Infinix Note 5 Stylus review: Productivity on a budget

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | AARON ALMEIDA
Published Nov 26, 2018, 3:05 pm IST
Updated Nov 27, 2018, 7:49 am IST
A rare Android One handset that comes with support for a stylus.
The Infinix Note 5 comes with capable cameras.
 The Infinix Note 5 comes with capable cameras.
Rating:

Come 2018, and Infinix has stepped up its game in the Indian smartphone arena by launching attractive handsets at unbeatable prices. Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to review the Infinix Note 5, an Android One smartphone that was launched with an unbelievable price tag. At the time of its review, there were various rumours suggesting that Infinix was gearing up to update its flagship Note 5 and beef up the device with productivity features such as a Samsung Galaxy Note-like stylus. 

It appears that all the leaks and rumours were true and the Hong Kong-based smartphone manufacturer has upgraded its flagship smartphone and loaded it with a stylus while aptly naming it — Infinix Note 5 Stylus.

 

This handset’s main USP is the stylus which Infinix terms it as the X-Pen; however, this handset has much more than just its stylus. For starters, it’s an Android One handset which gives you the purest form of the Google OS and secondly, it’s robust build keeps your mind at ease from accidental drops. Another thing that adds to the Note 5 Stylus’ repertoire is its price point. Rarely will you find a smartphone having a stylus priced this attractively.

We take a look at what the Infinix Note 5 Stylus has on offer.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

Design, Build

The Infinix Note 5 Stylus’ design is all based around the X-Pen, hence, we get a handset that’s beefier than its Note 5. While this may be a put-off for some, it’s reassuring to have a smartphone with this much bulk in an age where handsets are getting skinnier. However, we are not claiming that it’s a very chunky handset, but rather a handset that has the width to feel secure in the hand.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

The Infinix Note 5 Stylus features an all-metallic body and dressed in Bordeaux Red. This colour scheme can be appealing across genders as it features the same hue that’s found on the (Product Red) Apple iPhone 7. A design trait of the Note 5 Stylus we really liked is the matte-finish exterior. This doesn’t attract fingerprints and in the process allowing it to appear as new as far past its purchase date. The rear plays home to the single camera  - fingerprint scanner combo which are located in the upper-centre of the handset. Beside it is the dual tone LED flash. On the rear, you will also find the subtle Infinix branding as well as the denotation that it’s an Android One handset.

The bottom houses the slot for the X-Pen in a spring-loaded bay, and alongside is a micro USB port and a headphone jack. The sides show a textured power button, which in our opinion is a good design choice as it differentiates it from the volume rockers located just above it. The other side features the hybrid SIM tray.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

While most handsets are adopting the notched design, the Note 5 Stylus proudly shows off its top and bottom bezels. However, this makes it look a bit dated in comparison to the plethora of notched handsets being launched nowadays. However, in our opinion, a notch here would be a hindrance, especially for the note/stylus feature. Another design choice we did not really like was the thick side bezels which makes it look a lot beefier than it actually is. The top bezel is home to the earpiece, the front-facing camera, the notification LED and the excessively bright LED flash.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

To wrap-up, the Infinix Note 5 appears to be a handset that’s capable of taking more than a few accidental knocks. It is dressed in a colour that’s quite appealing and can potentially turn a few heads. However, with the inclusion of thick bezels on all four sides, the Note 5 Stylus doesn’t look like a 2018 device, but rather an early 2016/17 handset, which may not be as appealing to the style conscious. However, the productivity angle is what most would benefit from.

Display

The Infinix Hot S3X is the only handset from the brand to sport a notched design. That handset came with a design could appeal to almost everyone. That design trend is unfortunately not prevalent here as the thick bezels, unfortunately, steal the show which the rear is throwing out. 

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

The Infinix Note 5 Stylus comes with a 5.93-inch FHD+ (18:9) full view display which Infinix has dubbed as the Infinity Display. It comes with a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and sports an 86 per cent screen-to-body ratio. Though the handset comes with thick bezels, the brand has placed a lot of importance on the display quality, putting it on par with rival handsets that are priced significantly higher. 

