In India’s cut-throat budget smartphone segment, brands need to offer standout features to have an edge over the competition. Infinix managed to achieve that by launching Infinix S5 (first impressions), which was the most affordable smartphone to offer a punch-hole display and 32MP selfie camera under Rs 10,000. As if that wasn’t enough, Infinix dropped the price further by Rs 1,000 and launched a stripped-down variant called the Infinix S5 Lite (first impressions). I have been using the phone for some time now, and here’s my take whether it’s a good buy.
Design and display
You would be hard-pressed to tell the Infinix S5 and S5 Lite apart if it were not for few subtle differences. For starters, Infinix has traded the spiralling lines seen on the S5 for a glittery metallic finish on the S5 Lite, and taken off one lens from the rear. The plastic-clad smartphone is as glossy as its pricier sibling and I would advise slapping on the provided case. It helps that Infinix provides some of the coolest cases in the biz with its offerings featuring graffiti-like design all over. The case also helps with ergonomics as the edges of S5 Lite are less rounded than the S5 Lite, thus making it quite blocky.
From the front, you wouldn’t be able to tell the Infinix S5 and S5 Lite apart. The Infinix S5 Lite retains the same 6.6-inch punch-hole display with narrow bezels and a 20:9 aspect ratio. The IPS panel offers a screen resolution of 1,600 x 720 pixels, which makes for sharp and vibrant visuals. As I had noted in my first impressions, the brightness of the Infinix S5 Lite is on the lower side. However, following detailed usage, I realised the smartphone is lacking an ambient sensor and you have to manually adjust the brightness. Additionally, the maximum brightness is also not enough to be legible in direct sunlight.
On the bright side, the punch-hole display offers a screen-to-body ratio of 90.5 percent, which is pretty impressive. However, there’s no Widevine L1 support so you will have to be content with watching SD quality videos on OTT platforms like Netflix and Prime Video, despite the display offering HD+ resolution. It’s not a major deal-breaker, since the videos look sharp on the screen and without any notch hindering your line of sight, the viewing experience is pretty good.
You will find the power and volume button on the left, with the former featuring a textured pattern to make it easily distinguishable. The left edge is home to the SIM tray, which can house two nano SIMs and a microSD card at the same time. At the bottom, you will find the micro-USB port accompanied by a 3.5mm audio jack and speaker on either side. While a micro-USB port is common at this price point, Xiaomi has set a new benchmark by offering USB-C on the Redmi 8 (review).
As for the rear panel, you will find the triple camera module in the top left corner with a quad LED flash accompanying it. The squircle fingerprint scanner is towards the center and is fast as well as accurate. However, since the 20:9 aspect ratio makes the phone rather tall, I found the fingerprint sensor hard to reach. There’s additional security in the form of face unlock, which is as fast and accurate, but as expected, doesn’t work in dark.
The major differentiating factor between the Infinix S5 and S5 Lite are the cameras. The camera module on the back is missing the 5MP ultra-wide angle lens, but retains 16MP primary sensor, 2MP depth sensor and a dedicated low-light lens. The camera app features are identical including HDR, AI Cam, Beauty mode, Portrait, and wide selfies. What surprised me is that despite having a dedicated low light sensor onboard, there is no night mode. Infinix has also downgraded the selfie camera from 32MP to 16MP on the Lite variant.
The daylight shots taken using the rear camera setup capture details and colours accurately. However, the camera has a tendency to over expose images in very bright conditions. As you can see in the first image in the gallery below, the sky in the background is completely washed out. In other images, the camera underexposed the darker areas of the shot. In short, the dynamic range offered by the camera module needs improvement. The exposure issue exists in portrait mode (Bokeh mode in the camera app) and close-up shots as well, with the camera overexposing the background. Additionally, in the absence of night mode, I had to rely on the AI scene recognition to detect its a low-light shot. Normal low light shots taken by Infinix S5 Lite appeared to have been softened with noise creeping in. But once the camera detected the scene, it was able to produce images with marginally better details.
Coming to the selfie camera, the 16MP sensor on the front was able to capture good self-portraits with true-to-life skin tones. The portrait mode also works well and was able to detect edges accurately to produce aesthetically pleasing blur in the background. Needless to say, social media enthusiasts, specifically Instagrammers, will be pleased with the selfie camera on the Infinix S5 Lite.
Performance, software and battery
The Infinix S5 Lite retains the dated 12nm octa-core MediaTek Helio P22 chipset from the S5, and is being offered in a single variant. The processor is backed by 4-gigs of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. Out of the box, the Infinix S5 lite offers around 48GB to the end-user, and the remaining space has been taken up by bloatware and several third-party apps that come with the Android 9 Pie-based XOS 5.5. As I downloaded all my apps (154 of them) from the cloud backup, the processor showed its age. While the phone was able to handle everyday tasks, multitasking and app loading times for heavier apps was slow.
As for gaming, I tried a number of games on the Infinix S5 Lite including the crowd-favourite PUBG, Call of Duty, Stick Cricket 2 and Subway Surfers. The phone launched PUBG in low graphics settings by default, which was expected. However, the phone stuttered several times in PUBG even in the low graphics settings. Call of Duty: Mobile fared slightly better as it doesn’t require as many resources. Needless to say, basic games like Subway Surfers and Stick Cricket 2 were a delight to play on the phone.
The 4,000mAh battery is a standard affair in this price segment, however, the 6W charger provided with the phone is not. In my time with the phone, it took close to four hours to charge fully and that’s dismal. As for the battery life, with an average usage of social media, YouTube and web browsing, I could go to bed with 20 percent juice still left in the battery, which is commendable.
For its asking price, the Infinix S5 Lite’s main contender is the Redmi 8 (review), which retails for Rs 7,999 but features a much more powerful spec sheet including a Snapdragon 439 SoC. The phone flaunts a USB Type-C port, 5,000mAh battery, and 18W fast charging as its USP. Another notable competitor is the Realme 3 Pro, which is currently available at the same price tag but features a sharper display, Snapdragon 710 SoC, 25MP selfie sensor and more. The Samsung Galaxy M10s is another worthy offering with the same price tag but with a Super AMOLED display and 15W fast charging.
At Rs 7,999, the Infinix S5 Lite is the most affordable smartphone at the moment to offer a punch-hole display. However, it loses out to the competition, in terms of nearly every other aspect including performance. If you are a multimedia junkie, who will use the phone mostly for video streaming, go ahead and get the S5 Lite. However, if you want a performance-oriented device, you are better off with the options mentioned above.
Pricebaba’s rating: 7 / 10
- Immersive punch-hole display
- Good battery life
- Good selfie camera
- Rear camera needs optimisation
- Slow charging speed
- Subpar performance
- No ambient sensor
Photos by Raj Rout