It’s a month now since we heard that the Infinix Hot 10T was headed our way. It’s almost a month since it actually became available in our market. During that entire period, give a few days before its local launch, I have had the device with me in active use on and off as the device I turn to. How has it fared? Is it something you should consider?
The Infinix Hot 10T is pretty much like every other Infinix smartphone we have seen before and, perhaps, that we will be seeing later on.
This is so in some of the legacy features that it carries over from predecessors and some somewhat refreshed ones that we expect to see maintained for a while. The former applies mostly to the hardware and physical elements of the device while the latter is mostly in the case of the software.
On the hardware front, some of the more noticeable changes that users will appreciate are the bump up to 90Hz from the standard 60Hz for the display, a first for the Infinix Hot series and a gamechanger for anyone who has been on the fence over casting their lot with Infinix’s lower mid-range smartphone series (the Smart series conspicuously takes the entry-level crown and keeps it, for good). This is backed by an also impressive 180Hz touch sampling rate. In simple language, the phone is able to recognize touch inputs much faster leading to faster response times, which can be the difference between living and dying in a virtual world when gaming.
While I do like the back design of the Infinix Hot 10T, that the pattern thing going on there is just for the view – to please the eyes – and doesn’t add to the device’s grip is rather unfortunate as this is one large device at 6.8-inches and could’ve benefited from the extra grip such tends to offer. The glossy finish makes it slippery and its huge frame and the unwieldiness that comes with it don’t help matters.
If you have large hands, definitely this will be the least of your concerns but if you have small ones, it will get some getting used to at first. To avoid accidental drops, the one-handed mode can be toggled on and off easily from the Quick Settings. A small side icon makes it easy to quickly switch from left to right, depending on what your dominant hand is at the time.
Under the hood is an Helio G70 chipset from Taiwanese firm MediaTek which powers the device to all the highs it is able to achieve making this Kshs 17,500 smartphone ideal for gaming, something that many college-going young people, who are likely to pass time playing high-intensity games yet very aware of not going too far in terms of spending on devices with money they likely don’t have, appreciate what it has to offer. This, while giving the market’s darlings, offerings from Oppo, Samsung and Xiaomi, a run for their money.
Taking advantage of the improved performance on the Infinix Hot 10T is the 48-megapixel triple camera setup on the device which comprises the main 48-megapixel sensor, a 2-megapixel depth sensor and an AI lens. Here is where Infinix pulled all the stops to put on an impressive show.
In low-light, the cameras deliver as advertised. I was impressed. I mean, just have a look at the images I shot at night below… The details, the exposure… Now, compare with what I got from a comparable device from the competition.
During the day, it does a good balance of restraining itself from the usual oversaturation that is the bane of many a smartphone camera and hitting the right HDR tones.
My only quarrel with the camera experience on the Infinix Hot 10T? The lack of a wide-angle lens. It would’ve done wonders. Then again, that is why Infinix would have you moving up its products ladder in search of such features while at the same time leaving room to introduce this in a future iteration of the device. Hot 11?
There isn’t much to write home about the selfie camera but it manages to hold up just fine in various light conditions. It’s particularly impressive in sufficient lighting and, to my surprise, it has a slightly faster shutter movement than I have experienced on such devices before. I mean, I was able to get a clear portrait shot in a transparent moving elevator. Progress. There is all the AI-enhancing stuff when it comes to the front-facing camera but I am usually not a fan of those and immediately have them turned off. If they are your cup of tea, you’d want to give them a try since Infinix says there have been improvements in that sector.
On the software front, things are largely the same. What I have had to say about XOS before is still what I would say about it at this point in time. There are some minor additions, however, that are worth highlighting.
On the Quick Settings, there is a new shortcut that I hadn’t interacted with before: Peek Proof. What it does is it blurs at least two-thirds of the display and leaves a third for the user. This adds to some sort of privacy if one is in a matatu and they are either about to send a risky text to salvage what was otherwise going to be a hopeless evening or they have received one and they need to read and re-read it (who does that?) before crafting the appropriate response. Instead of having to go for those “privacy screen protectors”, this is a good add-on to the entire software experience on the device.
