Android Mobiles Reviews News Infinix Infinix Hot Note X551 In-depth Review – A mid-range smartphone with a lower price tag By Noaman Rasheed Posted on June 28, 2015 44 min read 5 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr With the eight-cores of CPU, Infinix Hot Note X551 is the first smartphone in Pakistan from Infinix which is a lower mid-range package for only Rs. 12,900/- The growing smartphone market in Pakistan is helping new brands coming up from the dark or even several local electronic companies are getting into the business. Other way around, at the end it helps consumers find more options to choose from various brands and models according to their needs and within their budget. A little about Infinix The name “Infinix” could be a new name to most of us in Pakistan. If you are not familiar with it, Infinix Mobility is a French/Chinese smartphone manufacturer with setups in Hong Kong having their research and development units in France and Korea while manufacturing centers in China. Like Xiaomi, Infinix has the same model of selling their devices to consumers via online retailers as e-commerce is something where both the seller and buyer are having advantage of less cost. They have been operating like this already in Middle East and Africa with regional customer care centers. While the manufacturer does not have any service or customer care center in Pakistan yet, daraz.pk is all in all care taker of the customer relationship. Although we have not confirmed from the retailer how will they handle warranties. Overview and Introduction Unlike other brands in Pakistan, Infinix Hot Note X551 is not available in retail stores in local markets. Instead it’s exclusively available form online retailer daraz.pk for a real low price of Rs. 12,900/- it’s only ~$126 USD. The package comes with premium quality accessories and the handset which is more than what you can get in this price. I have never used any other phone from the company hence do not have any idea prior to what I am experiencing with this specific phone. But one thing that I can say is, it’s indeed a tough competitor amongst the smartphones in this price range. It’s already been running out of stock at online store and restocking again, however they have not released any press statement declaring the exact figures about the sales but we believe the handset has the guts to be sold like hotcakes for quite a good reason of its low price. I am repeating the stuff like mid-range phone in low-price range again and again in this article, is only because the price is one of the main factors you will consider before buying something. But how much the handset stands with above arguments, can only be determined after having it trialed and reviewed in detail. Let’s first have a look at the key components of the Hot Note. Full Specifications: Infinix Hot Note (X551): OS/Software: Android 4.4.2 KitKat Size/Weight: 156 mm x 77.88 mm x 8.9 mm (172 grams) Display: 5.5″ IPS multi touch capacitive display. HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels with 267 PPI. System on Chip (SoC) or Chipset: MediaTek MT6592 CPU: 1.4GHz Octa-core, ARM Cortex A7 GPU: ARM Mali 450 MP – Quad-core Memory: 1GB of RAM Internal Storage: 16GB Expandable with micro SD card up to 32GB Camera: Primary/Rear: Image Sensor: OmniVision OV8865 Sensor Size (Optical Format): 1/3.2″ Pixel Size: 1.4µm (1.4 micron) 8 Megapixels (3264 x 2448) 4:3 standard 6 Megapixels (3264 x 1836) – scaled up to 8.3 MP (3840 x 2160 pixels) 16:9 wide Video recording: HD 720p @ 30 fps. f/2.2 aperture, LED flash light, Front camera: 2 Megapixels 75 degrees wide-angle lens to take wider shot in selfies. Battery: 4000mAh Li-Pol (Lithium Polymer) with 600 energy density. Fixed battery (User non-removable) 2 days standby Connectivity: WiFi dual-band 801.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, USB-OTG Ports and Slots: 3.5mm audio jack, micro USB, dual SIM (micro), micro SD card slot. Sensors: GPS/AGPS, G-Sensor, Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Hall sensor Carrier Frequencies (International): 2G/GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 3G/HSDPA 900 / 2100 Price: PKR 12,900/- (or ~$126 USD) Although Infinix Hot Note comes in 4 glossy colors including Mint Green, Champagne Gold, Anthracite Grey and Copper Brown. But daraz.pk, in Pakistan, distributes only three of them. You will not have an option to buy the green one as for now. Retail Package Content A couple of weeks ago we published an unboxing session of Infinix Hot Note X551, if you missed that you can take a look right now by clicking here. The box contains everything a smartphone comes with as shown below. All the color variants above looks really good but review unit we have received is the champagne gold. It is impressive indeed. Box Content: The device: Infinix Hot Note X551. A stereo headset. A micro USB cable for data connectivity and charging. Fast Travel Charger – ~2 ampere. User guides and safety manual. Moving on with the Hot Note review, we are starting with its design and outfit along side the hardware features. Hardware and Design: If you are still having your thoughts over the price factor for this large device, then it’s not so difficult to understand that the Hot Note X551 is powered up by a MediaTek chipset and processor which have been used commonly in cheaper smartphones in Asian markets mostly but major smartphone brands have also used MediaTek hardware in a few of their entry-level and mid-range smartphone models. They are Gionee, Alcatel, Lenovo, Meizu, Xiaomi, Huawei, HTC etc. I added these brand names for reference only because I think they can help you not making your quick mind set