The Infinix Hot 12 Play continues Infinix’s long-held tradition of having a somewhat middle-of-the-road device. It straddles the middle point of the company’s lower-middle range offerings coming ahead of its entry-level Smart lineup and but just at the start of its lower mid-range offerings which extends to other Hot devices before moving on to the real mid-range of the company’s offerings, the Note series. On the other end of the spectrum, the company courts its premium customers with the Zero series.
That is not to say that you, somehow, get an undesirable experience on a device like it. Far from it!
Our experience using the Hot 12 Play over the last few weeks has been pleasurable, to say the least. Given our spoilt nature where we get to play with some of the best devices in the industry, it definitely isn’t in those big leagues. However, in the lower leagues, where it plays, it creates a careful balance of power and performance and value for money.
Our review unit, in all its Racing Black glory, definitely wouldn’t win any design accolades as the design is just functional – curves and keeps rounded corners to aid in handling what is otherwise a large device but doesn’t do much to pop out the visible stripes in its back to aid with the grip leaving users to appreciated the included case. That case, which is really a hard clear plastic shell, just does its work.
A crowded bottom of the device means that users get to enjoy the full gamut of a smartphone’s offerings as was the case in the early to late 2010s before device makers realized that some of us loved wireless headsets more and tried to push everyone that way. For those who don’t follow, that is to say that you will appreciate the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack (and, for good measure, the wired earphones you get in the box – refer to our unboxing video).
There is also USB Type-C to add to the connectivity options – a big relief mostly from not wanting to relive the dark days of having to remember to carry an extra microUSB cable to charge such a device than any significant gains. As you can see below, the charger is just your ordinary charger. Need fast-charging? You’ll need to move up the ladder, it’s not here.
Straddling the bottom section described above and the top of the device is a big almost 7-inch (6.8″) display that is good for just about anything you throw at it. It is, in my opinion, perhaps the single standout feature of the device that I fully endorse.
It is a high-refresh panel, still HD (urgh) but very well calibrated for casual browsing, gaming and what have you. It still suffers from the ghosts of not being bright enough outdoors but that’s it. It’s HD limitation means that you can squeeze the best battery life (more on that later) from this device when you combine it with that mammoth cell at the back.
Obviously, as has been the case for well over half a decade now, Infinix puts in a lot of effort – and would want you to recognize and know – into its cameras, whether it’s a basic entry-level device or a premium offering from its Zero series. Things aren’t any different on the Hot 12 Play. However, is it all hype or is there some substance?
More of the latter, of course.
The 13-megapixel dual back camera and the 8-megapixel selfie shooter are backed by what Infinix calls “powerful image algorithms” to make up for where their natural optics fall short or enhance whatever it is that they come up. This wasn’t so hard to see as the colour reproduction was much better than I have encountered in past budget Infinix devices. Overcast weather, sunny Nairobi, name it, the cameras held their end of the bargain. I wasn’t particularly so into taking selfies with the device but, another unhighlighted feature in Infinix’s marketing materials caught my eye: the back camera’s portrait mode is actually very good. Just stick to items, not people.
The software experience is standard Infinix. This is XOS 10 running atop Android 11 and there aren’t any surprises. Everything is where we expect it to be. There are some nifty additions and enhancements to existing features or significant upgrades to others. For instance, the device’s performance, which is given a boost by the hardware (more on that shortly), also borrows heavily from software optimization.
For instance, gamers will have a budget gaming device in the Infinix Hot 12 Play thanks to the “speed-on” game engine which is not as aggressive as something else we have seen on Infinix devices higher up the food chain but which takes advantage of the available extra processing power. Since Infinix is standardizing this experience with XArena, what they are calling their game centre, we expect to see more of the same, but on steroids, when we interact with the new Note and Zero smartphones from the company – look out for updates and reviews here soon.
Talking about power, the chipset is clocked up to 2.3GHz which offers significant oomph for demanding applications and acts as a good companion for the extended RAM that the device offers – bumping up the device’s memory from 4GB to 7GB. For the non-gamers, this means that a lot more apps will be held in memory and there won’t be a setback starting all over again when one moves from one to the other. You can be on WhatsApp chatting then download a file, head over to the file manager to fetch it then open it using a compatible app (like Google Drive, for instance), edit it and send it in an email and still come back to WhatsApp and pick up from the draft chat you left unsent. That’s not something we have had much in the way of successfully executing on devices of the Hot 12 Play’s stature – it’s a 4GB RAM device, after all!
Now that we have talked about squeezing as much performance from the device as possible to the extent of powering gamers, those gamers would know that the device can have them continuing to do whatever they are doing for up to 8 hours on a single charge.
There are other good things to know about the Infinix Hot 12 Play like the sound and an increase in battery life of up to a quarter when the super power-saving mode (Power Boost) is toggled on at any time.
The Infinix Hot 12 Play ticks the boxes it was supposed to tick: offer a good experience on a budget. The only question to ask oneself is: is that enough in 2022? That question is well answered by looking at what the competition has to offer, which is what we are doing here and you may need to make a few more references (for instance, we compared the device we are comparing it to to something else last year) to see if you are getting value for your money. As far as we are concerned, you are!
Pricing information for the device is as captured here.