This is what the Infinix Note 4 should’ve been all along

Unlike the Infinix Note 4 that I got a whole month to play around with before eventually penning my review, I’ve only had 7 days to interact with its more advanced sibling, the Infinix Note 4 Pro, and pass judgement on the two. When my contact at Infinix Mobile told me that I would only have a week to spend with the device, I was a bit disappointed. I usually take long to find words to express my satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a device. 30 days or a little longer, gives me more than enough time to see a device in its true colours instead of barely scratching underneath the surface. However, after spending just a weekend with the Infinix Note 4 Pro, I quickly understood why I needed just 2 days, not 7, to make all the necessary conclusions.

Check out specifications of the Infinix Note 4 Pro here.

Same old, same old

First things first, after interacting with the Infinix Note 4 Pro, I am solely convinced that the Infinix Note 4, its inferior sibling, shouldn’t exist. By all costs. The Infinix Note 4, which I reviewed in August (read), exists simply because customers at various price points have to be taken care of. It is there because there are some cost savings associated with it. Otherwise, it would just be the Infinix Note 4 Pro against the world. I’d prefer that but hey, it’s not my decision to make and it’s never going to be.

The fingerprint sensor? It’s on the front of the device. Etched into the physical home button, it’s just as fast as it is on the Note 4. The display is still the same and things haven’t changed if you plan on using the device extensively under the bright sun.

But the Note 4 Pro is still the better deal

There are a couple of reasons why I have come to this conclusion. First things first, the Infinix Note 4 Pro, as revealed in our comparison, is basically the Infinix Note 4 with a longer name and several refinements. It still carries all the flaws and downsides of the Infinix Note 4 that I earlier identified. However, the little improvements over the standard Note 4 stand out.

The biggest change is the design language and the choice of materials used to build the Infinix Note 4 Pro.

While its sibling went with a plastic design that prominently features a glossy glass back that not only attracts fingerprints the way public funds attract theft but also scratches from other things that may be a constant feature in your pants/handbags like coins and keys continues to irritate, the Note 4 Pro’s metallic unibody is good. Very good. It’s soft (I had the “Sandstone black” model) and, paired, with the texturized power on/off button on the side, just below the volume rocker, makes for a perfect grip when held in the hand. Something that one doesn’t get on the eel-slippery Note 4 unless they use a case.

The doubled onboard storage is a welcome change as it means some room for a few more apps, photos and music. The expanded memory means more wiggle room when playing Asphalt 8: Airborne even though the dated processor and accompanying GPU, which I decried on the Infinix Note 4, will beg to differ.

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More battery life? Yes please!

The Infinix Note 4 had very good battery life. With a slight increase in capacity in order to be able to take care of juice-sapping additions like the X-Pen, I found that the Note 4 Pro lasts even longer, a plus.

X-Pen lacks the much-needed oomph to make it a must-have feature but it’s a nice touch

The word “Note” on a smartphone series, if what Korean device maker Samsung made us associate it with over the years is anything to go by then automatically indicates that the device in question would be great for note-taking. Just like you can when using a traditional pen and paper. This is where the X-Pen, the accompanying stylus that arrives with the Infinix Note 4 Pro in the box, comes in.

While Infinix’s first attempt at mimicking the stylus on Samsung’s “break-the-bank” phone is commendable and, in my opinion, much more than the Koreans got to do in their first two attempts, it is not up to scratch. It’s merely an accessory and not a key player in the game. As such, it ends up feeling like an afterthought, a player that can come on in injury time just to increase his cap count and boost his appearance statistics to just beat the minimum requirement for receiving a medal should the team emerge victorious in a serious competition.

Sure, the X-Pen did manage to wow me with little strokes of magic, like being able to control the capacitive keys on the Infinix Note 4 Pro (it took Samsung till the third generation of its Galaxy Note series to be able to incorporate such a feature, by comparison) but that was not enough.

The X-Pen does not have a place to be kept on the device itself. Instead, one has to rely on a separate case that, luckily, comes bundled in the box (see above images), for its safe stowing, which is rather inconveniencing. I am not a fan of carrying around the type of covers that the Infinix Note 4 Pro’s X-Pen would demand that I walk around with if I am to take full advantage of the extra stuff I can do with the X-Pen. As a result, in the 7 days, the X-Pen was lying abandoned in a dark corner of my drawer at work for like half the time.

The most annoying thing, of them all, is that the X-Pen needs to be charged up. Yeah, that’s right. One more thing that you need to remember charging. If you become accustomed to using it and don’t mind the big smart flip cover that you have to carry with you everywhere then you won’t have to worry as the implementation of the working mechanism seems to favour such. Just slide in the X-Pen in its slot on the cover and snap the cover on your Note 4 Pro and it’s all good (there are three connectors on the side of the device to facilitate this process). The X-Pen will be charged up and ready when you need it.

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Its many shortcomings and little annoyances aside, the X-Pen has some reasonable grounding as far as the supporting software goes. I particularly like the screen-off memo feature which lets users take little XNotes after yanking the X-Pen from its comfortable quarters without having to unlock the device.

Air Command, the X-Pen menu that pops up when the button on the X-Pen is pressed, took me back 3 years when features like Smart Select and Screen Write were the main highlights of my then swanky new Galaxy Note 3 under a hub going by a similar name. Being able to glance over information when the X-Pen tip comes closer to some text or menus almost won me over.

The X-Pen is actually pretty fast when you use it to remind you how terrible you are at anything remotely related to drawing and I noticed very little latency (the time it takes between drawing something with the stylus and the drawing actually being made on the screen) even though others beg to differ (read Dickson Otieno’s review at Tech-ish).

Of course, it’s not hard to see where Infinix Mobility draws its inspiration from (Samsung) as far as such features go but it’s the implementation that matters. As far as it goes, they nailed it on this one. Sure, it won’t be comparable to what one gets to experience after they auction their healthy kidneys in order to be able to afford the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 but at the bottom of the mobile market, where it all matters, this is good enough to scrape by and live to see another day.

The Good

– Design and build quality is excellent

– Battery life is still solid

– More storage, more memory

The Bad

– Thanks to recycling the same old MT6753 chipset that we first saw earlier in the year in the Infinix S2 Pro, the Note 4 Pro continues wallowing in the same pity of sorrowful performance issues that the Note 4 does, a terrible thing for an otherwise okay phone

– The X-Pen is not all that I thought it would be and appears to be much more of an afterthought than a central feature around which the device is built

Final Word

So, should you get the Infinix Note 4 Pro if you can? Over the Note 4? Yes. I understand the Note 4 Pro’s biggest undoing is the Kshs 5,000 difference in pricing that the Note 4 enjoys but, if you ask me, it’s a worthy sacrifice for the same good battery life and bearable camera but with more storage capacity, memory, a new means of input (X-Pen) and a much better design.

The Infinix Note 4 Pro goes for Kshs 19,500 on e-commerce site Kilimall* where it is available exclusively online.

 

Disclosure: *Affiliate link. Check out the Android Kenya editorial policy on affiliate links here.

Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com