Flagship smartphones are certainly fun, but the budget segment was the most exciting this year. The fact that Xiaomi has managed to overtake Samsung in smartphone deliveries is evidence of the ever-increasing budget demand. While manufacturers are trying to measure themselves, the consumer has benefited the most. It is not uncommon for AMOLED displays, large batteries and quad cameras from around 10,000 rupees to be advertised as functions of smartphones.
The Infinix S5 is a new offering in the Sub-Rs. 10,000-segment, with large punch display, four reversing cameras and a generous portion of RAM and memory. At Rs. Is this good alternative to mobile phones like the Redmi Note 8 (test) and the Realme 5 (test) for the only configuration offered 8,999? Let’s take a look.
Infinix S5 design
The Infinix S5 is one of the few phones at this price with a hole punch display that distinguishes it. The display is a large 6.6-inch IPS LCD panel with an aspect ratio of 20: 9, but the resolution is only HD +. At normal viewing distances, symbols and text look good, but videos aren't very sharp.
The panel itself is fairly bright and the colors saturate well, but the lack of an ambient light sensor is very disappointing. This means that we had to manually adjust the brightness depending on where and when we used this phone. Not everyone should do this in 2019. The camera hole itself isn't too distracting, and the display has all of the relatively slim frames around except for the chin at the bottom.
The housing is made entirely of plastic and the back is painted glossy. This is a great magnet for fingerprints. We have the Quetzal Cyan version, but the Infinix S5 is also available in Violet and Nebula Black. The back has a feather pattern that looks good and has the effect of having a glass back. The fingerprint sensor on the back has a different texture than the rest of the body and is easy to reach. We also liked that the camera module doesn't protrude too far.
On the left side of the Infinix S5 there is a compartment for two nano SIM cards and a separate compartment for a microSD card (up to 256 GB). The power and volume buttons are on the opposite side. Ergonomics and tactile feedback are good. Below we have a headphone jack, a speaker and a micro USB connector.
The Infinix S5 comes with a TPU case, a screen protector, a micro USB cable, a SIM eject tool and a 10 W charger. You will not receive a headset with this phone.
Infinix S5 specifications and software
In terms of performance, the Infinix S5 has an entry-level MediaTek Helio P22 SoC that drives the HD + display properly, but is not as powerful as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 or the Helio P70, which are also included in this price segment. The S5 has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. No variants are available at the time of this review.
Other functions include Bluetooth 5, dual-band WiFi, FM radio, GPS and USB OTG. The ambient light sensor may be missing, but a compass and gyroscope are provided. This phone only has the Widevine L3 DRM certification, which isn't a big deal given the display resolution and price.
There is a lot going on with the Infinix S5 software, which can be overwhelming even for experienced smartphone users. It is called XOS Cheetah and is in version 5.5.2, which is based on Android 9 Pie. The Android security patch on our device dates from August 2019 and is somewhat out of date.
Unlike some heavily customized user interfaces like Vivos FuntouchOS, navigating XOS Cheetah is fairly straightforward. The quick settings and notifications are at the top. There is an app drawer. and you get Google Digital Wellbeing in the Settings app. However, there are a lot of adjustments and additions to the user interface, many of which prove to be somewhat unnecessary. For example, in addition to the Play Store, there are also Palm Store and AHA Games, both of which offer curated apps and games and both of which cannot be uninstalled. These apps spam you with annoying notifications that we apparently couldn't turn off.
XOS gives you the option to mask the notch area if you find that it affects the apps you use. The standard navigation bar with three buttons can be exchanged for gestures. You can change topics using the XTheme app. In game mode, you can set DnD, free RAM, take screenshots and record the gameplay via a drop-down menu in any game.
You will also get many other apps and some basic games pre-installed, but they can be uninstalled. There is a function in the Settings app called "Intelligent Voice Transmission" that announces the name of an app that has sent an alarm or the name of a caller. This can only be activated for certain apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
Infinix S5 performance and battery life
The Infinix S5 is a fairly large phone and cannot be easily managed with one hand. Nevertheless, it doesn't feel too heavy at 178 g and is rather slim at just 7.9 mm. The glossy finish sometimes makes it a little slippery.
For general use, we found the S5 to be quite powerful. The custom user interface ran smoothly and we were able to do a fair bit of multitasking without the phone getting stuck. However, some apps were a bit sluggish, such as Google Maps. The SoC is not the most powerful and this was reflected in the benchmark scores. We achieved 92,126 points in AnTuTu 8, while the T-Rex test in GFXbench only showed 26 fps.
