Smartphone maker Vivo is a giant in its native China and other Asian markets, but its presence is missed in much of the rest of the world. Like rivals Xiaomi and Huawei it created a sub-brand, iQoo, to bring its technology to the masses at often cheaper prices.
The iQoo Neo 6 is a very solid phone with close to flagship specs and above average performance for the asking price. The design stands out, the software is unobtrusive, and the main camera lens is very capable.
The phone is available now in India and China, but it might not get an official release anywhere else. That’s a shame because it’s a phone that gives mid-range Realme, Samsung, and Oppo phones a run for their money.
I reviewed the Indian version of the phone, which has the Snapdragon 870 whereas the Chinese model has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
Design and build
- Cool colour options
- Matt plastic finish
- Hole-punch selfie camera
The design of my Neo 6 review unit would have been wholly unremarkable were it not in a parma violet purple and blue explosion that iQoo is calling ‘Cyber Rage’. But there’s nothing raging about its polite lilac tones that change with the light. I think it looks great, and it stands out against a million black slab phones.
iQoo has saved on costs and improved durability by opting for plastic instead of glass on the back too, a move more manufacturers should make, particularly like here where it doesn’t feel cheap. The two long edges of the back are slightly curved which helps the phone nestle comfortably in your hands.
The camera module is an austere rectangle with three lenses and a flash, with a detail below on a plastic strip that has the Neo branding on it. With no regulatory marks and a neat silver iQoo logo, this is a phone to buy to stand out from the crowd. The other colour option is a more muted ‘Dark Nova’ that’s a dark greenish blue.
Around the front is a less inspiring affair. There’s a familiar black bezel around the edge of the display with rounded corners and a single hole-punch cut out for the front facing camera at the top.
There’s no headphone jack, and the USB-C port is flanked by a downward firing speaker and nano-SIM slot. A volume rocker sits above the power button on the right-hand edge. So far, so phone. But purple.
Display and audio
- Flat 6.62in OLED
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Stereo speakers
The Neo 6 has a big, bright 6.62in AMOLED screen that gets plenty bright and is responsive to taps, swipes, and pinches. I like that it’s flat rather than curving at the edges.
The screen doesn’t go right to the edges but the bezel didn’t bother me as it is very thin, and the four corners are rounded neatly unlike some other phones I’ve tested. The in-display fingerprint sensor is reliable and responsive.
High refresh rate displays are very common in Android phones now, which is great for you and your eyes. 60Hz was the smartphone norm for years but 120Hz on the Neo 6 doubles that to make app animations, menus, and text scroll twice as smooth. You can choose 60Hz or 120Hz in the settings or opt for iQoo’s Smart Switch software that flicks between the two depending on what you’re doing. Using 60Hz when things aren’t moving claims to save battery life.
I had no qualms with the panel on the Neo 6 using it as my main phone for a couple of weeks. I scrolled Twitter, watched YouTube, and took photos without much missing the displays of more expensive phones like the Google Pixel 6 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Those phones do have better screens but considering the price of the Neo 6 you aren’t missing out on too much extra quality.
The speakers are also quite good, particularly for listening to podcasts or the radio or talking phones calls handsfree. The earpiece and down-firing speaker used as a stereo pair and only distort when you crank music through them very loudly. But given it should be illegal to play music at any volume from your phone, you won’t be worried about that will you, dear reader?
It’s great to see the phone certified to play Hi-res music, so if you subscribe to a service like Tidal or Qobuz you’ll enjoy decent wireless sound quality.
One minor point is that in direct sunlight you can see the hidden ambient light sensors and other sensors behind the display, something I haven’t seen in many phones of late.
Specs and performance
- Snapdragon 870
- 8GB/128GB or 12GB/256GB
The Neo 6 shines when you compare how much it costs to how well it performs. It is a mid-range priced phone that acts pretty much as well as a flagship phone that retails for twice or three times more.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 chipset is most of the reason why given it is a notch below ‘flagship’ level these days. But for most people, myself included, it’s overkill. The processor is far more powerful than what most of us do on our phones in the first place. It handles social media, messaging, photography, and video calls with ease.
It also means the Neo 6 is a decent choice as a gaming phone and has subtle inclusions under the hood like a vibration engine that rumbles along to gameplay.
My review unit had 12GB RAM which helped things fly by quickly, though that amount is still an awful lot for a mobile. iQoo also added in what it calls ‘extended RAM’ where the phone can boost an extra 4GB of RAM performance out of free storage space – so the 12GB RAM can emulate the performance of 16GB (or 8GB boosted to 12GB on the other model).
It does this automatically to keep games flowing and apps running in the background when there’s a lot of stuff open at once.
In benchmark tests the Neo 6 was nearly as zippy as the Poco F4 GT, a gaming phone with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip and purpose built for gaming. It was also faster than the OnePlus Nord 2T, a phone that costs more, and barely below the premium Vivo X80 Pro.
Benchmarks aren’t everything of course, so I’m happy to back up that the Neo performs well in real world use too.
Sadly, one of the worst things about the phone is its haptics. Though the gaming rumble feature worked nicely with little bumps and buzzes that make sense in context, the haptic motor for typing and system vibrations is very tinny and pingy, to the point where each individual vibration is like an audible ‘ping’. It is really annoying and makes the phone feel cheap. For the first time in years, I turned off the keyboard vibration on an Android phone. Boo.
