Infinix NOTE4 Pro review; slowly does it
+ Nice package contents
+ Solid looking device with a nice heft to it
+ True dual SIM functionality
+ Good battery life with impressive fast charging speeds
+ Display is nice to see in this price range
+ Smart Cover and XPen features are great
- Very sluggish luggish performance
- Non-backlit capacitive navigation keys are confusing
- Bucket loads of bloatware
- Slow camera delivers noisy results
The device I will be talking about here is rather interesting to me. I am no fan of styli. I have never used a smartphone with a stylus, skipping the resistive touchscreen technology until the Nokia X6 was launched with a capacitive touch display. But skip forward a few years, the Samsung Galaxy Note was launched, and people seemed to like having the ability to write naturally on a screen. It was successful, but the series also became increasingly expensive as newer generations came out. The Samsung Galaxy Note8 is Samsung’s priciest smartphone yet, at RM3999. The Infinix NOTE4 Pro comes out just at the right time, with the tagline “The Better Note”. Bold claim there, but lets give it a chance, shall we?
The packaging of the Infinix NOTE4 Pro isn’t all that interesting, but it is large. It features a questionable choice of font for the PRO wording, but otherwise it looks okay. The inner box slides out of the sleeve, and you will find the Infinix NOTE4 Pro fitted snugly into a plastic tray. So snugly that it is actually quite difficult to extract it. That tray is glued to the box, so where are the accessories?
If you guessed that they will be beneath the smartphone’s tray, you are wrong. You will have to flip the package over, and they are on the bottom, covered by a white flap. Infinix scored a few points for being rather creative here.
We received the XPen & Smart Cover along with the Infinix NOTE4 Pro too. Wondering why they are separately packaged? Well, the Infinix NOTE4 Pro and the Xpen + Smart Cover set are actually sold separately, with Infinix expecting you to shell out an extra RM200 for the latter.
And here’s the whole package. You get the device, some standard documentation, a really chunky 25W charger, microUSB cable, earphones and the XPen and Smart Cover.
A standard rectangular slab, the Infinix NOTE4 Pro isn’t going to impress anyone with its looks. The bezels are also pretty massive for a device launched in 2017 too. It does have a few premium touches here and there, like the 2.5D curved glass and nicely chamfered edges, but that’s about it.
The back looks pretty premium, with a nice smooth black finish, beveled edges and well hidden antenna lines. The Infinix and NOTE branding are also done stylishly. The camera sticks out a fair bit, so you will want to use this phone with a case. The camera has a dual LED flash to keep it company on what is otherwise a vast expanse of sandblasted aluminium.
The top is home to a 3.5mm jack, while you will find the microUSB port, mono loudspeaker and primary microphone on the bottom edge.
On the right you get your usual volume rocker and power button as well as the microSD slot, but over on the left is where it is much more interesting.
Here you find the SIM tray and 3 copper contacts that will connect to the case and charge up the XPen. Yep, the XPen is an active stylus that needs to be charged, and the only way to do that is with the Smart Cover.
Speaking of the Smart Cover, it is going to be an integral part of your experience, if you want the Infinix NOTE4 Pro to function like a “Note” device, that is. Without it, you will have to store the XPen separately. Luckily it looks pretty good. It is also pretty smart with a few nifty tricks up its sleeve.
It has a fabric back that continues over to the front. It doesn’t add too much to thickness, but it definitely makes the Infinix NOTE4 Pro much wider due to the space needed for the XPen’s slot. Hopefully Infinix can house the XPen in the smartphone’s body when the NOTE5 Pro rolls out.
|CPU/Chipset:||MediaTek MTK6753 (4 x ARM Cortex A53 @ 1.5 GHz, 4 x ARM Cortex A53 @ 1.3 GHz)|
|GPU:||Mali-T720MP3 @ 450 MHz|
|Display:||5.7″, FHD (1080p) IPS display by Sharp, MiraVision|
|Storage:||32GB (expandable with microSD up to 128GB)|
13MP f/2.0, dual LED flash
8MP f/2.0, front facing flash, Beautify Mode, WideSelfie
|OS:||Chameleon XOS based on Android 7.0 Nougat|
|Connectivity:||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)|
|Battery:||Li-ion 4500 mAh|
You do get full dual SIM functionality with Infinix NOTE4 Pro, but they are of the ancient microSIM standard instead of the newer nanoSIM which is really common nowadays. Chameleon XOS is Infinix’s custom UI slapped onto Android 7.0 Nougat, which is yet another bit of outdated stuff in the Infinix NOTE4 Pro. A small surprise that you might notice is support for 5 GHz, something which is notably lacking from a lot of its peers in this price range. No AC WiFi though. The 5.7″ FHD also amps up the attractiveness of the Infinix NOTE4 Pro, which is otherwise an entry-level device.
Featuring a MediaTek MTK6753 under the hood, the Infinix NOTE4 Pro is set to be an entry-level device in terms of performance. While it does have a clock speed advantage against the more popular MediaTek MTK6750, the older GPU might be a bottleneck when it comes to gaming performance. We will run it through our benchmark suite here.
The Mediatek MT6753 allows the Infinix NOTE4 Pro to score just a bit higher than the ASUS ZenFone Max Plus M1 that packed the MT6750T. The combination of faster CPU cores allow it to eke out a small 2000-point advantage over the ASUS device. It does come in behind the vivo V5 and all the Snapdragon 430-packing devices though. It doesn’t do that well competing among its peers in the entry level.