Simple games ran well, but heavier titles struggled to run with their ideal graphics settings. Call of Duty Mobile was set to the graphics default "Low" by default, which made it playable but with no visual frills. Unfortunately, videos didn't look that good. YouTube videos that were streamed at the maximum supported resolution (720p) showed no sharpness and the edges around moving objects often showed a slight shimmer. The speaker on the bottom sounded a bit thin, but got quite loud. It was also easy to block the speaker with our palm when we held the phone horizontally.
The fingerprint sensor was able to quickly authenticate and unlock the phone. There's also facial recognition that was decently quick as long as there was enough light in the room.
The 4000 mAh battery did not perform particularly well in our HD video loop test, and the Infinix S5 only ran for 13 hours and 24 minutes. However, the actual usage was much better. We easily managed to measure a day and a half of running time, with typical usage including making calls, playing games and using the cameras. The loading process was also not very fast. With the included adapter, we managed to get this phone up to 39 percent in an hour. It took a little over three hours to fully charge the phone. Fast charging would have really helped, and it's a shame that the Infinix S5 doesn't offer this feature when inexpensive phones like the Redmi 8 (review) offer it.
Infinix S5 cameras
On the back of the Infinix S5 there is a primary 16 megapixel camera with an aperture of 1: 1.8 and PDAF. Next we have a 5 megapixel ultra wide angle camera that is also used for ultra close-ups. There is a 2-megapixel depth sensor for portrait mode, and Infinix states that the fourth sensor is a low-light sensor without sacrificing resolution. We are not sure what effect this last sensor has, as finger blocking had no effect on the final output.
Even with PDAF, the main camera took a while to lock the focus, even in good light. HDR processing was not the best, and most of the photos we took had uneven exposures in the dark or light areas. The dynamic range was also weak. Close-ups performed slightly better, with decent sharpness and good colors. You can switch to super macro mode by tapping a switch in the viewfinder that switches to the wide-angle camera. Here we were able to get closer to the topics, but the details were quite average.
In addition to the Super Macro switch, there is another switch for the wide-angle camera. Unfortunately, the resolution and image quality left something to be desired. Even on a clear, bright day, the colors looked pale and the details cloudy. There wasn't much run distortion, but the overall quality wasn't very good, even for occasional social media posts. Photos taken in bokeh mode looked boring and our subject was always a little out of focus.
At night, thanks to the large aperture, the main camera took decently bright pictures as long as there was some light nearby. The colors sometimes looked a little bit intensified and the details weren't very good when we zoomed in on each picture. In low-light conditions, the subjects had poor detail, and the lack of a night mode meant that there was no other way to improve the quality than to use the flash. The ultra wide-angle camera has taken comparatively poorer details and has to do with exposures.
There is a 32-megapixel selfie camera on the front of the Infinix S5 that took fairly detailed selfies. However, images were saved in the full 32 megapixel resolution, which helped us to create relatively large files. You can reduce the resolution in the same aspect ratio from 4: 3 to 16 megapixels. Infinix says there is some kind of oversampling, but we haven't noticed a big difference in quality. In poor lighting conditions, the picture quality was not particularly good. Grain was visible and details were weaker.
The video resolution is highest at 1080p for both the primary and wide-angle cameras. There is no electronic stabilization, which means that the footage looked shaky when we moved. The continuous autofocus didn't work very well either, and we often had to tap the viewfinder to focus the camera. In low light conditions, the main camera delivered a constant frame rate, although it searched a lot for focus. The footage shot with the ultra wide angle camera was visibly less detailed and the exposure was poor.
The camera app has an AI beauty system that can be used to take still pictures in the beauty recording mode. Other shooting modes are AR sticker and panorama. There is no manual mode or additional video recording options. You will get a link to access Google Lens next to the trigger. The camera app is functional, but could still be improved. For example, the switches to switch to different cameras do not change the orientation when the phone is turned, but the other text and symbols change.
The Infinix S5 is one of the few phones under Rs. 10,000 to show a punch display, and that's what sets it apart. However, the rest of the features and functionality don't make for a really good experience. In this regard, phones like the Realme 5 (Review) and the Redmi Note 8 (Review) are cheaper, in our opinion, a little bit more money.
The actual battery life is good, even if this phone didn't do particularly well in our video loop test. Again, the lack of quick charging is disappointing. Infinix relies on the four rear cameras as a big selling point, but the truth is that they are simply not very good and some of the sensors make little contribution. Other things like the lack of an ambient light sensor, a micro USB port instead of USB Type C and the spammy user interface make the Infinix S5 not recommended.