with any negative thought about a chipset only for being cheap even before having an idea about it. MediaTek had not that applause in the market but in recent years, they have developed to stand side by side with competitors. MediaTek’s MT6592 is the SoC we are talking about here as it comes packed within the Hot Note X551. Whereas the CPU in Hot Note is clocked at 1.4GHz, MT6592’s eight cores are fully capable of clock speeds up to 2GHz. They also call it a “true octa-core” platform with the energy efficient ARM Cortex-A7 processor. For more extent, this 28nm chip packs with the eight low-power Cortex-A7 cores. The interesting fact is that when the MediaTek’s MT6592 chipset was announced officially back in 2013, it was referred to be a threat to Qualcomm. The reason behind was the initial AnTuTu benchmarks being real competitive to the devices running on Snapdragon 600 and right below to the beast devices running on Snapdragon 800. The cheaper Snapdragon 400 in lower mid-range devices is nowhere near the MT6592 with 1.7GHz CPU. While the Hot Note clocked at 1.4Ghz, we’ll also test the benchmark scores later in the review to check how does it perform with its 1GB of RAM. For now it was just about the overview of the MediaTek chipset that you should have knowledge about if you haven’t already. Coming over to the design and the outer fit of this Hot Note, it’s big enough to fill in your hands while you can’t operate easily with your single hand. The screen size of 5.5 inches and physical dimensions of the device along with the name informs that it is a phablet more than a phone. With normal sized hands it’s hard to operate on this big screen single handed. More simply, it’s a choice of those who love larger screen smartphones now a days. But both of your hands are important for such devices if it’s not a big deal for you. Components, Controls, Ports and Slots: Like usual, front side hosts a couple of common and required components to the smartphone including 2 megapixels front-facing camera alongside the proximity and ambient light sensors. In the middle top we have the wider earpiece. Looking at the bottom-front there are the Android navigation keys. They are physical/capacitive to touch – the menu key, home key and the back key from left to right order. Viewing at the top, we have a 3.5 mm audio jack which is placed on the left side when looking from front. On the bottom side there is micro USB port along side a mouthpiece. Left side of the device is completely blank while on the right side of the phone we have a volume rocker and the power/lock/unlock key. On the back side we have a primary 8 megapixels auto-focus camera with an LED flash below the lens. “Infinix” branding in the middle-top portion and speaker space at the bottom with “Hot Note” label above it. Back cover is thin plastic but flexible and not scary to get teared apart but sure it’s fragile. Removing the back cover is rather easy from one corner with a nail tip. On the back, it’s all rounded at the edges joining through the solid frame. Corners are as well rounded. While the back cover is removable, you can’t take the battery out of it. It’s fixed and strictly labeled with the warning “Do not remove built-in battery”. It’s worth noting that both the SIM slots are hot-swappable. Micro SD card slot suggests to power off the device before removing the memory card. On the other hand you can connect on 3G networks via either of the SIM slots. Well that big black thing in above picture is the battery with the massive 4000mAh capacity that has impressed us with its back up power as well as fast charging capability with the stock charger. And I am not just talking, it really did spend a long time with us in a single full charge. We’ll see it in performance below. Display: Where the bigger size of this Hot Note could be equally good or bad for various people with different variety of mind sets, the IPS display of 5.5″ inches with HD resolution of 1280px by 720px gives impressively vivid colors and high contrast ratio for which outdoor visibility gets also impressive. I also do not have any objection with the viewing angles. The pixel density of 267 PPI is not as good as highly remarkable but it’s good enough for reading in normal conditions over e-books, documents or the web pages. Considering phone’s mid-range class, it’s also justifiable that it’s better with even lower price tag amongst competitors. Overall the display is fine in most aspects but what it lacks is the glass protection. There is no such coating to protect the screen from scratches and you have to take care of it yourself. I don’t recommend screen protectors mostly but only when there is screen protection like Gorilla Glass because screen protectors decrease the touch experience far below. However there are cases like this one, you will be going to get a screen protector if you don’t want to get your Hot Note scratched every next day – provided that you choose buy this device as you next smartphone. Software and Operating System: Infinix Hot Note runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat OS with no properly built flavor on top of it. With some custom skins here and there – the notification/switches resemble the Huawei EMUI 2, custom icons on home screen and launcher etc. Well this could be another reason, that you are having a low cost option for an Android smartphone as it is also excluding most of the software development cost. To impress someone, this UI is not that thing to compare with others. Also note that we are not sure if Android 5.x Lollipop is going to hit this device, but there are no official words about it either. However, the KitKat is also a stable system software as