After its apparent success, it was inevitable that the Infinix Hot Note, one of the surprise smartphones of the last 12 months, was going to get a refresh. That refresh, in the form of the Infinix Note 2, is here.
I’ve spent the last one week or so using it and testing its various features and here are some of them that I think you need to know about first and foremost besides the more apparent one, the ‘Hot’ branding being dropped from the name:
1. It’s bigger than last year’s model
Well, this is obvious right from the time you pick up the Infinix Note 2. With a 6 inch HD display, the Infinix Note 2’s display is as imposing as it is intimidating on that plastic frame that surrounds it. It also trumps last year’s model generally with a big frame and adding some weight.
2. The design remains the same, mostly
There’s no change in the materials used. The first generation Infinix Note had a plastic frame and body and this year’s model is not any different. It’s plastic through and through. While the Infinix Zero 2’s plastic body was complemented at the back by Kevlar, no such thing makes its way to the Infinix Note 2.
3. It still has a bigger battery and that means more battery life
What made the Infinix Hot Note a hit in the competitive Kenyan smartphone market besides, of course, its favourable pricing, was the battery life. It was the best anyone could get on a phone going for less than Kshs 15,000. Well, it could even put to shame several costly mid-range smartphones as well. This year’s Infinix Note model is that and more. It’s better. The battery capacity got a tiny bump and while the screen size went up by half an inch, things don’t get out of hand. If anything, the 2-day battery life that one could squeeze out of the Hot Note is still attainable with the Infinix Note 2.
4. Fast charging
In a hurry to get somewhere and your phone is under 5%? The Infinix Note 2 will be ready to accompany you in the shortest time possible. It’s a nice thing to have a high capacity battery unit on your phone until it gets to the point where you actually need to plug it in. Normally, that means up to 3 hours (or even more!) charging time. Plugging in the Infinix Note 2 using the charging adaptor and cable provided for just 15 minutes will get you enough power to make calls and browse for at least 8 hours. At least that is what Infinix is touting as its technology being capable of. I believe in charging my devices fully. If you’re like me, that will only take an hour and a half to go from naught to 100% on that 4040mAh battery unit on the Infinix Note 2.
5. No 4G LTE Support
The Infinix Note 2 is a 3G smartphone just like its predecessor. Infinix is set to introduce a variant of the Note 2 with 4G in early 2016. The new device will also see the memory bumped up to 2 GB.
One of the most annoying things with the Infinix Hot Note was the colourful nameless user interface. It looks like Infinix learnt its lessons from that and took some user feedback since the Infinix Note 2 not only ditches that UI but also introduces a new one. Named XUI, the new overlay is close to stock Android in some ways. Like the notification shade. It is also simple.
There are some ugly heads though like the way all applications that one installs seem out of place and out of shape since they are not warped in the theming of the phone’s iconography. They look like outcasts. If you’ve used icon packs on various third-party Android launchers elsewhere then this sight may be familiar. Like some sort of sandboxing. The beauty of Android is in its extensive customization options and this one drawback can be overcome by using replacement launchers like Nova, Action or something else. The other parts of XUI like the dialer, notification shade, Quick Settings and the settings application itself are well thought out.
There are also some tweaks that XUI brings that alter some key system behaviours like standby time and the like. We’ll explore those in our detailed review later on.