Proving time and again that it’s not a brand to be taken lightly, Infinix has been launching compelling smartphones that take the fight to its rivals. As the year comes to a close, Infinix has decided to reveal a new budget-oriented smartphone that should make some heads turn. The Infinix Note 11S is a device that is priced starting Rs 12,999 and on paper, seems to have what it takes to lure potential buyers. Let’s dissect the device in more detail with this full review.
Save for the cameras and UI, the Infinix Note 11S checks all the avenues for a more than decent budget smartphone experience. It has the performance stats and a fast, high refresh panel for fluid viewing. However, the lack of an ultra-wide shooter, and average photography from the primary lens, plays to the phone’s detriment.
This time around Infinix has dispensed with its eccentric design choices and kept a more minimalistic colour scheme. The matte-finish across the back panel of the Note 11S, and the polished rails that go along with it look pretty decent. I wouldn’t characterise the device as heavy but the rather tall design makes it less pocketable. The camera system on the top-right protrudes slightly from the frame and has an arrangement very reminiscent of the Redmi Note 10 series. However, of the four circles demarcated for camera lenses, one is completely devoid of any optics. In my opinion, the housing could have been made smaller unless the purpose of the device is to dramatise superior camera hardware… which it does not have. On the bottom, the phone has the usual assortment of ports, covering a USB C and 3.5mm headphone jack, plus a speaker grille. Incidentally, the top earpiece combines with the bottom speaker for stereo sound output which is always nice to see (or more precisely, hear) on budget phones.
In terms of the display, Infinix has provided a 6.95-inch FHD+ IPS LCD which offers 120Hz refresh rate for a more fluid experience. The huge screen is a boon for media consumption especially with WideVine L1 certification being provided for HD OTT content. Being an LCD panel the colour reproduction on the screen is slightly more contrasty and under-saturated in nature as compared to the AMOLED panel which can be found on the regular Note 11. I am happy, however, with the minimal off-axis colour shift… though the punch-hole at the top centre does have some backlight bleeding around it. Brightness levels are not specified by the company but I think there is scope for improvement there as well.
The photography is handled by a 50MP primary shooter the likes of which I have already seen on the recent Moto G51 (review). A supporting cast of 2MP macro and depth shooters is also present, while on the front there is a 16MP selfie camera. The absence of an ultra-wide lens as the secondary lens is a bit disappointing. The macro and depth sensors have limited use, as the latter’s job can be accomplished by computational photography. The primary shooter does get in good dynamic range but the colour saturation levels vary wildly in different lighting conditions. Apart from that, the detailing around the edges of the frame appears soft in several shots. The auto HDR and scene recognition work hard work but only to pump up colours. Portrait mode shots have good background separation and a soft blur that goes easy on the eye. The macro camera, on the other hand, can be called passable at best and is dependent on strong lighting for reasonably good shots.
Low light photography is also a bit of a mixed bag on the Note 11S. The viewfinder shows a noisy and blurred representation of how the actual photo turns out. Infinix’s computational algorithms do a lot of good post-processing work with exposure, colours and shadows. However, details are more overprocessed than I would’ve liked. Focus is touch and go on a subject even with assisted street lighting while the dedicated Night mode is of little help in extreme low-light scenarios. The selfie shooter gets good skin tones and facial features although it falters with exposure handling.
The MediaTek Helio G96 handles performance on the Infinix Note 11S, and from my experience with the device, it does a pretty satisfactory job. The variant I have comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, but you can also opt for the 8GB + 128GB model which will set you back Rs 15,999. The device isn’t a powerhouse in terms of performance and I think the bloatware-laden XOS skin running on the phone could be partly to blame. That said, I think the performance-related metrics of the Note 11S punch above its weight class, especially given its pricing. The phone scores high on benchmarks, logging 329,043 on Antutu V9.5 and 1,628 on Geekbench 5’s multi-core test. On the CPU Throttle test, the phone maintains upwards of 90 percent of peak performance for up to 30 minutes, which is quite good. As far as GPU performance goes, the 3DMark’s Wild Life test returned a score 1,099 which is about average. I played PUBG New State on the device and came away reasonably satisfied. The game ran well for about 40 minutes on medium settings until the thermals started to impact the frame rate so much so that I had to downgrade the graphics quality.
Some other notable features on the device include a snappy fingerprint reader and excellent sounding stereo speakers. The XOS V 10.0.0 interface seems a bit confusing though and could use a bit of toning down. Infinix has tried to mimic the quick settings and notifications panel seen on iOS and that has not turned out well. The issues include an excessive amount of bloatware, the settings menu is finicky, and many main utilities needlessly having the word AI prefixed. Plus Infinix’s track record with software updates is not that great, so it may be a while till the Android 12 update arrives on the phone.
A 5,000mAh battery is being provided on the device which can last for the entirety of the day and then some. My daily usage of the phone involved streaming YouTube and a couple of hours of PUBG New State. The phone kept about 35-40 percent of the battery by the end of the day which I think is commendable. However, on PCMark’s Battery 3.0 test, the phone returned a rather average score of 10 hours and 52 minutes, which makes me believe that the test did not run as properly as expected. There is also 33W charging support available for the device that can juice up the phone to 100 percent in just above an hour.
The Achilles heel of the Infinix Note 11S is its photography prowess, while the software does need improvement as well. Despite these, I think it’s a compelling phone for its price, offering the right performance metrics, good looks and a large high refresh rate display albeit with slightly sub-par brightness levels. The stereo speakers amplify the viewing experience as well. Worth a second look for these reasons, I’d say. Of course, the competition is never really that far out. The Moto G51 (review) is a recent launch that offers a full stock Android experience with better cameras but costs slightly more while the Redmi Note 10 (review) is still my go-to device for the best camera and display below Rs 15,000. However, it is undeniable that Infinix’s position in the budget segment has been solidified with the Note 11S.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Clean and minimalistic design
- Decent performance
- Capable stereo speakers
- Not-so-great software experience
- Cameras need to be improved