long as the apps support it which is likely to be there for quite some time. Lock Screen, Home Screen and App Drawer As told above with little customized skins, these main elements are just not more than standard lock and home screen along with an app drawer. Customization & Multitasking Following shows the home screen customization which is initiated via the menu capacitive key where you can set wallpapers add/remove widgets on the home screens. The screen at the right is the KitKat’s multitasking view to bring up an app from background. Notifications & Switches Notifications menu from top is skinned a little bit along side the switches to the right. Settings & Phone Information Dual SIM Operation/Switching Due to the dual SIM nature of this smartphone the user interface, to me, is not as brilliantly designed as it could have been. You always have to choose your SIM card before making a phone call. Or at the most you can set a default SIM card for your outgoing calls. However making a new call is good with always choosing a SIM card to call from or using a preset default SIM card. But when calling back someone you would most probably want to call from the same number you received the call on, which is not an option by the software. The same goes for text messages as, with no doubt, you will want to reply back from the number you received a text message on. Instead, the user interface will always prompt you to choose a SIM card to send/reply to the message – well presetting the default sender SIM option is not reliable either as it will always use this SIM card for your outgoing calls/sms even when you wanted to choose the other SIM. Check the screens under the Calls and Messages below. Contacts & Calls Text Messaging Camera User Interface Camera UI is rather similar to the most Android devices with most common options to choose from. You can set exposure value (-3 to +3), white balance (auto, incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, cloudy, twilight, shade, warm fluorescent) and the ISO sensitivity from (auto, 100 to 1600.) Taking still shots, provides you with the features like Face detection, a gesture – wave hand to capture and self timer of 2 seconds and 10 seconds. Some pre-defined settings are available with scene modes (auto, night, sunset, party, portrait, landscape, night portrait, theater, beach, snow, steady photo, fireworks, sports, candle light) Video recording gives you the 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels) at maximum with 30 frames per second. Electronic or Digital image stabilizing is available to reduce camera shake and blurry effects in videos. Slow motion and Time lapse video recording are also in the options Other friendly features to take still shots are also present such as pre-set pictures to replace with your face and photo enhancing features like Face Beauty, Panorama, Multi Angle View, Motion Track, Automatic Scene, Smile or Live Photo. Gallery / Photos / Vidoes Gallery view along side the videos are just general Android UI. Other Unique Features In addition to above common Android feature, there are a few other unique features in Infinix Hot Note which include Hot Knot, Tapping wake, Quick start. HotKnot: You must have been familiar with NFC in smartphones which has various uses and functionality such as sharing content or information between two devices. Ok! there is no NFC in Infinix Hot Note, but there is a feature “HotKnot” to serve the purpose. You can share content between two devices having the feature by facing their screens to each other. According to MediaTek, the inventor, HotKnot can do anything for you that NFC would for phone-to-phone data transfer such as web addresses, contact data, photos, videos, game play moves, any discrete data between apps, device capability data to enable Bluetooth pairing, WiFi connectivity or other service hookup and last but not the least mobile payments. Tapping Wake: The feature gives you the option to wake the phone by double tapping on the screen when it’s turned off. As well you can put it back off by double tapping on the lock screen. Tap to wake feature was first introduced by Nokia in their home grown MeeGo powered Nokia N9 then appeared in their Lumia devices running Windows Phone OS and later adopted by Android. This feature is not widely available in the phones within this range of price. This feature sure is useful and appreciable. Quick Start: Quick start is a set of short handles to wake the screen, unlock it and then launch the assigned app. It’s that you draw a letter on the screen while the device is in sleep mode, the device screen turns on, unlocks the device and launch the app instantly. There were three pre-assigned letter in, C, M, and W for Camera app, Music app and WhatsApp. You can change them as well as set other letters to some app as you want. Total of 8 gestures can be set with the letters including C, M, W, V, Z, O, e, S. These initials do not strictly mean that you have to set apps starting with these letters. For example, you can set an app name “Maps” on the letter “V”. It’s solely up to you. Note: that if you have set the security on lock screen such as a PIN code, the Quick start feature will wait on the screen for you to provide the PIN code and then launch the app. Camera Result The front 2 megapixels camera although takes wider shots and allows more people to fit in your selfies, but quality is not more than average. We’ll not post any sample shot here. The primary main camera of 8 megapixels is also average like any mid-range budget phones out there. When taking shots, it’s good outdoors with bright sunlight. In low light the the results are not impressive as with heavy