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Infinix Hot S3 Review - The NEW Affordable Powerhouse?

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The Infinix Hot S3 is equipped with one of the most promising set of specs and features for its Philippine price of just PHP 7,999 today.
Infinix Hot S3 Review - The NEW Affordable Powerhouse?
Infinix Hot S3 review

But the question is, can it live up to the hype? Here's our full review!

Infinix Hot S3 Specs

Display: 5.65-inch HD+ IPS 1440 x 720 resolution w/ 2.5D curved glass at 285 ppi
CPU: 1.4GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 505
RAM: 3GB 
ROM: 32GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 128GB (dedicated)
Main Camera: 13MP f/2.0 w/ PDAF and dual tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 20MP f/2.0 w/ dual tone LED flash
Battery: 4,000mAh
OS: Android 8.0 Oreo w/ XOS 3.0
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE w/ VoLTE, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, A-GPS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, Colors: sandstone black, brush gold
Dimensions: 153 x 72.85 x 8.54 mm
Weight: 150 g
Price: PHP 7,999 (PHP 5,999 sale price)

Disclaimer: This is a borrowed unit from Infinix Philippines for our honest take.

Unboxing / Accessories

Infinix's packaging is simple and impressive enough for the price. It is also loaded with most of the things you need to have.
Inside the box
Inside the box

It include a 2A USB wall charger, USB to micro USB data and charging cable, SIM ejector tool, translucent TPU jelly case, screen protector, and some paper documents like the manual and warranty card.

Note: If you are looking for a high-quality video unboxing, check out the work of my good friend Raffy found in this link.

Build Quality / Design

Decent build!
Decent build!

In terms of build and design, the Hot S3 reminds us of of the OPPO A83. The unibody-like frame is made out of plastic with metallic finish and feel. On the front, the tall 18:9 screen has a 2.5D curved glass on top.

Build is alright for the price!

Overall, build is alright considering the price. However, it would have been better if Infinix used a Gorilla or Dragontrail glass protected display to prevent micro scratches.

Fortunately, the company included a FREE case and plastic screen film to protect the phone from those unwanted damages.
3.5 mm headphone jack slot on top
3.5 mm headphone jack slot on top
Mic, micro USB, and single speaker below
Mic, micro USB, and single speaker below
SIM slot at left
SIM slot at left
Hooray for triple slots!
Hooray for triple slots!
Textured power button and the volume rocker
Textured power button and the volume rocker

Design-wise, it is like the ZenFone Max Plus M1. It has the nearly the same screen size with tall 18:9 aspect ratio. Bezels on the side are quite slim, but bottom and top bezels are considered as thick for a phone with "near bezel-less" design. The phone can still be considered as small for a device with 5.65-inch "big" display.


18:9 is the new standard!

Other than that, this phone is quite a looker for the price. It has generous curves, minimal camera protrusion, and pretty slim 8.54 mm profile for a handset with big 4,000mAh of non-removable battery.

We also like that it is easy to hold (though it is a bit slippery without the case), comes with a triple slot instead of just a hybrid SIM slot, and textured power button at the right which makes it easy to distinguish.

Display Quality

Decent looking 18:9 screen
Decent looking 18:9 screen

One of the highlights of this device is its trendy 5.65-inch 18:9 IPS screen with HD+ 1440 x 720 resolution. It also has a "sharp enough" pixel density of 285 ppi.

Decent looking modern screen for the price!

Colors are quite good and accurate for the price. It isn't just as punchy and crispy versus the higher-end screens. But, that's fine! Contrast and blacks are acceptable and viewing angles are okay.

Sunlight legiblity is decent, though expect the screen to be quite reflective. Autobrightness works and it even has a bluelight filter to prevent eye strains found in the display settings.

Other features included in the display settings are the font size adjustment and ambient display mode for notifications.

However, not all apps are optimized for the 18:9 screen yet. But most likely, that will change in the near future.

