Infinix might have forgotten to make quite the splash on launching here but unlike traditional vendors that launch over in brick and mortar shops, Infinix defied odds and chose to launch the Note 3 online instead, on Kilimall to be precise. Well, it shouldn’t cause any surprise since it’s tradition for the brand to launch online where most of their sales happen and Kilimall played host to the Note 3’s launch and is currently listed for UGX 519,000.
I have spent the last two weeks with the Note 3 as my daily driver and not only was it able to fulfill my least of expectations for the price, but also performed as promised but not without flaws.
The sub 500,000 price together with the specs categorically place the Note 3 in the mid-range phablet territory, owing to its enormous display that stretches 6’ diagonal.
While I have used phones this size before, the Note 3 felt huge and heavy not only in my hands but pockets too, it was always competing for attention and off waned the need to keep it behind pockets since I found myself holding it most of the time. Without further ado, let us delve into specifics
In the packaging
While I expounded on this in my first impressions, it would do me no bad repeating myself. The packaging contains the phone itself, a wall adapter, USB Cable, a pair of earphones, some paperwork (User guide, menu sheet blah blah) screen film plus a pin to remove both your SIM and SD card trays.
The Spec sheet
|Display||6 Inches FHD IPS (1920×1080)|
|Camera||13MP rear camera + 5MP front facing camera|
|Memory||2GB RAM & 16GB ROM (Expandable upto 128GB via MicroSD)|
|Processor||1.3 GHz octa-core CPU, MediaTek Helio X10 MT6753 chipset|
|Operating System||XOS Chameleon based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Network||2G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 3G:HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 TD-SCDMA|
|Connectivity||Bluetoothv4.2: A2DP,LE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, USB On-The-Go (OTG)|
|Sensors||Light Sensor, G-Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Hall Sensor, Fingerprint, Compass|
The Note 3’s hardware felt cheap but sturdy with a metal trim at the edges, moderate chins at the front together with the 5MP front camera + flash, earpiece and the sensors. The MicroUSB port, speaker grills and mouth piece at the bottom, the now endangered 3.5mm headphone jack at the top, volume rockers and power button on the right together with the MicroSD expansion tray while the duo sim tray are just opposite. The metallic unibody construction makes the battery non-removable and instead engrosses the fingerprint scanner while the duo LED flash is few inches above and the 13MP rear camera.
XOS: Infinix’s take on Android’s software experience
Infinix uses its custom XOS Android overlay based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. On setting up the phone, besides the customary email login credentials, the software prompts you to add an extra layer of security by inputting a finger print (these can be customized to 5) but first with a 4 digit pin.
XOS is highly customizable ranging from themes, fingerprint scanner, notifications, phone cleanups, gestures, app permissions among others but the one feature that reigns supreme above everything else is the battery saving feature. This can detect what apps are causing the most harm to both the battery and memory that you can toggle them off, even system apps though this comes with a strong disclaimer. Other battery saving features include intelligent power saving and heartbeat sync that prevents the device from waking up in standby mode.
Overall XOS looks clean and feels light though not as snappy as say, Xiaomi’s MIUI. It draws a lot of admiration from the Halo launcher since the app drawer and arrangement similarly have the same touch. All apps are vertically arranged according to their alphabetical order.
In the X section is where you’ll find all things Infinix or if I may defer, Infinix bloatware. The X account, X Cloud, X Club (forum), X power (Power management app), X share (NFC like file sharing app but instead tranfers files over Wifi), X themes and X weather. The X cloud works better if you rotate around Infinix smartphones since it stores your contacts, call logs, radio playlists, notes, Wi-Fi hotspots and it can you recover lost files since its syncs all the above to the cloud. However, you must have an X account with Infinix to activate most of the X activity.
The software only chews around 6gigs of the available 16GB ROM that came with my review unit.
Over the years the true defining factor of a good smartphone has shifted hands from hardware ergonomics (since everyone almost reads from the same playbook) to the wow factor, which is the camera. A good build with a bad camera renders you unfortunate and as for the Note 3, the rear 13MP camera delivered mixed results while the 5MP selfie shooter disappoints the more. Camera lag while taking shots is noticeable though not recurrent.
What about the 6′ display
The display is enormous, 6 Inches it is with an edge to edge like display only curtailed by the moderate chins on both the top and bottom of the front panel. People with small hands will find a hard time using the Note 3, even with its single added use feature (long press the on screen home button while swiping left or right to activate it). This shrinks the screen to allow for one handed navigation.
The IPS LCD screen is bright enough for outdoor use with its 1920×1080 Full HD resolution of a pixel density count of 480dpi. Indoor use is fine as well though the screen prompted me to draw a particular contrast against my super AMOLED screen whose color accuracy looked better.
Not to discourage you that’s the Note 3’s screen isn’t any better, the technology behind the two screens is different, same as their pricing points. So judging by other sub 500,000 shillings phones out there, the Note 3’s screen is okay. And if you consume a lot of video while using your smartphone, the Note 3 will satisfy you.
Besides the fingerprint scanner being fast, I cannot say the same about my overall experience with the Note 3 since app animations were noticeably slower and on delving deep, I noticed that of the 8 cores present in its CPU, only 4 were awake while the rest slept only to be activated by equally demanding tasks like gaming which the Note 3 underwhelmingly delivers, yet a phone its size is good for consuming video and gaming since it offers more screen estate. However we shouldn’t benchmark performance basing on how many cores a chip has inside since optimization will always be our ultimate answer.
Basic browsing, numerous emails, notifications, social media activity went on well minus any qualms from my side and performance here was par with my expectations without overheating issues.
You can migrate through the different performance modes in the X power app for different performance experiences ranging from high performance, normal mode and Power saving mode but each has drastic effects on the phone’s battery juice.
The 4500mAh battery survived both the early morning and evening traffic that clogs Kampala streets together with my normal phone routines as listed under performance. It also charges quickly since I scored a 100% charge in under 60 minutes.
Basing on use cases, the battery can last you one and a half days with minimal activity while it can also persevere a full day without charge under heavy usage patterns. This was the Note 3’s biggest score owing to well optimized battery management capabilities.
The Good Stuff
- Quick Charging
- Battery life
- Finger Print Scanner
The Bad Stuff
- Moderate camera