The Infinix Zero 2 re-visited: The good; the bad; the ugly

In June, earlier this year, Elroy reviewed the Zero 2. He concluded that the device can be likened to a sports car that runs at the speed of light while consuming loads of fuel. Having used the device myself for a few months, I concur. The Zero 2 is really an interesting device, but like all others out there, it definitely has some shortcomings.

Infinix Zero 2

The Good
Design, in my opinion, is part of the stronger qualities of the smartphone. The Zero 2 is beautifully crafted – with its metal frame, Kevlar back and gorilla glass front. It is sleek and feels really good for a smartphone that costs less than 40,000 naira, in the Nigerian market. This encouraging design language is further complimented by performance that is quite stellar; even for a mid range spec’d smartphone. A full breakdown of its specifications can be found HERE.

The device comes in two storage options. The one I tested is the 16GB variant, with 2GB of RAM. I must confess that its MediaTek octa core processor – clocked at 2.0 GHz – is impressive at performing daily tasks. The 5-inch AMOLED panel is only a 720p one; but is also remarkable. It produces deep blacks, with punchy colors – both characteristics of this type of screen technology. In terms of audio hardware, you get what you pay for. The speakers are decent and produce good clear sounds – be it while playing music or making voice calls. The speaker sits behind a neatly machined grill; one reminiscent of the iPhone 5. However don’t let the dual grills confuse you; there’s only one speaker, on the bottom-right side. Putting a finger over it easily results in no sound.

The device integrates a 13MP camera module, with LED flash behind. In front, Infinix has built in a wide angle, 5MP shooter. The front facing camera is really impressive. I’m not saying the main shooter on the back is bad; but then it didn’t feel special to me. The selfie cam certainly did. Finally, the ability to expand its storage; something missing from even some newer flagships, is definitely a bonus.

Infinix Zero 2 - Bezel

The Bad
So far, we’ve established that the Zero 2 has: a lovely screen; decent audio hardware; and a design language you would find mainly in the flagship segment; not in a mid-ranger. But, this is about the point where things start to deteriorate. The smartphone comes running Android Kitkat out of the box, with the Infinix launcher inbuilt. While the software brings some useful features – like the black background used through most of the interface of the device, or even the option to use different fonts – I still found it to be pretty buggy, taking away from a beautifully built smartphone. Soon as I got it out the box, a notification popped up for an 81.67 MB update, which I was never able to complete in my time with the phone. Trust me, I tried it numerous times. This particular problem however could have been unique to my unit.

Considering that Infinix hasn’t incorporated a feature like Motorola’s active display, I just can’t understand the absence of a notification light, especially considering that wouldn’t have added anything substantial to the cost of the smartphone. The Zero 2 comes with a sealed-in battery, rated at 2300 mAH. It is certainly not the best performer. However, I’ll let it be, considering that the device is pretty slim. But then, what worries me is how much time the rather small capacity battery takes to charge, considering how fast it takes to discharge. Let me quantify it – I have the battery at 56% at 4 PM and decided to charge it. A full battery was achieved at about 6:30 PM. That’s a pretty long time by any standards.

Lastly, considering that the design (look of the device) is one of the smartphone’s compelling features, it makes the chipping of the paint job on the metal frame hard to accept. I thought this might have been unique to my unit, but after observations of the device in the wild, this is not the case.

The Ugly
Everything is not all bad, or all good; some things about the Zero 2 are just plain ugly. The device is different from the typical Chinese OEM offerings that don’t integrate Google services or apps, so the sheer amount of bloatware beats me, considering we are in the era when Android is starting to get skinned down – even Samsungs Touchwiz is lighter than it has ever been.

Remember the gorgeous display I mentioned earlier? Well, it has an auto brightness mode which appears to always be too bright and so taking a toll on the battery, which already takes too long to recharge. Another ugly gripe I found is that only inbuilt wallpapers can be set on the lock screen. However, this is not the case for the home screen.

The comforting thing is that these issues are mainly software related, so perhaps Infinix can make adjustments via a software update. But then, I’m skeptical – considering the issue I had with downloading a system update on the device. However, I commend the company for having an forum online with robust support. But it’s 2015, I’d rather just have simple over the air updates.

Final Words
Do not let any of the negatives I’ve mentioned deter you. Like I said, software patches might actually fix these things. The question is how invested is Infinix in the Zero 2; considering the support span of devices nowadays? At its price, the build quality is great. Just expect the paint job on the frame to chip off after some use, regardless of how careful you are. The camera package is nice, especially the wide angle, 5MP snapper in front. The 5 inch, 720p AMOLED panel is more than sufficient. You won’t notice the PPI is in the sub 300 mark; it looks great – just make sure you’re ready to skip using auto brightness most times, for battery sake.

Do you own the Zero 2? Have you been enjoying using the device? What’s interesting about it, to you? What don’t you like that much? Contribute through the comments section below. We always love to hear from you.

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