Chinese OEM, Infinix, is slowly but surely claiming a bigger pie in consumer mindshare in the Nigerian smartphone ecosystem.
The Infinix Hot Note is Infinix’s new flagship device, and clearly a big leap from the Chinese OEM into the Nigeria’s niche, nascent and underserved phablets market currently run by Samsung on the high-end and Tecno in the mid-tier. With a classy conservative build, look and feel, bearable low-range specs, intimidating screen, turbo charging capability, dual-SIM and budget pricing, the Infinix Hot note is assuringly throwing down the gauntlet.
A Tale of Two Hotties
No doubt, the Hot Note’s not-so-distant cousin, the Infinix Hot, is welcoming to a wider array of palms than the intimidating Hot Note, but the Hot Note is certainly more welcoming to the eyes.
You’ll immediately notice how much attention Infinix is paying to visual appeal in their new device which comes in 4 color variants; mint green, anthracite grey, champagne gold and copper brown. Exquisite colors, the phone looks so too. Sleek beauty. Though, an imperfect beauty as I came to find out.
The device ships at N23, 500 ($118), with a 1GB Ram, QuadCore processor, 16GB Ram and 1.4Ghz processor speed. Check out the unboxing for comprehensive specs.
After the screen ends…
Not a lot.
Once you get past the extra display real-estate and the beauty of the Hot Note, there isn’t a lot to tell about the difference between the Infinix Hot Note and the older Infinix Hot.
The phone does come with a few unique features, but, plain and simple, Hot Note is basically Infinix Hot on growth serum. Bigger screen, bigger battery and few other easter eggs we will discover together.
Screen and Display:
The phone’s 5.5 inch screen is unfailingly the star of this offering. The display has a pixel density of 267 pixels per inch (PPI) on a 720×1280 pixel resolution. Tight enough to render sharp images spread out on the screen.
The display gave a decent rendering of the high graphic Call of Duty: Strike team. It clearly isn’t the best out there as far as screens go, but it works.
And here is an easter egg right there, Infinix designed the screen such that when you tap twice on a vacant spot on the homescreen, the phone locks itself. The same doubletap can unlock the phone – of course, you still have to punch in your security, that only helps reduce the inconvenience of reaching to the side to depress the lock button each time you have to lock/unlock the device.
Seeing a phone the size of a small notepad makes you ask, how do you heck do you use it with one hand? Which is how you would normally use a phone. But you see, with the Hot Note, you will constantly need both hands. Ergonomically, it’s not the easiest phone to use. Selecting apps, closer to the top bezel will unfailingly require you import your loafing hand. Sending a quick text or IM, that would only require you punching in with one hand now requires a forced collaboration between your two thumbs, and the remaining fingers cupping the phone. Of course, your palms begin to warm up to it after a while as your hand-phone interaction universe slowly begins to shift. “Normal” phones soon begin to feel too small.
Before the acclimation runs its course, it’s certainly a pain. A quick hack is an option in Swift Keypad – which fortunately bundles with the phone – that compacts the keypad, so you move it towards the hand that will be doing your typing. But this won’t help with selecting apps. For that, make peace with both your hands and enjoy the process.
Of course, if you need to take copious notes and speedily too, or write a blogpost on the move, the big screen becomes your best bud. It feels just like typing on physical keypad and it really draws you in, with enough space left to see what it is you are actually typing.
Gaming And Performance:
Both Hot and Hot Note sport a 1GB RAM and 16GB internal memory. But things charged up the processor department. Beating at the heart of the Hot Note is a Mediatek 1.4Ghz Octa Core processor with a Mali 450 GPU. I recruited the notorious Call of Duty: Strike Team to put the specs through it’s paces, and I would love to say the Hot Note passed with flying colors, but no. I found that, with other applications running in the background, the game refuses to initialize, but when I close those applications leaving only COD, the game initializes in few seconds and kaboom, I am gunning down code generated humans sporting Russian military gear in Europa falls (ignore the COD speak) – without any visible lag.
Other regular apps, including my typical blogger toolbox and my entertainment cluster ran nice and snappy.
The phone performs but it’s not a performance beast. Unless you need an endless fix of gameplay and other heavy applications, the phone should suffice.