The display is rated at 500-nits which is on par with most Android handsets out there. While the display is bright, viewing it in direct sunlight tends to be problematic as it is hindered by a lot of surface glare and reflections. However, the moment you move to a slightly shaded area (or not in direct sunlight) the viewing experience improves vastly. Apart from this, the overall colour reproduction is accurate and there is a lot of detail in images on-screen.

As for the stylus, we noticed that there was a slight lag — this is down to the paltry refresh rate of the display. However, it’s not as bad that it's unusable as it is decently fast. Do note, the stylus here is not a conventional capacitive stylus, but is almost similar to what Samaung's S-Pen is. It sports an onboard battery and works similar to the Samsung counterpart.

Software

On the software front, the Infinix Note 5 Stylus truly shines and this is the singular reason why we suggest purchasing the handset. Being an Android One handset, you get the purest form of Android devoid of any custom Infinix skin on top. So, unlike the recently reviewed Hot S3X, we don’t find the XOS Hummingbird skin here making this handset an absolute pleasure to use.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus screenshots

Infinix has done almost no customisations to the software experience apart from adding a few custom apps that aim to enhance the overall experience. This includes a note-taking software X-Note, CarlCare and PenUp which can be easily uninstalled if not required. Additionally, the handset has been optimised to support the X-Pen, so when you eject the stylus, you are greeted with a note-taking app that comes in very handy  — So much Samsung-like.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

Also, when the stylus is out of its dock, a shortcut menu pops up on the side of the screen with options for note-taking, drawing and more. The Note 5 Stylus currently runs Android 8.1 Oreo with the October security patch. Being an Android One handset, you can be sure to receive regular software updates which are guaranteed by Google as part of the Android One program. This helps keep your device up to date for at least the next couple of years. The handset also has unique gestures such as a three-finger swipe down to capture a screenshot that’s quite handy to use. 

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

Overall, the software experience on this handset is something we really enjoyed and it makes for a boring looking handset akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing — brilliant.

Performance

The Infinix Note 5 Stylus comes with an octa-core MediaTek 6763V SoC aka an Helio P23 with its first cluster clocked at 1.51GHz and its second four clusters clocked at 2GHz alongside an ARM Mali G71 GPU. This chipset is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage putting it a more premium category as compared to the Infinix Note 5 that was configured at 3GB/32GB. Being a stock Android smartphone, the Infinix Note 5 Stylus takes full advantage of the software and renders any actions thrown at it pretty efficiently. This makes the handset an absolute pleasure to use and handled every task with relative ease.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

While using the handset for casual daily tasks, such as social, email, documentations, and alike, the handset performed admirably well. There was no stutter or lag noticed while multitasking with each app opening instantaneously. Gaming on the handset can be a bit of an issue though as it doesn’t boast a flagship core; however, for casual games such as Subway Surfers, the phone will hold up just fine. We tried playing Asphalt 9 as well as Asphalt 8 on the handset and while the device did manage to run the game, it did not have the best gaming experience as one would expect. Streaming of music and videos through Amazon Prime Music and Netflix worked absolutely fine.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus screenshots

We did run the usual slew of synthetic benchmarks as well with Geekbench 4 giving us a single-core score of 832 points while the multi-core test recorded 3439 points. This is almost on par with the Infinix Note 5 which provided us scores of 829 points and 3485 points in the single-core and multi-core tests, respectively. While running the exhaustive AnTuTu benchmark, the handset scored 84840 points which is marginally ahead of its predecessor (the Note 5 which provided a score of 83957 points). And lastly, on PCMark the Note 5 Stylus scored 4811 points while the Note 5 gave out 4747 points. So, the newer model manages to inch out its predecessor across the board. However, it must be said that while synthetic benchmarks give us a fair description of the capabilities of the handset, real-world performances matter more. And overall, this handset manages to output whatever it claims to do.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

On the Infinix Note 5, we had a huge issue with the fingerprint scanner, in terms of responsiveness. It appears Infinix listened to feedback and we found no issues on the note as before. 