It comes with 5 points of multitouch as well.

Audio Quality

Below, this device has a single "loud" speaker setup. It is decent in loudness and has enough details. Just don't expect it to be as loud, full, and crisp sounding compared with the higher-end speakers. Bass is almost non-existent just like most budget phones.

Audio quality though your favorite set of Hi-Res ceritified in-ear monitors like the Baseus Encok H07 is good. It has more thane enough bass, crisp in detail and good in resolution, and close to balanced in sound. The Hot S3 can nicely drive it around 60 to 70 percent volume.

Just don't expect it to produce the sparkle and wow factor found on true HiFi portable audio players.

Microphone performance for calls is acceptable to decent. For video recordings, the audio we captured is considered as decent for the price too. It only has a single microphone though.

Battery Life

Great battery performance!
Great battery performance!

The other highlight of this handset is its big 4,000mAh battery capacity. Unfortunately, our PC Mark work battery life test won't work. So, we recorded the screen on time.


Great battery performance!

We were able to use the phone for a total of 18 hours on a single charge or 7 hours and 5 minutes of screen on time from 100 to 2 percent.

For a phone with big 5.65-inch display, that score is impressive! The more impressive part? We were using the phone heavily the day we recorded its battery performance.

In particular, 4G LTE data is on all the time and sometimes even the WiFi hotspot is turned on. We even watched a lot on YouTube with volume on and played some battery draining games with audio on.


In comparison, most of the 4,000mAh phones we have only has 5 to 6 hours of screen on time.

This phone even has an "ultra power saving" mode turns your smartphone into a basic phone that turns off all the battery draing functions to save power.

Moreover, this handset has a reverse charging feature also known as the power bank mode via USB OTG.

Charging time from 0 to 100 percent is 2 hours and 30 minutes. It could have been faster, but that is still not bad for a phone with big battery capacity on a budget.

Camera

13MP goodness?
13MP goodness?

Next is its cameras. At the back, the Hot S3 highlights a 13MP snapper with f/2.0 aperture size, PDAF autofocus and dual tone LED flash.
The camera interface
The camera interface

It has several useful modes like the HDR, few filters, panorama, night, face beauty and the professional mode.

The professional mode will allow its users to adjust the metering, EV (-3 to +3), shutter (1/3000 to 6s), ISO (100 to 1550), WB, and focus.


It even has grids and levels for guides that you can use even if you are not using the professional mode.

Camera performance is decent to good!

For the price, the main camera of the Hot S3 is decent to good. Shooting speed is not the fastest around, but it is still less than at least 1/3 of a second. Focus speed is okay. But, it will slow down a when you are targeting objects closely for your macro shot especially if the lighting is bad.

Picture quality is alright. It is as good or better than most at this price point. Details are far from grainy, close-up shots has shallow depth (good background blur), and colors are okayish considering the price.

Tone is a bit warm and punchy, but it can get washed when you turn the HDR mode on. We will only suggest the use of HDR on "against the light" shots.

Indoor performance is quite nice as well. Lowlight is far from great as expected. It is usuable when you know how to use the professional camera mode and the dual tone LED flash properly.


Rear Camera Samples

Auto daylight
Auto daylight
HDR
HDR
Indoor
Indoor
Close-up 1
Close-up 1
Close-up 2
Close-up 2
Lowlight
Lowlight
EV -3 (ISO 100, 1s)
EV -3 (ISO 100, 1s)

For selfies, the Hot S3 has a whopping 20MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture size and dual tone LED flash. It has most of the modes and even the grids and levels found on the main camera.

However, it doesn't have the pro mode anymore. But that's fine. In return, it goes with a face beauty mode with portrait or bokeh mode for depth of field.

The selfie camera has no tap to focus anymore as well. Fortunately, it can still detect your face pretty quick. Shooting speed is average (due to the large pixel size) and you must have steady hands to prevent blurry snaps.

