What kind of a smartphone can you get for Rs. 6,999? Two years ago, the answer would have been a barebones package with entry-level hardware and laggy software. That has changed pretty quickly, with several well-rounded phones being launched at affordable prices. There are now several big and small brands vying to hit that ‘value-for-money' bullseye, and Infinix is one of them.
Infinix has been trying to make its mark in the budget segment for quite some time, and the company's latest offering – the Infinix Smart 3 Plus – might turn out to be an attractive option for buyers. Priced at Rs. 6,999, this phone tries to punch above its weight by offering three rear cameras and an appealing design, plus some software tricks thrown into the mix.
On paper, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus appears to be a great budget phone, but can it wow users with its performance and steal some thunder from Xiaomi and other popular brands? Let's find out in our Infinix Smart Plus 3 Plus review.
At first glance, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus could be mistaken for a more premium phone. Infinix has gone for a glossy body, and the back panel sports a layer of clear plastic that tries to ape the reflectivity of glass. The edges are rounded to provide a comfortable in-hand feel, but we found this phone to be a tad too slippery.
We were a little relieved to see that the company has not gone for the kind of cheap, spray-painted gradient finish that is all the rage these days, and has opted for a more understated look. There is, however, no protective material of any kind on the glossy rear panel. It also attracts fingerprint marks and dust particles rather easily.
The Infinix Smart 3 Plus comes in Midnight Black, Mocha Brown, and Sapphire Cyan colour options, and we quite like the latter because it's quite unique. This phone bears a strong resemblance to the recently launched Tecno Camon i4 (Review), and were it not for the differently shaped fingerprint sensor and respective company logos, it would be hard to discern one from the other. It's probably worth pointing out at this stage that Tecno and Infinix have the same parent company, Transsion Holdings.
The power button has a dotted texture and is comfortably located on the right — just below the volume rocker — with both of them providing good tactile feedback. The left has the SIM slot that can house two Nano-SIM cards and a microSD card of up to 256GB simultaneously. The top is blank, while the bottom is populated by the speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone, and Micro-USB port.
The small earpiece is squeezed between the frame and the waterdrop notch. Despite going for a notch, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus has relatively thick bezels. Infinix bundles a unique protective case, which is translucent white with a pattern depicting outlines of various objects. The retail box contains the phone itself, the protective case, a 5V/1.2A charger, Micro-USB cable, SIM eject tool, and some paperwork.
The Infinix Smart 3 Plus packs a 6.21-inch HD+ (720x1520 pixels) In-Cell display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio and 500 nits of peak brightness. The pixel density stands at 269ppi, while the screen-to-body ratio is claimed to be 88 percent. There's a Read Mode and an Eye Care Mode in the software.
This phone is powered by the MediaTek Helio A22 processor clocked at 2GHz. We've seen the Helio A22 before in entry-level phones such as the Tecno Camon i4 (Review), Honor 8S, Honor Y5 2019, and Redmi 6A (Review), to name a few. There's only a single configuration with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage which can be expanded by up to 256GB.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n Bluetooth 5, a 3.5mm audio jack, FM radio, and a Micro-USB port, while onboard sensors include an accelerometer, proximity sensor, light sensor, and compass. There is also a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor as well as face recognition for security.
As for software, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus runs the custom XOS 5.0 skin based on Android 9 Pie, and our review unit had the April security patch. There is no app drawer button, but a swipe upwards will open the app drawer. The phone comes with a lot of preinstalled apps including Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Facebook, Car Care, Danger Dash, and Flipkart. Aside from the usual suite of Google apps, there are also some in-house apps called XTheme, XShare, and XClub.
This version of XOS has some nifty features such as Bike mode, WhatsApp mode, and a Smart Panel, among others. The WhatsApp mode, when enabled, restricts the data access of all apps running in the background except WhatsApp, and could be helpful when users are running low on data but still want to receive messages.
The Smart Panel, which can be accessed by swiping on the horizontal bar at the right edge of the screen, is a collection of apps and tools that you might use frequently. It is customisable and can be populated with apps of your choice.
Then there is a Smart Arrange feature that categorises and rearranges app icons into folders. The XTheme app offers wallpaper and fonts for UI customisation. The intelligent Broadcast feature can be activated to listen to notifications, weather updates, live news headlines, and online content pulled from the preinstalled PHX browser. This app sends a tonne of notifications and we had to disable its notification permission to stop seeing them. You can also choose to activate the audio broadcast feature by double tapping on the lock screen.
For navigation, users can choose between the classic three-button Android layout and a ‘Mix navigation' option, which just shows an elongated pill that acts as a Home button and can open the app switcher, with a Back button to the side. There is a third gesture-based option too, which hides the navigation buttons and instead makes you swipe upwards on the same positions.
Before we go into details about the Infinix Smart 3 Plus' performance and camera quality, let's talk about the display. The 6.21-inch HD+ panel renders vibrant colours and we didn't have any trouble watching content on it. Viewing angles are good, and so is sunlight legibility. The screen is quite reflective and it's a bit difficult to see content against dark backgrounds under sunlight.
There is an adaptive brightness mode for automatic brightness adjustment. An ‘Inadvertently mode' prevents the phone from registering unintended touch input by ‘extrusion or fabric sliding while in the pocket', and though we didn't find it to be particularly useful, it did work as expected.
You can choose to mask the notch for specific apps if you want. A reading mode lowers the display's brightness and gives it a reddish tinge for a more comfortable reading experience.
Coming to general performance, we found that 2GB of RAM is not sufficient, and if you multi-task a lot and have a tonne of apps installed on your phone, lags and stutters will be inevitable. We found that the phone generally handled app switching well, but as soon as a few heavy apps or games were put into action, the phone began to struggle. Even calling up the keyboard took over a second in such scenarios, which was quite frustrating.
