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Infinix Hot 8 review: heating up the budget smartphone space

I recently watched a Japanese shōnen manga series called Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma about a Japanese culinary school. It has a character called Mimasaka, who is capable of perfectly profiling the competition, and copying their recipes and styles to produce a seemingly identical, but much better dish. Wondering what that has to do with this review? Allow me to explain. The Transsion Holdings-owned brand, Infinix has managed to pull off a Mimasaka in India’s budget smartphone market with its latest launch, the Infinix Hot 8 (first impressions). It ticks all the boxes on paper, from its gradient design, waterdrop notch display, massive 5,000mAh battery and triple cameras, at a price of just Rs 6,999. To find out if it’s the real deal, I’ve been using the device for the last week.

Design and display

The Infinix Hot 8 is a looker for the price it commands. While it’s obvious that the phone is fabricated from polycarbonate, Infinix has lent it a premium feel through the paint job and finish. The phone flaunts a gradient colourway with a pearly finish that looks svelte. Infinix is offering the Hot 8 in Quetzal Cyan and Cosmic Purple colourways. I have the former with me, which looks stunning. Unfortunately, the back panel does pick up smudges like there’s no tomorrow, so I preferred using the quirky protective cover provided on the phone.

Speaking of the back panel, you will find the triple camera module in the top left corner and the squircle fingerprint scanner with Infinix branding towards the centre. The fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate, I was impressed by the speed of the face unlock as well. The blinking eye animation while the phone searches for your face is cute to look at too.

The physical buttons for volume and power are located on the right, with a textured finish on the latter. You will find the dual nano-SIM card tray with a dedicated microSD card slot on the left, and the 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port and speaker grill at the bottom. Infinix has placed the earpiece in a slim slit above the display notch. Another interesting element here is the presence of a very slim LED flash placed on the top bezel, which also doubles up as the battery charging indicator light. However, the light doesn’t act as a notification light, since it might consume too much battery.

Moving on to the ergonomics, the phone has a slightly curved back panel making it comfortable to hold. However, the phone is massive and will need two hands to use it comfortably. This came as a surprise to me since the Hot 8 sports an ultra-wide 20:9 aspect ratio. To put things into perspective, I recently reviewed the Motorola One Action, which features a 21:9 aspect ratio and a tall, thin profile that is easy to manage in one hand. The Infinix Hot 8 is tall but on the broader side, and that’s pretty unwieldy if you have small hands. I also found it difficult to reach the fingerprint scanner while holding the phone in one hand and resorted to face unlock most of the time.

The Infinix Hot 8 ships with a 6.52-inch waterdrop notch display that offers a resolution of 1,600 x 720 pixels and an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 90.3 percent. The viewing angles and colour production are decent, while the 450 nits peak brightness ensures that you don’t have to squint your eyes in sunlight. On the flip side, the screen is not the sharpest in the business.

As with the Motorola One Action, the 20:9 ultra-wide aspect ratio is not compatible with the majority of online content. YouTube, Netflix and more need to be viewed in their usual 16:9 aspect ratio, which displays black bands on either side, since zooming in crops the content. Additionally, the phone only has Widevine L3 support, which means you are stuck to watching videos in SD quality despite having an HD+ screen. Therefore, if you enjoy watching movies and shows on OTT platforms on your phone, the Infinix Hot 8 might disappoint you.

Cameras

The triple camera unit on the back comprises of a 13-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.8 aperture, 2-megapixel depth sensor and a low light sensor. For selfies, you get an 8-megapixel shooter with f/2.0 aperture and front flash.

The camera app is loaded with features such as HDR, Live Filter, AI Cam (regular photo mode), Beauty, Bokeh, AR Shot, and Panorama. All these features are present for the front camera as well, except that panorama is called Wide Selfie. Interestingly, despite having a dedicated low light sensor, the camera app doesn’t feature a night mode. However, it seems that the AI-backed scene recognition feature is able to detect low-light scenes and utilise the dedicated sensor in such scenarios.

In daylight, the rear camera of the Infinix Hot 8 was able to capture great pictures with decent dynamic range in both HDR and standard mode. I personally preferred the standard mode, as it toned down the saturation boost slightly to produce more natural looking images. The camera also locks focus quickly when the lighting is ideal. However, if you click images in bright sunlight, images tend to overexpose and become unusable. Coming to the Bokeh mode, despite having a dedicated depth sensor, the Hot 8 falls short as the blur is not consistent. I could spot soft edges in several images where the image was captured against the light.

