Infinix Zero 8 Review – When Good Isn’t Good Enough?

The chances are the Infinix brand has eluded you if you’re reading this, until now. Formed in 2013, the Shenzhen-based Infinix target the African and Asia continents with their devices, and have made big strides in branding and are now even the main sponsors of Indian Super League team Mumbai City FC. With the Infinix Zero 8 being launched in 2020 with a respectable hardware set, software that is more appealing to a wider global market perhaps, and MSRP that is attractive, Infinix might just become a more household name.

Infinix Zero 8
+ FOR
  • Intriguing design
  • Good battery life
- AGAINST
  • Optics are hit and miss
  • Display is lacklustre
  • Lacking some features of competitors
  • Video recording is disappointing

Find out more at Infinix Global – £195

Overview

The Infinix Zero 8 hints at the design aesthetic from the outset with a glossy unboxing experience. Alongside the Zero 8, consumers are also treated to some earbuds, USB Type-C cable and 33W fast-charging brick. There’s nothing here to get too excited about but in an age where in-ear headphones are not optional extras, it’s nice to see some included.

The Infinix Zero 8 is a flagship product for the company but for many, it will be decidedly budget. Their previously released device, the Infinix Smart 5, debuted similarly in August, but with a reduced specifications list. The Zero 8 has some handy specs on paper. The MediaTek Helio G90T, with its 8-Core architecture, is producing very good results versus its competitors in the mid-range. There’s 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage in two, although you can expand that with a microSD card. All of that powers an IPC LCD 90hz 1080 x 2460 resolution display at 6.85-inches.

In terms of inputs and ports, the Infinix Zero 8 has a power button on the right-hand side that has an integrated fingerprint scanner. There’s no under-the-screen scanner here due to cost. The right-hand side is finished off with a volume rocker. On the left-hand side all that is visible is the SIM tray. The Zero 8 can take advantage of dual SIMs in addition to a separate microSD card, simultaneously. On the bottom of the device sits the 3.5mm audio jack, pinhole microphone, USB Type-C charging port as well as the single speaker grille.

The rear houses the extraordinary diamond-shaped camera stack with a single 64MP camera surrounded by dual 2MP depth sensors and an 8MP ultra-wide camera, and LED flash. That camera housing is set within a frosted geometric pattern that looks quite striking.

Around front is the 1080p display with a cut out for the dual-selfie cameras.

Infinix Zero 8

There are clear cost savings here with the material choice – plastic, not aluminium – as well as some 2020 features missing, but you can’t fault Infinix for the design. They’ve sprinkled a little bit of flagship here and I really like the choices they’ve made. Who says budget needs to mean bland?

For the full spec sheet, see below.

Specs

  • IPS LCD 90hz 6.85-inch 1080 x 2460 display
  • Helio G90T CPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB storage (expandable via microSD card)
  • Rear Camera
    • 64 MP, f/1.9, (wide), 1/1.73″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.3, (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
    • Capable of up to 4K 30fps video
    • EIS only on up to 1080p 30fps
  • Front Camera
    • 48 MP, f/2.2, (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm
    • 8 MP, f/2.2, (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • Capable of up to 1080p 30fps video
  • Android 10 with XOS 7 skin
  • 4500 mAh battery (33W fast charging)
  • Fingerprint scanner, GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi ac, USB Type-C (2.0)

Performance & Use

Let’s dive straight in starting with the display. Before powering up it looks like a lovely sheet of glass, with only the selfie camera cutouts disturbing an otherwise clean front. Hitting the power button, and start scrolling and the 90hz really does make a difference to the animation speeds. There is the option to allow the Zero 8 to automatically select when to use it, or you can default the refresh to either 60hz or 90hz as you wish. The IPS LCD display is sadly not too bright though sporting a paltry peak of 450 nits. This is far from a good IPS display and suffers greatly in bright daylight.

Moving deeper into the display, and the colour seems a little washed out, and I’d like to have seen Infinix include even the most basic white point adjustment or colour calibration setting to allow tweaking this. To make matters worse on the panel itself there is no mention of any Gorilla Glass protection, so I’m going to say it has none.

Once into the meat of the device and things pick up quickly. The device feels good in the hand – it’s not a lightweight mess like some other import budget devices I’ve used. There’s a reassuring heft to it. Performance of the Helio G90T is slick and strides confidently through daily tasks such as browsing, email, and social media, with gaming also passing with flying colours. Multi-tasking is slick and the animations are stutter-free. When playing the most intensive games the Zero 8 does start to hot up, but it doesn’t get uncomfortable. It’s safe to say that the MediaTek chip coupled with the 8GB RAM is sufficient for the majority of consumers.

Media consumption is fine too, but can sometimes be hampered by the IPS LCD display in video playback. Despite the lacklustre peak brightness, the software is capable of HDR10 playback, albeit don’t expect to be wowed. The Zero 8 will cope with it performance-wise just fine. The audio playback of that media might be a little tinny. There’s a severe lack of any low end when playing back through the single bottom-facing speaker. This is adequate for conference calls but lacks any ability to add immersion to media consumption. It can be tweaked slightly in a built-in EQ, but even then it is, at best, adequate.

One area the Infinix Zero 8 does very well in is battery life, in part thanks to the software in tow. I easily managed a full day’s charge with upwards of 20% remaining. That use consisted of regular email use (4 mailboxes polling every 5 minutes), web browsing, social media and media consumption/streaming. It would have been nice to top it up wirelessly thanks to Qi, but sadly I had to use the included 33W charger instead which did the job. I’m sure pairing down the software bloat would help an already good battery setup.

Software – XOS 7 atop Android 10

The software is, at best, a mixed bag. Infinix label their skin XOS and this version does seem to be highly Westernised in appearance. Gestures or virtual buttons are available from home screen settings, all Google services work as expected and the usual selection of application, widget and battery management options are available from the settings.

