For a long time, Samsung dominated the smartphone market in the country and on the continent unperturbed. It was the undisputed smartphone king this part of the world having successfully managed to stave off competition from a declining Nokia, once the market leader of the overall mobile phone market locally and across Africa.
As fate would have it, though, the Korean company’s insistence on steep pricing even at a time when the target smartphone buyer didn’t as deep pockets as the one that companies targeted at the onset of the mobile phone age did and the change in economic fortunes, meant that there was room for disruption.
That disruption came from none other than China with China-based brands like the Transsion group’s Tecno, and, later, Infinix, giving a Samsung a run for their money with devices that undercut the then market leader price-wise while matching it spec-wise in the budget smartphone segment.
Long-term, that strategy has had the effect of shrinking Samsung’s market share and the company has been forced back to the drawing board. The end result? The new Galaxy A series that has tongues wagging.
So, how does the one Galaxy A device that is priced around the same as Infinix’s newest budget device match?
|Infinix S4||Samsung Galaxy A20|
|Size and weight||156 x 75 x 7.9mm, 165g||158.4 x 74.7 x 7.8mm, 169g|
|Display||6.2-inch HD (720x1560 pixels) 19:9 IPS LCD with teardrop notch||6.4-inch HD+ (720x1560 pixels) 19.5:9 Super AMOLED with Infinity-V design|
|Processor||Quad-core MediaTek Helio P22 (MT6762)||Octa-core Exynos 7884|
|Memory||3 or 6 GB RAM, 32 or 64 GB onboard storage||3GB RAM, 32GB onboard storage (expandable via microSD)|
|Camera||Main camera:13, 8 and 2 megapixels|
Front camera: 32 megapixels
|Main camera: 13 and 5 megapixels
Front: 8 megapixels
|Operating System||Android 9 Pie with XOS 5 (Cheetah)||Android 9 Pie with Samsung One UI on top|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB Type-C|
|Colour options||Milan Black, Purple, Nebula Blue||Blue, Black, Red|
Both devices feature what look like glass backs but it is only Infinix that goes all out to pronounce the material used on its device as so (“double glass”). Still, the Samsung aspires to the same looks with a glossy plastic back that can easily pass for the same especially in pictures, like the one below.
However, the Koreans are still sitting pretty and don’t have any of the gradient colouring trends on their budget device giving the good-looking Infinix the upper hand as far as looks go.
A similarity between the two devices which is actually a difference as far as the marketing departments of the two companies are concerned is the notch up top. While Infinix goes with its first-ever teardrop notch design (what Huawei calls dewdrop), Samsung has something almost similar but going by a different name, Infinity V.
Also, while the resolution remains similar across the board, HD+, the Samsung theoretically has an upper hand given that it has its maker’s famed Super AMOLED panel.
At least on paper, the Infinix S4 is where all eyes are fixated when it comes to the cameras. It has 3 of them at the back, adding a depth sensor to the main and ultrawide sensors that the Samsung Galaxy A20 also packs. That, probably, makes all the difference when it comes to the snaps one gets. While I can’t speak to the A20’s prowess or lack thereof since I don’t have it, I can attest to the good results I was able to get with the S4.
On the front, things remain the same with the 32-megapixel sensor on the Infinix S4 being the one to beat not only by the Samsung Galaxy A20 but also by other similarly-priced devices.
What sets the two devices far apart, as is intended by their existence, is the software.
Sure, they are both Android devices running what is so far the latest version of the operating system available to the mass market, Android 9 Pie but, as you already know, Android device makers go to great lengths to customize the software that eventually runs on their devices in both a bid to differentiate themselves from the competition as well as add more features that deliver the kind of software experience they intend to provide to their users.
Nowhere is that more visible than in the two devices that are the subject of this comparison.
Whereas Samsung goes with its latest Android overlay dubbed One UI, Infinix goes with its own XOS currently in its fifth version and dubbed Cheetah.
Both custom Android builds have their own advantages. The most obvious ones being the looks. One UI has lots of whites while XOS 5.0, as can be found on the Infinix S4, scales that a bit and introduces some shades of black. Then there’s the cartoonish feel that one is left with when they encounter Samsung’s new user interface for the first time. That is countered by Infinix’s UI which, like Samsung’s, often comes across as too colourful.
Whereas Infinix has tried to go slow on duplicating the same functionality that is already provided by Google apps, that is not the case for Samsung. Users of the Galaxy A20 will find Samsung’s own calendar application (which is nice by the way), gallery application and messaging application. Infinix lets Google handle these which can be a good thing (saving space) as well as a bad thing, as can be seen in the case of the lack of a gallery app and having to rely on the ill-suited Google Photos app.
Each software implementation has a lot going for it as well as annoying, it’s really hard to have a consensus on a clear winner and a clear loser as it is all based on individual preferences. There’s something to like here, something to dislike there etc.
Read more about One UI here.
Both devices should work fine on all networks in the country with both 3G and 4G not being an issue. However, the Samsung Galaxy A20 gets the upper hand here because it is VoLTE-ready with its maker positioning it (and others) as a viable entry-level option when Safaricom finally rolls out its long-awaited VoLTE network, which should be soon. The Infinix does not prepare us for that future.
Both devices lack certain connectivity options that we get to see on Nokia devices at this price range but where they depart from each other is when it comes to how data transfers and charging are handled. The Samsung Galaxy A20 has the coveted USB Type-C that the Infinix S4 sorely misses.
At Kshs 16,600, its local recommended retail price, the Samsung Galaxy A20 costs Kshs 1,600 more than the Infinix S4 giving the Infinix smartphone a little upper hand.
However, given the differences highlighted here, is that slight price disparity enough to settle things for you?