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Infinix Hot 9 review: win some, lose some

On: May 29, 2020

Infinix launched the Hot 9 in Indonesia last month, and has now announced the device for the Indian market. With a punch-hole display, quad cameras and 5,000mAh battery, the phone is one of the most affordable to come with the aforementioned set of features. The Infinix Hot 9 is the successor to the Infinix Hot 8 that was launched in India last year.

Also readInfinix Hot 8 review: heating up the budget smartphone space

The new offering brings improvements over the Hot 8 in terms of display, camera, and design. I received the handset ahead of launch, and have been using it for the last couple of weeks now. Without any further ado, let’s dive into the in-depth review of the latest Infinix Hot series device.

Design and display

Infinix is offering the Hot 9 in India in Ocean Wave and Violet paint jobs. I received the violet colour variant and it looks pretty classy for its price. Adding to the looks of the device is what the brand is calling a ‘gem cut’ design on the back.

The back panel is glossy, which means its a smudge magnet. The brand has provided a protective case with the handset, but this time it’s a simple transparent case. This is surprising considering Infinix provided good quality protective cases until the Hot 8, which added to the looks of the phone with their quirky patterns.

The fingerprint scanner on the rear is as fast as a capacitive module can be, however, the same cannot be said for the face unlock, which is a tad slower. The smartphone itself is clad completely in plastic and as a result, is pretty lightweight. However, the Hot 9 comes with a massive 6.6-inch display, which makes operating the phone with one hand quite difficult.

Speaking of the display, the 6.6-inch screen features 1,600 x 720 pixels screen resolution, a 20:9 aspect ratio, 480 nits brightness, and 90.5 percent screen-to-body ratio. Infinix has equipped the Hot 9 with features like eye care, dark theme and more. I found the viewing angles and brightness to be on the better side, but the brightness needs to be cranked to the maximum for it to be legible in sunlight.

Not that I expected it, but the Infinix Hot 9 is missing Wideine L1 support, which means you will be able to stream videos from Netflix, Prime Video, etc., only in SD resolution. However, the display is sharp enough for casual multimedia consumption on the go.

Cameras

The Infinix Hot 9 comes with a quad-camera setup on the back as opposed to triple cameras on its predecessor. The camera module comprises a 13-megapixel f/1.8 primary sensor accompanied by a 2-megapixel depth sensor, 2-megapixel macro lens and a dedicated low light sensor. Notably, the depth and low light sensors don’t operate independently, but assist the primary 13-megapixel lens in their respective modes.

In the front, the handset features an 8-megapixel f/2.0 camera inside the punch-hole cutout. The camera app comes with features like auto scene detection, bokeh, AI HDR, AI 3D beauty, panorama, AR animoji and more.

In daylight, the 13-megapixel primary camera captures decent pictures without losing out on details. However, the camera tends to overexpose images taken when the sun is directly overhead. The macro and depth sensors work well, since the portrait and close-up shots turned out to be decent. I did notice the edge detection struggling with stray hair strands, however. The AI scene recognition does a good job and was able to detect every scene I was trying to capture.

The low light performance of the smartphone is disappointing, despite the dedicated sensor. Additionally, there’s no night mode as well, which is surprising. Instead, the AI scene recognition detects when you are shooting in the dark and turns on the low light mode. The images captured were decently bright, but lacked detail and were quite grainy.

The 8-megapixel selfie camera on the front captures good selfies when the lighting is good, and the portrait shots impressed me as well. The beautify mode is set to AI Smart Beauty mode by default, and it applies just the right amount of beautification without looking artificial.

Performance, software and battery

Ticking at the core of the Infinix Hot 9 is the MediaTek Helio P22, which is a 12nm octa-core chipset with a IMG PowerVR GE8320 GPU. Notably, this is the same processor seen on the Infinix Hot 8, and as such performs similarly. The Helio P22 is a two-year-old chipset, which the brand has utilised on several smartphones till date including the aforementioned Hot 8 (review), Infinix S5 (first impressions) and Infinix S5 Lite (first impressions)

The chipset is accompanied by 4GB RAM and 64GB onboard storage. Out of the box, the Infinix Hot 9 offers around 50GB to the user. The storage can be expanded using a microSD card. 

In day to day usage, there was no performance lag while multitasking with several apps opened in the background. As expected, the device started PUBG Mobile in low graphics setting by default, and plays well because of the dedicated game mode that has PUBG-specific options to enhance the gaming experience. Thanks to the low-resolution display and low graphics setting, the processor doesn’t have to push as hard, and the phone stays cool while gaming.

On the software front, the Infinix Hot 9 comes with XOS 6.0 based on Android 10, which features an app drawer as well as the homescreen icons layout. The software is filled to the brim with bloatware including PHX Browser, PalmStore, Opera browser, ShareChat and more. But thankfully most of these can be uninstalled to free up space.

On the bright side, the OS is loaded with features like Smart Panel, Digital Wellbeing, Game Mode, Bike Mode, full-screen gesture navigation and more.  There’s also a Social Turbo feature, which is a dedicated WhatsApp assistant offering voice recorder, beauty mode for video calls, sticker maker, flash notification for WhatsApp chats and WhatsApp mode which restricts data for all other apps except WhatsApp.

Coming to the battery, it comes with a beefy 5,000mAh unit that lasts a day and half easy with heavy usage. However, the smartphone is missing fast charging support and takes a long time to juice up.

The competition

At its asking price of Rs 8,499, the Infinix Hot 9 goes up against heavyweights like Realme Narzo 10A (review), and Redmi 8 (review). The Narzo 10A comes with a more powerful Helio G70 gaming processor, cleaner Realme UI, and attractive design. The Redmi 8, on the other hand, comes with the more capable Snapdragon 439 SoC, and 18W fast charging support via USB Type-C.

Bottomline

Infinix has continued to use low-powered processors on its phones, which is where it falls behind compared to the competition from Xiaomi and Realme in this price segment. However, the Hot 9 does bring in a few notable features, including a punch-hole display, beefy battery and an aesthetically pleasing design, and as a result, might appeal to users looking for a stylish phone in the budget segment.

Pricebaba’s rating: 7.5 / 10

What works:

  • Long battery life
  • Punch-hole display
  • Attractive design

What doesn’t:

  • Bloatware on XOS
  • Underpowered processor
  • Cameras struggle in low light
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Abhiman Biswas

Abhiman is obsessed with all things tech. His hobbies include reading on his Kindle and clicking random pictures on his phone. His secret superpowers happen to be mixing great cocktails and lip reading. In his spare time, you are likely to find him cleaning his aquascape, researching new species of aquatic fishes and planning which aquatic plants to buy next.