It’s generally understood that when you are going to a costume party, you ought to look the part and also dress the part. In this Infinix Note 5 review, Infinix (Going for UGX 769,000 or $200) obviously didn’t get the memo.
Under the auspices of the Android One project, the Infinix Note 5 strips down to its bare minimums, ditching its custom XOS (Now on Hummingbird) skin in favor of a truly minimalist Android experience. But rather than be scandalized, we are actually very fascinated by this new direction Infinix has taken.
Let’s backtrack a little bit here though for your reading pleasure. In case you’re not in the know, Infinix holds the record as the first smartphone maker in Africa to jump on board the Android One project. The Infinix Hot 2, released way back in 2015 ushered in their first Android One device and forever cemented Infinix as a premium brand capable of shipping Google certified devices on the market. So the Note 5 is simply building upon that reputation by releasing a device following Google’s vision of how Android should be.
But I digress. The Infinix Note 5 and the Note 5 Pro with a stylus shouldn’t be confused with the more illustrious Samsung flagship, the Galaxy Note 5. Although, a keen eye might notice where Infinix drew its inspiration. Our Note 5 packs a Full HD 6-inch Infinity Display, a Helio P23 Processor, 3GB RAM to 32 GB ROM or 4GB RAM to 64 GB ROM, if you prefer.
Also look forward to a 12MP rear camera and alongside a 16MP front camera for low-lght selfies. There’s more under the hood and we are about to pop the lid off and see what makes the Infinix Note 5 tick.
What we liked
- Pure Android experience with Android One
- No bloatware
- Sleek, smooth imitation-glass polycarbonate build
- Immersive 6″ Full HD Infinity Display.
- Massive 4500mAh 3-day battery
- Great rear and front cameras
- Guaranteed OTA update for at least 2 years
What we didn’t like
- Glossy polycarbonate build scratches easily
- No support for FM radio
- No screen night mode
- Tapping the home button doesn’t take you to the home screen
- Only up to 3-finger multi-touch
- The fingerprint sensor has limited uses
- Doesn’t have double-tap to wake feature
Infinix Note 5 Review: Design & Build
Some time back, Infinix came up with a winning formula in the form of design and has stuck with it. I mean, why change a winning team? As such, the Infinix Note 5 shares the same blueprint as its cousins such as the Hot 6 and Hot 6 Pro.
This comprises ergonomically curved and rounded edges which fit snugly in the palm of the hand. We have no problem at all with this arrangement. After all, there’s only so many ways OEMs can remix the rectangular shape that smartphones come in.
The Infinix Note 5 features a sleek, smooth imitation-glass polycarbonate back surface that Infinix calls Metal Print. The end result is a glossy finish which extends to the fingerprint depression. Topside are necessary bezels housing the 16MP front camera, LED flash, earpiece and other hidden sensors. The Note 5 shaves off excess bezels at the sides to accommodate the 6-inch screen with 18:9 aspect ratio.
At the back, the 12MP rear camera and dual LED flash are encased in a protective rim we appreciate for obvious reasons. The top and left rib-side don’t feature any slots or buttons.
You will find those on the right side which houses the volume and power buttons alongside the SIM/SD card slot. At the bottom of the device are the speakers, Micro-USB and Audiojack slots. We had issues with the audio jack slot being at the bottom, but it’s slowly growing on us.
Infinix Note 5: Camera
The Camera is perhaps the only Infinix app to make it to the roster. The XOS Camera 3.0 packs a bunch of eye-popping features for those brave enough to tweak this and that. If Infinix claims are anything to go by, it’s a smart AI-powered camera that recognises your environment and chooses the best possible setting for that quality shot.
The front camera has the same low-light AI Selfie machine learning Infinix goes on about. You might notice an image suddenly brightening in low-light along with other improvements before your shot.
As for the camera features, we will leave the Professional mode to the professionals but you and I can safely play around with Normal, Burst, Beauty, Video and other Modes. Of the other Modes, we instantly loved Time-lapse which does some voodoo trick you just have to try out to understand.
To break it down for you, Time-lapse fast-forwards a video so that you can capture a lot of scenes in a short space of time. Alongside Time-lapse, you also get Panorama which takes a really wide angle of any scenery (best for landscapes) and night mode which I honestly don’t need when I have LED flashlight to take night pictures.
Here are some shots we managed to take with the Infinix Note 5. See for yourself and be the judge:
Infinix Note 5: Performance
True to form, Infinix leaves no stone unturned when it comes to performance. The Infinix Note 5 packs the impressively faster Helio P23 chipset with an Octa-Core 2.0 GHz 64bit, ARM Cortex-A53 Mali-G71 MP2 Processor. Expect performance tweaks and more oomph than you are used to with Infinix devices.
