Here it is in the flesh: the Infinix S2 Pro
I have had some run-ins, albeit short-lived, with devices from Chinese low-cost smartphone maker Infinix which is currently a big name in Kenya. In all the previous instances, I have seen first-hand the brand grow from strength to strength, cannibalize the market share of fierce rivals in the competitive Kenyan mobile market and emerge unscathed as a darling of many a Kenyan young person.
Infinix’s latest budget smartphone, the Infinix S2, plays pretty much to that script and as I used it over the last few days, I couldn’t help but recall with nostalgia the first time I used an Infinix smartphone. It was 3 years ago and the Infinix Hot was, well, the hottest and cheapest smartphone in the Kenyan market.
Between the release of the first generation Infinix Hot and now, Infinix has grown and so have its ambitions, something clearly captured by the Infinix S2 Pro at first glance. Its imposing front dual-cameras stare at you when you lift it off the box for the very first time while its overall lightness strikes you given that you know upfront that you’re getting a phone with a metal back, a big battery unit and not much in the way of compromises as one would expect of a budget smartphone.
At first glance, the software on the Infinix S2 does not stand in the way. Infinix has customized Android Marshmallow resulting in what it calls XOS which is, to be honest, a mixed bag for me. For instance, XOS still has that ridiculous two-way setup where applications are all over the home screen despite there being an app drawer where they all fit, again. Duplication. And there is no way to choose one over the other. I quickly swapped XLauncher, the default launcher on the Infinix S2 Pro and, generally, any other Infinix smartphone out there, with a third party option, Microsoft’s Arrow Launcher. I couldn’t have been much happier after doing that.
There are so many little joys about using the Infinix S2 Pro for the first time:
- After having gotten used to walking around with a 6-inch smartphone for nearly half a year, it was quite a breath of fresh air having to swap it for the 5.2-inch Infinix S2 Pro. The Infinix S2 feels comfortable and manageable. Easy to use with one hand. Its chins and narrower bezels make it a striking beauty while its metallic soft back means that you will be occasionally rubbing its back when you’re not using that fingerprint scanner not for anything else but because it’s pleasurable to do so.
- Talking about the fingerprint scanner, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could use it to access one of the applications I am heavily dependent on, LastPass, thanks to the magic of Android Marshmallow. Previously, at least as of the last time I used an Infinix smartphone as extensively as I have used the Infinix S2 Pro, one could only use the fingerprint scanner to unlock the device and not much else.
- So far, the battery life seems pretty decent. I am averaging 6 hours screen-on-time daily over an 18-hour period of more than moderate use with constant Safaricom 4G access.
- The Infinix S2 is fast. I know, it’s new. I’ve only had it for a few days. But really, it meets my expectations. My cars fly on Asphalt 8: Airborne without much fuss and I can hop from chatting up people on WhatsApp to responding to urgent emails with relative ease. So far so good.
None of those little joys prepares you for the biggest surprise of all, and the device’s advertised hero feature: the wefie.
Don’t raise your eyebrows. Wefie is simply what Infinix is calling ultra wide-angle selfies. With dual cameras at the back of the device having been all the rage last year, there isn’t much spotlight left to take with a similar setup so why not go for the path less trodden?
For those of us who keenly follow happenings in the tech space, it’s not really the first time we are hearing about that term wefie. We’ve heard it before. From Samsung. It’s a weird name just like Huawei’s groufie (group selfies, sigh) from a couple of years back but hey, it’s what we have so we’ll work with that.
As previously highlighted, the Infinix S2 has two cameras on the front for the sole purpose of taking better selfies. There’s a 13-megapixel lens accompanied by an 8-megapixel one. The former is the one that makes the wefie tick since it takes 135-degree wide angle self-portraits, completely changing the game. By a simple toggle on the stock camera app’s viewfinder, one is able to alternate between the standard self-portrait and the wefie. The results speak for themselves.
Here’s a sample:
The understated back camera, no longer the centre of all attention, protrudes from the back and that design is such that the device wobbles when you place it on a flat surface like a table as a result of the camera bump.
The Infinix S2 goes with an interesting arrangement when it comes to button arrangement. It’s been long since I used a device that placed the volume rocker and the power button, which is texturized on the Infinix S2 Pro so that you don’t miss it, on separate sides of the device. That’s the case on the Infinix S2 and it took me a few moments to get used to since one way or the other all those screen grabs I am always sharing on Twitter with the hope of annoying random Internet strangers don’t capture themselves.
Besides the cameras, the one thing that one notices straight up when they see the Infinix S2 for the first time and interact with it is the lack of pronounced capacitive or on-screen buttons. Infinix goes with capacitive buttons like it has done previously, but instead of the circle, square and triangle that has been Google’s mainstay, it uses 3 simple dots. Like an ellipse but spaced out. This is not the first time the company is doing that, though. The Infinix Zero 4 and Zero 4 Plus also have a similar button arrangement.
Such displays of simplicity can be found in many other places on the Infinix S2 and I will be looking out for them over the next few weeks as I conclusively use the device and hope to find just enough stuff to be back with a full review. Before that happens, if you are interested in grabbing an Infinix S2 then head over to Jumia Kenya as the device is available there starting today, Monday 10th April, 2017. Also, prepare to part with Kshs 15,699. A small ask if what I’ve seen for the last 5 days is anything to go by. However, at that price, the Infinix S2 Pro has to battle it out with a sibling from another mother, Tecno’s Camon CX Air, which goes for Kshs 15,000 and touts superior imaging capabilities for the budget conscious.