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iQOO 12 Legend Edition Review

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

iQOO just released its latest flagship series with the iQOO 12 and 12 Pro. Both phones deliver impressive specs for the price, including Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processors, 12 to 16GB of memory, triple high resolution cameras with enhanced resolution and night mode shooting, and the ability to shoot up to 8K video. Today, we’re reviewing the iQOO 12 Legend Edition, a BMW-themed version of the standard version, and with a launch price that starts around $550, it’s a very solid value if your network supports it.


iQOO 12 Legend Edition  - What Is It? (Overview)

Design and Features

The iQOO 12 feels every bit the premium smartphone. I was surprised by just how premium it looked and felt taking it out of the box for the first time. I was sent the Legend Edition, which uses a porcelain enamel glass that feels exceptionally smooth beneath the fingers. The normal Alpha version, available in white, black, or red, uses a Flourite AG glass which the company claims gives it a subtle glow. 

The glass-back design certainly makes it a bit slippery, but it balances this with a frame that’s 8.1mm thick: just enough to get a firm grip without feeling thick. Thankfully, iQOO also provides a clear silicone protective case in the box which offers much more grip. It’s not the thinnest flagship phone by any means, and I actually found the thickness reassuring for the aforementioned reason, but it’s worth noting that it has a millimeter or two on the thinnest phones out there.  

The sides and ring around the camera bump are also trimmed in gleaming silver, which looks great, in my opinion. The design is a cross between a traditional large-screen Android and an iPhone Max and it works very well. 

It features a large 6.78-inch FHD+ AMOLED display that gets very bright (3,000 nits!). There are two directional stereo speakers for gaming, though no headphone jack, and haptic motors and X-axis linear haptic motors, both of which iQOO promises benefit gaming. It delivers an immersive experience that’s rich in color and detail, though upgrading to the Pro model does new you a bump to QHD resolution. At this screen size, I usually turn the resolution to FHD+ anyways for extended battery life, but if that’s important to you, the Pro model may be the better choice. 

The phone is available in 12GB or 16GB (LPDDR5X) variants with 256GB to 1TB of system storage. Each version uses the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, which is the latest and greatest in smartphones. It also features iQOO’s Supercomputing Q1 display processor, which enhances image sharpness and uses frame insertion to increase frame rates up to 144Hz. The phone also uses UFS 4.0 memory for exceptionally fast reads and writes. iQOO also promises a unique 6-zone cooling system to ensure frame rates stay high when gaming.

Sadly, there’s no expandable storage or headphone jack. That goes with the territory these days, but maybe one day we’ll see them return to a flagship smartphone. Just not today.

Around the back, we have a large camera bump styled after a porthole on a ship. It’s not high enough to get caught on your pocket but is definitely large and noticeable. I would suggest picking up a screen protector for its surface to protect its triple camera array — one of the iQOO 12’s most promising features. More on that in the next complete section.

Display and Charging

Let’s talk a little bit more about the display, because it’s pretty great. At 3,000 nits of peak brightness, it’s more than 70% brighter than even the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s even brighter than the rumored 2,500 nits of peak brightness on the S24 Ultra, though we’ll obviously need to wait to find out for sure. This is, of course, at its very highest and in a small portion of the screen. For HDR video, you can expect up to 1,400 nits, which is still in excess of the S23, despite being less than half the price.

The screen features a 2,800 x 1260 resolution (452 pixels per inch) and a fast adaptive frame rate of up 144Hz. This allows the screen to intelligently clock up its refresh rate when needed and then decrease it when there’s not as much movement on screen to save battery. It also features eye-saving features like 2,160 Hz PWM dimming and a low blue light filter. Touch sensitivity is great and highly reactive to even very light touches and swipes. 

The charging system is also quite good. The iQOO 12 features a 5,000mAh graphite battery. The Pro version is slightly larger at 5,100mAh. The battery supports ultra-fast charging up to 120 watts that was able to recharge our sample in only 24 minutes. It also features quick start-up technology that will allow you to power on the phone in only a few seconds after being plugged in — a sore spot on many phones still. 

iQOO 12 Legend Edition  - Camera System and Photo Gallery

These days, a phone’s camera system is one of, if not the, most defining feature. The IQOO 12 is out to impress with its stylishly detailed photo-work and even has some tricks up its sleeve for you videographers. 

The rear camera system is composed of a 50MP main wide-angle shooter (f/1.68), a 50MP ultra-wide lens (f/2.0), and a 64MP telephoto (f/2.57) that’s capable of 3x and 10x periscope zoom. The main shooter is able to capture video at 8K30, 4K60/30, and 1080p60/30. The front-facing camera is 16MP but isn’t great, especially in low light. It appears to be a reworked version of an older camera. It’s also locked to 30 FPS at 720 and 1080p. 

Overall, the cameras are very good. Photos can be taken in three modes: Vivid, Textured, or Natural. There are also a number of different modes available for shooting. Snapshot is designed for quickly capturing movement, perfect for sports or catching young kids being cute. There’s Night Mode and Astro Mode for shooting the night sky, as well as Supermoon for those impressive full moon pics. Tilt Shift, Panorama, Long Exposure, Fisheye, and Ultra HD Document round out the modes, but there are also plenty of filters and effects to choose from. 

