Kshs 19,000, the Infinix Hot S3’s going price, is not little money. It’s quite a lot in a market that is as price-sensitive as ours.
As such, there should be compelling reasons if you are to part with such an amount of money, right?
From the 3 weeks that I have actively used the device as my main smartphone, I have been able to make a number of observations.
Design and display
Save for the vertical arrangement of the back camera and its accompanying flash, the look and feel of the Infinix Hot S3, both on the front and the back, closely mirrors that of the Infinix Hot 6 Pro that I reviewed last month. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since, as I observed then, it makes handling much easier.
Unlike the Hot 6 Pro’s display, which I found to be taking one for the team outdoors, the Hot S3’s is quite bright and I had no issues responding to texts as I made my afternoon rounds trying to clear my head before going back to my desk to troubleshoot systems that just won’t budge.
The device’s design manages to blend well with the display in that while the device appears longer because of the 18:9 aspect ration display, it doesn’t feel that way when you’re handling it. Things are even made much better by its almost paperweight feel. I have been using the case included in the retail packaging throughout the 3 weeks that the Infinix Hot S3 has been my main phone both because it just feels good and also because it does add some much needed weight so that I can actually feel like I am holding something every time I take it out of my pocket.
The camera is easily one of the features that I appreciate in the Hot S3. Appreciate is the word. That is because even though I managed to get much more than “OK” snaps, the colouring was mainly a hit and miss. Some would prefer big words like “dynamic range” but I’d rather keep things simple.
Other than that, the results pretty much speak for themselves as you can see in the gallery below:
Unfortunately, all the selfies I took on the device feature more than me i.e. people whose faces shouldn’t be going public, yet, so you’ll just have to take my word for it: the selfie shooter gets the job done. Just be sure to turn off beauty mode.
I also did like the front camera’s performance in low-light just as I did the main one.
There are notable omissions in the Infinix Hot S3’s camera. The “wefie” we saw on the S2 Pro last year, and which I kind of liked even though it was gimmicky, at best, is missing. As is another more pronounced omission: portrait mode.
Not much has changed when it comes to what you get as far as the user experience when it comes to the software is concerned so I will not bore you with tales of things that I have previously covered and faults, if any, that I have addressed in past reviews. There is an entire archive of them.
Long time Infinix device users will be pretty much at home with XOS and its bundled features.
Worth noting is that much as the Infinix XOS experience remains unchanged, there are no noticeable drops in performance. At least that has been my experience. The device remains as fast today just as it was the day I unboxed it and started using it as my main phone. And it shows in the way apps launch, in the multi-tasking and even in things like using the fingerprint sensor to unlock the device or even the face unlock feature, even though the latter’s performance is tied to other factors like optics – the lighting situation.
Where the Infinix Hot S3 shines, more than anywhere else, is when it comes to the battery. If you read my review of the other Hot series device that I have used this year then you already can guess where I am going with this. Infinix is doing something with its batteries that is good and should be encouraged.
Going for over a day and a half without having to plug it in is very possible when using the device moderately and I was able to easily achieve this when I spent under 3 hours during that time staring at the Hot S3’s 5.7-inch display. That happened to be on a day when I was on an epic road trip out of town so it makes sense – I was using another device to take photos and was in the company of the people I talk to the most on the phone either via voice calls or messages.
The battery does drop quite quickly when you’re on Safaricom 4G and doing some demanding things like live streaming, a situation I found myself in more often since this also happened to be my chosen “World Cup phone”, the device I was using to stream matches on the go with.
- Overall, I liked the camera,
- As I did the display,
- And the device’s performance
- And long battery life.
- Fast face unlock
- Since it is solely being sold by Safaricom and its partners, the Infinix Hot S3 is a single-SIM device. Well, that’s ideal for those who just have one SIM to worry about but that’s not me. Probably some of you are like me as well. We no longer live in a world where one network operator, however good they are, satisfies all our needs. As I noted in our 24bit podcast a while back, I keep two other SIMs from other operators (Airtel and Equitel) that I use regularly alongside the main man, my Safaricom SIM. The Equitel line comes in handy because through it I am able to do mobile banking while the Airtel line is for the occasional fling (that has not always ended well) when their crappy network is feeling sufficiently philanthropic and charitable. As such, a dual-SIM smartphone is a must-have for me. Unfortunately, that’s not what you get with the Hot S3.
- No fast-charging. Urgh.
While I enjoyed my time with the Infinix Hot S3, I am torn as to whether it is worth all the money that is being asked for. Overpriced? Likely.
Maybe that feeling has something to do with my misgivings about single-SIM devices (even though some people who read this blog seem to want them) since the Hot S3 is an otherwise very good budget device and I like most things about it – I even like it better than the Hot 6 Pro.
Maybe it’s because the market is currently flooded with lots of interesting options in the sweet spot that is the Kshs 10,001-20,000 range, notable ones being from Infinix, no less (so, essentially, a case of self-cannibalization).
Ultimately, the choice is the buyer’s and my hope is that this review helps make making that decision a bit easier.