The “Zero Screen” when one swipes left, where the Google feed normally would be, has received a refresh and is much more nicer-looking, devoid of chaos and tolerable. For the first time since I can’t remember when, I left it alone and didn’t bother disabling it, something I usually do as soon as I am done installing the apps I need on an Infinix device.
One still has to make do with the usual barrage of notifications and alerts they may not need from apps and services they may also not need.
A “Game Zone” which features Infinix’s AI optimization engine, Dar-link, which we first encountered on Infinix’s flagship smartphone last year, is at hand to aid the above-referenced gamers to make the most of the device’s performance chops. In addition to performance optimization, Game Zone introduces several features that make XOS’ “Game mode” much more useful.
Users can set floating windows so that they don’t have to exit the game in order to access other apps. There is a network change protection feature that should come in handy for users when playing first-person shooters online so that the device does not do any annoying handshaking (the handover from one wireless network to another, common when you have multiple wireless access points) when one is just beginning to get their kill in the game. One can also stop automatic brightness adjustment in-game without affecting the auto-brightness setting when the device is being used normally.
For users keen on tracking how many minutes or hours they spend gaming, the Game Zone is where such information will be available. For parents and anyone who is concerned about a young one getting addicted to gaming, there are some parental controls and gameplay limiters built into the feature. It’s brilliant. It’s basically what we have previously explored on another device but with tiny but valuable add-ons.
There is no stereo speaker setup on the Infinix Hot 10T but the device manages to do just fine with the single bottom-firing unit. When you’re not blocking it with your fingers during gameplay or some YouTube binging, it does come to life so well. For content designed for 18:9 displays, the Hot 10T’s 20.5:9 display can be a good thing given that you’ll have some black bars on the side for content meant for the former allowing you some wiggle room when it comes to handling and, thereby, not blocking the speaker. The same would be true of 16:9 content but, there, it’s downright ugly and the trade-off may not be worth it.
On the endurance front, well, you get pretty standard Infinix stuff at this price point: a beefy battery that lasts and lasts (I got a maximum of two days on a single charge and pretty standard usage) and non-accelerated power-ups meaning that charging the device requires some dedicated time since it will be a while. While I may be able to tolerate that, it still hurts that data transfer speeds, the other factor affected by the absence of USB Type-C, are sacrificed on this altar.
- Excellent night-time photography experience. Honestly, this is the only way to do budget smartphone cameras. The video experience is pretty meh but I wasn’t counting on it either so we are all good.
- The high-refresh-rate display is good even though we have to work with an HD+ panel and, save for a few apps, may not be able to see the difference between it and what we are used to. Still, can’t fault a device for giving users a peek into the future at a price of the present.
- Good battery life, as always.
- Superb performance.
On the fence
- Infinix’s custom overlay, XOS, has a few nifty features that we all appreciate but it could still use some work – especially reigning in the incessant notifications and pop-ups that require users to figure out how to either get rid of them or turn them off.
- A large display on a device means, obviously, a large device. While we may enjoy the extra screen real estate which comes in handy when one is playing a tower defence game or reading a long article or having two apps side-by-side in split-screen multitasking, it can also be a bother in handling. Try paying for something at the shop or the supermarket till with the phone in one hand and your bag of goods in the other and tell us how that goes.
- microUSB. Sigh. It’s 2021, surely, we shouldn’t be talking about this. USB Type-C all the things!
The Infinix Hot 10T follows a long line of family members in the Infinix Hot 10 series but manages to stand out from not only that lineup but also competing devices from other brands with good pricing and features that make it worth existing (else, you would be just fine looking at the already-existing Hot 10 series devices). This makes it a compelling device that one, when in the market for a sub-Kshs 20,000 smartphone, can’t ignore.
For those keen on the performance, it matches those expectations with a high-refresh-rate display, a powerful chipset and the same kind of high endurance rating that we have known Infinix smartphones for for years now.