs. 25,000 price point, and the cameras remain similar to the Z3. The price is a bit higher, however – the basic variant costs Rs. 23,990. So is the new iQoo Z5 worth the money or are there better smartphones that offer more for less? Let’s find out.

iQoo Z5 award in India

The iQoo Z5 is available in two versions. There is an 8GB RAM and 128GB storage option which is the basic variant and is at Rs. 23,990 in India. The second is the variant with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage priced at Rs. 26,990.

iQoo Z5 design

The iQoo Z5 is a further development of the Z3 in terms of design. The soft finish on the back of the previous model has been replaced by a matte texture that resists fingerprints excellently and doesn’t slip out of my hands. The camera module has grown into a rectangle with rounded corners and protrudes very little from the rear. The back and frame are plastic, but this phone felt solid. The colourways are more subtle this time. There are two of these – Mystic Space and Arctic Dawn – and both look pretty mature and elegant. I received a Mystic Space unit for review that toggles between dark blue and black from different angles.

The back and the frame of the iQoo Z5 are made of plastic

This phone doesn’t look too bulky at 8.5mm and doesn’t feel too heavy at 197g. There is a 6.67-inch Full HD + LCD panel with a hole-punch camera cutout on the top. While the edges on the top, left, and right feel reasonably thin, the bottom edge is quite thick. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack located on the top of the smartphone.

iQoo Z5 specifications and software

The iQoo Z3 debuted in India with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 768G processor, and the Z5 gets the updated 778G SoC. This updated processor was made using a 6nm manufacturing process and runs at a maximum clock speed of 2.4GHz, which is lower than the 768G’s. However, it has an integrated Adreno 642L GPU clocked at 750 MHz instead of the 450 MHz Adreno 620 GPU on the older 768G.

The phone is offered with 8 GB or 12 GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128 GB or 256 GB UFS 3.1 storage. Communication standards include 5G radios (limited to n77 / n78 bands only), dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.2 and support for common satellite navigation systems. The phone has a dual SIM slot and there is no microSD card slot for storage expansion. It contains a 5,000 mAh battery that can be charged with the included 44 W charger.

iQoo Z5 front software ndtv iQooZ5 iQoo

Funtouch OS 12, which is based on Android 11, runs on the iQoo Z5

Vivos Funtouch OS 12, which is based on Android 11, is used on the iQoo Z5. Just like the Premium Vivo X70 Pro +, the Z5 also gets the widgets treatment that you can read about in detail here. The animated widgets work as expected, but aren’t too deeply integrated into either native or third-party apps. Still fun to use. The rest of the software looks similar to FunTouch 11 and looks smooth thanks to the 120 Hz refresh rate display.

iQoo Z5 performance and battery life

While the LCD screen works well given its price, I noticed a mild yellow hue on the bottom of the panel. Sunlight readability is excellent and the viewing angles are also good. The 6.67-inch display with a 20: 9 ratio makes reaching for things a bit tedious. Vivo claims that its display is HDR 10 compatible, but I haven’t found support for it in most OTT apps, including Netflix and Amazon Prime. That said, the Z5 is a good video streaming device thanks to its stereo speakers that sounded loud and clear.

iQoo Z5 side display smeared ndtv iQooZ5 iQoo

The display blurs easily and the fingerprints cannot be easily wiped off

What I didn’t like about the display is that it’s a smeared mess. The smartphone has a prefabricated screen protector. The peeling left a layer of residue that made it sticky and wouldn’t let my fingers slide over it especially when playing. After a gaming session, the panda glass was a messy mess and difficult to clean.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G did not disappoint in our benchmark tests. The phone’s results were on par with the competition, reaching 5,66,151 points in AnTuTu and 760 and 2,802 points in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests.

iQoo Z5 side buttons ndtv iQooZ5 iQoo

The iQoo Z5’s power and volume buttons are on the right

The gaming performance was pretty good. I’ve tried Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9 and both games ran smoothly. The Snapdragon 778G SoC managed to run Call of Duty: Mobile smoothly with the standard settings for the very high graphics and the high frame rate without noticeable heating problems. Asphalt 9: Legends also ran smoothly in the standard settings.

