The iQOO Neo 6 launched globally recently and we at AndroidHeadlines got a Dark Nova review unit a few days ago. The global version of the iQOO Neo 6 is a bit different from the China version of this smartphone. On paper, the iQOO Neo 6 in terms of hardware is quite close to the iQOO Legend 7 (non-BMW edition) or iQOO Neo 5 from last year.
However, there are a few notable upgrades – battery life gets a nice bump to 4,700 mAh, and the primary camera gets a spec bump to 64MP resolution. On the flip side, there are a few sidegrades as well, which we will discuss in detail elsewhere in this review. But first, let’s get the unboxing out of the way and see how the new device looks in person.
Unboxing the iQOO Neo 6
The outer box theme is consistent with previous iQOO devices we have reviewed here at AndroidHeadlines. Although the box seems to have shrunk quite a bit since 2021. Unlike the slim retail packaging from Samsung and Google, the slim iQOO box still contains a case, SIM tool, USB-C cable, 80W charging brick, and a headphone jack dongle. And I love the Dark Nova version smartphone inside the box which shows multiple hues of blue-green on the back cover depending on ambient lighting.
Hardware design improvements result in a sleek modern look
I like the flat screen on the front and the color-shifting back cover. iQOO calls the model color Dark Nova but it is more blue-green to my eyes. The biggest change on the back cover is the new triple camera module.
Other than the new back cover and camera module there aren’t any major hardware design changes. The left-hand side rail is devoid of any slots or cutouts. On the opposite right-hand side, you get the power (the texture on the button is gone though) and volume buttons. Moving on to the bottom rail you see the SIM tray slot, microphone, USB-C port, and speaker grille. And finally, on the top rail, you see a cutout for the second microphone and the IR blaster.
The back cover has a matte texture and is somewhat resistant to fingerprint smudges. But since the back cover is made of polycarbonate it is a static electricity generator and attracts lint and dust particles with ease.
The plastic back cover does help to keep the overall weight to 190 grams which is less than the predecessor by about 6 grams. This relatively low weight along with the curved edges on the back cover results in excellent in-hand ergonomics. The factory-supplied clear TPU case provides additional grip as well.
From a hardware perspective, there’s an IP52 rating and a fairly strong X-axis linear haptic motor on the Neo 6. iQOO claims 4D Game Vibration thanks to the improved vibration motor and the seat of pants testing confirms this during the review period.
Overall this is a well-designed mid-range smartphone and I personally love the Dark Nova color on my review device.
Display is a carryover from last year and that isn’t a bad thing
The iQOO Neo6 has a 6.62″ FullHD+ 120Hz E4 AMOLED screen and for the most part, is identical to that on the iQOO Legend 7. Peak brightness is 1,300 nits and I didn’t have any issues outdoors during bright summer days here in Southern California. Besides this, the display comes with HDR10+ certification and a 360Hz touch sampling rate which is useful during gaming.
There is a fingerprint scanner for biometric authentication under the display, which is fast and accurate. I do think that the placement of the FPS isn’t ideal – it is a bit too low in my opinion – and that iQOO improves this aspect going forward. Up top, there’s a hole punch in the center for the selfie camera.
There’s nothing fancy here in terms of display. You do get accurate and vivid colors, a high refresh rate AMOLED screen, great touch sampling rates, and 1,300 nits of peak brightness along with HDR10+ certification. To summarize, the screen on the Neo 6 is about as good as it gets for a mid-range device.
Performance-wise there’s not much improvement on the iQOO Neo 6
The iQOO Neo6 has a Snapdragon 870 processor coupled with either 8GB or 12GB RAM and 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage. While this is quite a decent processor, especially for a mid-range smartphone, this is the same processor that iQOO used in the Neo 5 last year. So basically it is the same processor powering a newer generation one year later. While it might be a capable performer today this doesn’t spell good news in terms of longevity 2 to3 years down the line.
Geekbench 5 scores are 983 for single-core and 3110 for multi-core performance. These numbers compare well with last year’s model which had a single-core score of 886 and 3465 for multi-core performance.
iQOO does however claim better gaming performance in terms of thermal management. There is a new Cascade Cooling System with a sizeable vapor chamber area of 2396mm² and a total liquid cooling area of 36907mm² for efficient heat transfer. iQOO has added 5-layer 3D graphite cooling plates for faster heat dissipation during heavy processor load to provide sustained performance while gaming. During the review period, while playing Genshin Impact, I did notice that the phone got a bit warm but didn’t slow down or overheat. So overall there is an improvement from a thermal management perspective even if the processor is a carryover.
Battery life gets a big boost thanks to an increase of 300 mAh
Kudos to iQOO for bumping up the battery capacity by 300 mAH to 4,700 mAh. By making good choices in terms of materials, despite having the larger battery the Neo 6 is lighter than it’s predecessor and it is a good thing.
Another upgrade is the support for fast charging which is now 80W up from 65 W. The Neo 6 battery will charge from 1% to 50% in just 12 minutes and 100% in 32 minutes with the 80W charger in the box according to iQOO.
Screen on time will depend on your usage pattern and how much data is consumed on Wi-Fi versus 5G. For my use pattern, I was able to consistently get about 6 hours SoT. In any case, this is definitely all-day battery life unless you decided to spend 4 hours each day gaming. In that case, you better keep the 80W charging brick around to top up the battery quickly.