What might put consumers off, as it did me originally, is the sheer amount of additional applications installed by default and adverts that randomly appear in the notification shade. It’s clear that the device is subsidised by sponsored applications and I can appreciate the effect it lends the final retail price. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t infuriating though. That said, the vast majority of these applications (mostly games and management apps) can be uninstalled or disabled. Once completed the OS looks a lot cleaner. Pay particular attention to the permissions these applications ask for as many do not seem to relate to a logical requirement.

There are some interesting value adds here such as Game Mode. There’s an in-game overlay giving information as to resource utilisation, as well as an application allowing parental controls for time limits, toggling of the in-game assistant panel and more. It’s quite in-depth and it wouldn’t be amiss on a gaming-centric phone by ASUS or Razer for example. Then there’s Smart Panel, a quick menu which can be swiped into view from the edge of the display. This panel can house shortcuts for applications as well as functions such as a QR reader and screen recording, as well as a volume slider. It’s quite nifty and adds value to one’s daily use.

Users can also find a number of additional gestures in tow such as double-tap to wake, with the ability to configure many multi-finger gestures to open an application or perform a given task.

Then there are those aspects that deliver less value such as the plethora of phone management settings within XOS 7. From a complete clean of all open applications which can be somewhat helpful to the aggressive memory management which is pervasive and often leads to missed notifications, a mixed bag seems an apt summary. Furthermore, the memory management settings can be found in three different locations if you’re hellbent on turning them off (which you should be).

Infinix has managed to deliver an embryonic Westernised skin that I personally believe is better than some of the earlier attempts from the likes of Xiaomi. It’s far from perfect and is very heavy and cumbersome out of the box, but with some time spent uninstalling, and some updates I’ve already experienced I could safely use this as a daily user interface. The more traction Infinix can make into the Western market the more I’m sure they will follow the likes of many Asian-spawned brands in providing even more stock features.

Photography & Video

It’s the same story here as with the software – a mixed bag. On paper, the Quad camera setup of the Infinix Zero 8 should deliver what is required of a modern smartphone, and it certainly has the horsepower to back up those claims. In use, it sometimes flatters to deceive.

Starting with video recording first as this is the most disappointing aspect for me. You’ll see from the video samples taken below I’m relatively upbeat about the video samples I’m taking as I’m talking. On-screen, the rendering looks clean and crisp, without any additional jelly or shaking on the edges of the screen in either 1080p 30fps or 4k 30fps. Once exported however the samples become a hot mess. See for yourself.

Video Samples

Colours are washed out and the dynamic range is nearly non-existent in most instances. It’s really a bit of a failure. Switching to 1080p 30fps with EIS turned on, I thought I’d be in for an even better experience. The Helio G90T would have an easier time and could put some of its power into delivering a truly good, stable, recording. Sadly not, it’s as bad, but just in different ways. The processing completed as part of the electronic image stabilisation is clearly not refined as we can see artefacts and edge blurring throughout.

Not a good start.

Still Imagery

Moving on to still imagers and photography, there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. You can get some decent shots with the main shooter on the Zero 8, it just takes a bit of time. To start with, the camera app can be a little off-putting, with no Pro mode to allow dialling in of specifics. There are some cool modes for example such as Bokeh and Super Night, which actually does a decent job.

Sticking with the main point-and-shoot operation, dynamic range is the first aspect that’s noticed, or should I say the lack of it. You can negatively offset the exposure which does help a little, but it’s only the smallest of amounts. Strangely some of the shots I managed to take in good lighting conditions turned out well, such as the ones of the trees along a street, but most, sadly, did not. The detail is there in some shots, but grainy in others, and if you attempt to take a shot in anything but perfect lighting conditions, the grain creeps in, as can be seen in the shot of my green screen gear. The selfie camera does an equally okay job but completely blows out the background.

Portrait mode does a better than average job of cutting around a subject on the selfie camera too, however, the rest of the shot is just a mess, with a bloom of white nonsense making up the sky.

For a view of the differences between the main modes on the AI Cam (which can recognise a number of scenes – mostly outdoors), see below. There’s a standard 1x (wide) shot, a 0.6 ultra-wide shot, and then there’s a digital 2x zoom.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Overall, not a great set of optics. You can get some okay social media stuff if that’s all you’re after.

Final Thoughts

Look, this was the first Infinix phone I’ve reviewed or used. I hadn’t even heard of them prior. I’m torn in terms of my conclusion. With the competition out there, such as the Realme 7, the Infinix offering is a difficult sell. The Realme devices are more prominent in the West and have better optical packages despite the on-paper delta in specifications. They share similar designs, materials and silicon, and they cost less. There’s really no argument to be made for plumping for importing an Infinix Zero 8.

The XOS 7 skin gives me a little hope though. I’ve seen people discuss the previous iteration (XOS 6) and said how cluttered it was, etc. I agree, but I’m trying to see this for what it is; where it’s aimed at, and the potential it has. With those tinted glasses on, it’s not a bad attempt. I’ve seen much worse efforts on these shores from smartphone manufacturers that are now household names.

Ultimately though, there are key features missing from this device (NFC, USB 3.0, etc) which reside on competitors offerings. Yes, it has fast charging with the included 33W brick. Yes, it has good battery life thanks to its 4500 mAh unit, but those other offerings tend to have less bloat, and more chance of good customer support. I’ll still be keeping an eye on Infinix though. With the backing from parent-company Transsion, they can continue a push in India, as well as Africa. We might well see them on the horizon again soon, hopefully with a more refined offering.

About Craig Bradshaw

Tech enthusiast and Editor-in-Chief of MobileTechTalk

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