Since this is a gamer-centric smartphone, there is also “4D game vibration” that can be activated in the Ultra Game Mode menu or in the game sidebar. It didn’t work as expected, sending out annoying vibrations that either came too late or didn’t make sense, and I found this distracting at best.

iQoo Z5 rear camera ndtv iQooZ5 iQoo

The iQoo Z5 has three rear view cameras

Battery life on the iQoo Z3’s 4,400 mAh battery was pretty good, and iQoo made things a lot better on the iQoo Z5. This phone has a 5,000 mAh higher capacity battery that will easily last a day and a half with regular use. In our HD video loop battery life test, the phone lasted an impressive 21 hours and 57 minutes. The slightly slower 44W charger that is included charges the phone from an empty battery to 100 percent in 1 hour and 10 minutes, which is not bad. In short, iQoo’s move to forego faster charging for a longer-lasting battery seems to have paid off.

iQoo Z5 cameras

The iQoo Z5 has three rear-facing cameras – a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. A 16-megapixel front camera takes over selfie tasks. The interface of the camera app is pure vivo, and all key controls, including a toggle switch for the macro camera, are just a tap away. The camera modes are also customizable. Video recording is maximum at 4K 30fps for the rear cameras, while the front facing is limited to 1080p videos at 30fps.

iQoo Z5 daylight camera examples. Above: main camera, below: ultra wide angle camera (tap to view full size)

Photos taken in daylight showed colors that were somewhat saturated, with slight purple fringing in the lighter areas. Although they looked decent at first glance, it was easy to see that if you zoomed in on these photos, there was little detail left on them. Selfies came out fine with good dynamic range, but edge detection in portrait mode was average.

Examples of iQoo Z3 close-ups. Above: Macro Camera, Below: Primary Camera (tap to view full size)

Photos taken with the ultra-wide-angle camera were passable, showing blurry details around the edges of the frames. The macro camera with a fixed 4cm focal length is not easy to use and the output mostly looked dramatic with a lot of over-sharpening. Instead, I prefer close-up shots taken with the main camera.

iQoo Z5 selfie portrait camera examples. Above: daylight, below: dim light (tap to view full size)

Just like with the iQoo Z3, the image quality of the Z5 cameras wasn’t great in poor lighting conditions. Photos taken in low light showed cloudy details and lots of blotchy textures. Switching to night mode didn’t help, this just added more contrast to the image and nothing else. Selfies taken in low light were not detailed and looked pretty soft, and edge detection was below average.

iQoo Z5 low-light camera examples. Above: Auto, Below: Night Mode (tap to view full size)

Videos taken in daylight were recorded at a constant frame rate and good stabilization, but the Z3 couldn’t handle bright scenes and tended to overexpose them. Strangely enough, I noticed a slight shimmering effect while walking, even in daylight. In low light, details were on the lower side. Stabilization was pretty good, but the frame rate was a bit choppy. The shimmer effect was also visible when taking pictures with little light. 4K video captured while walking looked very nervous.

verdict

While the iQoo Z3 with its Sub-Rs. Starting price 20,000 seemed like value for money, the same cannot be said of the Z5 as its base price is around Rs. 23,990 in India. The iQoo Z5 offers some improvements over the iQoo Z3 (review) namely stereo speakers, a bigger battery, and a newer processor, but that’s not enough to keep up with other popular phones priced at around Rs. 25,000.

iQoo officially plans to unplug the Z3, but it’s still available for just Rs. 17,990 (6 GB RAM + 128 GB storage) online for the time being. In comparison, the Z5 isn’t big enough in terms of overall performance and doesn’t offer enough value. There are better smartphones from the competition at similar prices.

From a hardware standpoint, while you get the powerful Snapdragon 778G SoC, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, the competition includes the Realme GT Master Edition (Review), which has similar specs with a much better Super AMOLED display, good camera performance, and 65 W fast charge, for Rs. 25,999. Gamers may prefer the Poco F3 GT (Review) with its maglev triggers, RGB lighting, and larger battery, even if it’s a bit more expensive, starting at Rs. 26,999.

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