You know something that I can NEVER get over as a reviewer – something I feel many people believe I don’t have anymore since I use many different phones – is the excitement of a new phone. Whether it is a 10k or a 90k phone, I will be so happy to try it out.
So when I picked up the Infinix Note 5, the excitement (and nostalgia of the previous Notes) was over the roof. My first Infinix phone was the Hot Note. I didn’t use the Note 2, but I owned the Infinix Note 3, and the Note 4. The Note 3 was such a spectacular device at its price point: huge battery, good display, good cameras and a metallic unibody. The Note 4 chose a different path with a plastic shiny finish. The cameras were impressive, and so was the battery. But with the Note 4, the screen became smaller, and there was little appeal in terms of design when compared to the earlier Note 3. In my review, I called it a different Note as it felt very different from the Note 3.
A year later, the Infinix Note 5 feels like a much refined version of the Note 4. Infinix has fixed the design. Yes it is still plastic and shiny, but it feels better, looks better. The screen is 6 inches and bright and Full HD and beautiful. And the battery is amazing!
I know some of you saw the title of this review and are asking themselves why? Dickson must be lying. The Note 5 has a couple of things missing. Why am I lying to people? I am not.
First, all the major things that I have found bad about the Infinix Note 5 are Google’s fault. Not Infinix’s. And they include: one the Notification light (which is better off non-existent as it does almost nothing), and two there are many features and apps missing/not included.
The second thing wasn’t a problem for me at all. I’ve used Android One phones before. I know what to expect with stock Android. But many people have reached out to me complaining about their new Infinix Note 5 not having a radio, not having a gallery app, about them finding the ‘new interface’ different and boring. About not finding the gestures they loved on their previous Infinix phones, from tap to wake, three-finger screenshots, lack of scrollshot, and lack of screenrecording among others. Love face unlock on your Infinix Note 4? NOPE, you won’t find that on the Note 5. These are things you should have expected when you heard it was an Android One phone!
If you listen to a lot of radio, then either don’t get this phone, or get ready to stream. When you get the phone, download a gallery and proper file manager app. And you’re good to go. If you want to take a screenshot, do it the old fashion way. Get an app for long screenshots and screen-recording. Done.
In all seriousness though, Google should make stock Android much more fun than it currently is by baking in features people swear by into the Android experience. Because as it is, many people, myself included, even though we love stock Android because it is clean and well organised, enjoy skins that give us a different, more powerful Android experience.
Why do I call this the best Note?
I remember back in 2015 almost every little known manufacturer has a NOTE line of phones. Infinix Hot Note. Xiaomi Redmi Note. InnJoo Note. Cubot. etc. Apart from wondering why Samsung didn’t sue anyone for the ‘NOTE’ name, I also wondered what it meant to have a NOTE smartphone. From the different manufacturer it seemed all the NOTE phones shared some features: a big screen, and big batteries.
Well Samsung’s line of Note devices included the S-Pen. And Infinix last year with the Note 4 Pro introduced the X-Pen, which we should be expecting with the Note 5 PRO. But over generation of phones, we have come to expect any phone brand NOTE to have a big screen and a huge battery. And that’s still the case with the Infinix Note 5.
Last years Note 4 like I said before chose a different path in terms of design. Yes it looked good, but the screen was smaller. The bezels were huge. And compared to this year’s Note 5, it felt bulkier.
The Note 5 feels refined. Well, thought out. And I can confidently say more beautiful. Trust me, if you’ve held the Note 4, the Note 5 feels better. But of course it is still plastic, and I HATE that. Here’s the dilemma: it looks and feels good. The curves to the side, brilliant. The black coloured finish, brilliant. The smooth sides and corners, brilliant. But still it is plastic, and you know what that means: very easily scratches, so you have to use a case. I wish it were a glass finish, but then again I would still have it in a case so that it doesn’t scratch or break.
I am willing to bet this is the same display from last year’s Note 4. If not, then this is a better display. Things are sharper and I feel like the screen is more on your face than ever before.
The 18:9 aspect ratio with the reduced bezels and gladly, no notch, make your experience much unlike any other Infinix Note before.
I like that the display can get extra bright when you want it to. The panel is really good. But I dislike the fact that indoors even if you move brightness slider to zero, it still feels quite bright.
