The Infinix Smart 2 is priced at Rs 5,999 and comes with a handy design and a 5.45-inch HD+ screen
The 13-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front camera can take decent images in favorable lighting conditions.
The Infinix Smart 2 is loaded with features, but lacks the performance to match the experience.
A big part of being a tech reviewer is often being asked (mostly by older people), “What’s the best budget smartphone to buy?” While I don’t mind the question, I’ve noticed that my answer to it often begins with the word Xiaomi. That’s not a big surprise though. Xiaomi is known to offer smartphones that carry great features and a decent build quality at an affordable price point. The Xiaomi Redmi 5A is a great example of this. The smartphone is considered to be the best entry-level smartphone today, priced at under Rs 7,000 for both of its variants. That kind of an all-rounder is often hard to come by in that price range. But now, there seems to be a new contender in the market from Infinix, called the Smart 2.
Infinix has been in the Indian market for about two years now. In that time though, the company has managed to turn a few heads. Sticking to a similar approach to Xiaomi’s, Infinix is trying to offer more value-for-money through its budget smartphones. The Smart 2 seems to have come from the same strategy. Priced exactly the same as the Xiaomi Redmi 5A at Rs 5,999, the Smart 2 further promises to offer a taller screen and a great selfie camera experience. But can the smartphone steal the mantle away from the Xiaomi Redmi 5A to be the king of the entry-level smartphones? Let’s find out.
Handy and simple design
The approach here seems to be pretty simple, while also following the current industry trend. The Smart 2 features a 5.45-inch HD+ screen that packs in a resolution of 720 x 1440 pixels with a tall aspect ratio of 18:9. The screen is surrounded by a plastic chassis that features a metallic matte finish at the back. While the back panel is removable, Infinix has done a good job to make it appear like a unibody design.
What I really like about the smartphone is its handy design. I’ve used an Apple iPhone SE for more than a year now, and surprisingly I felt quite at home with the Smart 2 as well. Its compact build makes it easy to hold and use in one hand. Part of the credit also goes to the slim bezels and its light weight design.
The screen at the front comes with a protective glass coating, while the matte finish at the back offers a decent grip. Both however, are fingerprint magnets and get easily covered with smudges. The Standby/ Power button and volume rocker keys offer a good click. The Infinix Smart 2 doesn’t try to look like a premium smartphone, but neither does it come across as an obviously affordable one. Everything seems just about right for budget smartphone priced under Rs 7,000.
The 5.45-inch screen is one of the highlights of the Smart 2, and it doesn’t disappoint. It looks bright and vibrant for most scenarios. At its maximum brightness capability, it does pretty well on sunny days. Viewing angles aren’t extremely great but they hold-up just about fine. All-in-all, the Smart 2 delivers a good media experience, thanks to the lively colors and the deep blacks.
Surprisingly good camera for the price
The Infinix Smart 2 comes with a 13-megapixel rear camera, which features an aperture of f/2.0. It supports full-HD video recording and also comes equipped with a dual-LED flash for taking pictures in low light conditions. The camera configuration is pretty similar to that of the Xiaomi Redmi 5A. However, the Redmi 5A’s camera comes with a slightly lesser f/2.2 aperture.
In favorable lighting conditions, the rear camera on the Smart 2 can take some decent images. Colors look reasonably vibrant and there is also good contrast. The only areas it lacks in is sharpness. Images look a bit dull and softer around the edges, especially with minor details. The problem only increases when taking images in tricky or low light conditions. Adding to that, images also look a lot grainier in low-light conditions. There is night mode included but it does nothing but pop-out the colors, which doesn’t actually help you take better low-light pictures.
There is no Bokeh mode available for the rear camera, but the it does a decent job of blurring out the background, especially when taking close up shots. There is also a Beauty mode included, which works well in hiding blemishes and zit marks, making portrait images look good. In tricky backlit situations, we noticed HDR mode to bring in more detail. However, the camera takes more time to focus and process these images, making it impossible to use HDR while taking images of moving objects.
Coming to the front camera, it features an 8-megapixel sensor which also carries an f/2.0 aperture and comes equipped with dual-LED flash. The performance is reasonably good. The camera takes clean images with sufficient lighting around. Colors and skin tones look natural and do not carry any kind of tinge thanks to its accurate auto white balance. In low light conditions though, the results turn out pretty similar to the rear camera, which means images look grainy and dull.
The front camera gets a software-supported Bokeh mode, which helps blur out the background in order to make your subject stand out. The bokeh mode successfully manages to blur out the background but in my opinion it’s more of a miss than a hit. Often, I found the camera to overdo the effect, which made the images look a bit odd because of the rigid transition in the depth of field. The camera focuses pretty slowly even with good lighting.
Feature-rich UI with laggy performance
The Smart 2 runs on Android 8.1 Oreo OS, which comes layered with the company’s proprietary XOS. The interface seems pretty similar to the Infinix Hot 6 Pro I reviewed some time ago. Overall it looks neat and carries some intuitive features. It’s customizable to quite an extent, including the app drawer layout, grid size, app icon theme, and also the text color. There’s a good number of customizable gestures included for shortcuts to open the app drawer, open a certain app, take a screenshot, scroll down the notification drawer and call upon Google Assistant as well.
Scrolling left on the homescreen also reveals the quick search panel which showcases recently used apps and also some news stories, just like Google cards. However, the news feed here is not customizable and cannot be modified according to user preference. That’s one of the things I didn’t like about the interface along with the huge number of bloatware included in the form of games. Thankfully though, you can remove the news feed and also the third-party apps included.
The Smart 2 doesn’t come with a fingerprint sensor, but Infinix has equipped it with Face Unlock feature. Surprisingly, it worked pretty well in unlocking the smartphone. It was successfully on most occasions. However, the feature doesn’t work as quick as it does on some high-end smartphones. There were times when using the security pattern or pin worked a lot faster.
On the inside, the Smart 2 comes with a MediaTek MT6739 SoC, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. On paper it might sound at par with the Xiaomi Redmi 5A, but in real world performance, the Infinix Smart 2 falls behind.
Disappointingly, the Smart 2 struggled right from the get go. The interface doesn’t feel all that smooth with opening apps or multitasking between them. The performance with apps like Facebook and Instagram also seems quite jittery and rigid. It takes a further hit, when you have multiple applications loaded in the background. That said, the Smart 2 manages to run basic games like Subway Surfer just fine. However, with high-end games, the phone gets too hot and delivers a pretty lag-heavy experience.
The Smart 2 comes with a 3,050mAh battery, which with daily use of Facebook, Instagram, Reddit lasted just about a day. However, I had to charge the device twice on days where my usage included an hour of playing games or watching videos. The smartphone takes about 2 hours to charge completely.
Watch: Xiaomi Redmi 5A First Look
All said and done, the Infinix Smart 2 comes close to being a worthy contender to the Xiaomi Redmi 5A. Yes, the taller screen and the front camera work really well, but the smartphone trails behind because of its poor performance with day-to-day applications. This is also one of the key factors that keeps it from becoming a good all-rounder, something that Xiaom Redmi 5A is known for.
At Rs 5,999, the Infinix is still good value for money, but unfortunately, the choice here comes down to choosing between a bigger screen or better performance, between the two smartphones. If it’s the screen you want, you’ll be well served by the Infinix Smart 2 for this price. Another alternative is the recently launched 10.or D2, which also features a similar tall screen.