iQOO 3 offers the Snapdragon 865 without the 5G requirement

iQOO 3

The iQOO 3 is the latest gaming smartphone slated for India, offering high-end hardware at a relatively affordable price. iQOO is a sub-brand of Vivo, who uses their subsidiary to dive into other markets without their primary Vivo branding.

But what’s probably the most interesting part of this phone isn’t that Vivo makes it, but that it’s a Snapdragon 865-powered device that comes in a 4G-only flavor. Pretty strange, right?

iQOO 3 Gaming Phone

The iQOO 3 can claim a lot of firsts in the smartphone world. It was almost the first Snapdragon 865 device in India, but it is the first smartphone to use UFS 3.1 storage. It’s also the first 4G-only device that you can get with a Snapdragon 865 CPU.

Now, there are two versions of this phone: one with 5G, and one without. That’s because the only modem compatible with the Snapdragon 865 is Qualcomm’s new X55 modem, which is 5G. The Snapdragon 865 does not have an integrated modem, so manufacturers have to use something else to actually, you know, get these phones online.

So what exactly happened here?

Snapdragon 865, sans 5G

It appears that iQOO (or Vivo, whoever you want to give credit to) is using the same hardware in both variants of this phone. The 4G model does still have a Snapdragon 865 CPU with the X55 modem. On paper, it does support 5G networks. There’s no 4G-only modem compatible with the processor.

However, that X55 modem is compatible with 4G networks. It also works with 3G and 2G networks, simply because 5G isn’t everywhere, so you need that backwards compatibility. On the 5G side of things, it supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz networks, but there’s an important catch to that; if the phone doesn’t include extra mmWave antennas, it’ll struggle to connect well on those 5G networks. Those extra antennas, though, cost more money to manufacturer and put into phones. Following along yet?

So to keep costs down, iQOO opted not to include the extra antennas to actually allow the phone to effectively connect to mmWave 5G networks for the iQOO 3, didn’t certify the phone for 5G bands, and saved a bit on manufacturing costs. This actually isn’t super uncommon, and even the base Galaxy S20 model doesn’t support mmWave, which is why it’s getting delayed on Verizon for a couple months. It’s still 5G-certified for other networks, and Samsung’s working with Verizon on some other solution in the meantime, but those things cost money.

Technically, yes, the Snapdragon 865 must be paired with a 5G modem. No way around that. It doesn’t technically have to be certified to work with 5G networks, and doesn’t have to include extra networking equipment to make it happen. Interesting workaround.

iQOO 3 specs

Okay, so we’ve got the 4G/5G confusion out of the way. The iQOO 3 still looks like a pretty solid gaming phone, albeit one with a 60hz refresh rate display. It uses a 6.44-inch screen and is paired with 8GB of RAM for the 4GB model and 12GB of RAM for the 5G model, plus either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage.

The cameras seem decent, with a quad-camera system comprised of a standard 48MP lens, a telephoto and ultrawide angle lens, and a depth-sensing lens. It can record 4K video at 60fps, and it’s running on top of Android 10.

You can pick up the iQOO 3 in Volcano Orange, Quantum Silver, or Tornado Black, with the 4G model costing either ₹36,990 ($515) for the 8GB/128GB or ₹39,990 ($557) for the 8GB/256GB models. Opting for the 5G model with 12GB/256GB configuration will run ₹44,990 ($626).

source: XDA Developers

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo’s Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.

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