How Hot?: Infinix Hot 7 Review

Light, familiar, useful.

Those 3 words properly describe my brief experience with one of the 3 new Infinix smartphones to hit the local market over the last few weeks.

The other 2 include the sibling to the Infinix Hot 7 “dual” that I got from the Chinese brand for review and their more “premium” sibling, the Infinix Zero 6.

For all intent and purpose, the “dual” model is pretty much the same as the standard Infinix Hot 7 bar the two cameras at the back that are its standout distinct feature and, internally, the 32GB onboard storage, of which, just about 25GB is accessible to the user for applications, multimedia content and other uses.

The rest is occupied by the system.

That system is where things are very familiar. For long-time users of Infinix smartphones, it feels like home. Everything is in its rightful place, where it has always belonged. In short, it is just a refined experience. It feels light yet, as anyone can see, it has been heavily customized to create that “Infinix experience”.

That is good for the company to introduce any new users it manages to sign up – and there should be many given the device’s modest pricing – as well as keep its old ones happy by not changing things a lot.

While I definitely appreciate that, some goal posts have shifted. I stand corrected in the event that it is confirmed that I am just getting old and my vision is low but I cannot find the traditional Infinix gallery app (which got renamed in a past XOS update). As such, just like on devices running stock or near-stock Android, I have had to make do with the good-for-everything-else-but-use-as-a-gallery-app Google Photos app. That may not be a problem for many but it is for some of us.

The rest of the stuff is just what one expects on an Infinix smartphone – lots of pre-installed applications that may or may not be useful and ads. Lots of them. While the former is tolerable, the latter is down right annoying and I really wish Infinix would reconsider its stance on the same.

This experience, though probably similar because Infinix has still done the same customizations, will vary on the 1GB RAM model as that one, while still powered by Android Oreo modified as XOS HoneyBee, is on the Go edition, the other major difference between the two variants after the dual-camera setup and the memory and local storage capacity.

It is not all doom and gloom, though. There are positives. Lots of them to make this new device challenge for our endorsement when talking about value for money devices that one can get in the market right now.

Its HD+ display, for instance, is miles better than what one can get on the new Nokia 1 Plus which, to be fair, costs less than the base model Infinix Hot but what’s the trade off? Kshs 500? Sure, there is the matter of a stock/near-stock Android experience and regular updates (Go Edition of Android Pie? Go edition of Android Q anyone?) but do those matter as much as I think they should to the masses when compared to the quality of what you’ll be staring at for months, maybe years?

That notch? If you find it annoying – I do – then the display settings come in handy as there is an option to hide it by blacking out the entire top bar. Not ideal but it works.

Those that find the 6.27-inch display a bit bigger for their hands, there is a one-handed mode. Oh, and before I forget, there is built-in screen recording as well, something that we often see on custom Android but which is only coming to stock Android with Android Q.

The other feature that has impressed me on the Infinix Hot 7 is the camera. To be honest, I didn’t expect much from it despite the obvious pre-release hype and praise from its maker but it did manage to pull a couple of surprises. For the money, that’s a good effort and it sets a benchmark for the kind of camera experience one should expect on a sub-Kshs 12,000 smartphone.

My concerns are whether this is also the same experience that one gets on the other Hot 7 model without a pair of snappers at the back.

Here are some samples (compressed) from both the back cameras and the front-facing camera:

The face unlock, which complements the fingerprint scanner mounted at the back, is fast and does its work well.

A key omission from my unboxing of the device is the SIM slot ejection tool. That is because the Infinix Hot 7 doesn’t need it. It has a removable back that then exposes the dual SIM and microSD card slots. With no announcement from Infinix about the availability of swappable back covers, that appears to be the only reason for it to exist. Well, and may be the off chance that you drop the device and it comes apart to safely absorb the shock from the impact created instead of shattering. That should be a plus, no?

READ:  Infinix Hot 7 specifications

You may say that a replaceable battery should’ve been considered and you’d be right. Right if we weren’t talking about an Infinix smartphone. Bar the first few generations of the Hot series, Infinix has established itself as a brand whose devices deliver solid full-day or multi-day battery life. That is true for the Note series. That is true for the “high-end” Zero series. It is also true for the Hot series, at least going by what Infinix has delivered with the 7th generation.

From my brief usage of the device, going for at least one and a half days on a single charge is not far-fetched. Plugging in after 24 hours is the norm.

I don’t know about you but that is exactly what would have me picking up a device like the Hot 7 as a backup device for my main (and more capable) phone. For everyone buying this device for primary use (which is most people), this is a key selling point and should be a deal breaker if you’re to pit the Hot 7 with other devices within its price range. You won’t be getting any form of accelerated charging but, honestly, that is a big ask at this price point.

As far as design goes, the Hot 7, at least the Champagne Gold colour variant in my possession, is mute. That may not be what those lucky enough to land the gradient purple colour model will say, though. While details on the availability of that particular colour option are sketchy as far as I know, it is quite the looker.

The overall plastic build of the device means that it is very light and not even using the plastic case that Infinix includes in the Hot 7’s box changes things. And that’s a good thing. Who wants to walk around with a brick, anyway? Even better, the included case is textured in the lower half to aid with grip, a problem that, gladly, the Infinix Hot 7 does not seem to have. The perks of not having a glass back.

A big bummer, though, is the lack of 4G LTE on the Infinix Hot 7 so for those whom this is a high priority, the Hot 7 may not be it which is sad for such an impressive low-cost device.

The good

  • Surprisingly good camera
  • Vibrant display
  • Acceptable performance
  • Good battery life
  • Generous storage. 32GB for sub-Kshs 12,000 devices should become the standard now. Xiaomi had spoiled us and it is good to see Infinix doing the same now.

The bad

  • Lack of 4G
  • Ads in XOS
  • Placement of the speaker at the back

The lowdown

Infinix’s new budget device, which stands on the entry-level smartphone doorway, right as one walks past the Smart 2, has done more to bring a lot of the modern features to the brand’s oldest device lineup while solidifying existing ones like the camera and battery life. Its lack of standout necessities like 4G LTE, however, may come back to bite it.

For Kshs 11,000, the Infinix Hot 7 “dual” is definitely worth considering after carefully examining its merits and demerits. While, as far as I am concerned, it offers value for money with a very good display panel, good battery life and an equally good camera, ultimately, it is the buyer’s discretion. In a market that is not lacking in options in that regard, the Hot 7 has some convincing to do.

Its biggest advantage is in being able to offer more for less. While the Nokia 1 Plus mentioned in this review costs just Kshs 500 less, it is highly feature-deficient. The Infinix Hot 7 manages to come ahead of Huawei’s Y6 Prime 2019 and Tecno’s Spark Pro 3 price-wise by between Kshs 1,500 and 2,500, which, at this price segment can be a deal breaker.

There’s also the Redmi 6 (now heavily discounted) and Redmi 6A from Xiaomi in the Hot 7’s horizon to worry about.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com