There seems to be a common trend among smartphone manufacturers to have a notch on the screen. A notch is a small bar ‘eating into’ the display housing the front camera, earpiece, and the light and proximity sensors.
And going by the hype around it, people seem to love it.
Most devices that have taken this design, however, fall on the pricey end – the likes of the iPhone X. This has usually meant that people shopping for phones on a budget could only dream of it, until now.
Infinix, a brand synonymous with budget smartphones, recently launched its first ever notch display smartphone, the Hot S3X.
The Hot S3X borrows many features from its predecessor, the Infinix Hot S3, but comes with a massive design boost and an extra camera.
The 6.2-inch HD+ display has a notch, which hosts the front camera, earpiece and the sensors.
The device is powered by a Snapdragon 430 processor, a first for Infinix, with 3GB of RAM and an internal storage of 32GB, which can be expanded by up to 128GB using an SD card (memory card).
Infinix markets the Hot S3X largely as an artificial intelligence (AI) selfie smartphone, which boasts a 16MP front camera and two more cameras at the back – 13+2 MP cameras. And for the most part, they do a good job.
It has a rather generous 4000mAh battery capable of powering the device for an entire day of regular usage, and when it’s out of juice, charging it is quick thanks to the infused fast charging technology.
I found it weird for Infinix to go with an older USB Type-B connector for this device. It would have been great if it came with the more modern Type-C port, after all, it’s 2018.
A fingerprint scanner sits at the back next to the cameras. The rest of the back is covered with shock absorbent plastic material. And speaking of which, the back case is quite shinny and prone to having fingerprints.
One of the key selling points of this device is obviously the design. I was impressed by the notch above the screen, and even though the bottom chin ought to have been made a little thinner, it isn’t a deal breaker.
As far as cameras go, a lot is in favour of the S3X. The selfie camera with its AI capabilities does a great job, particularly under low light conditions, and its colour accuracy is superb. On the other end, the front camera has a tendency of overexposing the background under well-lit conditions.
The front camera also doubles as the device unlock feature using facial recognition. It is quick at it and also works under low light conditions. The main back camera captures great images and I was impressed by its autofocus speeds.
The device, however, lacks Pro Mode, an option in the camera app that lets users take manual control of some features while taking photos. This is something photography enthusiasts would appreciate.
The extra camera, meant to enable bokeh photography, felt substandard. Shooting in portrait mode is a bit of a hit-and-miss. And for best results, it should be shot under bright conditions.
Hot S3X designers should have borrowed a leaf from the Infinix Zero 5, which has the best mid-range camera I’ve tested.
The video quality from both the front and back lenses of the Hot S3X is average and is capable of shooting at 1080p maximum resolution.
There aren’t any bells and whistles when it comes to the software running the Hot S3X. Android 8.1 Oreo laced with Infinix’s XOS Hummingbird operates smoothly and the options for customisation are endless thanks to a variety of themes.
One last concern about this device is the loudspeakers’ lacklustre performance. It's not bad, but it isn’t good either. It’s just flat and this pains me because I have tested cheaper Infinix models with better loudspeakers.
So, with the Hot S3X, Infinix has done an impressive job with the design (with emphasis on the notch). Even though the material is plastic, you immediately appreciate its build quality. A silicon case and a screen protector is included in the box and this should help the Hot S3X maintain its beauty.
The Infinix S3X is available in grey, black and blue. The device goes for Sh17,500 on Infinix’s new e-commerce platform X-mall.