Vivo iQoo 7 5G Review: Mostly Marvelous Mid-Range
Vivo is one of those Chinese companies that quietly gets on with releasing a variety of mid-tier and premium smartphones around the world without ever really hitting the same kind of headlines as OnePlus, Oppo or other similar brands.
Now, the company has another offering for your consideration – the iQoo 7 5G – which joins the iQoo 7 Legend. The question is whether this will be the one that makes you stand up and take notice?
Design & Build
- Attractive design
- Twin Speakers
- No waterproofing
Vivo seems to have a lot of confidence in the iQoo 7 or a least a sense of fun when it comes to the packaging. The box, which features sporty angled yellow stripes across the carbon-fibre style design, opens up to reveal a carboard insert with Monster Inside emblazoned across the top.
To be fair, the Solid Ice Blue livery that bedecks the rear of the handset, isn’t monstrous at all. In fact, it’s somewhat fairy-tale in the way it shimmers. It imparts the faintest impression of 3D, so maybe there is a monster lurking somewhere in the depths?
If you prefer something less angelic, then there are Black, Storm Black (I’m not sure of the difference) and Monster Orange. I sense some kind of theme here.
The 163.3 x 76.4 x 8.4mm dimensions show that it’s a tall phone but not too fat around the waist, making it quite manageable in one hand. Of course, this is a modern smartphone, so it’s essentially made out of soap (it’s very slippery), but Vivo includes a clear silicon case in the box which provides a little more grip.
A weight of 196g isn’t exactly light, but the iQoo 7 5G feels well balanced in the hand and not that heavy to use.
On the metal chassis, you’ll find all the control buttons are located on the right side, including a double-length button for the volume controls, with the power button just underneath.
I have to say that latter being just above the middle of the phone’s height did make it the first place my finger would go, so I often turned the screen off when meaning to adjust the volume. A texturing of the power button would be a great addition to the next generation if Vivo is listening.
Along the top edge, there’s a groove that extends almost for the entirety of the surface, only punctuated by a small hole on the right end. This is for one of the two speakers in the iQoo 7, the other having a more traditional grill on the bottom edge. Down there is also home to the USB-C port, microphone, and Dual-SIM card tray.
There’s no listing of an IPX rating for the iQoo 7 5G, so assume that it shouldn’t go near water or lots of dust. Not one for the beach then.
- 6.62in AMOLED display
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Decent embedded fingerprint sensor
The ample frame allows for a 6.62in AMOLED display, boasting a Full HD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution and a refresh rate of 120Hz. The latter makes scrolling smooth, aided by the 300Hz touch sample rate and 1000Hz instant touch sampling rate, so any gestures or taps are executed immediately, which is good news for those who like to game on their smartphones.
The panel delivers rich colours and crisp text, making it a very pleasing place to spend time. Viewing angles are good, with the screen not losing any of its brightness or saturation, even when looking at it from almost 90 degrees (although this behaviour is admittedly a bit odd).
Under the centre of the lower area of the display is an embedded fingerprint sensor. Initially this seemed a little finicky, but after a small time of adjusting to where I should position my thumb, it soon became second nature to unlock the phone with a minimum of fuss.
It’s fast, reliable, and while I can’t vouch for exactly how secure it is (not from suspicion, more that I don’t have access to all the intricacies of the technology), it certainly proved easy to use.
Specs & Performance
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
- Up to 12GB RAM
- Up to 256GB UFS 3.1 Storage
Vivo has fitted the iQoo 7 5G with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G processor, which is the same one found in devices like the Poco F3, Motorola G100 and ZTE Axon 30 5G. It’s joined by the Intelligent Display Chip, which handles the more enhanced frame rates for gaming along with HDR colours and contrasts for richer graphics.
This places the Vivo in the upper mid-range bracket, which is often the place where you can find the best bang for your buck. In terms of performance, the iQoo 7 certainly won’t leave you short-changed. The processor handles all general tasks with barely a flicker. Apps open quickly, run smoothly and everything works at pace.
No doubt this is helped by the generous 12GB of RAM on my test model (there are other variants that come with 8GB), which can be extended by an additional 3GB with the system offloading work to the onboard storage. This doesn’t act as a bottleneck though, thanks to the fact that it’s UFS 3.1 storage, rather than the cheaper (and slower) sort you may have previously found at this price point.
I didn’t need to worry about going short on space either, as the model I tested came with a generous 256GB. Again, lower options are available, with the base model using 128GB instead.
Gaming is very smooth, with Asphalt 9 moving along at a blistering pace with no jitters or slow-downs. Everything is kept to a reasonable temperature thanks to the liquid cooling system employed by Vivo. During the heavy benchmark testing, the back of the phone did heat up, but it was still comfortable to hold, which is good news for serious gamers.
Here’s how the Vivo iQoo 7 compares to similar models in its class:
- 48Mp main camera
- 13Mp Wide Angle/Macro camera
- 2Mp Mono camera
A ttiple-camera array is found on the rear of the iQoo 7 5G, comprised of a 48Mp f/1.8 Wide, 13Mp f/2.2 Ultra-wide and 2Mp f/2.4 Mono. The latter is used for depth and assisting the portrait modes, while the other two offer a nice combination of framing and options.
Images captured on the main camera are generally very nice. Focus is quick and accurate, while the colours are maybe a little over-saturated at times (but that’s not unusual with smartphone image processing), with maybe a tendency to over-expose, resulting in a loss of detail on highly contrasting scenes.