Software is Android 12 and finally there’s good news about long term support
The biggest visual improvement that you can see and feel during daily use is software. iQOO Neo 6 runs Android 12-based Funtouch OS 12 out of the box with the April 2022 Android security patch. At first glance everything looks the same once you get the home screen setup on either the Neo 6 or Neo 5. However, there are quite a few under the hood improvements.
First and foremost, there’s only Google Play Store. The secondary V-Appstore is gone which is great because there were just way too many pop-up notifications on the Neo 5 which were very annoying. The second big change is that a swipe right from the home screen brings up Google Discover rather than the Jovi Home from last year’s version. Third, the Phone, Messages, Contacts apps are all stock Android. Fourth, the amount of bloatware installed has gone down by almost 90%.
However, there are still a few apps that are preloaded. But pretty much every one of those apps can be uninstalled which is great. What isn’t great is that the ‘Hot Games’ and ‘Hot Apps’ folders are still there along with the Nano Music Player. You can remove them from the home screen but this does mean a bit of work on your part. I would prefer that these sorts of extras not be there from the get-go but right now that is not the case.
And finally, iQOO has promised two years of Android and three years of monthly security updates for the Neo 6. While this is a positive development I am going to reserve judgment until I see iQOO follow through with its software support policy, so stay tuned for the next review.
iQOO Neo 6 Audio quality is good for the price
iQOO Neo 6 has dual stereo speakers with Hi-Res audio certification. For the most part, these sound good while gaming or streaming. There wasn’t too much distortion at high volume setting while playing music. One thing to note is that the bottom-firing speaker does 70% of the work while the top earpiece speaker contributes about 30% of the overall audio output.
Audio quality was good for calls via handset or speakerphone mode. In terms of headphone audio quality, I tested the audio output via the USB-C port using the dongle in the box. I paired it with my Audio Technica earbuds. Output via the dongle was quite pleasing across the vocals, mid-range, and bass. However, I did have to crank the volume slider consistently above 60% in order to hear the music clearly. I used the Xiaomi Buds 3T Pro for testing audio quality via Bluetooth. Audio output via BT was as good as the USB-C port with the volume slider at around 50-60%.
Connectivity options are plenty on the iQOO Neo 6 but no 5G in the USA
Pretty much any smartphone from iQOO/Vivo/OPPO has great connectivity options. Consequently, the Neo 6 does not disappoint when it comes to connectivity. Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, Smart Mirroring, and IR blaster are all onboard. For sharing files there’s Nearby Share and iQOOshare.
My main gripe is around cellular connectivity. This phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chip but for some reason, there’s no 5G setting feasible on T-Mobile in the USA. I have no issues with devices from Xiaomi but for some reason this setting isn’t enabled on iQOO/Vivo devices. I did get 4G+ signal consistently with lousy data speeds which I blame on my cellular provider and not iQOO. But I think for a global device, it is high time iQOO enables the 5G setting across the board instead of making it available for select geographies.
We have looked at various aspects of the iQOO Neo 6 in detail so far but there is one thing missing, namely camera performance. Besides having a new camera module layout, the iQOO Neo 6 has made a few changes to the triple cameras on the rear. There is a 64MP primary camera with optical image stabilization, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 2MP macro lens. On the front is a 16MP selfie shooter.
At first glance, the primary camera seems to be an upgrade, the ultrawide a downgrade. While the selfie and macro cameras seem to be a carryover. One quick observation here, I am happy to see all the prowess of the flagship Vivo X80 Pro trickle down into their mid-range device. I just wish more manufacturers would do this more often.
Primary camera performance is excellent day or night
The main camera delivers excellent results day or night. Colors are punchy, and white balance along with exposure are on point for the most part. There is the AI camera setting in the app but I find that colors are way too artificial with this setting turned on. I do recommend leaving the HDR setting on Auto though.
Night mode results are very good considering the mid-range nature of this smartphone. With a tripod, the results are quite accurate in terms of color even in extreme low light conditions. Overall the main camera performs admirably across varying degrees of light. The shutter in the camera app is fast and able to capture moving objects quickly.
Ultrawide camera does its job quite well
Ultrawide performance is good in daylight and in the twilight hours. There is a loss of detail in low light situations but if you are just trying to capture large illuminated architecture at night you should be fine as long as there isn’t any pixel peeping later. A lot of smartphones simply give up on Night mode for the ultrawide camera in this price range. So, kudos to iQOO for making this option available.
Take a look at the pictures in our Flickr gallery below to see the performance of the various cameras in different lighting conditions.
You may notice that the watermark is present on main and macro camera pictures but is missing for the ultrawide camera. I don’t know the reason for this, it is probably a software bug that will likely get patched soon. And there is an option to turn the watermark off altogether in the app settings menu.
iQOO Neo 6 Verdict
The iQOO Neo 6 has great hardware design language, excellent thermal management, great battery life, and 80W fast charging support. It also has a reasonably good processor, 120Hz AMOLED display, dual stereo speakers, and a plethora of options in terms of connectivity.
Software experience is now markedly improved and there’s the promise of support for 2 years minimum which is great. And yes, the cameras deliver almost flagship-level performance.
For the suggested retail price I believe you are getting an excellent smartphone. So if the iQOO Neo 6 is available for sale in your country, and your budget is around $300, then I believe this device should be near the top of your shopping list.