Here we have a new smartphone to review from Infinix Mobility – that’s Infinix Hot S3 (aka Infinix S3). It’s an entry-level smartphone with recently trending features like the fullview wider display.

It’s not a surprise that Infinix, a Hong Kong based smartphone brand owned by TRANSSION Holdings, has settled very nicely in the Pakistan market. The company started operating in the country in mid 2015 with the launch of Infinix Hot Note quickly followed Zero 2 smartphone. Since then, the company has gone through various marketing strategies to launch a variety of its mid-ranger and budget smartphones.

Even though the company has entered into local markets with physical retail store presence, it’s major sales are still done through online merchandising and it’s doing really good with it. Most recent launches from the company were – Zero 5 with 6GB RAM, and Infinix Note 4 and 4 Pro.

Let’s get to the point; today we are going to review the company’s recently launched smartphone – Infinix Hot S3, that costs PKR 19,999/-

Infinix Hot S3 Hands-on

The phone comes with 5.7-inch HD+ 18:9 full-view display, dubbed as “infinity display” and 2.5D curved glass. The smartphone features Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Octa-core Mobile Platform along with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage.

Infinix Hot S3 Features and Specifications

Announced March 2018
Software Android 8.0 Oreo
XOS 3.0 Hummingbird
Dimension 152.3 x 72.8 x 8.4mm
Weight 150 grams
Display 5.7-inch IPS LCD Display
1440×720 Resolution.
18:9 Infinity Display
Pixel Density 285ppi
Chipset Snapdragon 430 (MSM8937)
CPU: 8x ARM Cortex A53 1.4GHz
GPU: Adreno 505
Modem: X6 (150Mbps↓/75Mbps↑)
Memory 3GB RAM
32GB Internal Storage
External Memory up to 128GB
Camera Rear: 13MP autofocus, dual LED flash
Front: 20MP fixed-focus, dual-LED flash
Battery 4000 mAh
Charging 5V-2A
Network 4G/LTE, 3G, 2G
Connectivity Dual-SIM + MicroSD card
GPS, WiFi 802.11 B/G/N, Hotspot,
Bluetooth 4.0,
Sensors Fingerprint Sensor
Proximity Sensor
Ambient Light Sensor
Compass
Gravity Sensor
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 2.4 GHz
Wi-Fi Direct
Wi-Fi Hot Spot
Bluetooth,
Micro USB
Price PKR 19,999/- ~USD 175

Positives and Negatives

  • Nice build Quality
  • Nice battery timing
  • Compact size
  • Dedicated micro SD card slot
  • No scratch resistance
  • Slow fingerprint/face ID

First thing, as always, after buying a phone is to unbox the retail packaging and see what you get inside. So here it is for you before you buy it.

Unboxing

Infinix Hot S3 Unboxing - Box Content
  • The device: Infinix Hot S3
  • Stereo earphones
  • Micro USB cable
  • Travel charger (5V-2A)
  • Black transparent silicone cover
  • SIM eject tool
  • User guide and manual
  • Warranty information

Build, Design and Display

When it comes to build quality, I have witnessed Infinix making really good quality phones in the price range it’s currently serving. Likewise, the Infinix Hot S3 is no exception – it looks and feels really good in hands.

The Infinix Hot S3 features a 5.7-inch screen with 2.5D curved glass on top. There’s no mention of any scratch resistance and indeed it seems to catch the minor scratches. The phone has 18:9 resolution of 1440 by 720 pixels with the pixel density of around 285ppi while the screen-to-body ratio is around 81%. The wider aspect ratio has its own objectives to show content in more space specially the cinemascopic media. Then you have an option to stretch up and down to suit your needs while watching videos or playing games, provided the apps supports the customised displays such as YouTube can fit the 18:9 display.

 

Infinix-S3-Review-Full-Hands-on-Display

The resolution on the other hand still provides an evidence that it’s an entry-level smartphone. This large screen with 720p HD resolution is not as sharp as you would have on an FHD display. But count the pixel density as well which is just below 300 and isn’t that bad for reading content. For the price tag, it’s yet the best you can get.

When talking about the features, on the front face, the top bezel has all those standard sensors invisible to the eye, the earpiece in the middle, the front camera on one side and a soft LED flash on the other side of earpiece.

Infinix S3 Review Front camera soft led

It’s a 20-megapixel camera on the front that we’ll cover later in the camera section. Also when said the standard sensors, it’s just those standard ones including ambient light and proximity sensors. No special sensors like gyroscope are there to entertain you for virtual reality content. So this could be a deal breaker for some but if you are truly looking for an entry-level smartphone for such a price, you’d already know what you’re gonna have at most.

There are no capacitive keys on the front as the standard software based in-screen navigation buttons are there for navigation. Still there’s a significant bezel right down there with absolutely nothing on it.

