Infinix Hot S3 first impressions: Checking all boxes

By Hardik Singh | Published on 06 Feb 2018
Infinix Hot S3 first impressions: Checking all boxes

The latest phone from Infinix is a firm step by the relatively new phone maker in the right direction, but there is still room for improvement.

Budget smartphone space in India is completely dominated by Xiaomi and even though there have been many attempts to dethrone the Redmi 4 in the sub-8K smartphone segment, no phone has done it yet. The new Infinix Hot S3, priced at Rs. 8,999 is another phone which is taking a stab at that. It features a 20MP front facing camera and hence the Redmi Y1 (review) as well as the Micromax Canvas Infinity (review) seems like fair game. On paper (spec-wise) and in appearance the phone looks just as good as its competitors, but the Hot S3 is trodding on highly contested grounds. It is not what it brings to the table, but what better can it offer that matters. We have had the opportunity to use the phone for a short while and here is what we think it has to offer.

We start with the build and design, which in recent times has become the prime aspect of a smartphone. You get the newer 18:9 aspect ratio, making it one of the few devices under 10K to offer that. The bezels are still as thick as on any other budget phone, but then again for the price that was expected. Then there are the looks, which are derivative of more expensive phones, but at the end of the day make the Hot S3 look neat and well proportioned. The plastic non-removable back has been given a nice matte finish, giving it a metal like look with chamfered edges and a drilled speaker grill at the bottom. The phone is comfortable to hold and to be used in one hand, though we think the back is a little slippery. The back also has the fingerprint scanner which is not particularly fast but does the job. 

Coming back to the display. You get a 5.7-inch IPS LCD display which has a resolution of 1440 x 720p. The panel looks good in day-to-day use. It has ample brightness and can be used in all kinds of lighting conditions. In the small time we have used the phone, colour fidelity seems decent, but we would need to probe further before giving a concrete verdict.

The Infinix Hot S3 is powered by a tried and tested Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC. This is the same reliable octa-core chip which was earlier seen on the Redmi 3s (review) and the Lenovo K6 Power (review), which came back in 2016. That said, It is just as powerful as its peers and we did find the performance satisfactory for the price. We did see some slight lags at a couple of instances, but nothing which stood out. That said, we are yet to do a complete set of performance tests and comparisons to determine where does the phone stand to its competitors. 

Moving down to the cameras, which according to Infinix are the biggest asset to the Infinix Hot S3. At the rear, the phone has a 13MP camera with dual LED flash and at the front, the phone features a 20MP camera with dual LED flash. The rear camera captures good images normally and in low light conditions, but you need to have a steady hand as the autofocus is a little inconsistent and slow at times. Be prepared, as the HDR mode takes a bit longer to take the image. The image quality seems decent, with slightly oversaturated colours and decent amount of details. The good thing is that the camera maintains that colour consistency even in low light. 

Please note: Images have been resized to fit.

The front facing camera on the other hand, does not feel as sharp as the rear shooter and even though it uses a 20MP sensor, the amount of details aren't great. The camera has a tendency to soften skin tones and clear blemishes, which is inline with most selfie centric smartphones out there. You do get a ‘bokeh’ mode as on many other selfie oriented phones, which works well but could have been better. 

Among all things, we think the weakest link of the phone is the XOS UI, which feels a bit dated. We believe, a third party UI should essentially enhance the looks and the functionality of a smartphone, but here it feels it is lacking in both. The good thing is that Infinix ships the phone with Android 8.0 and since this is Android, you can easily install any launcher of your liking to customize it to your need. Infinix has also kept bloatware to a minimum and while we are not sure why the music app wants calling access, most people will end up downloading third party alternatives anyway. All-in-all we think the Infinix Hot S3 seems like a good phone for the price and could be made better with a more integrated and modern looking UI. We will be testing the phone more thoroughly over the next few weeks to provide you with a full review.

Hardik Singh

Light at the top, this odd looking creature lives under the heavy medication of video games.

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