To say that the Infinix Hot 10 Play picks up from where the Infinix Hot 10 series we explored, in part, last October, might not tell the whole picture even though it tries to.
Here’s the thing: not only does the device share a name, thus becoming an official part of the Hot 10 series, with last year’s offerings (the Hot 10 and Hot 10 Lite), it also goes a step ahead to offer more specifications to enable the same things those devices strived to offer the user. This is while, at the same time, cutting back on some to maintain the hero status of the main member of that lineup, the Hot 10.
Those add-ons to the feature are a large part as to why you should consider the Infinix Hot 10 Play. In a way, they make it a deserved new year refresh to a device series we already know too well. From a manufacturer perspective, it probably buys Infinix some time before it rolls up its sleeves and shows us what it’s got in 2021.
Start with the display. There isn’t much that is different, quality-wise, from the Hot 10 we reviewed last year. It’s still a HD+ panel. However, there is a difference. Not only is it a little larger than the panel we find on the Hot 10, it also has a the famed “waterdrop” design, a notch on the centre of the display instead of the “dot” that was on the Hot 10 to accommodate the front-facing camera.
All the while, the bezels remain largely unchanged; minute at the top and slightly expanded at the chin. And we still have a fingerprint sensor at the back.
Talking about the back, one of the most visible visual differences is there. Instead of a tri-lens camera setup, we have a dual-camera arrangement with the third lens’ place taken up by some cleverly-placed “AI” branding, highlighting one of the selling points of the camera system: automatic scene recognition and adjustments to get the most out of the camera system heralded by a 13-megapixel sensor.
At night, the results, as we can see below, are… fine? See for yourself (scaled down to just 1000 x 750 pixels):
During the day, of course, you can capture just about anything:
Infinix is particularly braggy about the selfie camera’s portrait mode but the results were just about average. Nothing outstanding and nothing worth complaining about. Just there.
In short, the cameras get the job done, whatever that might be.
The user interface is still what we saw on the Hot 10: classic Infinix with no surprises. For those that have used Infinix’s XOS before, there is nothing new here. For those that will have the Hot 10 Play as their first interaction in the “X-verse”, prepare for some colourfulness that doesn’t annoy with unnecessary transitions that are tasking on the GPU but which annoys with the incessant ads.
The Helio G35 chipset from MediaTek is no G70 (what we get on the Hot 10) but it takes good advantage of the extra gig of RAM (4GB in total).
Infinix manages to do something that has become its signature in the budget smartphone segment: striking a good balance between power and performance that leaves the user enjoying their device and making the most out of it without having bled (money-wise) to get to that point.
The high point, at least as far as I am concerned, has been the device’s impressive battery life. At this point, we are used to XOS’ impressive tuning to play nice with whatever hardware Infinix manages to tuck under the hood so it is not exactly surprising that one can go for a whole two days without caring to find out where their charger is – and without having needed the intervention of the various battery life extension features baked into the software. The 6,000mAh unit does very well.
However, when the time to juice up comes, one is quickly reminded of one of the missteps of the Infinix Hot 10 Play: the microUSB port. Not only does it not do much to push accelerated charging the way we have seen it on other devices, it is also becoming an unnecessary holdover in 2021. It’s time to move on, regardless of the price segment! The same message needs to reach the Hot 10 Play’s competitors in the market like the Samsung Galaxy A02 whose 64GB variant is priced like it.
The Infinix Hot 10 Play is a solid slab of plastic and glass that might feel unwieldy to some – it’s large – but also exist as a kind of a necessity for anyone in need of a larger display to consume (and, maybe, create) content while not needing to go beyond the Kshs 15,000 mark – the Hot 10 Play started selling locally at just Kshs 15,500. That is higher than the Hot 10’s asking price of Kshs 14,000 but, given the half-year we’ve had since that device was out and everything that has happened in between, that should be around the same, adjusted for inflation, right?