“The Infinix Hot S3X is the debut smartphone from the brand to come with a display notch”

The Hong-Kong-based smartphone brand Infinix is known for offering affordable smartphones in various niches. The brand has a flagship in the form of the Infinix Zero 5 (review), the entry-level Smart 2 (first impressions), and the Android One-powered Note 5 (first impressions), among many others in its kitty. Now, it seems that the company is foraying into yet another niche segment – affordable notch-toting smartphones. The Infinix Hot S3X is the first from the brand to come with a display cutout. The cheeky name aside, the handset managed to impress us in the brief time since it landed at our premises. Here is what we think of the Infinix Hot S3X.

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The Infinix Hot S3X comes in a light green box, as opposed to white, blue and red boxes we have seen in the past from the brand. This is the brand’s attempt to make a statement that Hot S3X belongs to a completely new niche and is one of a kind in its portfolio. Upon lifting the lid, you are greeted by the Hot S3X lying atop a sheath that’s also an envelope containing the frosted protective case and documentation. Under it, you will find the wall charger and the micro-USB cable. Brownie points to the brand for providing a flat micro-USB cable, which is easier to manage. However, if you are looking for a pair of earphones, we suggest you look elsewhere since they are not in the box.

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When we picked up the smartphone – even before we turned it on – we spent at least 10 minutes gawking at the rear. This is because the Infinix Hot S3X comes with plastic make with a highly glossy mirror finish, which reflects light to create a wavy pattern. Because of this, the smartphone looks quite premium. Our review unit came in an Ice Blue colourway, that goes very well with the mirror finish on the back. You will find the usual physical buttons on the right, a SIM card tray with dedicated microSD slot on left, speaker grille with micro-USB port at the bottom and 3.5mm audio jack on the top.

The rear panel houses the vertically-stacked dual camera module with dual LED flash in the top left corner, a squircle fingerprint scanner with the Infinix branding towards the centre and the interesting model name branding at the bottom. We say interesting because for some reason the brand has etched ‘Hot S’ and not Hot S3X at the back. Coming to the front, the smartphone has a rather long display notch as well as a sizeable chin hugging the display. While the notch houses an LED flash, sensors, earpiece and the front camera, there is still a lot of wasted space, which is a norm with budget phones with display notches.

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Speaking of the display, Infinix Hot S3X offers a rather large 6.2-inch LCD display with 19:9 aspect ratio and 1,500 x 720 pixels resolution. The display is covered by 2.5D curved glass and offers 86 percent screen-to-body ratio. We had no complaints regarding the viewing angles and sunlight legibility of the display. However, the corners are a tad too rounded, which we feel reduces the screen estate a tad bit. The brand has also included its usual suite of display features like eye care mode (blue light filter), adaptive brightness, inadvertently mode (to prevent pocket touches and accidental operation) and ambient display.

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To test the performance of the handset, we tried to multitask with multiple apps open, stream YouTube videos and play light games on it. The Hot S3X managed to switch between YouTube and games as well as other apps smoothly. This can be partly credited to the smooth animations of the XOS 3.3 based on Android Oreo 8.1 and partly to the Snapdragon 430 processor ticking at its core. The chipset has been mated to 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, which can be expanded up to 128GB using the dedicated microSD card slot. Of the 32GB native storage, the phone offers 23.5GB to the user.

The XOS interface comes with a lot of bloatware, of which some are third-party like Phix Browser, Opera News and WhatsApp that can be uninstalled. However, there is an X-suite of apps, which are system protected and can’t be removed.

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The 13-megapixel + 2-megapixel dual camera setup on the back has been equipped with features like Auto Scene detection, AI Portrait, HDR, Beauty, Professional, Night, Panorama, and Timelapse. The initial shots taken with the rear camera were pretty good and we were particularly surprised by the portrait mode as the blur didn’t bleed into the edges of the subject. For self-portraits and video calling, there is a powerful 16-megapixel shooter on the front with AI Bokeh, AI Beauty, WideSelfie, and Time-lapse modes. The selfies also managed to impress us, though we’d like to test out the phone properly before we can pronounce our verdict.

A looker with a pair of camera and a great display with a notch on the top, the Infinix Hot S3X offers a lot more for the price that it comes for, which is Rs 9,999. However, the smartphone lands bang in the middle of some really good contenders like Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 (review), Redmi Y2 (review), ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1 (review), Xiaomi Redmi 6 (review) and Nokia 5.1 Plus (first impressions). It remains to be seen how the phone fares in the Indian market.