Infinix made a big deal of the Note 5 during the launch: Global stage in Dubai, Google reps in attendance and even a live stream – all things that the company reserves for its Zero series flagship. Well, after a month with the device as my daily driver, it’s now crystal why the company would put in so much effort to shine some light on this year’s note.
The Infinix Note 5 stays true to the company’s tradition of keeping the price low and packing quite the spec sheet. Unlike other Infinix phones before, where we could clearly see the compromises and subtly forgive the devices due to their low price, the Note gets a lot right that my first question is, are they making any money from this device?
At a little over Kes.17,000, the Infinix Note 5 will serve a lot of people who are not willing to chop money for a great experience and honestly, I don’t think you should have anything to worry if you go with the Note 5.
Android One – Love it or Hate it
First things first, the Note 5 is under the Android One program, this means that die-hard fans of Infinix XUI software might not appreciate the minimalistic nature of Google’s version of Android but if you can get over the lack of customization options such as changing your theme, having quick gestures and even some gimmicky tricks found on Infinix XUI, then you’ll have a great time with the software on the Note 5.
Unlike popular opinion, Google’s Android version is quite good and offers a lot more than it used to before. We have Files Go as the file manager (or the Downloads app if you have not updated the device), we have Photos as the gallery app (which is better than any other gallery app you will ever use) and the rest is pretty straightforward as Infinix even added some of their apps on the device, CarlCare app, X-Club app and a device management app known as Phone Master, all of which you can uninstall.
Being Android One, the Infinix Note 5 comes with Android 8.1 out of the box with the promise of an upgrade to Android Pie during the first quarter of 2018, not an ideal time since we still have to wait quite long but at least we get to have an update.
The software will mostly impress Android enthusiasts, with Pixel-like animations when pressing the virtual home button, Google News Feed to the furthest left of the home screen and a clean UI that keeps everything simple with the usual party tricks such as double tapping the multi-tasking button to switch between your two most recent apps, split screen and even Google Lens that you’ll probably never use.
Hardware is Typical Infinix
Once you get over the software, you will quickly realize that the hardware powering the device is typical Infinix territory; Helio P23 Processor to keep the price low but usability better than average, a huge 6-inch display in Full HD glory and of course in an 18:9 aspect ratio like every other company that lives in 2018, 3GB RAM because this is a Note and 32GB internal storage to keep everyone happy and of course, the list is not complete without a signature Infinix big battery, that is 4500mAh on the Note 5.
The three-day battery-life that Infinix promises with the Note 5 might not be a reality for everyone
Speaking of the huge battery, the Note 5 is the ultimate travel companion. Having moved around quite a lot over the past month, there’s no point in time I felt the pressure to keep the device charged. The least I got was 8 hours screen-on time and this is with heavy usage and mobile data but on wifi and even moderate usage, passing the 10-hours screen-on time is possible.
The three-day battery-life that Infinix promises with the Note 5 might not be a reality for everyone except a few who don’t know what a smartphone is for but a majority of people will comfortably hit one and a half days usage, even while on mobile data alone. For those wondering, we do have fast charging that charges the battery from 0 to 1000 in about 90 minutes.
Such great battery life means nothing if the phone still has the occasional sluggishness and probably thanks to good software optimizations, the 3GB RAM on board does a good job of running apps smoothly but this comes at the cost of keeping very few apps in memory, thus a lot of apps refresh once you get back to them while multi-tasking, a little frustrating for apps like Twitter and Instagram but you shouldn’t walk the plank because of this.
It’s a Good Camera Phone
Surprisingly, the single 12MP lens on this device does a better job than any other phone at this price range. In great lighting, especially outdoors, the images are colourful, detailed and sharp. A simple point and shoot action will 90% of the time get you the kind of photo you will be happy to brag about and show off to your family and friends. Infinix included a software-induced bokeh mode to help you take photos with beautifully blurred-out backgrounds but the hustle of using this is not worth it, especially considering you can almost achieve the same results without going into the dedicated mode.
Things are noticeably different at night but if you have the time to play around with the manual mode before taking your shot at night, you just might get something worthy of your Instagram feed.
When it comes to what keeps the economy running, selfies, the Infinix Note 5 is equipped with a 16MP lens that was meant to put in more effort on delivering quality selfies. I had little to complain about the selfies, the results are the same with the main camera, detailed, colourful but struggles in low-light and unfortunately, we don’t have a manual mode here to help rectify this.
For an in-depth Camera review, have a look: Infinix Note 5’s Camera Was Made for Instagram!
Should You Buy?
If you’re in the market for a sub 20k phone and you have read this review to this very sentence and up until now you have not made the decision to buy this phone, you cannot be helped.