The fingerprint sensor worked without a hitch, but face recognition was a little slow and it took over a second to unlock the phone even in well-lit conditions.
We tried playing a few games on the phone, but the Infinix Smart 3 Plus did not fare very well. While light games like Angry Birds played smoothly, more intense titles such as Asphalt 9: Legends lagged and stuttered, even at the lowest settings. PUBG Mobile simply refused to go past the load screen after pressing the ‘Start' button to begin a match. To sum it all up, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus is only good for general usage, and if you are a heavy multi-tasker or gamer, this is not the right phone for you.
Coming to synthetic benchmarks, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus refused to run Geekbench, and also stopped abruptly several times while running AnTuTu. We eventually got a score of 62,003 on AnTuTu, which is very weak. GFXBench's Manhattan 3.1 and T-Rex tests returned 21fps and 8.2fps respectively. In 3Dmark Slingshot, we recorded 456, while 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme returned 5,703.
The Infinix Smart 3 Plus packs three rear cameras. In addition to the standard camera and depth sensor, this phone features a low-light sensor. This is claimed to help capture bright low-light shots with lots of detail, akin to phones try to achieve the same objective with a low-light or night mode in their apps. The primary rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and f/1.8 aperture, and it is assisted by a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
Camera features on this phone include PDAF, AI scene detection, AR stickers, portrait mode, and AI HDR. On the front of the Smart 3 Plus is an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture and AI enhancement.
The camera app is pretty basic, with nothing more than image size adjustment, grid lines, and a watermark option available in the settings. There are modes labelled Video Cam, AI Cam, Beauty, Bokeh and AR Shot at the bottom of the screen, while HDR, flash, and scene mode toggles sit in a row at the top. There is no Pro mode or Panorama mode, which is quite surprising. The Beauty mode is also quite basic, with just six levels of AI-powered beautification, and no specific controls like eye enlargement, face thinning, etc.
When it comes to camera performance, daylight photos generally turned out good, especially close-up shots. Colours looked natural and gradients were also captured with a good amount of surface detail. The Infinix Smart 3 Plus was pretty quick at locking focus and also fared well with edge detection in general. However, some edge bleeding was noticeable if the object in focus had rich colours and was positioned against a contrasting background.
As for regular daylight shots, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus proved to be a capable phone given its price point. Long-range shots had good dynamic range, but there was some fuzziness in elements at the periphery of the frame. HDR thankfully didn't exaggerate colours, and rendered natural tones. We were a little disappointed by how the Infinix Smart 3 Plus' cameras handled sunlight. Photos taken under harsh daylight appeared washed out and muted.
We were pleased with the colour profile and depth of bokeh effect in shots, but the phone occasionally blurred out the edges of the object that needed to be in focus. Photos captured indoors turned out be just average, with grainy textures and low saturation.
The Smart 3 Plus has a dedicated low-light sensor which can discern more detail in low light, but there was a lot of noise and grain in the background of shots and there is also a lot of fuzziness at the periphery of the frame. We noticed that when using the low-light sensor, the ISO used for a shot is bumped up, and finer details are lost. Then again, having a dedicated low-light sensor is better than not having any kind of low-light photography mode or feature, which is the standard for phones in this price segment.
The 8-megapixel front camera captured good selfies that we found to be worth posting on social media. We appreciated the fact that there's no aggressive smoothening on faces. The selfies we took looked natural and had a decent amount of detail with punchy colours. The focus lock was also spot on. However, the front camera struggled indoors, with images turning out grainy and colours appearing muted.
As stated above, there is nothing special about the beauty mode on this phone. All you get are six levels of each beautification filter which only brighten an image and smoothen skin texture. There are a few quirky AR stickers to play with, but there are only 15 of them and no option to download more. Both the front and rear cameras can record videos at full-HD, HD, and 480p resolutions. There is no stabilisation technology here, and as a result, the videos we recorded turned out to be jerky.
We were particularly frustrated by the camera app. Aside from being feature-starved, it lags a lot. Switching between camera modes took its own sweet time, and if you want to take a look at a photo you've just captured, you'll have to wait a couple of seconds before the phone processes and displays it.
As far as battery performance goes, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus was able to sail past a day of regular usage with some Internet browsing, music playback, a few calls, and messaging, with a little bit of gaming thrown into the mix. On average, we found that the phone had around 10-15 percent of juice left at the end of the day.
The bundled charger takes the phone from 0 to 100 percent in roughly two hours. In our HD video battery loop test, the Infinix Smart 3 Plus lasted for 14 hours, 57 minutes. In addition to the battery saver and WhatsApp modes for reducing power usage, there is a ‘Power Consumption Reminder' feature that sends an alert when an app is consuming too much power.
The Infinix Smart 3 Plus is an attractive option at Rs. 6,999, offering a good set of features while still being affordable. The phone's camera performance is quite good for its price, and its aesthetics are also appealing. The low-light sensor is an added bonus, and XOS 5.0 brings some nifty tools to the table as well.
However, the paltry 2GB of RAM takes a heavy toll on this phone's multi-tasking capabilities, resulting in frequent stutters and unresponsive apps. If you are willing to put up with that and camera performance is your main criteria, then the Infinix Smart 3 Plus could be a decent pick for the price.
For a bit more, the Redmi 7 (Review) offers better performance as well as a more polished software experience than the Infinix Smart 3 Plus, though we've tested only the 3GB RAM variant of the phone, which costs a fair bit more.
The freshly launched Realme C2's (Review) 3GB RAM variant is another option worth considering, as is the older Realme C1 (Review). The Nokia 6.1 (Review) is also often available for Rs. 6,999 online, which makes it potentially the best all-around package at the price.
Which is the best phone under Rs. 8,000 in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.