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Infinix Hot 20 5G Review: 5G on a Budget

With 5G networks now available in major cities, Indians are still paying the ‘5G tax’. This basically means that as a buyer, if you choose a 5G-capable smartphone, you end up with less capable hardware and features because 5G has been prioritised over everything else. This is felt the most in the budget segment, because of the rising cost of hardware. The recipe for cooking up a budget 5G smartphone for India has been the same since they started appearing in the first half of 2021. Now, Infinix has just launched its version of a budget 5G smartphone, the Hot 20 5G, so let’s see if anything has changed.

The company promises to deliver a true 5G experience with twelve 5G bands compared to other smartphones in this segment which usually skimp on support. There’s also a capable processor, a high-refresh rate display, and a large battery, all of which come at an impressively low price tag of Rs. 11,999. Does it all blend well when put together? Read on to find out.

Infinix Hot 20 5G price in India

The Infinix Hot 20 5G is available in one configuration which has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 11,999. The phone is available in Space Blue, Blaster Green, and Racing Black. I received the Space Blue finish for review.

While the price seems quite competitive given the hardware this phone offers, the iQoo Z6 Lite 5G (from Rs. 13,999) offers slightly better hardware, but omits a charger from its box. However, compare both of these smartphones to a 4G-only model such as the Moto G52 (available from Rs.11,999 onwards) and both seem to fall quite short when it comes to specifications and features.

Infinix Hot 20 5G design

While the Infinix Hot 20 5G does go big on hardware, design clearly was not a priority. The phone has a basic design that feels more entry-level than budget. The key factor in this is the use of a polycarbonate unibody forming the sides and the rear panel. The waterdrop display notch also makes this phone look a bit dated. However, this design also feels practical as the textured back with its fine grooves helps with the grip and keeps the phone smudge-free during use.

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The Infinix Hot 20 5G has its volume rocker and power button on the right

 

The phone features a single speaker, a Type-C USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom. There’s the volume rocker on the right, below which is the power button that also doubles up as the fingerprint scanner. The top is blank but the left has the SIM tray, which has space for two nano-SIMs and a microSD card.

The display, apart from the water drop notch, also has thick bezels all around with the bottom being even thicker. The display does gather fingerprints and smudges but these can be wiped off easily. Despite being made primarily of polycarbonate, the Hot 20 5G feels surprisingly heavy at 204g and does not have any IP rating.

Infinix Hot 20 5G specifications and software

The Infinix Hot 20 5G has a MediaTek Dimensity 810 SoC which is commonly found in budget 5G smartphones these days. Communication standards include Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 5.0. Infinix claims that the Hot 20 5G is one of only a few smartphones to support twelve 5G bands (n1/ n3/ n5/ n7/ n8/ n20/ n28/ n38/ n40/ n41/ n77/ n78), which should make for a seamless 5G experience wherever networks are available. It supports microSD card expansion up to 1TB, which is nice to have on a budget smartphone. The Hot 20 5G has a 5,000mAh battery and can be charged using the 18W charger that comes in the box.

The Infinix Hot 20 5G is powered by the company’s XOS software, version 10.6.0, which is based on Android 12. The latest version features larger home screen folders which makes it easier to identify the apps inside them. One can also swipe left or right once inside a folder to browse through other folders  on that page on the home screen, which is convenient. There are other neat touches such as a notification that plays once the battery is fully charged, a customisable Power Boost mode which lets you select what to disable, and more.

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The Infinix Hot 20 5G’s XOS operating system is based on Android 12

 

Those coming from a near-stock Android device, or even any of today’s common custom skins such as MIUI or Realme UI will have a steep learning curve trying to navigate the XOS interface. This is mainly because most things aren’t found in places that we are used to. A simple example is the notifications tray. It’s split up into two parts, so swiping downwards from the left of the notch will show notifications, while swiping down from the right reveals the quick settings toggles. The toggles section also has an odd layout with some large buttons at the top for Wi-Fi, mobile data and Bluetooth, with smaller buttons below that are left-aligned to accommodate a brightness bar on the right. Head into the Settings app and it will take you a while to find battery usage information. This is because it’s hidden inside a section in the Settings app called Power Marathon> Battery setting> Battery usage.

One detail that first-time Infinix buyers will notice is the sheer abundance of bloatware and third-party apps, most of which cannot be uninstalled. These include AHA Games, Beez, Boomplay, Carlcare, Facebook, Hi Browser, Palm Store, WeLife, WeZone, Visha Player, YoParty and many more. Many of the built-in apps had an “agree to proceed” pop-up asking for permissions to collect information. I also noticed some odd ads for the Hi Browser app when launching the Phone Master app.

Surprisingly, I was not bombarded by pesky notifications from these apps during the review period, save for the Palm Store app which prompted me to download apps from it every day. The Phone Master app did annoy me from time to time when installing apps, or with random notifications reminding me to clean up the phone’s memory. At the time of this review, Infinix could not confirm whether an Android 13 software update is in the works for this particular smartphone.

