infinix has been in Nigeria for a little over 5years now and has since launched a couple of budget smartphones like the Note 4 and Hot 4 Pro. With the newly launched Zero 5, the company is now entering the mid-range segment that is populated with brands like Motorola, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Huawei sub brand Honor, to name a few. The latest smartphone from the Transsion Holdings-owned company can be seen as an attempt to produce a decent mid-range device.
The Zero 5 has a lot of things to offer like a large FHD display, octa-core processor, dual rear cameras, and a large battery to name a few. The phone looks and feels ambitious from the company, which wants to find its footing in the highly competitive Indian market. It does impress in some aspects and seems to fall short in others. For a mid-range phone, the Zero 5 shows potential to take on the best. But at 95,000 naira the Zero 5 faces a stiff competition and will need to bring an all-around performer to take on the likes of Oppo F5 and Honor 9i, among others. We take a look at everything the Zero 5 has to offer.
Design and build quality
The Infinix Zero 5 is a massive phone both inside and out. It sports a metal unibody design that feels smooth at the touch, albeit slippery at times as well. You’ll also notice chamfered edges around the frame and the frame doesn’t naturally curve onto the display which makes it feel more blocky. The handset is offered in a choice of Champagne Gold, Sandstone Black and Bordeaux Red. I got the review unit in Red, which I’m not a big fan of, but the Red is sober and it might just fancy those looking for a little more funky option. The phone looks nice in Black, which will likely be a favorite for most.
The rear also has a Huawei P9 thing going on with a black band across the top which is where the dual cameras and LED flash can be seen. You can find the fingerprint sensor just below the strip. Setting up your fingerprint can take a bit longer than usual, and the sensor isn’t as snappy as we hoped, but it is usually always on spot. The handset has a solid build, but is quite large and will be unwieldy for most. It may not provide the most comfortable one-handed experience for a lot of people out there. The design is also a lot less appealing and unattractive today as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing a larger display on a smaller form factor.
The colors pop on screen and I enjoyed using it for my multimedia consumption
If you take a look at the frame, you’ll see a USB Type-C port on the bottom, a single speaker grille on its left and a 3.5mm headphone jack on its right. The right side of the frame has the power button and volume controls as well as a dual-SIM (Micro + Micro) slot. The left side, meanwhile, has a dedicated slot for a microSD card, which will take up to 128GB of expandability. The Zero 5 weighs around 197 grams and feels light for a phone this size. It is, however, a large device to carry around in the hand or in your pocket.
One of the high points of the Zero 5 is its large 5.98-inch Full HD (1080×1920) display with a 2.5D glass on top. In my time with the Zero 5, I found the screen popped with vivid and bright colors that were honestly a delight to look at. This display is gorgeous and best enjoyed when watching 1080p videos on YouTube or streaming platforms like Netflix. The colors pop on screen and are quite detailed, and I enjoyed using it for my multimedia consumption. The reds and blues are vivid and crisp although they can seem a bit oversaturated, which I think is fine when watching videos, but users may not find it natural for photography. The screen is also pretty visible under bright sunlight. Viewing angles are good, although you will notice a slight red tint when viewing the display at extreme angles.
Games look equally sharp and vivid, and I didn’t mind the bezels as they help get a better hold of the phone in landscape mode, which is how you’ll want to play games and watch your videos.
Performance and battery life
The Infinix Zero 5 is powered by a 2.6GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P25 MT6757 processor coupled with 6GB of RAM. The device is offered with 64GB of storage on board although you will get around 53GB of storage to play with. Infinix also has a souped-up version called the Zero 5 Pro which is essentially the same as the Zero 5 only with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage at Rs 19,999. There is microSD card support for additional storage expandability up to 128GB.
On paper, the Zero 5 looks pretty solid on hardware. For the most part, the phone performs well under intensive use. Playing graphic-intensive games and browsing heavy websites is pretty smooth, although I did occasionally find some drop in framerate when playing a game like Asphalt 8. The P25 chipset has been known to underperform in gaming, but it isn’t so bad as to alarm you.
The 6GB of RAM handles multitasking with ease and is more than sufficient for a lot of people. The single speaker on the bottom can get loud at maximum volume, but it doesn’t produce the clearest sound. I’m also not a fan of its placement as well since my palm would often block the speaker when watching videos or playing games in landscape mode.
