Infinix Hot S3 Review: Portrait Selfies and Android Oreo Makes it a Perfect Deal

Infinix, the Transsion Holdings smartphone brand recently launched the selfie-centric Infinix Hot S3 smartphone in the Indian market at Rs 8,999. With the Hot S3 smartphone, the company is entering the territory of Xiaomi’s Redmi Y1 (first impressions), which by a huge margin is the best selfie device under Rs 10,000. But on paper, the Hot S3 offers a better selfie camera of 20MP, bigger battery, 18:9 display, latest operating system and a beefy battery too. All this package comes at just Rs 8,999.

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I was pleasantly surprised at the launch event of the Hot S3 for two reasons: one is the Snapdragon processor usage, and the other one is the phone comes with Oreo out of the box, a feature which is a rarity at that price point. The Infinix Hot S3 seems like an excellent value for money option on paper, but how does it fair in real life? Well, I have been using the phone for more than two weeks now and here’s what I think about it.

Infinix Hot S3 Design and Display

Starting off with the design, the Hot S3 doesn’t turn any heads over as it’s constructed out of plastic. In today’s age of metal-clad smartphones, the Hot S3 does feel cheap, which surely is a letdown. But there are many smartphones out there in the similar price range with the plastic body including the Hot S3’s primary competitor Redmi Y1.

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Unlike Xiaomi, Infinix did not add any brushed metal finish to the back panel. Instead, the back panel has a matte finish which makes the device extremely slippery. But for what it’s worth, Infinix is bundling a rubber case with the phone. The rear camera module is placed at the top left, followed by a fingerprint scanner placed at the center of the rear. The scanner is fast in unlocking the smartphone, but at times, it failed to detect my finger.

To the right, we get the power button and volume rockers. The power button even comes with a texture. As said, the Hot S3 comes with an 18:9 display on the front, but there are noticeable bezels on the top and bottom. Above the display, there’s a dual LED flash, 20MP selfie camera and earpiece. The 3.5mm headphone jack is present at the top of the phone, and to the bottom, we have the micro USB port, loudspeaker and a microphone.

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The SIM card tray is present to the left, and it’s a triple card slot, meaning you can insert two SIM cards and a microSD card for storage expansion.

The front of the phone is dominated by a 5.65-inch HD+ display, which is acceptable for the asking price. It’s prone to smudges, which in turn affects the viewing angles. The display has a 2.5D curved glass on top, and it even comes with NEG layer for scratch resistance.

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Infinix Hot S3 Hardware, Software and Battery

Talking about the Infinix Hot S3 hardware, it is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, which is present on other phones such as Tenor E (first impressions) and Yu Yureka Black. The phone comes in two storage configurations with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage and a 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage model. The Hot S3 offered decent performance, no sluggish slowdowns or major lags. It handled heavy game Asphalt 8 very well, although in medium graphics settings.

Infinix surprised everyone by launching the smartphone with Android 8.0 Oreo, and incidentally, it’s the only phone running Oreo under Rs 10,000. The other one is Honor 9 Lite, but it’s priced over Rs 10,000. So on paper, the Hot S3 has an advantage over the rivals, but what about real life experience?

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Well, Infinix has optimised the software perfectly to match the hardware, and I did not notice a single issue with the phone. The user interface is heavily skinned, and Infinix is calling it as XOS3.0. It comes preloaded a lot of additional features such as Theme Engine, Gesture controls, and a plethora of launcher app settings.

The Infinix Hot S3 smartphone comes preloaded with two themes- Neon Lamp and XOS. You’ll be greeted to choose the theme while setting up the phone itself. Honestly, both the themes look identical. Next up, we have those launcher settings such as icon size changing, scrolling effects, modify the text colour, etc. These features are present on Nova launcher, but Infinix is offering them with the stock launcher itself.

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Speaking of the gesture controls, we get the standard double tap to wake, one-hand mode, and take a screenshot with three fingers. All the three settings worked perfectly fine. Another nifty feature offered by XOS is the ability to capture screen recording by pressing volume up and power buttons at the same time.

And lastly, we have the battery performance. The Hot S3 sips juice from a 4000mAh battery unit and it performed arguably better than the competition. The phone lasted one complete day with ease, in fact, I was often left with close to 15% battery every day with moderate to heavy usage. But the standby time is something which worried me. This is where Xiaomi nails it when compared to the competition. The Redmi Y1, which got a 3080mAh battery also delivered the same battery performance and the culprit here is the standby time.

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Loudspeaker performance doesn’t inspire confidence, but Infinix has done a good job when it comes to connectivity options. It supports Jio VoLTE, and I did not face any call drops during my usage.

Overall, the Infinix Hot S3 delivers dependable performance, but the battery life could have been better. However, battery issues can be fixed with a software update and hopefully, it happens very soon.

Infinix Hot S3 Camera

The USP of the Hot S3 is the 20MP selfie camera on the front, and it performs to expectations. The Hot S3 offers incredible selfie experience, and it’s far better than Oppo and Vivo smartphones. It even offers a Portrait mode, which isn’t the best one in the business, but yeah, I will take it considering the price point.

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But the 13MP rear camera doesn’t live up to expectations, especially in capturing colours. Look at the image below, the colours look muted, even on the Hot S3’s display. And taking those photos to a bigger screen will disappoint you to the core. However, the HDR mode helps in capturing colours better, but in some situations, images shot with HDR mode turned on came out with details blown away and sort of cartoonish effect.

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Low-light camera performance again is a hit and miss, but surprisingly, the low-light selfies came out pretty well.

Infinix Hot S3 Conclusion

The Hot S3 surprised me in various aspects. Firstly, the performance of the phone is dependable. Secondly, it lives up to the company’s expectations in terms of selfie camera. It has got decent build quality, but the metal body would have been a different scenario altogether. The display is on par with competitors, battery life & loudspeaker could have been better. And more importantly, it ships with Oreo out of the box, which no other phone at that price tag is offering.

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If you’re looking for a selfie phone under Rs 10,000, do check out the Hot S3 from Infinix. But adding a little Rs 1,000 more, you’ll get the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 smartphone, which isn’t a selfie-centric phone but offers sheer power at that price. So, selfies- Infinix Hot S3, sheer performance- Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.

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