This isn’t a problem personally because I generally use displays at higher brightnesses than many people. But for people who love their displays dim, it could prove a challenge when you want it dimmer. Though, while traveling at night and trying to watch a movie, I particularly felt the need for the display to get dimmer and not affect the person next to me.
Since I’ve talked about watching a movie, let me talk about battery next. I’ve hit over 10hrs Screen-on-time on this device. I was on WiFi the whole day, and all I did was YouTube, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, a little Chrome and some Instagram.
On 4G Network, I’ve done over 8hrs 10mins screen on time with the same usage as above.
Yes, the battery is this amazing. At 4500mAh, I don’t think there should be anything to complain about. This device, when I started switched it from being my primary phone to a secondary device, can do even 4 days without me feeling the need to charge it. It has brilliant standby. Leave it at 98%, wake up and it’ll be 98 or 97%.
Also, and this is big, the phone supports fast charging. No Infinix phone this year supports this, so if you like many of us, loves fast charging, this is your Infinix option so far in 2018.
When you think of it, this is the best spec’d Note Infinix has ever released. The processor is a Helio P23 and there’s 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage.
In my first impressions, I hated the lags I was encountering. It seemed slow and I wasn’t happy about that. There was an update that came with the security patch for June and after that things felt much snappier thereafter.
Still, apps don’t really stay in memory as I would want them to. You go back to an app and it reloads instead of resuming to the last place I was. This isn’t always the case but all the same this isn’t a tiny issue and I hope Infinix, or Google, or whoever is to blame, fixes this.
For gamers, yeah get the phone. You’ll play your games. Though you’ll need to be patient while game launches. But you’ll enjoy good battery life.
I want to be very honest with you: I was greatly disappointed when Infinix announced the Note 5 was having a single 12MP camera. I wanted a dual setup. I think this really affected my first impressions. I wasn’t even trying to take pics or do anything because I felt like the camera was just okay. I was wrong.
And no, the camera isn’t the best one out there. But it is DEFINITELY the best camera under 20k right now. I have used almost every new 2018 phone on sale in Kenya under 20k, I want to believe, and this camera beats them all. And this is why:
- Speed – Point and shoot
- Captures good Colour and Detail
- It is a single 12MP – and can do portraits that are honestly very good
- YouTube – Yes you can use this as your primary vlog gadget as both front and back cameras are good.
Here is my camera review:
In the camera review I have over 40 pictures in different lighting conditions for you to see how good the 12MP back shooter. I also have the video I shot entirely using the phone to show you you can use the device for vlogging and have good quality. Check it out and tell me what you think about the 12MP shooter.
Okay if you want to finish this review before checking out the camera review here are some photo samples:
The camera app happens to have Google Lens which I really don’t think anyone will be using as there’s literally zero use-cases right now. Ideally, Google Lens should help you identify stuff by pointing the camera at things. Lens is still learning so you won’t be wowed by anything at this point in time.
So yeah, the incredible battery life, the refined design, the good display and the more than okay performance are what made me call this the Best Note ever.
I know the Infinix Note 5 Pro will have more RAM and perhaps that’ll make it perform better. I know the X-Pen is expected to be better than last year’s mediocre X-Pen. And even as we wait for that, I will confidently say this is still the best Note, because at 17k, this is the device many people can go for.
Before sitting to write this review I asked myself a question.
If there was one thing I would make better about the Infinix Note 5 while trying to maintain the price point, what would it be?
Seriously, I don’t know. In any review, I always want to see value for money. When it is an expensive device like the Nokia 7 Plus, I will make noise about the lack of a Notification LED light because at 40k, it makes no sense to not have that. I will complain about the slightest of performance hiccups because damn a consumer is paying 40k!
But what do I do when it is a 17k device that takes pretty good pictures? What do I change when it has incredible battery life? And fast charging. What do I change when there’s a mid-tier Helio P23 processor?
Anything I would want changed or bettered would definitely make this phone more expensive. And remember at slightly over 17k, this is more expensive than previous Note prices at launch.
Nonetheless, here are some things I wish the Infinix Note 5 had:
- There was a USB type-C port for charging
- The speaker sounded better, perhaps an implementation that allows for the ear-piece to be a speaker like on the Samsung Galaxy S9, creating that stereo effect
- There was Face Unlock
- The gestures remained even though it is an Android One Phone
That’s my review of the Infinix Note 5. What are your thoughts on the device.