Power and volume buttons are on the right side as usually they are on most smartphones. The left side of the phone hosts the slot for dual-SIM cards and a micro SD card. It’s not a hybrid one but can serve with both the SIM cards and micro SD card simultaneously.

The phone has a 3.5mm audio jack on the top and all other things like micro USB port, a loudspeaker and a mouthpiece or the primary microphone for all voice stuff.

Sure the build material is plastic (mimicking metal like mostly these days) but not that plastic we have previously seen from high-end smartphone makers having generated revenues for cheap thin plastic phones for their flagship smartphones for years. This is just about time, that now there are plenty of smartphone makers in the market and they have to provide quality that is better or at least competitive.

So the build material of Infinix Hot S3 is really fine. The unit we got here for review is the Sandstone Black variant that has a matte finish and it’s really compact with a combination of rounded and chamfered edges.

Infinix S3 Review Hands-on

Thanks to the comfortable chamfered and rounded edges, the phone is easy to grip. Handling is fine and comfortable with 150 grams of the phone’s weight and 8.4mm thickness.

On the back, the phone has a 13-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash enclosed into a spherical module raised above the surface of the panel. Visually the camera seems larger but it’s not bigger than any standard mobile camera sensor type physically. So expect the camera performance within the category or price range of phone. Some software manipulation still may differ the picture/video quality from one device to another.

Infinix S3 Review Rear Camera Fingerprint

Below the camera, there’s a fingerprint scanner on the rear side of the phone. That’s usually a preferred position for a fingerprint scanner for most as it’s easily reachable to your index finger. Unlike that, the fingerprint scanner on the front-below-screen position is usually awkward for your thumb to reach until you carry the phone with your fingertips on the lower part of the phone and position your thumb on the fingerprint scanner.

So my preferred place for fingerprint scanner on a smartphone is on the back when rightly placed for index finger. What’s yours and why? do tell us in the comments below.

Camera

Now that we are talking about features placed on the rear side, the camera is, for sure, the major element there. It’s 13-megapixel primary camera, even though the front camera has much more pixels than this. The main camera is actually a fully functional autofocus camera while on the front it’s a fixed-focus camera unit. Mostly that’s the case with smartphones, whether it’s an entry-level, mid-range or even a high-end phone. When it’s also an autofocus camera on the front – that’s plausible.

Infinix Hot S3 Camera UI

Interestingly, with an entry-level price tag, the phone has a featureful camera UI specially when it comes with a Pro mode. However, there is little miss-management with the UI that you have to scroll all the screens through the left to reveal the modes. How?

Well, in most user friendly scenarios two modes – the Still Photos and Video Recording are right there on the screen. You can easily switch from one to the other. The settings or features for those respective modes become available from a hamburger/gear icon on the screen. Other modes are quickly accessible from another key icon or a screen-gesture.

With this specific camera UI, everything is stacked into a slider. They in order – Modes, Video, Auto, Beauty. Can you guess what they are? OK! The camera starts with the “Auto” mode selected, that’s the still photos mode. For video recording, you perform a swipe-right gesture to activate “Video” mode. Likewise when you need to use ‘beautify’ function on still photos, you need to navigate from “Auto” to “Beauty” mode by sliding to the left. Just like that, for more modes, you will need to swipe-left through all the modes to go and find them.

Other modes are, Panorama, Night mode, Time lapse, and Professional. The pro mode is like the most vendors today have, but not as extensive as Huawei has provided in its high-end smartphones. Well that’s also true that Huawei hasn’t provided such a feature in its Y7 Prime 2018 which is exactly the same cost with pretty much similar hardware. So I’ll give Infinix Hot S3, the thumbs up for that. You can set ISO from 100 to 1550, shutter speed from 1/3000th of a second to 6 seconds. There are three focus modes – auto, macro and manual. That’s more than enough on an entry-level smartphone.

Other quick features on the camera interface are pretty much straight forward and easy to access. They automatically change based on the modes you choose. Auto still mode provides HDR, flash and filter options, while you can also switch aspect ratio right from the viewfinder that also changes the resolution for the photos. Video mode only offers to use flashlight.

Picture Quality

Daylight shots were decent as long as you see them on your screen. Color noise is controlled well but still available and can be noticed at gradient levels when viewing at 1:1 sized shots. Mostly the distinct objects come sharp with little soft edges but those soft edges becomes problem for subjects closer each other. Examples are leaves and grass, you will see that how they are smudged into each other in pictures taken with Infinix Hot S3.

Surprisingly the dynamic range is not that bad for such a price tag but still it’s out of order where HDR feature helps in a much better way. Low-light shots have nothing exceptional to tell about with more noisy and less detailed image. You can use flash on close subjects though which sometimes works fine but overexposes the subject on another time.