Infinix Hot 20 5G performance

Infinix seems to have taken a gamble of sorts by going with a 6.6-inch IPS LCD panel instead of a better AMOLED unit. What you do get is a 120Hz refresh rate which attempts to make software interactions feel smoother. While this display appears sharp enough with a full-HD+ resolution, colours are a bit too saturated and I noticed a slightly bluish tint. Brightness is a bit below the mark and I often found myself  manually cranking it well above 50 percent even when indoors. Outdoors, the display just wasn’t bright enough to tackle bright sunlight whether I was watching videos, browsing through the phone’s interface or using the camera app. Widevine support is limited to L3 which is good enough for SD quality playback but streaming video does not appear sharp. The single bottom-firing speaker sounds tinny at best and just isn’t loud enough, either for watching movies or for playing games. The fingerprint reader built in to the power button worked reliably every single time.

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The Infinix Hot 20 5G has a 120Hz IPS LCD display with a waterdrop notch at the top

 

While the software experience with XOS was far from best in class, performance was lacking as well. There were random instances of lag when launching and switching between, and minimising apps. I also noticed some random stuttering when scrolling through long lists inside apps.

With a Dimensity 810 SoC inside and 4GB of RAM, the phone performed as expected in the usual benchmark tests. The Infinix Hot 20 5G scored 3,12,324 points in AnTuTu, and managed scores of 587 and 1,681 in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively. In GFXBench, the phone managed 57fps in T-Rex, 23fps in Manhattan 3.1 and 12fps in Car Chase. Given the processor, the phone is mainly capable of low to mid-level gaming and works better with casual titles. While games such as Subway Surfers 2 ran smoothly without any hiccups, Asphalt 9: Legends stuttered quite a bit, along with some instances of lag during gameplay. I also tried Call of Duty: Mobile, which was just about playable at medium graphics and framerate settings, but I found the 180Hz touch sampling to be insufficient.

I managed to get about 6-7 hours of screen-on time from the 5,000mAh battery, which is good for a budget smartphone. Our standard video loop battery test managed 15 hours and 27 minutes, which is only average. The 18W charger in the box felt relatively slow, taking a good two and a half hours to fully charge the Hot 20 5G.

Infinix Hot 20 5G cameras

The Infinix Hot 20 5G packs in two rear-facing cameras, of which only one can be accessed by the user. The primary camera is a 50-megapixel unit, and it is accompanied by an “AI camera” which is used for gathering depth data. Selfies are handled by an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Unlike the rest of the XOS software interface which felt a bit out of place, the camera app felt familiar and was quite simple to use. What I did not like was its laggy performance when switching between camera modes, and when shooting in low light. The phone can record video at 720p, 1080p and 2K resolutions, when using the front and rear cameras.

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The Infinix Hot 20 5G has two rear cameras, of which only one is accessible by the user

 

In daylight, the primary camera captured mostly natural-looking colours when shooting landscape photos, but closeups of objects didn’t look as good. Photos lacked the usual sharpness and detail, and dynamic range was average with the HDR working overtime and making shots appear a bit dreamy. The phone lacks a macro camera and I could not get the primary one to capture sharp images at close range. Selfies taken in daylight also appeared a bit soft and dreamy. Switching to Portrait mode turns off the HDR system, so backgrounds appear completely blown out when shot under bright light. Edge detection was also strictly average.

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Infinix Hot 20 5G daylight camera samples. Top to bottom: Landscape, Close up, Portrait mode selfie (tap to see full size)

 

While I did not have great expectations from a budget smartphone when shooting in low light, the results from this camera did take me by surprise. The image quality dropped drastically when shooting photos post sunset. Resolved details were non-existent and the shots appeared mostly like paintings, with defined outlines around objects. Firing up the night mode only made things worse with overblown contrast and crushed blacks. Selfies in low light came out with passable detail, and the front-facing flash does improve the quality drastically, so it is useful.

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Infinix Hot 20 5G low-light camera samples. Top: Auto mode, bottom: Night mode (tap to see full size)

 

Overall, video quality was quite average for a budget smartphone. The recorded video lacked stabilisation and appeared quite shaky when panning or walking. Details weren’t as sharp as I expected. Low-light video recordings were unusable.

Verdict

With the Hot 20 5G, it sure feels as though Infinix solely focussed on 5G as a selling point and ignored everything else. This phone packs a MediaTek Dimensity 810 SoC, but XOS lacks the optimisations to make everything run smoothly. While I did not expect phenomenal gaming performance at this price point, I did hope for decent daylight camera performance, which I didn’t get from the Infinix Hot 20 5G. Apart from battery life and support for multiple 5G bands, there is little reason to check out this smartphone.

Despite lacking a charger in the box, the iQoo Z6 Lite 5G (Review) seems to be better optimised in terms of software and also offers superior still image performance with its primary camera. If you are fine with a 4G device, you can treat yourself to far better hardware by choosing the Moto G52 (Review). It has a superior 90Hz AMOLED display, stereo speakers, an IP52 rating for water and dust resistance, 30W charging, and bloatware-free near-stock Android software.


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