The clockspeed advantage is not so visible here, with a small lead over the MT6750 devices but once again coming in behind the Snapdragon 430 devices like the ZenFone 3 Laser. CPU performance won’t be its forte but at least it should offer a tad more grunt than the MT6750 chipsets in other entry-level devices.
Graphics performance is really poor, so don’t expect to use the Infinix NOTE4 Pro for gaming. Maybe Neko Atsume would be fine but not much more than that.
PCMark’s Work performance benchmark is quite hard to predict, as we have seen flagship chipsets fall behind mid-range ones in this benchmark. Nonetheless, the Infinix NOTE4 Pro slots in pretty far at the bottom, indicating poor overall system performance especially when it comes to productivity-related workloads.
Battery life is pretty much inline with what we would expect of a battery of this size coupled with a 5.7″ 1080p display. Sure, it isn’t the most efficient device out there, but it doesn’t rank too badly and delivers a good battery life.
In my usage, I managed to squeeze out more than 5 hours of SOT over nearly 14 hours before the tank hit 15%. This was with data used throughout the period of testing, so I am pretty impressed. Infinix was definitely right by throwing a massive 4500 mAh battery to make the Infinix NOTE4 Pro last longer than average despite an inefficient processor and a high resolution display. What about that massive 25W charger? Well, it gave the Infinix NOTE4 Pro a whopping 51% charge in 30 minutes, which is really impressive considering the huge battery here. This is a nice surprise, especially looking at the poor scores posted in most of the benchmarks.
Sporting chunky bezels and a large-ish 5.7″ screen size, the Infinix NOTE4 Pro is not an easy device to use with one hand. It is a heavy device and has a reassuring heft to it, so it has that in its favor. Throw on the case and things get even worse, as it adds quite a bit of width to the entire device. With that said, the display is really the best part of the Infinix NOTE4 Pro, being a full HD IPS panel that is pretty rare in this price segment nowadays. Simply with its resolution, it comes up ahead of many of its rivals below the RM1000 mark. The colors are good too, as is the maximum brightness. No complaints here.
Now you would have noticed the front facing fingerprint sensor. It is quick, but you will have to give it a press before it will wake the device and unlock. If you are using the Smart Cover, you will just have to rest your thumb on it as it will have woken up. The navigation keys are just mere dots, but you can’t reconfigure them, nor do they light up. Making matters worse, they are arranged wrongly, as in the Back button is on the right side. The active area is also smaller than usual, causing me to do quite a few taps before finally getting it right when using the Infinix NOTE4 Pro in the dark.
Chameleon XOS is understandably Chinese looking, but a swipe up reveals the hidden app drawer, a feature few Chinese OEMs have. There are lots of themes to play around with, and you can even tap on the Shuffle shortcut to give your device a randomly selected wallpaper. There is a huge load of bloatware, as all the apps starting with X in their name are Infinix’s own creations, and I have not used a single one. The overall experience is held back by some serious sluggishness in everything that I do. And I am not even using it for much aside from checking my social networks, instant messaging and browsing the web with Chrome!
The software is pretty well built for Smart Cover integration. It comes with a nice peek into notifications and the sliders which open up music controls or turn on the flashlight with a swipe from the edge to the center.
Checking out the camera setup, you get a single 13MP f/2.0 camera on the back, and an 8MP sensor up front. The rear is supported by a dual LED flash, while the selfie camera has to make do with a single one.
The UI of the camera is simple, with a big shutter button to fire off shots quickly. If you want to access more of the features like HDR or manual mode, you will have to swipe on the viewfinder. Overall the camera UI shares the overall sluggishness encountered elsewhere on the device. The manual mode, while stylish, takes quite a bit of patience and limits the maximum shutter speed to just 1/100 for some peculiar reason.
Image quality in good lighting is acceptable, but in low light, the software fails to properly handle the noise due to the elevated ISO. As you can see, the noise in the sky is rather apparent, giving it a really grainy look. This is possible to overcome via updates, so I look forward to Infinix delivering an update…or not. On the bright side, there is a huge watermark in case you want to let the world know you are using the Infinix NOTE4 Pro. Feel free to check out the full-sized camera samples on Flickr here.
The (X)Pen is mightier than the sword?
The Infinix NOTE4 Pro’s XPen is the Infinix NOTE4 Pro’s highlight feature. The main reason it features the NOTE moniker. It is an active stylus, which means it needs to be charged, unlike Samsung’s passive S Pen. The Infinix NOTE4 Pro will have a small notification icon letting you know if the pen is disconnected to prevent loss.
I was actually pleased by its performance, as it detects pressure well and offers a smooth writing experience. There is a good selection of features that works with the XPen, with memo and notepad being the most useful of them all. While it is an active stylus, the battery life is sufficient for about half an hour of continuous writing. I would say that it definitely offers an alternative to the Galaxy Note series which is increasingly pricey nowadays. Only in terms of the stylus functionality, though. Also, do note that the my XPen actually broke, with the rear end snapping off when I was trying to pull it out of the Smart Cover. While the smartphone itself feels well built, the pen seems to be on the other end of the spectrum.
Is the Infinix NOTE4 Pro worth getting? For RM999 inclusive of the SmartCover and XPen, get this only if you want a stylus to be able to quickly jot down stuff. The XPen is really well done. The XCharge technology with up to 25W of power is also a surprise find in this price range. If you have no use for a stylus, skip this device as it really needs quite a bit of polish to be a good smartphone. The weak performance is also a major letdown for a device that claims to be “The Better Note”. TL;DR? We do not recommend the Infinix NOTE4 Pro unless you really want to use a stylus.