The idea of stuffing an ultra-powerful chipset in an affordable phone has been done and dusted in the last few years. You will get class-leading performance from these phones but you have to compromise with the overall experience. Case in point is the Poco F1, Poco X3 Pro, Apple iPhone SE (2020), Realme X3, and more. All of these either use cheap parts or are based on phones from yesteryears. That’s not the case with the iQOO 7 Legend.
iQOO’s second attempt at disrupting the smartphone market comes in the form of a phone that takes the help of BMW’s identity to carve a space in the world dominated by iPhones and OnePlus phones. It starts at Rs 39,990 and is the most affordable phone to use the Snapdragon 888 chip. While that’s surely the selling point, iQOO has focused on the user experience bit with beefy cameras and fast charging.
What does all that mean for the Indian premium smartphone buyer? Is the iQOO 7 Legend a better bet than similarly priced OnePlus phones?
|Features||Vivo IQOO 7|
|Price||Starts at Rs 39,990|
|OS||FunTouchOS 11 on Android 11|
|Display||6.6-inch FHD+ AMOLED 120Hz|
|Internal Memory||Up to 256GB|
Part of the iQOO 7 Legend’s appeal to you, me, and the vast majority of the Indian public are those BMW stripes. iQOO is taking full advantage of its partnership with the BMW M Motorsport DTM team and has taken the liberty to paint the phone in an interesting combo of colours. The result is a phone with an identity so distinct that you can’t help but use it without the protective case. No wonder, it won the Red Dot Design award this year.
That beautiful white rear with the racing stripes is made of matte glass and thanks to the light colour, it would hide scratches and nicks easily. Keeping the BMW-ness aside, the rest of the phone has the same design language as modern-day Vivo smartphones — rectangular camera cluster design, similar button placements, and an overall resemblance to the Vivo X60 series. Not bad, given that the X60 series has some of the prettiest phones under its name.
The minimal camera hump protrusion aids in the sleek design and so does the blue power key. However, the shoulder keys from the iQOO 3 are gone, thereby stressing the phone’s intent to be an all-round flagship than solely a gaming phone. The display has flat edges with slim bezels around. Weirdly, the camera cutout makes itself prominent with a chrome highlight.
Despite the 209 grams weight, the iQOO 7 Legend does not make the bulk obvious. The cleverly contoured metal sides make it easy to hold while the matte rear helps with grip. iQOO provides a transparent TPU protective case with some BMW logos and pre-installs a display protector – both of which I recommend to use for keeping that design pristine.
Overall thoughts? It won’t be an exaggeration to hold the iQOO 7 Legend on the same pedestal as the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 Plus. This is a phone that appeals to the heart more than the mind – it is beautiful.
A 120Hz AMOLED display has now become the norm in 2021 smartphones, especially with the Redmi Note 10 Pro series offering it as standard. The iQOO 7 Legend also gets the same formula – a 6.6-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080p and a refresh rate of 120Hz. As iQOO claims, the display goes very bright and even under the afternoon sun, I was able to make out the content on the display. The usual high contrasts and boosted saturation of an AMOLED display is present but next to a OnePlus 9R and an ROG Phone 2, it all looks a bit bluish on the default colour profile. Using the “Bright” profile with slightly warmer tones did the trick for me.
However, the iQOO 7 Legend has one of the most responsive smartphone displays I have ever seen. The 300Hz touch sampling rate makes gaming on this phone a bliss. In Call of Duty: Mobile, I can lock on to enemies easily with minimal movements while adjusting the scope on my sniper rifle is a heavenly experience. The same on the OnePlus 9R feels laggy. No wonder I was able to rack up scores more easily on the iQOO.
Do note that the iQOO 7 Legend lacks the MEMC chip from the iQOO 7. The in-display fingerprint sensor is fairly fast to unlock the phone.
With the Snapdragon 888 at the helm, the iQOO 7 Legend is easily the fastest phone around in the world of Android. Paired with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM, 256GB UFS 3.1 storage, and a well-optimised FunTouchOS 11, this is a phone that may not know the meaning of lags in the next two years at least. All of the regular smartphone stuff happens swiftly and the snappy animations impart a sense of urgency.
On the busiest of days, I threw a lot of social media apps at it simultaneously. I attended video meetings, dealt with emails on Outlook, made lots of calls, texted on WhatsApp, took photos, and play music via Bluetooth speakers. The iQOO 7 Legend made them all seem like a child’s play. It is this lively performance that keeps me from going back to my iPhone SE.
Of course, most of you are interested in gaming and the iQOO 7 Legend shines at that. At this moment, there’s no game that can burden the Snapdragon 888. Call of Duty: Mobile runs at its best at 60 fps in “Very High” graphics and “Max” frame rates. Even after an hour of wreaking havoc on its virtual battlefields, I do not notice occasional frame drops or longer loading times – one usual observation with Snapdragon 870-equipped phones.
Similarly, games with high-fidelity graphics like Shadow Legends 4: Arena, CarX rally, F1 Mobile Racing, Real Flight Simulator and Solar Smash run at their best. Longer game session extending an hour does not bring up any kind of frame drops or hiccups but it does heat up the phone substantially. The frame heats up noticeably and I often had to leave it idle for a while to cool down. This means that the large vapor chamber cooling system works well but I wish iQOO figured out a better way to dissipate the heat.
Unlike the OnePlus 9R or ROG Phone 5, there’s no dedicated “game center” app to act as a hub for accessing all installed games. However, while playing, you get options from the Game Assistant sidebar to block calls, lock screen brightness level, turn on 4D vibration for COD Mobile, and activate “Pressure-sensitive touchscreen”. The “Pressure-sensitive touchscreen” feature has a lot of potential but isn’t as convenient as the dedicated shoulder triggers. The 4D vibrations certainly add to the immersive experience.