There’s also a Super Macro mode which can zoom in up to six times and capture some excellent detail. Let’s take a closer look!

Starting with a selection of “normal” pictures, you can see that the main camera pulls plentiful detail and rich color from its subjects. It white balances and controls colors well, for the most part, though tends to the warm side when there is a lot of amber in the image already. There’s some computational enhancement taking place here, which you can see in some of the bokeh effect, but not all. The wide aperture here certainly helps apply natural bokeh too!

One of the things I love about these cameras is that they don’t apply long distance or human face requirements on their portrait modes. Whether close or far, I was impressed at how well the depth of field effect was applied. The system allows you to dial in a custom aperture as low as f/0.95. That low of an aperture cuts in a bit too much, encroaching on hair, but even one step up delivers impressive results. You really don’t see any fringing around the hairline that even a couple years ago would have been a paint point. These pretty spot on.

In the pictures above you can see the difference between the f/0.95 and the f/1.4 setting that highlights just how much more aggressive it is. Even in a nature photo, the virtual f/0.95 doesn’t look natural. One step up, on the other hand, looks great. The depth sensing here is excellent.

Here we can see the selfie camera. It gets the job done in reasonable lighting but isn’t exceptionally crisp like the rear facing camera. It can also apply a portrait effect and, like the rear cameras, does a good job.

In this gallery, we can see how the camera handles zooming. Zoom factors are 0.6x (ultrawide), 1x (wide), 2x (digital zoom), 3x (stage 1, telephoto), and 10x (stage 2, telephoto). There is some detail loss in the digital zoom and the 10x zoom is expectedly less crisp, but these do a well at extending the reach of your phone. 

The iQOO 12’s Super Macro mode was a lot of fun to play with. It was able to deliver some impressive results when the subject is large enough to quickly focus on (about a centimeter or larger) and there’s enough light. The macro mode can shoot in 1x, 3x, or 6x zoom modes and the detail in some of these shots is incredible. Look at the pictures above, all standing still at the edge of my stove. The reach is detail is amazing!

In tougher conditions, focus and color balance can be a bit more difficult for the camera to manage, both visible in the gallery above. The depth of field is quite small, so in shots that should be straight forward, there’s some loss of detail moving out from the center. The bokeh effect is very aggressive, even with the digital bokeh option completely disabled, and its appearance isn’t as natural as a DSLR with a macro lens. It doesn’t look bad but the texture in the depth of field is a bit strange.

Overall, I was impressed with the imaging quality of this phone. While not perfect, it can deliver some excellent photos!

Video, while mostly good, has more issues. Overall, I felt like amount of detail and exposure compensation weren’t a slight downgrade from the stills. 8K video quality is also quite lackluster, missing image stabilization, resulting in large file sizes, and lacking the kind of image quality boost you would expect to find. In short, the 8K mode feels like an early version that isn’t quite done. It will be worth watching in future models after iQOO has more time to make improvements. 4K and 1080p video are stabilized and significantly better overall, so I’d encourage you to stick with these lower resolutions unless you’re shooting with a tripod.

iQOO 12 Legend Edition  - Overall Performance

Thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, the iQOO 12 offers impressive performance both in real world tests and synthetic benchmarks. Gaming performance is also quite good and is very smooth on this screen.

The system runs on Android 14 and iQOO’s FunTouch UI, which is intuitive and should feel familiar if you’re coming from another Android device. Navigation occurs with the traditional three buttons or gesture control. You swipe down to pull up the notification panel and quick settings toggles and options. Standard stuff and well done without any noticeably missing options from its deeper settings menu.

There’s no sense burying the lede here: the iQOO 12 is an absolute top performer. It led the pack in all of our tests beating every other smartphone we’ve tested and leading others, like the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This is evidenced in the GeekBench 6 results above. This chip is fast and performs at the top of its class whether you’re gaming or running demanding benchmarks.

The same holds true in our synthetic gaming benchmarks. Not only did the IQOO score incredibly high, the performance was visually and numerically very smooth. The frame interpolation/insertion worked well here to alleviate any stuttering and make the experience feel exceptionally smooth. 

To put the company’s thermal claims to the test, I ran it through the Wild Life Extreme stress test, which runs the demo on a loop for twenty minutes. The phone was warm but never felt hot and, as you can see in the graph above, its performance was very consistent.

For real world gaming, it performed impeccably. Playing Genshin Impact and Call of Duty, the games played buttery smooth with no real slowdown. The speakers were also pretty good here,  delivering good positionality and decent bass for their small size. I would still opt for headphones for shooters, but real world gaming performance is great on this device.

Final Thoughts

The iQOO 12 impressed me. It was my first time testing a phone from the brand and I admit to being far more pleased than I expected to be. The performance is fantastic and the build quality and premium feel were just as good. The camera system also delivers great results, especially with proper lighting and portrait mode enabled, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with macro photography as well. As always, we recommend double-checking it will work with your mobile provider, but at around $550 to start, this is a very solid option worth considering this holiday season.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

8.0 Great
  • Premium look and feel
  • Fantastic performance
  • Bright, vibrant display
  • Ultra-fast charging
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • 8K video isn’t very good
  • Front facing camera leaves a lot to be desired


Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight