Infinix Note 4 Pro review: Is this the alternative to the Galaxy Note8?

Infinix Note 4 Pro
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Infinix is a brand that I believe not many of you would have heard of. I don’t blame you. It’s a fairly new brand and it’s attempting something brave with its Note 4 Pro (X571). Positioned as THE alternative to the much beloved Samsung Galaxy Note series, Infinix even claims this is “The Better Note.”

Flattering impersonator or flat copy? I spent some time with the Note 4 Pro to find out if it’s really “The Better Note.”

Design & Build

On the design front, the Note 4 Pro has definitely taken cues from the device it’s trying to impersonate. In fact, it looks quite similar to older Galaxy Notes. That’s not entirely a bad thing though, and it would give Galaxy Note users “a sense of familiarity.”

For a device with such an affordable price tag, the Note 4 Pro is surprisingly well built. The all-metal unibody is solid and feels quite hefty. Depending on your preference, that could be a good or bad thing. I’ll tell you why in a little bit. The review unit I received came in an elegant champagne gold colour scheme but if that isn’t to your taste, there’s also sandstone black, prussian blue or lilac gray options.

Seeing as it bears the Note moniker, this device comes with a large 5.7-inch display and if you have fairly small or average sized hands like me, the combination of the weight and display size does make it quite hard to hold or even use one handed. I even found swiping to type on the keyboard quite challenging as I had to resort to a bit of finger gymnastics.

Situated right under the 5.7-inch display are two capacitive keys, which don’t bear the usual Back or Recent App symbols. Instead, they are both just dots. I thought they would be programmable but I couldn’t find a way to change them. So the left dot is for the Recent Apps while the right dot is the familiar Back button. Sitting between these two dots is the Home key which also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. Again, it looks very much like Samsung’s previous devices.

On the left side of the device you’ll find the dual SIM slot, do take note (pun intended) that this phone still uses micro-SIM cards and not nano-SIM. Right below the dual SIM slot, you will see three gold pins and these are there because the Note 4 Pro doesn’t have built-in stylus storage and these pins connect to a bundled case which charges the stylus. More on this later in the review.

As for the right side, you’ll find the volume rocker and also power/lock button. Both buttons are tactile and seeing as the power button is textured, it’s quite easy to find.

One of the biggest surprises to me is also the fact that Infinix decided to take a different route and forego the hybrid SIM and microSD slot we’re so accustomed to these days. So right above the volume rocker, you actually have a dedicated microSD slot, which to me is great as you won’t have to choose between expandable storage or extra SIM.

Infinix Note 4 Pro
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As we move to the rear, all we have is the 13MP camera and at the bottom you’ll find the single bottom firing speaker, and the a micro-USB port. Finally, on the top, you have the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is great as I always prefer my headphone jacks to be on the top.

Again, considering its price point, the Note 4 Pro definitely is a looker and feels solid overall.

[nextpage title=”Hardware, Software, In the Box”]

What’s in the box

  • Note 4 Pro Unit
  • Micro USB cable
  • XCharge Power adapter
  • User guide/Warranty card
  • SIM Insertion Tool
  • Screen Protector
  • 3.5mm Earphones
  • Xpen & Smart Cover (bundled)

Hardware

Seeing as the Note 4 Pro is a mid-range device, I really didn’t expect it to boast high-end specs but at the same time, we’ve seen phones that bear almost similar price tags that feature much better hardware. On that note, Infinix’s phablet comes out looking quite disappointing.

At the heart of the Note 4 Pro is an octa-core MediaTek MT6753 CPU running at 1.3GHz and is paired with just 3GB of RAM and an ARM MALI-T720 MP3 GPU. This doesn’t look all too bad until you take into account that the MT6753 is actually a two-year old CPU based on 28nm architecture, which isn’t quite up to snuff in terms of efficiency and performance compared to the newer 14nm CPUs.

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Storage wise, the phone comes with 32GB of internal storage but almost half of that is used up by Infinix’s XOS bloatware. The only saving grace here is that you can equip the Note 4 Pro with a microSD card of up to 128GB.

In terms of battery, the Note 4 Pro comes with a massive one. That’s 4,500mAh worth of juice to be precise. Considering the large display and less efficient 28nm CPU, it does need a bigger battery.

Speaking of the large 5.7-inch display, the Note 4 Pro uses a Full HD 1920×1080 LCD IPS panel by Sharp. This is definitely one of the better features of the device as it is bright, clear and produces very accurate and vivid colours. Even when it comes to text, they’re crisp, with hardly noticeable bleeding when zoomed in.

When it comes to network and connection support, the Note 4 Pro supports networks up to 4G LTE, supports Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, AGPS and GLONASS.

Software

After using the plain vanilla and snappy version of Android on the Xiaomi Mi A1, coming to Infinix’s XOS just seems like a major step backwards. There’s a lot of unnecessary bloatware and also the entire design of the skin seems cartoonish.

I understand that it isn’t just Infinix that does this but do users really need two browsers, two galleries and a whole bunch of other junk we’ll probably never ever use? What makes things even worst is the fact that you can only disable these unwanted apps and not uninstall them.

Unlike other Chinese manufacturers, Infinix has included an app drawer in XOS that takes it cue from launchers like Action Launcher as it organises all the installed apps alphabetically and on the side. Alphabets  let you easily jump to the app you’re looking for. This is quite a nice touch as I’ve always found Action Launcher to be one of the easiest third-party launchers to use.

Remember how I said earlier in the review that the Note 4 Pro bears resemblance to the older Samsung Galaxy Notes? Well, it even sounds like them. If you weren’t a fan of Samsung’s water droplet (blooping) sound effects, sorry fellas, they’re making a comeback. The good thing is, it only bloops when you lock or unlock it.

