Infinix S5 Review: Shockingly Good Smartphone on a Budget

Infinix S5 Review feat

The Infinix S5 family of devices that include the Infinix S5 Lite, S5, and S5 Pro were unveiled way back in October 2019 but started selling in local markets towards the end of 2019.

Infinix S5 came to the market as an update to the Infinix S4 launched in April of 2019. Note that I am calling it an update and not an upgrade or a successor. This, because the two devices are not widely different. We unboxed the Infinix S5 a few weeks ago and I have been using it since. After about two weeks with the device, here’s our review of the device. First off, let us talk about that design.

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Looks and Feel

The Infinix S5 is a pretty device, period. It is available in three color options, Cyan, Nebula Black and the one that I have, Violet.

It has a gradient paint job and a striped pattern at the back but it is not textured. The device feels good in the hand and isn’t as weighty as I initially thought.

While this is a massive device, the overall footprint isn’t as big. This is probably due to its 90.5% screen-to-body ratio. Its curved edges also help its ergonomically. It takes some time to get used to the size but once you do, it is fine.

Display

The Infinix S5 spots a massive 6.6 inch, 720p display with 270 dpi, and a resolution of 1600 x 720 — a relatively low screen resolution for a massive canvas.

The display appears a little pixelated, but that is probably because I have been spoilt by 1440p Samsung OLED panels and anything less that than that feels like a downgrade. However, scrolling through social media was okay and while watching Netflix or YouTube content which the device maxes out at 720p, the display felt great.

The device has a hole-punch on the top left corner that houses the 32MP selfie shooter and, while I still feel like pop-up selfie cameras are a better implementation, I didn’t mind this one. It is small in comparison to the 6.6-inch panel and doesn’t really intrude on your content consumption.

If you don’t want it there, there’s an option in settings to hide it altogether, but that adds an unsightly black bezel-like bar up-top the display.

Performance

Infinix S5 is powered by the Mediatek Helio P22 Octa-core CPU which clocks at 2.0GHz. The unit I have been using pairs that up with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.

In daily use, the MediaTek chip held up pretty well. Scrolling through social media, watching movies and normal usage, the device also held up pretty well. However, there were some instances where I felt like I needed to wait for the device to catch up.

This was mostly when juggling between heavy office apps on the device. I am not much of a gamer but I tried playing Asphalt on this device and on medium settings, the device heated up considerably but the game remained playable.

I feel like the device could use a little more power, but for the average user, this is more than enough to get them going comfortably.

Software

The Infinix S5 still packs the now-aging Android 9 Pie. This OS is a skinned version of Android 9 Pie and Infinix slapped its XOS 5.5.2 Cheetah on top of it. This build of XOS is extensive and could use a whole different post to explore the features it packs. And that is exactly how I would describe XOS 5 Cheetah — feature-packed.

Infinix S5 Review: About Phone

While unboxing this device weeks ago, we mentioned the sheer number of bloatware that shipped with my unit. Luckily, most of those are uninstallable. The rest, you can easily disable them.

I would advise anyone buying the Infinix S5 to take some time to uninstall and get rid of all the junk and bloatware before installing new apps. One feature that I wish was included was system-wide Dark Mode.

Baked-In Features

XOS is jam-packed with features and we shall explore many of these in an upcoming XOS 5 review. Some of these features include;

  • WhatsApp Mode switches off data for all other apps and services except WhatsApp.
  • Social Turbo allows users to apply effects on video call apps like WhatsApp.
  • Smart Panel adds a sidebar with quick shortcuts to various tasks and apps.
  • Action & Gestures allows users to pick calls hands-free.
  • Game Mode mutes all incoming notifications and kills unnecessary background tasks for better game performance.
  • Bike Mode rejects all incoming calls while you’re riding, and many more features.

Software Updates

Infinix has been known to cheap out when it comes to pushing out updates to its devices. But that’s not the case with this device.

Infinix S5 Review: June Patch

Since getting the Infinix S5, I have been treated to two software updates, one when I unboxed the device and a few days ago, I got an update that brought the June Android security patch.

Security

The Infinix S5 offers the standard methods of authentication that come with Android; PIN, Password, Pattern. On top of these, the S5 offers users two modes of biometric authentication; Face Unlock and Fingerprint.

The face unlock uses the front-facing camera so this might be a lot less secure than devices that base their face unlock on infrared. It also only works well in well-lit areas.

The fingerprint sensor is mounted at the back of the device like many other smartphones. I really didn’t like the fingerprint sensor on this device as it failed quite a lot for me. It is also pretty slow to authenticate so oftentimes, I found myself using the PIN after all, which kinda defeats the purpose of having biometric authentication.

Battery

The device packs a 4,000 mAh battery cell. This has been able to routinely get me through most days of active use. By the end of a normal day that involves endless social media sessions, calls, listening to hours of podcasts and music, I would end the day with around 20% of charge left.

One area where the device falls short, at least in my opinion is the lack of any form of fast charging. The device takes around 3 hours to get fully charged using the bundled charger. I tried using my 18W fast charger but that didn’t shorten the charge times.

Cameras

First, I need to mention that I am not an avid photographer by any stretch of the word. I, like many of you, like a camera that I can quickly point and shoot without having to tweak any settings.

The Infinix S5 comes with a set of 4 cameras;

  • 16MP Main Camera
  • 5MP Ultra-wide camera
  • 2MP depth sensor and
  • A QVGA Camera for low light shots

The 32MP AI shooter will effortlessly cater your selfies needs.

In good lighting, the S5 took really decent-looking photos with a good dynamic range for the most part. The 5MP Ultrawide camera is also a nice addition but at 5MP, the shots lack in terms of detail. If I am being honest, I didn’t really see the advantage of the other two lenses; the 2MP depth sensor and the QVGA low light camera as Portrait shots and low light performance left a lot to be desired.

The selfie camera also performed pretty well and the 32MP camera resulted in pretty detailed shots. However, Infinix’s Beauty mode was a little too aggressive when it came to smoothing out skin tones. I understand why this might have an appeal to some users but for most, maybe it is a bit too much.

I will continue to take the S5 camera through its paces in the coming few days so stay tuned for an upcoming camera review of this device.

Conclusion

It is almost impossible to fully talk about any smartphone as these complex pieces of engineering bring a lot to the table, some that you won’t even notice throughout your period of owning the device. That said, below are some of the things we liked about the Infinix S5 and some things that could have been better.

What We Liked

  • Battery life is pretty impressive.
  • The price is attainable for most
  • Screen is not so bad, especially when consuming media
  • The device is well built and looks more premium than it actually is.
  • The cameras are okay for the price.
  • Some built-in XOS features could be useful to some users.

Things We Disliked

  • Micro-USB in 2020 is unacceptable
  • Lack of fast-charging is a huge bummer.
  • XOS is a bit too much on bloatware.
  • The speakers lack depth/bass.

All through my usage, it was pretty apparent that this is more of an update to the previous generation Infinix S4 than a successor. The new changes are subtle but very welcome.

At KES 15,000, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better alternatives. However, the Infinix Note 7 line of devices seems like yet another option if you’re in the market for a new device.