That being said, I was impressed with many of the images I took with the iQoo 7 5G, including the samples below that covered general out-and-about shots, a few macros for good measure, night shots and switching between the x0.6, x1 and x2 focal lengths.
It’s the night mode which really impressed me. I was able to (without using a tripod) capture the stars in moonlit scenes, which was always a cool surprise. And several late evening shots came out much better than I anticipated.
If there was a weakness it was in subtlety. Creating moody images with pools of light proved a little tricky, as the cameras always wanted to capture more light and thus lose those smaller halos. I did get a few, but it felt harder than expected, especially when the night mode was generally so good.
On the front, you’ll find a 16Mp f/2.0 selfie camera that can take some decent photos, plus a wide range of Beauty effects and filters. I gather this is more of a thing in South East Asia and other parts of the world, but to be honest I found it all a bit silly.
Video is very usable. The built-in stabilisation kept things steady, even when I was chasing the dog around the garden. I did see some lens flaring and overexposing when the camera came into strong sunlight, but overall it recorded solid footage with a maximum quality of 4K at 30fps.
Connectivity & Security
As you may have surmised from the device’s name, the iQoo 7 5G can indeed connect to 5G networks, as well as 4G and 3G, so coverage shouldn’t be a problem, no matter where you are. It also has a bang up to date antenna, meaning you’ll also be able to make use of any Wi-Fi 6 networks you encounter. So, in terms of networks speeds, the iQoo 7 5G has got you covered.
Bluetooth 5.1 also means that connecting wireless headphones is a doddle, with stable performance for the hours that I listened to Spotify and Audible during the test period.
As mentioned earlier, there’s a fingerprint sensor under the display, and it performs very well. You can also use your face to unlock the phone, all of which happens at lightning speed.
One curious thing though. While trying (on multiple occasions) to set up Google Pay with my regular bank card, I received the message, ‘Couldn’t finish setup to pay in shops. This phone can’t be used to pay in shops. This may be because it is rooted or altered in some way.’
I contacted Vivo and it stated that this isn’t a normal problem they’ve seen, so it seems very likely that it’s just a problem with the test unit I had. If you’re intended to buy an iQoo 7 then it should be able to use Google Pay without this issue.
Battery & Charging
- 4400mAh battery
- 66W Fast Charging
- No wireless charging
Vivo boasts a full recharge from 0% to 100% in thirty minutes via its 66W Fast Charger. Well, that’s simply not true…it takes 32 minutes. Yep, from flat to full in just over half an hour and reached 98% in our usual 30-minute test. That’s pretty mad and more than twice the speed of the more expensive Pixel 6.
Just in case you think this is due to the iQoo 7 5G having a tiny cell, well that’s not the case, as it comes with a 4400mAh battery. This is an efficient one too, as I regularly got well into a second day of use before needing to think about charging the phone once more.
In short, battery life on this device is very good.
- Funtouch OS 11
- QuickStep Launcher
- Bloatware that can’t be removed
You don’t get vanilla Android on the iQoo 7 5G, as Vivo deploys its own Funtouch OS 11.1 (which is based on Android 11). Initially, this means there is a lot of bloatware on the device, with a suite of Vivo apps which also include the company’s own app store.
Thankfully, some of this can be removed, but you will have to put up with several that refuse to go away. You’ll also want to silence the notifications from those bloatware apps, and spend plenty of time agreeing to permissions.
When all of this is out of the way, Funtouch OS is not a bad skin for Android. The QuickStep launcher is fast and has the Google News page to the left of the Home screen.
One glitch I did see quite regularly was that the Notification area would be blank, with the heading text overwriting itself. This looks like something that would be fixed with an update, so hopefully, by the time you try the device, this problem will have been fixed.
Price & Availability
Vivo has launched the iQoo 7 5G in China and India, but there are no plans at the moment for the handset to go on general release in the US, UK or wider European market.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get hold of it in those territories though, as there are plenty of import options that can deliver the handset. As usual, be sure to check any import duty or other costs before going down this route.
At the time of writing, you could buy it from AliExpress for £433.51/$562.99/€604, but a quick Google search will reveal other international retailers from which you can order the iQoo 7 5G.
The device was initially launched In China, back in January 2021, with an asking price of CNY 3,798 (around £433/$588/€510), but you can also buy it in India direct from Vivo for ₹34,990 rupees (around £340/$463/€400).
Not sure what phone to buy? Check out our best mid-range phones chart.
There’s a lot to like about the iQoo 7 5G. Firstly, it’s an attractive device that’s nice to use. The 120Hz display is lush and smooth, while the Funtouch OS does take a little sorting out at first, but then delivers a decent Android experience. Plus the long battery life is a true bonus.
The cameras are very usable, with the night mode, in particular, impressing me during the test. There are a few niggles here and there, such as the glitches in the Notification area and problems setting up Google Pay in the UK, but for the most part the iQoo 7 5G is a solid contender in the mid-range space.
Vivo iQoo 7 5G: Specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G
- 12GB RAM
- 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
- 6.62in AMOLED display (2400 x 1080 resolution)
- 48MP f/1.8 Wide angle camera
- 13MP f/2.2 Ultra-wide camera
- 2MP f/2.4 Mono (Depth) camera
- 16MP f/2.0 Selfie camera
- Max Video Quality – 4K @ 30fps
- Funtouch OS 11.1 (based on Android 11)
- WiFi 6
- Bluetooth 5.1
- USB-C charging port
- 4400mAh battery (supports Fast Charging)
- 163.3 x 76.4 x 8.4 mm