[nextpage title=”Performance, Pros, Cons, Verdict”]

Performance

As far as performance goes, I would say that the Note 4 Pro is “just okay” at best. As mentioned earlier in the review, it uses a fairly dated CPU and this is clearly reflected in its benchmark scores. In AnTuTu’s benchmark rankings, it ranks below the likes of the Galaxy Note5 and Redmi Note 4 with at least a 50,000 score difference.

I understand that synthetic benchmark scores aren’t everything. But do hear me out. Day to day usage for me was okay on good days, and down right unbearable on bad days.

When I’m not multitasking and doing too many things at once, the device did run quite smoothly but when there was heavy multitasking, the lag in response grew more substantial. Even scrolling up and down on the web browser and invoking the recent apps screen saw major slowdowns and jittering.

So be warned, if you’re a heavy multitasker, this device isn’t going to do you any favours.

Gaming wise, the Note 4 Pro was able to handle games like Dead Trigger 2, WWE Immortals and Into The Dead 2 but only if they were set to Medium graphical settings. Even so, there was still noticeable frame drops, lag and slowdowns especially when things got a little too busy on screen.

Also, another thing to note is that the device did warm up quite quickly when I was gaming for just about 15 minutes or so. The good news is, it didn’t get too a point where it was too hot to handle.

In terms of battery life, the Note 4 Pro’s 4,500mAh battery worked wonders for a medium user like me. After taking it off the charger at 6.30am, the device would still have about a good 30% after a 16-hour day. As mentioned though, I’m not exactly a heavy user. My day-to-day routine consists of streaming music on Spotify, reading articles using Google Chrome or the Bleacher Report app, checking emails, replying texts on Whatsapp and Telegram and maybe watching videos on YouTube occasionally. So your mileage may vary.

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To add another feather to the cap of this device is the proprietary XCharge 4.0 charger (5V/5A) which tops up the phone very quickly. It will charge up 0-50% in less than an hour, and Infinix claims that just 5 minutes of charge time can give the phone up to two hours of call time.

The Note 4 Pro comes bundled with a nicely designed case and Xpen stylus. The problem here lies with the fact that the phone itself isn’t designed to store the stylus, which is why if you’re planning to rely on it, you’ll have to slap the case on the phone.

Another major niggle I had with the stylus is the fact that it needs to be charged from time to time to keep it functional. A 20-second charge would give you about 30 minutes of usage. However, if the stylus is low on juice, you will be notified so you can slide it back into the case.

Overall, the X-Pen is quite nice to use and even feels almost as good as Samsung’s S Pen. It doesn’t feel as solid or nice to hold but it does have accurate pressure sensitivity and features like Smart Select and Screen Write.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the cameras on the Note 4 Pro. For the main camera, it sports a 13MP shooter with autofocus and a dual LED flash. It’s the standard fare if you will. The rear camera isn’t too bad and comes with most of the features you would expect from a smartphone these days. It has a pretty decent Pro mode and a Picture-in-Picture (PIP) mode which is like Nokia’s new bothie mode.

In terms of camera performance, the autofocus is fast and I found colours to be quite accurate and details are nicely retained when photos are taken in daylight or well-lit areas. Without Optical or even Electronic Image Stabilisation, the photo taking experience in low-light suffers tremendously as the phone gets slow to focus and images tend to turn out blurry.

Another gripe I have with the camera is the fact that HDR isn’t activated by default. Also, the camera interface feels a little clunky and it’ll take you multiple swipes to get to the HDR settings.

As for the front 8MP camera, it also does well in daylight and well-lit situations but faceplants when in low-light conditions.

Infinix Note 4 Pro Camera UI
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The “Pro” interface is kind of interesting.

Check out sample photos in the Gallery.

Pros:

  • Solid premium metal build
  • Very good battery life
  • Rapid charging
  • Dual SIM and microSD support
  • Large and vibrant display
  • Decent camera performance

Cons:

  • Hard to hold or use one handed
  • Subpar performance
  • Only 32GB internal storage
  • Still uses micro-SIM
  • Stylus needs to be charged using a case
  • A case is required to store the stylus
  • XOS and its bloatware
  • HDR isn’t auto

Pricing and availability

The Infinix Note 4 Pro retails for MYR999 (incl. GST) and comes bundled with the Xpen and Smart Cover.

Verdict

Overall, I have to say that the Infinix Note 4 Pro is a good effort from the company. As for its “The Better Note” claim? It’s brave, but let’s just call it a moonshot. Having said that, it’s without a doubt, “The Cheaper Note.” Just as Samsung’s Galaxy Note8 rules the roost without competition, the Note 4 Pro carves its own niche by virtue of its price point. Call it king of the molehill if you will, but hey, it’s still king.

So, if you’re really looking to get an Android smartphone that has a stylus without having to take out a loan from a bank or loanshark or deal with silly 24-month contracts, this could be what you’re looking for.

That being said, you could also consider the Samsung Galaxy Note FE (for a wad of hundred dollar bills more, no less), which is the true alternative to the Galaxy Note8. And if you don’t need a stylus, there are plenty of other Android One devices that cost about the same or less that provide a better overall package.

For more information about Infinix, visit the official website.

[nextpage title=”Gallery”]

Shots from the Note 4 Pro in various conditions. Photos are straight from camera, unedited aside from being watermarked.

Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO450, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/35s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO954, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/35s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, Front camera, ISO574, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/20s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO773, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/35s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO1650, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/13s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO1650, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/13s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO122, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/3000s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO114, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/2800s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO120, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/1050s
Infinix Note 4 Pro Sample photo
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Auto, ISO701, 3.5mm, f/2.0, 1/100s
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