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

Camera

With the Note 5 Stylus, there were a lot of rumours indicating that the brand would employ a dual-rear camera setup. However, Infinix has thrown in just a single rear 16MP shooter with an aperture value of f/1.8 and a 1.25μm pixel size. In the past, Infinix has issued handsets that have fared well in the optics department and the same is true with the Stylus. While clicking outdoor shots, the handset managed to render colours accurately, details are clearly visible and this is especially true while shooting flora. The camera fares well while shooting portraits with skin tones appearing as they are meant to be. While colours render well, an issue we had with the handset was its focusing. Even after tapping to focus, the camera did not capture details as expected with the focus off at most times. This may get a bit irritating if you want to quickly whip out the phone to click a picture as you may lose out on the moment because of the tacky AF. Indoor and low light shots fared predictably with noise clearly creeping in. For the most optimum camera performance, make sure to shoot in well-lit environments as the camera will tend to struggle.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus camera samples

Infinix Note 5 Stylus camera samples

Infinix Note 5 Stylus camera samples

Infinix Note 5 Stylus camera samples

Infinix Note 5 Stylus camera samples

The handset uses a 16MP camera for selfies too, with an f/2.0 aperture. The camera app has all the bells and whistles required to shoot great selfies for social media and in here we find various modes that help enhance the quality of the picture such as beauty mode, Portrait, WideSelfie, Time-lapse etc. The edge-detection isn’t the best while shooting in portrait mode, but passable and about average. The Beauty Mode is a neat feature that can make for fun shots to be shared on social media as it smoothens the skin making you appear flawless. We find that many college kids use this feature a lot especially on social media so it’s a great feature to have on board.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus camera samples

Infinix Note 5 Stylus camera samples

While the cameras cannot be compared to the likes of a OnePlus 6T or other flagship smartphones, the Infinix does a decent job with images and in some cases, fare a lot better than similarly priced handsets. Bear in mind, this handset is more about productivity and not imaging, since it revolves around the stylus that can help you jot notes, whip out Excel sheets, sign your initials, mark/highlight areas, and a lot more that cannot be done as easily with a finger. The fine tip of the stylus (similar to the S-Pen on Samsung's Note series) makes it super convenient to write and make quick notes, which conventional fat-nubbed capacitive styluses don't offer.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

Battery

The Infinix Note 5 sported a 4500mAh battery, and surprisingly, the Note 5 Stylus is equipped with a smaller 4000mAh battery. However, this could be issue because of the X-Pen that eats up some space within. However, it’s all down to power management and Infinix ensures that you will get an all-day battery with the Note 5 Stylus too. We streamed music, watched a couple of episodes on Netflix, accessed social media and intensively worked on IM — and at the end of a work-day we were still left with around 15 per cent battery remaining. It is assuring that the Note 5 can survive moderate-to-heavy usage with ease. Additionally, the handset also comes with X-Charge, which is Infinix's fast charging feature and it can charge up the handset in just an hour. However, to make use of this feature, you have to connect it to the 18W charger that came along with the device. It has to be noted that it also depends from person to person as the battery performance is subjective.

Infinix Note 5 Stylus review

Verdict

The Infinix Note 5 Stylus is priced at Rs 15,999 making it highly attractive on our shores where users are looking for more features on the least amount spent. The Note 5 Stylus has a lot going for it, especially the software and the Android One experience, which is an absolute pleasure. The Stylus and the software for it are well optimised. So, if you are in the market looking for a handset with a stylus and don’t want to burn a searing hole in your pocket and don’t really care about thick bezels, then the Infinix Note 5 is an ideal choice. The handset may not see takers from those who prefer performance, but will definitely be welcomed by those who are looking for a Samsung Galaxy Note-like smartphone on a budget price. If you are camera conscious, you could look at other handsets, but if productivity is your core area, then the Note 5 is worth your money.

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