Picture quality is considered as great for the price. It produced one of the sharpest selfies under PHP 10K. Colors are quite nice too. The face beauty mode could over beautify your face if you slide it up over level 3. The depth coming from the portait mode is isn't that deep, but its edges could be considered as clean for the price. It isn't adjustable though.

Lowlight performance is acceptable. It even has a soflight flash or hard flash mode.

Selfie Camera Samples

Well-lit portrait mode
Well-lit portrait mode
Well-lit face beauty level 5
Well-lit face beauty level 5
Lowlight
Lowlight
Lowlight with flash
Lowlight with flash

Both the back and front cameras can record up to 1080p at 30 fps. The 13MP primary snapper was able to shoot decent devices that is not that shaky. However, we noticed that it is a bit yellowish compared to the stills we took using the main camera.

For selfies, the 20MP snapper did a slightly better job for videos in terms of color reproduction. But, it isn't as stabilized as the back camera.

Overall, the video shooting performance of this phone is still considered as decent for the price.

Video Samples


Performance

Good benchmark scores!
Good benchmark scores!

Inside, this phone boasts a 1.4GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor with Adreno 505, 3GB RAM, and 32GB expandable storage. In India, there's a variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Sadly, we won't have it here in the Philippines.

Pretty high specs for the price!

But fortunately, the specs of this phone is considered as HIGH for the price! Why? Most Snapdragon 430 devices with the same RAM and ROM configurations are found in the over PHP 10K range. Look at the likes of Nokia 5 and Huawei Y7 Prime. Again, the Infinix Hot S3 is priced at just PHP 7,999!


Actual performance is GREAT overall! It is snappy and more than usable overall. It can even multitask decently. Gaming performance is also good. Running light games is breeze. NBA 2K18 is also playable at medium or high settings with minimal frame drops. The thermal management of this device is also nice. It barely heats up even if I'm playing while on 4G LTE mode.
The Oreo based XOS 3.0 skin
The Oreo based XOS 3.0 skin

Personally, I'm not really a fan of the XOS, but Infinix made an effort to make it more than usable. It is now better than ever. Icons are still not the most modern looking out there, but it is quite customizable overall.
Gestures and the Freezer app
Gestures and the Freezer app

Like most stock Oreo devices, you may swipe from the buttom up to view the app drawer. It still has the pull down menu with many shortcuts such as opening the data, hotspot, scrollshot, screen record, night light, cast, location, screen record, and more.
Phone Master app
Phone Master app

It is also rich in features and gestures (like double tap to wake). It even has multi-window mode for multitasking, Freezer app where you can place the apps you are not using and save RAM, and the Phone Master to tune-up your phone and keep it fast.

However, it has a number of bloats. Some of them are removable, some are not. We recommend to uninstall or disable the bloatwares you don't need.

The fingerprint scanner is isn't the fastest around, but it works. It is also quite reliable. It has no face unlock feature though.

Going to the telephony experience, signal reception is mostly strong. LTE signal is stable. It doesn't have the Band 28 700MHz LTE support for better indoor LTE signal reception though.

Bluetooth is also fine, has and LED light indicator as well, OTG support, and gyroscope sensor.

The Infinix Hot S3 is a very capable smartphone for the price overall.

Pros - 18:9 screen, good specs with nice actual performance
Cons - Bottom bezel is quite thick, no mention of glass protection, few bloatwares

Verdict

For just PHP 7,999, it nearly did everything right! Trendy 18:9 screen, check! Decent specs and actual performance for the price, check! Feature-rich software, check! Good back and front cameras, check! Long battery life, check! 

Overall, we think that the Infinix Hot S3 is one of the phones to beat in its class today!

Moreover, Infinix Philippines hinted that it will priced lower than its PHP 7,999 price tag starting Feb 28, 2018 exclusively at Shopee Philippines for 1 month!

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4
Audio - 3.75
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.167 / 5
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