This year saw the emergence of Google’s Android One project in Nigeria, with Infinix being the OEM supplying the premier offering – the Hot 2. Android One is Google’s attempt at supplying it’s mobile operating system in its pure form to emerging markets; similar to what the company has been doing with it’s Nexus brand in the west. The main difference this time is that the company is looking at very price conscious customers at the bottom of the pyramid.
Hardware – simplistic design, good build, but cheap materials
On the design front, Infinix has done a good job at creating a beautiful device, albeit simplistic. However, the materials utilized are cheap; mainly plastic – no stainless steel or aluminium here. Furthermore the device is well put together – it’s cheap nature is not necessarily visible when viewed; but hold it, and it’s a different case. The design is reminiscent of Sony’s Xperia Z line devices, with plastic used to mimic the glass look of the more premium brand.
The back of the device can be removed to expose it’s battery – which is rated at 2200mAH. The side buttons are integrated to this back cover, so making use of them without sealing the back door is a difficult task, however possible. There is a micro SD card slot and two micro SIM slots underneath that cover also; these can’t be removed without removing the battery.
My main gripe with the design of the device is the excessive bezels it possess, especially beneath the screen – considering that the smartphone uses on screen touch buttons. The top part of the bezel is home to the 2MP front facing camera and notification light. Evidently, the bezels don’t necessarily house a lot, perhaps they exist mainly for symmetry sake. Even with these excessive bezels, the device is still compact for a 5-inch screen smartphone and one handed use for most everyday tasks, is feasible. Just remember that this one is a real fingerprint magnet.
That 5-inch screen is an LCD, 720p panel, and it’s pixel density sits just below the 300ppi range. It maintains decent viewing angles while being capable under bright sunlight. The auto adaptive brightness mode which the OS supports does a good job at adjusting brightness optimally on the device. However, colour saturation here is obviously not AMOLED class; the colours and contrast levels of the screen leave more to be desired.
Software – future proof, performer
In my opinion, software is the area where the Hot 2 really shines. Being an Android One device, it runs the latest iteration of the operating system at the time of release – Android 5.1 Lollipop, with the promise of the just released Android Marshmallow, to come soon.
On first boot, the device takes an awfully long time to boot, but this is evidently a one time case – some of this is due to the operating system working to optimize applications. The default version of the OS that comes with the smartphone has a number of bloatware – which can be uninstalled. The OS is way responsive, taking into account the lower hardware specifications that characterize the Hot 2.
Imaging is not where this device shines, unless you start considering it’s entry price. With settings on auto, the device produces pictures with decent amount of noise; perhaps as a result of the slow shutter speed. The speakers of the device are decent – with respect to sound quality, but it feels like it’s whispering most times, even at higher volumes.
Pure Android really shines here, but sometimes it feels a little backwards in its progression. An example is the issue you’ll face syncing hotmail contacts; it more or less impossible. While using the device, I was also testing out a Huawei Ascend Mate 2 – running an older version of Android. It easily synced my hotmail account; including contacts.
Far from perfect ; but worth every penny
The Hot 2 is not a smartphone with the best design, even considering only the entry level. However, the device is one which truly delivers true bang for your buck. Being able to do that with a little finesse is commendable. Its rather cheap build can be easily disguised with a phone case. The flip case by Araimo comes to mind here.
Considering that at =N=20,500, you get a well rounded package , which is well built, takes pictures that are suitable for social media purposes, plays music properly, through a decent pair of headphones, and is stil sturdy enough to be carried in the same pocket with another device, without picking up unnecessary scratches – only shows that the Android One poject is a good idea for Nigeria, especially when you put it against its counterparts in other countries.
IB ‘Hi Beezle’ Sam-Epelle is passionate about smartphones and mobile technology; a solution provider; critical thinker; entrepreneur; the founder, Grand-Monumental Ink.