The low-light sensor on the other hand managed to capture good details in shadows, with reduced glare from light sources. All in all, the camera prowess of the Hot 8 is a hit and miss depending on the ambient lighting condition, but I didn’t have high expectations from an entry-level device to begin with.

Coming to the selfie camera, the standard mode captures detailed and pleasing selfies in good lighting conditions. The bokeh mode and beauty mode also work as they should. In low light, the LED flash does a decent job as well.

Software, performance and battery

The Infinix Hot 8 gets the ubiquitous Mediatek Helio P22 chipset at its core, which is a standard at this price point. The octa-core processor is accompanied by 4GB RAM and 64GB onboard storage. These numbers are pretty impressive at this price point and as I mentioned before, the storage can be further expanded using a microSD card.

During the review period, I used the phone intensively, and except for a couple of instances, the Hot 8 was able to handle everything thrown at it. And this was with several applications running in the background. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed with the performance of the phone considering it falls into the budget segment.

I played a few PUBG sessions in my daily usage on this phone, and despite being set to low graphics settings by default and loading slowly, the Hot 8 handles the intense gameplay very well for an entry-level phone. However, I would suggest sticking to the low graphics setting to be able to enjoy the game.

The gaming performance of the phone can be attributed to the dedicated game mode that has PUBG-specific options to enhance the gaming experience. Other non-intensive games like Subway Surfer and Stick Cricket open smoothly and play very well too. I also noticed that the Infinix Hot 8 doesn’t heat up as much as some of the other phones do after a long gaming session, which is definitely a plus in my book.

In the software department, you get Android 9 Pie with the XOS 5.0 interface garnished on top. XOS 5.0 is the quintessential Chinese interface with all icons laid out on the homescreen. On the plus side, there’s an app drawer that can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom. There is some bloatware though, including PHX Browser, PalmStore, Opera browser, ShareChat and more. Thankfully you can remove some of them to free up resources.

The Infinix Hot 8 also offers some useful features like Smart Panel, Digital Wellbeing, Game Mode, Bike Mode, full-screen gesture navigation and more.

On the battery front, the Infinix Hot 8 is the first smartphone at its price to offer a massive 5,000mAh cell. However, given its budget pricing, Infinix has skipped on fast charging support. Therefore, while the phone lasts a good deal on a single charge, it takes a while to juice up as well.

The competition

In the sub-Rs 7,000 segment, the Redmi 7A (review) and Realme C2 (review) are the Infinix Hot 8’s closest competitors. The Redmi 7A features a 5.45-inch screen bearing HD+ resolution, slightly better 2.0GHz octa-core Snapdragon 439 chipset, 12MP rear camera featuring a Sony IMX486 sensor (same one as the Mi A2) and a 4,000mAh battery. Moreover, the phone is a whole lot cheaper at Rs 5,999. The Realme C2 also starts from Rs 5,999 for the base variant and offers similar features to the Redmi 7A. You get a 5.4-inch IPS LCD display with HD+ resolution, MediaTek Helio P22 processor, dual rear camera set up with 13MP primary sensor and 4,000mAh battery. However, the Hot 8 trumps both these phones in terms of better battery, display, cameras and RAM/storage configurations.

Verdict

The Infinix Hot 8 checks all the necessary boxes and that too in a price bracket where brands tend to cut corners excessively. Most offerings in this segment are niche products with a focus on specific aspects like the camera, battery or RAM. For this very reason, the Infinix Hot 8 faces very little competition in the sub-Rs 7,000 category in India. Therefore, if you have a tight budget, I would suggest opting for the Hot 8 with your eyes closed. However, do bear in mind that the phone is priced at Rs 6,999 only for a limited period and post October, it might retail for Rs 7,999.

Pricebaba’s rating: 8 / 10

Pros:

  • Massive battery
  • Large display with HD+ resolution
  • Elegant design
  • Dedicated PUBG Game Mode

Cons:

  • Cameras are hit and miss
  • No fast charging
  • No notification LED

Photos by Raj Rout

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