Here’s a primer: a screen resolution of 2160 x 1080, a video encoder shooting H.264 videos at 2160P, 12MP & 16MP cameras shooting at 4032 x 3024 and 4608 x 3456 pixels respectively; SoC modem with dual standby 4G LTE/VoLTE dual SIM. LTE Cat 7/13 300/150Mbps. If you didn’t get any of that mumbo jumbo, just know that that the Infinix Note 5 is supremely juiced up for a device of its price and build.
Responsiveness is good enough from what we have seen so far. The Note 5 loads fast and the apps are not sluggish in the least. So far so good. Games eat up that Full HD display like cotton candy. The resolution is immersive and the colors are rich and vibrant, just how we like them. Overall, we have nothing much to complain about, performance-wise.
Infinix Note 5 Review: Android One & Software
In true Android One fashion, the Infinix Note 5 ships with barely any furniture to speak of. For someone used to passive-aggressively co-existing with bloatware, it feels rather nice to have a say on what to install on my own device.
The few resident apps comprise mainly Google apps like Chrome, Gmail, Play Store, Google Photos, a few more and that’s it. If you don’t care for these apps, there’s an option to disable them but even then, you can’t uninstall them.
At setup, the Note 5 also gives the option to add Google Drive, Duo, Play Music, Play Movies & TV, Calculator and Google Keep. Offers from Infinix include X-Club, Carlcare and Phone Master. These are not core system apps and can be uninstalled at any time along with anything else you download.
From what we saw, Android One’s clutter-free space does wonders for overall device performance. Android’s stock launcher isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but it gets the job done. Tapping the home button doesn’t take you to the home screen like we are used to but we can live with that. The one app whose exclusion I am sour-graping about is the FM Radio.
Infinix Note 5: Battery & Charging
Infinix took no chances with this one; the 4500 mAh battery is touted to give you a 3-day battery life. That’s a ginormous battery under any standard and from real-world usage, we will have to concur.
However, unlike the advertised 3-day battery life, we will put it closer to 2-days, based on our own rather heavy usage. Being phone addicts ourselves, this would be a more realistic gauge, although a 3-day life would hold true for regular people with moderate habits.
According to their website, Infinix claims that the Note 5 comes with Smart Power Consumption. A baked-in intelligent process manager learns a user’s habits and automatically deactivates lesser-used apps and background processes.
Additionally, a Synchronous Heartbeat feature only allows periodical device wake-up for notifications, increasing overall battery efficiency. I have an old Lenovo K3 Note I have used for about 2 years and I can attest to how I would go to bed with a full charge only to find it half-way done by morning. The Note 5 does nothing of the sort.
As I wrote this post, I tested out how fast I could charge using the standard issue X-Charger and Micro-USB cable. At the conclusion of my test, the battery percentage had risen from 35% to 90% in roughly 1 hour 30 minutes. That’s not a bad performance, keeping in mind that the Infinix Note 5 battery takes really long to drain.
Infinix Note 5 Review: Spec Sheet
Announced: 2018, July
Available: 2018, July
Model: Infinix X604
Colors: Blush Gold/Bordeaux Red/Sandstone Black/Sapphire Blue
SIM: Dual SIM (Nano-SIM)
OS: Android One™ 8.1.0 Oreo (64-bit)
Network: GSM, WCDMA, GPRS, EDGE, HSPA, 4G LTE
Dimensions: 158 x 75 x 7.4 mm
Display: 6.0″ FHD+ 1080 x 2160px 18:9 Infinity Display @480dpi
CPU: MediaTek Helio P23 (MT6763) Octa-Core 2.0 GHz, 64bit, ARM Cortex-A53 Mali-G71 MP2 700MHz Processor
Memory: 32/64GB ROM, 3/4GB RAM, dedicated microSD slot, upgradeable to 128 GB
Camera: 12MP (4032 x 3024) AF Dual LED rear flash, 16MP (4608 x 3456) FF Front Camera with Dual LED Flash
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot, Bluetooth v4.1, OTG, WiFi Direct.
Sensors: Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Orientation, Ambient Light, Proximity, Compass, Fingerprint
Battery: Non-Removable Li-ion 4500 mAh battery
Infinix Note 5 Review: Final Verdict
By and large, the Infinix Note 5 is a formidable device as any Infinix Mobility has ever built. It has a few things going for it, including the powerful Helio P23 processor, decent 12MP & 16MP cameras, a 6-inch Full HD screen and decent memory (3/4GB RAM to 32/64GB ROM). The battery can last you 3 days of moderate usage which is a boon any Android user would appreciate.
On the downside, the glossy metal print back is too slippery to safely use the Note 5 without a jacket and screen protector.
Additionally, we also found that not having an FM radio was too much of a sacrifice. Consequently, it’s one of those things you only miss once you don’t have, even when you rarely use them. [FM Radio added in later OTA update] If that’s nothing to you, by all means, get yourself a piece and enjoy a pure Android experience.