I’ll say it outright: of all the Infinix Note smartphones I have used, and there have been plenty of those, the Infinix Note 12 VIP is the best of them all.
That is almost cliche since, well, we are almost used to saying that about a company’s latest offering. It is expected to be an upgrade over past generations and, dazzle. Most times, that happens. Other times, that doesn’t happen. For Infinix, the incremental updates to the Note lineup over the years, some which have seen the series get updated even twice in a calendar year, are now paying off.
The Infinix Note 12 represents the culmination of years-long efforts to make what is arguably a “perfect” budget phone. Does a perfect budget phone exist? We have no immediate answers for such a question but, hopefully, the Infinix Note 12 VIP will get you closer.
From the so-called “ultra-chic design” that features a slim sub-8 millimetre thickness profile to its expansive 6.7-inch Super Light AMOLED display that’s fitted to ensure the device has an impressive 93.1% screen-to-body ratio to its “aerospace-grade” glass fiber back, the Infinix Note 12 VIP is all levels of amazing. At least visually, if we are to go with what we touch and feel. We’ll get to what we can experience, the software, shortly. The entire combination makes for a device that has a very good weight distribution and is pleasurable to handle, even without a case. This is the first Infinix Note I have used throughout my entire review period with slapping a case on. Previously, that honour was reserved for devices in Infinix’s flagship Zero series. And, even better, the back isn’t a fingerprint magnet!
The display is fantastic. Yes, sure, there’s the bit where they’ve amped the brightness and increased the refresh rate all the way to 120Hz, a fantastic feat, no less, but, all the razzmatazz aside, even without knowing all those things, you feel like you are using a premium device. At its Kshs 40,000+ pricing, it’s hard to say that you aren’t. That said, there seems to be an issue with the sensors on my review unit as they couldn’t adjust the brightness in good time when set to do that automatically – heck, we even captured that in our unboxing video. It’s an annoying thing that we hope can be fixed with a software update.
The cameras are the best part about the Infinix Note 12 VIP – and it is not hard to see why the entire phone’s experience is built around them. The 108-megapixel sensor will get you all excited and drooling but it is the combined power of all the sensors on the device that will keep you around. For starters, they are fantastic. Especially at night. Mainly at night. I loved them in the night.
Where Infinix excelled with the device’s cameras, it also did a good job making sure you can use them at all times without having to worry about system lag and whatnot. Sure, you still get the same old XOS that we have known over the years – now reworked to go with the Android 12 times – but they have upped the game when it comes to the hardware to the point that that’s not really a problem or a pain point. Just pick up your device and go – shoot a scene, play a game or do whatever it is that you were up – and it will respond exactly the way you expect it to.
This is thanks to a near-seamless interplay of the hardware and the software, the kind that we are used to seeing on other platforms and on other devices. If you’re gaming, there are the usual optimizations to allow you to maximize the potential of that Helio G96 chipset from MediaTek that powers the device. And, in the event that you manage to gobble up all of that 8GB memory, there’s an option to extend it by a further 5 gigabytes – almost double the RAM! You’re basically covered on all fronts.
And, when it is doing all of that, the device doesn’t get heat up. It doesn’t get hot at all. There’s some science behind that. Infinix has done some work on the device’s cooling system to make sure it doesn’t heat up either when you’re using it intensively (like, saying, when playing a game or cutting up a video you shot or switching between several heavy apps) or when it’s charging – that fast-charging technology comes with its own demands, after all.
The battery is one area the Infinix Note series has always excelled in and the Note 12 VIP is no different. Its battery, under intensive usage, is guaranteed to last you an entire day. Go slow on the usage and you’ll squeeze in at least a day and a half. At least that was our experience with the device. Now, the most interesting thing about the device is the fast-charging technology that’s in use. The device is the first one we are seeing that incorporates the 120W HyperCharge tech that we have been hearing about. It’s fast. Very fast. Use it till it turns itself off? You’ll be back online in just 17 minutes. Crazy!
Another thing that became a favourite of ours during the review period? Those speakers. They are some of the best Infinix has ever put in a smartphone and they help make all the difference.
All of that said, is the Infinix Note 12 VIP able to hold its own against the competition? If you were to sample the device at a shop stand where it has to walk the talk and match all the impressive paper specs in real life, would it be your number one pick or would you be tempted by something else on offer like, say, the non-5G version of Oppo’s Reno7 smartphone?
Talking about 5G, it is the one glaring omission in Infinix’s hero member of the Note 12 series. We’d excuse the Note 12 G96 since it doesn’t cost as much but, if the past is anything to go by, the strength of Infinix devices has been the ability to offer more while undercutting everyone else price-wise and not sacrificing much at the altar of quality. That is still the case here with all the graphene-cooling, hyper-charging and over 100 battery-centric features incorporate and a world-class design experience but, maybe, just maybe, we’d not ask even a further question if all of this was topped up with 5G?
Of course, that would’ve meant several departures including packing a chipset that is different from what we largely consider to be the “normal” or standard variant of the entire series: the Infinix Note 12 G96. Granted, there’s still the Infinix Note 12 G88 but there’s no word on the availability of that in our market so…
Where were we? Yes, on the 5G beat. We can say that it is not a dealbreaker in the local market right now but that is, according to us, where the Note 12 VIP gets to tie with the standard Reno7 from Oppo. It beats it, however, by incorporating the 120W fast-charging which is, to be honest, just nuts. It’s blazing fast, it blows your mind. Oppo would want us to upgrade to the 5G variant of its device to get the 65W fast-charging that we so loved on its Reno6 5G when we reviewed it. It’s a game of give and take.
As usual, the low of the device is the software experience. Sure, it has been upgraded to 2022 levels with an even better focus on privacy controls, something that is now front and centre of the standard Android experience, but there’s a lot of disjointed experiences that, could be better done. The voice assistant, for instance, still requires some polishing. As do a lot of the pre-installed stock applications which remain largely a work in progress even though some users will find them useful for their day-to-day applications.
All those points make the Infinix Note 12 VIP an easy device to recommend (the camera, for one, is to die for, especially at night) and also a hard one to do so – the price is on the higher side. Then again, you are buying into a “VIP” experience, aren’t you?