grain. Digital noise is also low in bright shots but jpeg artifact are visible when looking at a 100% crop and those are also not impressive with over sharpening and less detail. For indoor or during low-light, to capture near objects you have an LED flash on the phone which does not seem to be as good as could light some object enough to capture with lower ISO. Hence you get no improvement in the image quality in addition to some light. Considering the price point, we believe the camera results are not that bad to bash about as they are good to share online. In this price range, you won’t get any better of course. We’ll just post some sample shots taken with the Hot Note camera during different times of the day at different locations outdoors and indoors. Outdoor Daylight Night Shot – Steady Hands with ISO 400 Indoor Flash Hot Note Performance The Hot Note X551 comes with an ARM Octa-core processor on MediaTek chipset, but the RAM is just at 1GB. Still it’s not a deal breaker of course as you are already looking at a phone with highly low price for what it’s providing. When it comes to performance, only you can tell how does it work with you. Using it for quite a few weeks as a primary device it did not fail on us. Other than giving the whole 2 days of one charge, it also worked well when surfing the internet on web browser or via social apps. Playing games (we tried Modern Combat 5, Mortal Kombat X and Asphalt 8 along with lower power games e.g. Subway Surfer) was also quite impressive on such a mid-range device. Although using for quite a long frequently with a lot of process left at the background, you will feel the phone lagging. Previously MediaTek chipsets have not been considered well when compared to the high-end chipsets like from Qualcomm but recently they have been improving in right direction with their cheap hardware. MT6592 is of course a well performer on this budget phone with eight 1.4GHz cores of ARM Cortex A7 processor. here are some benchmark results which are also good at various tests from various benchmark apps. AnTuTu 5.7.1 Geekbench 3 Basemark OS II & Basemark X 1.1 Battery Performance Well, the phone we have under our test is mainly being focused for its battery. It’s massive 4000mAh battery capacity is advertised as one of its biggest achievements. To be true, it genuinely is. If you heard about its huge sales then yes the one of the reasons behind it, is its large battery. A battery with that huge capacity sure will give you more than enough back up time, but one really can ask that how long it will take to get charged fully? Well, it comes with a fast charger and the phone is actually capable of getting charged super fast. I need to mention here that their advertisements and product page promise that an urgent 20 minute charge will get you 7 hours on the phone while you can have a full day and a half for 55 minute charge. Of course this depends on you usage and does not include heavy consumption of data connectivity, browsing, gaming and on-screen time. Let me give you a hint – This Hot Note has spent a whole lot of 2 days – even more with me on regular usage including limited surfing on WiFi and 3G with a casual social interaction and a little camera usage. On the other hand, the phone kept standing from 95% to 15% for around a day with heavy usage including mixed level of gaming and video playback, camera usage (without flash mostly), moderate surfing on the web over WiFi and 3G – both connections were always up around 50-40%, take 10% of the connection for 2G while in low-coverage area. Conclusion & Verdict While we have put about everything we could above but still, It will be easy to conclude our final remarks about Infinix Hot Note with having a list of points where we liked the phone and where we didn’t. So the good things first. It’s large screen with HD resolution and unexpectedly impressive display quality both indoors and outdoors is stunning in this price range, The performance is also better amongst the devices under this price range. Again for the price, it’s more than enough. Fast charging and the longest battery life we ever experienced on a smartphone. A little more than 1GB of RAM would have been amazing – well for the price you still want more? I guess the price point is the key where you will stop by to think as it’s enough. Could have been little compact in size by reducing extra spaces around – but we don’t know how they managed the things inside. Camera quality is average and not more than what you already have in other smartphones in this price range. So there it’s not so good. Experience wise, you’ll be fine with it as long as you are polite to it. Just do everything you want but do things little calmly. Do not get aggressive with playing graphics hefty games one after another and a lot of video playbacks, a bundle of browser tabs with heavy content loaded in it – as for that kind of usage you don’t want a phone worth Rs. 13,000/- You know what I mean. A statement will be enough for it. What this phone can do, is just more than what it’s worth of. Before leaving, I want to mention again that Infinix Hot Note is not available at retail stores in market. It’s exclusively being distributed by online store daraz.pk. While it does worth buying if you have a plan to buy some mid-range phone, you must clear some things with daraz.pk if you want to buy this phone. Make sure they have some platform for after sale services. What’s the warranty mechanism and how will they deal with it. If there is a replacement for any claim. Do let us know about this review, does it make your concerns answered? You can still ask your questions in the comments below, we’ll try to get you the answers.