It is sad to see iQOO ditching its iQOO UI from iQOO 3 on the 2021 models. However, with FunTouchOS 11, iQOO can possibly amp up the update rollout speed for the upcoming Android 12 update (iQOO has stayed mum on the update situation). FunTouchOS is still the same easy-to-use and well customised Android skin. You get to see a lot of the stock Android inspiration in the notification center and several system menus. The interface still lacks the overall fit and finish that OnePlus and Samsung offer on their phones, i.e., disoriented fonts, imbalanced UI layout, and more.
iQOO has spent little effort on delivering an experience unique to iQOO users. Despite flaunting shades of BMW Motorsport on the outside, all you get inside are three custom wallpapers. There’s no special theme, no icon pack, no widget and no special ringtone to celebrate the special edition model. There are a couple of pre-loaded apps that can be deleted at will, but some of Vivo’s first-party apps can’t be dealt with. The theme store only features paid items – maybe Vivo can follow Xiaomi’s MIUI and drop a few free items to try?
Adding to the experience is the beautifully tuned haptic feedback. The vibrations are strong yet well-controlled to react to the input. The haptics on iPhones are still better with the custom effects but iQOO has managed to subtly use vibrations throughout the system to make the experience better. The subtle vibrations for COD Mobile also help in alerting when an enemy is nearby.
Unlike the iQOO 7, the Legend gets a stereo speaker setup and that is decent at its best. The output goes loud at times but it lacks the finer details in the audio that an ROG Phone’s speakers can offer. Output via wireless audio headphones is as good as it gets now but there’s no option to tune the output. The earpiece output is sufficiently loud during calls.
The Snapdragon 888 brings support for 5G networks, which at the moment is only a fancy term on spec sheets. It is good to know that there’s support for up to seven 5G bands, which makes the phone future-proof. Currently, the network performance on Jio’s 4G LTE is good, although I experience call drops and disruptions occasionally. Latching on to the VoWiFi helps massively.
This is an area where the iQOO 7 Legend shines. It borrows the camera hardware from the Vivo X60 Pro but tunes it better. The same 48-megapixel Sony sensor demonstrates exceptional colour balance, brightness control, exposure balance and saturation in daylight situations. The pixel-binned photos hold a lot of detail. The HDR adds a pinch of colour in just the right amount to make for beautiful results.
Even as light levels drop, the main camera holds on to its own to keep the colour balance and exposure right. In challenging conditions, there’s a noticeable drop in details but the camera aims for higher exposures. I was consistently getting good photos after sunset and even when the streetlights came on.
There’s a 48MP mode that offers gains in resolution in good lighting but suppresses the details. The video output from the main camera is good at both 4K and 1080p resolution. Under good lighting, videos tend to hold details with slightly higher contrast and saturation. Stability is good — thanks to OIS, although you miss it out at 4K at 60 fps. I also found the video quality at 1080p good with equally good colour retention and clarity.
The 13-megapixel Portrait camera offers 2X optical zoom. The magnification is limited in comparison to the Galaxy S21 Ultra but you can get useable photos up to 5x digital zoom. Photos shot via the zoom camera are almost as good as the main camera, although you might see slightly washed-out colours and a drop in sharpness while pixel peeping. As iQOO says, this is best left for taking portrait photos.
The 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera does a great job too in most lighting conditions. It lacks the exceptional colour profile from the main camera but does a decent job overall. The details are softer upon zoom and at night, it can’t keep up with the main camera’s performance. The macro function uses this ultra-wide camera get extremely closer to the subject and the output is great. As long as you are giving your subject good light, the macro photos look vibrant, sharp, full of details and exhibit good colour profile when compared to the dedicated macro cameras.
The 16-megapixel front camera does a good job of taking selfies. The image processing is of high standards, keeping true-to-real colour tones, sharp facial features, adequate exposure and good subject separation. On busier backgrounds, the camera struggled to detect hair strands – something that iQOO can fix with an update.
The iQOO 7 Legend relies on a 4000mAh capacity battery and this is small by 2021 standards. Hence, with moderate-to-high usage, you could be looking at a late evening refill. With an hour or more of gaming involved, the iQOO 7 Legend eats trough battery life fast. I usually witness a drop of 25 percent after an hour of Call of Duty: Mobile. Couple that with calls, social media browsing. Light photography and some music, I was heading for the charger by evening.
Thankfully, it only takes under 25 minutes for a full recharge once the battery drops under 10 percent. The 66W charging solution is a blessing for mobile gamers, as you can get almost 20-25 percent charge in 10 minutes. It heats up the phone dramatically and hence, you will need to leave it idle during and after charging to let it cool down.
In the guise of a gaming phone, iQOO has made a reliable and an all-rounder flagship phone in the iQOO 7 Legend. Not only is it fast, it has impressive and reliable cameras, highly convenient fast charging, and a responsive display – all that wrapped in an eye-catching body. Vivo’s FunTouchOS 11 may not have a polished interface as some rival phones but in the grand scheme of things, it is a minor chink.
Starting at Rs 39,990, the iQOO 7 Legend makes such a strong case for itself that its competition appears pale. The OnePlus 9R with similar prices looks obsolete in comparison while the Xiaomi Mi 11X Pro is not as accomplished as the Legend in terms of features. It decimates the iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone XR with superior display and faster charging. The cameras on this one make the Vivo X60 Pro’s camera seem a pricey affair.
If you have Rs 40,000 to spare on a smartphone, I highly recommend the iQOO 7 Legend. At the moment, there’s nothing that comes close to it as a value proposition; forget surpassing it. No wonder iQOO chose the right name for this one.