- 64Mp Samsung sensor
- No telephoto lens
- Software spoils selfies
A shared trait among many decent mid-range phones is the presence of one quite good camera lens alongside two not great ones, and the same applies here. iQoo has used Samsung’s 64Mp GW1P sensor for the main lens and it produces great shots in daylight. It’s also used to crop 2x to mimic telephoto in the absence of a dedicated telephoto lens.
Results are punchy thanks to HDR and optical image stabilisation (OIS). Even with AI modes turned off, the software still cranks up the saturation so it’s a little hard to get true to life colour balance but as far as Android point and shoots go, this is very solid. If you take a lot of pictures of moving objects like children and animals, be warned that shots often turn out a little blurry with any movement.
Software annoys more when taking selfies with the 16Mp front camera. The software is set up with face slimming, whitening, tinting, and various other AI-beautifying modes out the box and it’s a huge pain to go in and turn them all off. It’s one of the most annoying things about the phone.
The 2Mp macro lens offers a bit of fun getting up close, but it’s a novelty that doesn’t last long. Results aren’t as detailed as on the iPhone 13 Pro or as close up as the crazy 30x camera seen on the Oppo Find X3 Pro, but those are very premium phones. Basically, mid-range phones shouldn’t have macro cameras because they’re never any good when the components are cheap.
A 16Mp ultra-wide lens is good for capturing more of a scene, but it’s of noticeably lesser quality than what the main lens is capable of.
Battery and charging
- 80W wired charging
- No wireless charging
- All day stamina
One of the Neo 6’s best features is its wired 80W charging speeds, which in my testing charged the phone from 0% to 88% in 15 minutes. Fast charging is becoming more usual on Android phones and it’s another reason to go for the Neo 6.
If you’re not in India or China, bear in mind you’ll have to buy a plug adapter (like I did) to use the bundled fast charger. You might not see top charging speeds because of this.
The Neo 6 easily lasted a whole day of heavy use on its 4700mAh battery, only dipping to dangerously low levels when I’d been hammering Call of Duty. That said, it can be a bit unpredictable. A ten-minute CoD shootout only dropped the phone 4%, but leaving the phone on Wi-Fi overnight saw it drop from 84% to 56%. Good thing the charging is super-fast.
In the PC Mark app battery test it lasted for 16 hours and 43 minutes, which has only been beaten in our recent testing by the 18 hours and 30 minutes of the Realme 9 Pro.
Software and updates
- Android 12
- FunTouch OS is solid
- Gaming features
iQoo’s FunTouch OS pleasantly surprised me by not being too overbearing. Some manufacturers meddle with the appearance of Android – even Google these days – and it can be distracting.
iQoo does change a few things about Android 12 (every company does) such as where things are hidden in the settings app, but overall, I found it a clean and easy flavour of Android having not used it much previously.
There are some neat software touches such as the Game Space app where you can see what games you have downloaded and how long you’ve spent on them (dangerous) and how much Wi-Fi or mobile data you’ve used playing them (useful). I also like the in-game menu that can be accessed swiping from the left that shows CPU and GPU strain, battery life, and toggles for battery saver balanced and, amusingly, monster mode that cranks the hardware to the max.
There’s even a voice changer toggle and a WhatsApp picture-in-picture button that brings the chat app onto the screen to fire off quick texts without quitting your game.
iQoo promises two years of Android updates to Android 13 and 14, and three years of security updates. This is the same as OnePlus, and better than Honor, but behind Google’s three and five years of Android and security updates respectively, and Samsung’s superlative four and five.
Price and availability
The iQoo Neo 6 is on sale in India from ₹34,999, which is about £360/$450. If you can find one to import for this price, it’s very good value indeed.
At the time of writing the 8GB/128GB Chinese model was on sale at Giztop for $499 and the 12GB/256GB model for $549. Bear in mind this is not the model I reviewed, and has different specs. Check them out here.
With a genuinely attractive design that benefits from being plastic and therefore more durable, the Neo 6 is a good choice if you want an Android phone that performs like a flagship for a mid-range price. The software is clean, the main camera is solid, and the battery charges incredibly fast.
If you’re outside of India or China you might prefer to buy the OnePlus Nord 2T as it has similar features, the same software update promise, and will come with local warranties. It’s hard to return or fix an imported phone. But the Neo 6 is definitely worth a look if you want something a bit different with great performance. It just seems like it’s hard to import the Indian version.
iQoo Neo 6: Specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
- 8GB/12GB RAM
- 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
- 6.62in AMOLED display (2400 x 1080 resolution)
- 64Mp f/1.9 Wide angle camera
- 8Mp f/2.2 Ultra-wide camera
- 2Mp f/2.4 Macro camera
- 16MP f/2.0 Selfie camera
- Max Video Quality – 4K @ 30fps
- Funtouch OS 12 (based on Android 12)
- WiFi 6
- Bluetooth 5.2
- USB-C charging port
- 4700mAh battery (supports 80W Fast Charging)
- 163 x 76.2 x 8.5 mm