20-megapixel camera on the front is fixed focus but still does the purpose. That higher pixel count works well to give plenty of detail in your selfie shots. The front camera also features a portrait mode with bokeh effect. It blurs out the background to distinct you in the shot but frankly it’s not that good in quality as the subject edges sometimes mix into the background.

The phone can record up to 1080p video footage at 30 frames per second. We didn’t have a sample for that. The review will be updated once the footage is ready to publish.

Software – Android 8 Oreo, XOS 3.0

Now the base driver of the phone – the software. Infinix Hot S3 runs Android 8.0 Oreo with custom software skin on top – XOS 3.0 dubbed as Hummingbird. The phone may come with a previous build of Android out of the box but you it’s bound to receive the most recent update. The one we reviewed is running the March 1st security patch.

Infinix-S3-Review-App-Drawer

We aren’t sure if the phone will get Android 8.1 sooner or later but I believe the community is running with vast range of developers and you may get an update at least. However, for now you get the basic Android Oreo features such as auto fill, picture-in-picture mode etc.

 

XOS UI has an app drawer in vertical order but the launcher itself is customizable. You can rearrange the home screen with different icon size. The launcher also features headlines page on the home screen which can be turned on and off on your demand.

The phone’s fingerprint scanner is enough for security but it also has Face ID that works with your front camera. So in dark environments, it usually fails to identify your face but in that case it offers a bulb icon on the lock screen that turns on the flash to lighten up your face to identify. However both, the fingerprint scanner and the face identification aren’t very fast in response if compared to the Huawei’s variations.

The software offers the night light feature which reduces the blue light to prevent unexpected sleep. More than preventing a sleep, I always prefer to have it turned on because the less blue is more comfortable for me to watch on the screen.

Infinix-S3-Review-Night-light

The phone has an color LED notification light on the front top for missed calls alerts, unread messages and some more events. The feature can be turned off from the system settings if you want. The feature actually helps during the time when battery is low and you don’t want it to lose with display always turning on. Even though the display can stay asleep but for any notification to read, you have to turn it on everytime. So the notification LED has its advantage.

Battery and Performance

The core of the smartphone comes to trial and it’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 chipset with octa-core processor. All the eight cores are ARM’s Cortex A53 but four are clocked at up to 1.2GHz while the other four are clocked at up to 1.5GHz. The chip is also bundled with Adreno 505 GPU. The phone comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which is really a good thing for an entry-level smartphone to fulfil today’s tasks.

Infinix S3 Review Top Panel Notifications

Everything is perfectly fine for such a budget phone, it never ran into any issue when stayed in use. The animations were smooth to get appreciated without any lag. Some apps had lagging in long scrolls and heavy stuff in the scroll. The phone allows moderate gaming but sure not some heavy titles for long.

While benchmark scores are only to tell the numerical difference between one device to the other, it’s a good thing for users to make mind about some device’s performance. So take glimpse on a few benchmark scores.

Infinix Hot S3 – AnTuTu Scores

Infinix Hot S3 – Geekbench 4 Scores

Infinix Hot S3 – GFXBench GL Scores

Infinix Hot S3 – Basemark OS II / ES 3.1 Scores

All that performance comes above the energy from 4000 mAh battery. That’s sure a good thing to have for heavy usage of a smartphone in today’s life. With Infinix Hot S3, the battery is a remarkable part of the bundle as it keeps the phone alive all day long on one full charge. And that’s not only casual usage, it’s about some heavy usage including some gaming, photography, social networking over WiFi or 4G/LTE.

Unfortunately, on top of that large battery, you don’t get an extra glass of juice called an ultra power saving. You only get a standard power saver below 20% of battery.

Conclusion and Verdict

Infinix S3 Review - Hands-on

After every give and take, we are still talking about an entry-level smartphone. Considering the price factor, you get a very few options to compare. One such is the recently launched Huawei Y7 Prime 2018, with the exact price tag and very similar core hardware components, you get dual-camera on top of that. But as we haven’t compare the photos from these two cameras, we can’t prefer one over the other. However one thing is certain, the 4000mAh battery of Infinix Hot S3 takes the lead over Huawei’s model.

There is no objection over the usage of hardware on a device that costs only PKR 20,000 until a new brand jumps in with some better hardware in the similar price tag. That 720p display and Snapdragon 430 are sure for entry-level smartphones so be with it. If you want some better thing you need to gear up with your budget as well. Or just wait for a few more months to see if there something coming for you. For now, it is what it is. If you have been using any Infinix smartphone, you can share your thoughts as well in the comments. Or have a final look at the photo gallery of Infinix Hot S3 below.

Infinix Hot S3
Build & Design 7.5
Display & Touch Screen 7.5
Software / OS 7.5
System Performance 7
Battery Performance 8.5
Camera Primary/Secondary 7
Summary
Nicely build entry level smartphone in a compact size with narrowed down bezels
7.5
Entry Level Passed
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