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I, Kenn Abuya, have been using the Infinix Hot S3X for the past couple of days. I slotted in my Safaricom and Telkom Kenya SIM cards, and on the whole, I can say that I have enjoyed using the most affordable phone by the Infinix with a notched screen.

It is probably the cheapest phone with this kind of a screen (again, read ‘notch’) in Kenya, so if that’s your jam and have already accepted that screens that look like they have been bitten like an apple on the top are not going away then the Hot S3X will appeal to you.

Unlike other reviews where I tend to give you too much information (perhaps, unnecessary information), I will try to keep this one as short as possible. And if that appears to be too long for you, then the summary below is for you…

TL;DR

The spec sheet of the Hot S3 X can be read here.

Summarily, I’m glad that at just under Kes 18,000, you can find a phone with 3 GB and 32 GB of storage configuration. This was never the case, say a year or so ago. In other words, lovers of offline media content will not struggle with storage issues, and should that ever happen, the Hot S3X has an extra slot for an external media-hoarding room. The SIM tray is not a hybrid setup, so you can satisfyingly use your two SIM cards and an SD card without sacrificing anything. We love that.

The device does not stray away from the passable cameras it integrates on its budget devices. Since the Hot S moniker has been, for a long time, been the go-to camera phone by the OEM for people who need a good camera experience, Infinix did just that but elevated the game a little bit to align to modern trends of dual shooters. They are good for the price and can you scroll down to check the attached sample photos. The selfie cam has an LED flash to illuminate your face for those late-night, red-eyed bar selfies. The flash can also light up your face for face-unlocking, which compliments the fingerprint scanner placed at the back of the device.

Infinix Hot S3X design

Still, this is the same software experience in virtually all Infinix phones. XOS is not going anywhere and is packed with lots of neat features, some of which you may never use, yet we are glad they are there. What is more, Infinix does not shy away from including other apps for you and I cannot blame them because you can uninstall most of the unnecessary utilities. Some of them are baked in the OS, so the best you can do is disable them. Then there are cases of apps that are not optimized for the notch, including Facebook apps namely Instagram and WhatsApp. You will not enjoy Stories from the two utilities and it may make you mad a little bit. On the other hand, Google apps, including Chrome and Maps work just fine.

Generally speaking, it is an okay software experience and I don’t have many qualms with it.

Lastly is battery performance. The sealed 4000 mAh is a champ but does not hit the standards set by its sibling the Note 5. Fortunately, it is an easy all-day performer that will hardly disappoint.

In the box

Included in the retail package is the device itself, a micro-USB cable, charger and standard earphones. Warranty information cards a user guide and SIM ejector tool are in tow as well. Nothing out of the ordinary here…

Hardware overview

Infinix Hot S3X back

We will keep this short again: The phone is entirely made out of glossy plastic which makes it comfortable and not slippery like some metallic phones. The dual camera and fingerprint sensor are on the back, as well as the ‘Infinix’ and ‘Hot S’ branding. The volume rocker and power key are on the right edge while the SIM tray is on the left. While I love my headphone jack on the bottom, the Hot S3X has placed it right at the top. There is a single speaker, microphone and charging port on the bottom.

On the front is a fairly large 6.1” screen with the prominent notch. With some unpleasant thick chin, but the device revives itself with minimal side and top bezels. To be honest, the notch is more of an aesthetic feature rather than a functional need to fit a large display on a compact body.

On the plus side, it is a large phone, yet keeps its weight low. You wouldn’t know it has adopted the modern skinny displays thanks to its authoritative footprint. Speaking of the display, it is a good 720p panel that you can easily mistake for a 1080p one. It looks good, gets bright but not dim enough when you need it to.

Software Experience

Infinix Hot S3X software

Admittedly, most Infinix users are very okay with XOS. It is an excellent utility that has a couple of good features:

  • A Google Now-esque page on the left panel has the most accessed apps, news feeds and a bunch of ads. It is okay but can be deactivated if you so choose.
  • The launcher bundles apps into folders based on function, which includes social, XOS family, tools and media.
  • The app drawer can be accessed with an upward swipe like modern launchers. Nice.
  • Still, on the home screen, there is a custom Google-like widget that rolls news headlines intermittently.
  • A bunch of gestures can be activated, including double-tap to wake, three-finger swipe for screenshots and so forth.
  • The software can be themed and tens of wallpapers are in tow as well.

There are many things that can be done with the software to tune the experience to your liking. However, on the downside, XOS has now been invaded with ads in the form of suggested apps. They can be deactivated, through desktop settings but the fact that they are present is already a turn off to the promising Hot S3X.

Hot S3 X

As I mentioned earlier, most of the value-addition apps can be removed or disabled. It is the first thing you should do after purchasing this device, or any other Infinix phone.

Camera

For the first time, the Hot series get a decent dual-camera shooter at 13MP and 2MP each. The 2MP sensor is for depth information so that portrait shots can be pulled off. On the front is a 16MP selfie cam that does an okay job too. Here are some sample images we took.

Battery Performance

This is where budget devices manufactured in China win. Infinix leads the pack as a fair share of their devices have 4000mAh batteries or thereabouts. The Hot S3X has the same capacity and last for a long time regardless of usage patterns. However, it does not appear to support quick charging, though that shouldn’t be too much of a worry as there’s a good chance a 100% tank will power your day and spend the evening recharging it. Good job, Infinix.

Conclusion and Whether You Should Buy It

For the average Kenyan consumer, Hot S3X from Infinix ticks a lot of boxes. It lasts long (thanks to the battery), gives you a glow (thanks to the good cameras), somewhat fashionable with the notch that a good number of people love and big enough for those who like their devices gigantic.

Whether these mix of features appeals to you is solely a subjective point, but we trust the majority will be impressed by the phone’s offerings. Should you buy it? Yes.

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