What makes a gaming phone? Powerful internals, high refresh rate display, flashy design, extreme cooling, extra controls? Well, the vivo iQOO 3 5G has only some of these checkboxes ticked, but is that a bad thing? We'll set off to find out.
Okay, the extra controls are there - in the form of the Monster Touch shoulder buttons on the right side of the handset. Speaking of monsters, Monster Inside is the tagline for the iQOO 3 5G, and if that alludes to the Snapdragon 865, we'd agree - it's as potent a chipset as they come on an Android smartphone right now. The fastest-available UFS 3.1 storage can only be found inside this vivo and a handful of other phones at the time of writing, so the powerful internals are accounted for as well.
Vivo advertises a 'Carbon Fiber Vapour Cooling System' which isn't quite as extreme as a built-in (nubia Red Magic 5G) or a snap-on (ROG Phone II) fan, but it's something - we'd say the iQOO is half-way there on the 'extreme cooling' bit.
For better or worse, the iQOO 3 5G is missing that 'gaming' design with sharp lines and bright red or green colors. It does come in a striking orange color option, which we'll have a look at on the next page, but it's otherwise an inconspicuous handset. So - no gaming aesthetic, but in a good way.
Which brings us to the one major omission when it comes to the iQOO 3 5G's gaming aspirations - it's only got a a 'plain' 60Hz screen. More is better when it comes to the refresh rate, and other gaming phone alternatives deliver. It's still a pretty great AMOLED screen as our tests will show, and with a 180Hz touch sampling it should be plenty quick to detect action.
Here's rundown of the iQOO 3 5G's key specs before we move on.
The iQOO 3 5G comes in a distinctive box with a black carbon fiber print and the brand name stamped on top in shiny gold letters. A sticker indicates that ours is the 5G version (fully tricked out with 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM), but 4G-only options are also available with less storage and RAM. The lid's sides diagonally cut which is a nice accent.
Inside the box, there's the phone in a plastic tray. Below that, you'll find a paper sleeve that holds a frosted plastic protective case and the USB cable with a red-and-white pill-shaped connector on the phone end that leads the cable at a 90-degree angle away from the device.
Digging deeper, there's the 55W charger - it's big and heavy, no two ways about it, but it's also fast. The list of accessories also includes a set of in-ear buds.