It’s hard to forget the early days of the Tecno renaissance era when Chinese OEMs flooded the market with devices showing off humongous camera specs and hardware that produced depressingly crummy compositions. And a LED flash good enough only as a flashlight. These Chinese OEMs have come a long way from that era and the Hot Note seem to have upped the ante a bit.
The camera hardware is as low-tier as it gets at 8 megapixel primary camera and the 2 megapixel front facing snapper, but it delivers crisp visuals, and swiftly too. There is also a Zero Shutter Delay (ZSD) option that literally puts the shutter on steroids when active. It turns around a shot before a second is out.
The ZSD is only one of the shooting options that make up an intimidating Rolodex of shooting options in the camera application which includes, voice capture, gesture capture, wave hand shutter, continuous shots and my favourite, the time watermark. Don’t let me even get started on the endless filters.
The camera comes with Electronic image stabilization (EIS) which reduces blurring, and this is not just a mock up either, it actually works.
For some reason though, the viewfinder on my review unit sometimes blacks out at will. It doesn’t help to restart the phone when this happens, the viewfinder comes to when it wants.
The camera offering is definitely not the best, but for the price, it’s a bargain.
The battery is bigger, and, better than what’s on the older Infinix Hot, but only marginally so, especially when you put the generous 4000 mAh battery in perspective. The Hot Note’s battery will give you only about 3 hours of fair usage more than you will get on the older Hot’s 2000mAh battery.
But the turbo charging option is quite a treat. The charger takes the battery from nearly dead to half-full in 30 minutes. Infinix Mobility said the turbo charger gives a full charge from dead in 90 minutes. I got a full charge from about 10% battery level in 100 minutes. Fair enough.
Making and Receiving calls
There is a curious incident here; the phone heats up extensively during calls north of two minutes. Longer calls will probably leave your ear and temple smelling like a barbeque. This is easily the result of the terribly minimal RAM that bundles with the Hot Note.
You can work around this by answering calls using the earbuds. But then …
Of headphones and speakers
Buy another. The earbuds that bundle with the Infinix Hot Note is no different from others from Infinix — terribly subpar. The range of sound is limited, and you would probably enjoy the exaggerated bass from it until it breaks down two weeks into deployment.
Don’t trust the speakers either. With a single slit on the lower back of the phone, the sound output is twitty and strained, and becomes even more so when you place it on a padded platform or turned up the volume. It’s a budget phone, so no one really has the right to gripe about that.
In fairness though, I found that I enjoyed spoken word poetry from the speakers, it somehow projected the voices and muffled out the background hall noise. The speakers seem primed for unaccompanied speeches and talk.
The phone does not ship with obvious fancy add-ons like face-recognition, fingerprint recognition and what not, but there are some pleasant surprises.
Remember the screen lock option from earlier, there is an extension to that which automatically locks your phone when you pocket it. This auto-inadvertent mode relies on the proximity sensor on the phone to inspect the space around the phone and locks it up when the proximity sensor remains shielded for a length of time. What does this mean? Good bye to butt-dialing.
Another hidden feature lets you lock-in some applications so they never close even when you hit “clear all” icon in the task manager. This can be done by swiping the app you want locked-in to the left on the “recent apps” interface (you get here by giving the home icon a long press). I don’t know how this can help you, but it helped me keep the COD: Strike Team running in the background for as long as I wanted, so I didn’t have to forfeit some milestones in the process. Of course, that costs some good battery life.
I should remind you that these features are not available in the older Infinix Hot. Lastly, and by no means the least is the deliciously small booting window on the Hot Note. The device takes only 20 seconds to boot on the average.
The Infinix Hot Note is a decent phone. It has the look and feel of the high-end players but, radically cheap. The specs are clearly mid-range, with the performance to prove its.
The phone won’t survive two COD – like games without terrible lag, at least not for a long time, and the unwieldy size will certainly give the Android noob a measure of discomfort — till they get used to it. But if you love to mix business with pleasure for all the good reasons, Infinix Hot note is a no-brainer. A streamlined design with minimal specs allows it to comfortably straddle the entertainment and productivity line.
In the Hot Note, you have enough chic in the phone to rock it confidently and the specs that will comfortably turn around regular word processing and productivity tasks. You can ask for more but that’s what you get for N23,500 ($118).