Apart from the display, the other aspect that quite impressed me about the Zero 5 is its battery life. You get a fairly large 4350mAh battery, which is needed for a phone of this size. In my time with the device, I found the battery took me through the whole day and then some with above average use and on 4G. But what I was most impressed with was the standby time, which gave me a good 4-5 days when mostly idling away. Overall, you should get through an entire day of usage including messaging, calling, a couple of hours of gaming or multimedia, among other things.
Overall, you should get through an entire day of usage including messaging, calling, a couple of hours of gaming or multimedia, among other things
The battery gets support for XCharge, which is a form of fast charging. Only the device takes a little over 2 hours to charge, so it isn’t the fastest to power up from zero to 100 percent. But considering how much juice I got through the day, you should find yourself needing to charge before you sleep at night.
Now, if you’re in the market for a stock Android or near clean Android experience then this is not the phone for you. The Zero 5 runs on the company’s latest XOS 3.0 Hummingbird based on Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box. It comes with some preloaded apps like Facebook and WhatsApp. The XOS also packs some privacy features that let you password protect apps and remotely delete your phone’s data, as well as apps like Freezer that essentially offloads apps you don’t want to use without having to delete them. Notably, some app icons like the Camera app have some pretty neat animations that make it look novel to say the least.
The UI is fast enough, but it isn’t all that fluid. You’ll notice some stuttering when scrolling within apps and websites and touch responsiveness is not all that snappy. XOS has a good amount of bloatware that will feel heavy after a few months. Infinix has a bunch of in-house applications like XTreme for themes and wallpapers, XHide that will let you hide apps, videos, pictures, and XClub, which is a sort of Reddit-like social platform for XOS users. These add-ons cannot be deleted, which may put you off if you’re not a fan.
The Infinix Zero 5 is also big on cameras, at least on paper. It sports a dual camera setup on the back with a 12-megapixel wide angle sensor and a 13-megapixel telephoto lens with features like Portrait mode and Professional mode. Photos captured via the rear cameras under ideal outdoor conditions look bright, colorful if a tad too oversaturated. The photos aren’t too detailed, so what you get are little above average images. The detail and sharpness is lost further with indoor shots and starts to get noisy under artificial lighting. Portrait Mode for bokeh shots has become a stable feature nowadays with phones with a dual camera. The Zero 5’s bokehs, however, don’t give enough reasons to brag about. You’ll manage to capture a few decent ones with a bit of effort. But in general, the Bokeh shots captured show some blurring around the edges and one should try their hand only under ideal outdoor light.
There’s also a Pro mode that lets you customise ISO, white balance, EV and more for your captures. The rear camera also features 2x optical zoom, which does decent enough to focus on the subject, but colors tend to double up on saturation as well. Speaking of which, the rear camera is pretty quick on focussing on subjects, which is always a plus point.
The photos aren’t too detailed, so what you get are a little above average images
The 16-megapixel front-facing sensor also captures colors but tends to let in a little too much light. Infinix has included a bokeh mode for the front camera as well, however, a couple of outdoor bokeh photos we took were below average. The subject felt artificially overlaid on the blurred background and the image, in general, looked overexposed. Normal selfies will look bright and the colors will pop when viewed on the phone’s 1080p display, but won’t translate well when you see them on your desktop or a larger screen.
Should you buy it?
Based on my time with the Zero 5, the phone does manage to hold its own in a few areas. Its big, vivid display, solid build and battery life are among its biggest selling points. The skin that, while doesn’t offer a pure Android experience, still offers some notable privacy features may find some takers as well. The cameras are decent, but just not the best-in-class. At Rs 17,999, the Zero 5 may find it difficult to compete against the likes of Moto X4, Oppo F5 and Honor 9i among others as the company is still trying to create its presence in the Indian market. Despite its ‘newness’, Infinix has provided a solid mid-ranger that should be considered if you’re in the market.
Now, most of the phones the Zero 5 will be taking on also get an added boost of being bezel-less as well. Since that has been the general trend in 2017, the Zero 5 will have a hard time attracting users who are slowly moving toward all-screen smartphones. The Zero 5, for all its positives, may get buried due to lack of brand awareness as of now.
Nevertheless, the Zero 5 is a bold move from the company that is just a few months old in India. Does it have enough to win consumers in the mid-range market? There are a few things to love about this phone. But the negatives such as its uninspiring design, laggy and bloated software and average front camera can put off users who want an all-round performance if they’re going to spend an upwards of N94,842 naira