Infinix’s latest smartphone in the Kenyan market, the Infinix S4, is definitely one of the devices to beat at its price point: Kshs 15,000 for the 32GB base model. The 64GB model, which goes for Kshs 19,000 faces tougher challenges with such a price tag but manages to remain competitive with the memory pairing: there’s a whole 6GB of RAM in there which the competing doesn’t offer at such a price.
As such, this makes Infinix find itself in a very interesting spot for the first time in months. I mean, with at least 3 new smartphones since the start of the year, they are covering every loose end. The Zero 6 Pro is already taking care of business on the extreme upper side while the Hot 7 is keeping the brand’s entry-level reputation alive. The Infinix S4 finds itself in the enviable position of being the device that balances things out, offering the best of both worlds in terms of the feature set and the pricing.
Does it do so, though?
That was my question as I embarked on a journey to sample Infinix’s very latest.
- Long before one gets to finish the first-time setup process and discovering that the Infinix S4 features a fresh coat of paint that is XOS Cheetah with Android 9 Pie underneath, they will appreciate the little new things. Like, for instance, that nice animation (in Google colours, no less) when one is setting up the fingerprint sensor.
- One will also love that they get asked to choose whether to install or not to install what is obviously bloatware – Jumping Zoo and Mayan Jump 2.
- Unfortunately, though, that doesn’t do much since there’s still a tonne of bloatware waiting for you once you’re done with the process. The usual suspects are all there: Asphalt Nitro, the spammy Opera News, Fruit Frolic, Scooper, Visha… That is a bit disappointing. Especially given the fact that the 32GB model, like the one Infinix’s local office provided to me for review, does fill up a bit quicker than I would like. By the time I was done setting up and tuning the S4 to my liking I had already gobbled up 55% of the space. That 64 gig variant doesn’t look like a bad idea to me at this time. Given the performance I have managed to receive on my unit, adding that extra Kshs 4,000 for more storage (the memory is only a bonus, in my opinion since the 3GB RAM handles everything just fine) and the same performance or even better, is not a bad idea at all. I’d recommend it.
- Then there’s another contentious app: Kika keyboard (refer to this review). Let’s just say, disable it as soon as you’re done setting up your Infinix S4 and either use the included AOSP keyboard (a Gboard minus all the nice things – emoji, stickers, GIFs etc) or get the real Gboard app or any of these.
- Another drawback is that Infinix has joined sibling Tecno in pestering users of its devices to link their devices with the company’s user engagement forums, XClub. Sure, XClub does have its benefits more so when one needs help or is seeking additional information on an issue but, since the app is preloaded, shouldn’t users be left to decide if they want anything to do with that later on instead of prolonging the initial setup process with one more unnecessary step?
- Once the setup was done, I couldn’t help but notice the dark quick settings. It’s a nice touch and a welcome change from the all-white UI we’ve been treated to for years. Showing up in the quick settings are shortcuts to a built-in data saver and game boost. The former seeks to save users some MBs as they browse while the latter maximises performances and minimizes distractions as one games on their device. This is good. Very good.
- Below the quick settings, in the notification shade, there is an AI box. I am very curious about what it does and will be looking to see more about that in the coming days. I am aware of Infinix’s insistence on the S4’s AI smarts, if any, but for notifications? How does that work? We’ll find out.
- To the left of the home screen, there are even more shortcuts in a Galaxy Note-style setup. It is the first time I am seeing the feature on an Infinix device and I don’t know what to make of it, yet.
- Performance is, overall, good. Very fast, though there are instances of the device taking too long to display photos one has snapped when they choose to do so from the viewfinder/camera app. Screenshots also take quite a while to take.
- Design-wise, buyers of the Infinix S4, especially the Nebula Blue like the one in my possession, are in for a treat. It’s good-looking and that gradient attempt bodes well for it. It looks so good and feels so good to hold that I’ve not had any use for the clear plastic case included in the box. Even better, the back doesn’t appear to be keen on taking any smudges and paw prints.
- That notch that defines the S4? It’s there and isn’t quite a big deal. It can be hidden if notches are not your cup of tea – though that does have a way of making dull what is essentially a vibrant display panel that looks good all-around.
- Many would want to know about those 3 cameras at the back, right? Well, look out for samples and a final verdict in coming days as I take them for a spin. Worth noting, though, is that everything checks out so far. The cameras – both the front lens and the 3 at the back – are as good as Infinix promised. There’s the small matter of there being no LED flash on the front but I’ve found that the screen flash works just fine and the 32-megapixel snapper on the front needs little help maintaining its excellence.
- Before you ask, yes, the battery will last you an entire day.