Hisense has recently launched its Infinity KO smartphone in South Africa.
Designed to be “lifeproof”, the ruggedised Android device features a 5-inch, 720p display, non-expandable storage and dual LTE SIM card slots.
At first glance, the Infinity KO is somewhat reminiscent of an older generation of iPhones, the 4/S and even 5/S, but thanks to the protective rubber coating around the circumference of the KO, it’s what we imagine the iPhone would’ve looked like had it gone to gym and had all its protein shakes.
It’s not an ugly phone at all and we’re very impressed to see this level of design on a phone that’s been water and shock-proofed.
As is usual with Android phones, this one is a rectangular black slab of glass (and rubber). The front of the device, covered by Gorilla Glass 4, is dominated by the 5-inch display surrounded by slightly thicker-than-average side bezels. The only other things found on the front are the cutout for the earpiece and the light sensor.
The most notable part of the design though is the rubberised layer, which runs around the top and bottom edges of the phone, with the sides featuring a tasteful strip of brushed metal which houses a metal flap, which covers the charging port and dual LTE SIM card tray on the left-hand side of the phone, and the volume rocker, power button and dedicated camera button on the right-hand side.
The top of the phone also houses the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is protected by a removable covering, which ensures that the phone is waterproof when closed.
The back of the phone is a very simple affair with a protruding camera nodule, ala Samsung Galaxy S5 / S6, above the flash at the top end.
2/3 of the way down the back you’ll find the word Hisense and then a small speaker grille cutout at the bottom next to the Dolby branding.
Overall, this is a classy looking affair from Hisense that we quite like.
Hisense is aiming for what is currently a niche market. Smartphone users usually complain about how fragile their phones are but no-one really wants to by a ruggedised phone because they’re usually big, bulky and not very pretty to look at.
With the Infinity KO, Hisense is looking to change that perception.
At the launch, the company had 2 of these smartphones switched on while being repeatedly dunked in water and during all the time we were at the event, both phones worked perfectly.
We decided to test this for ourselves and took our Infinity KO to the beach just a few days later. With all the ports closed and the phone switched on, we submerged it in the ocean for between 3 – 5 minutes at a time and encountered no problems when using it. So for those accidental drops into the pool, the bath or the toilet, you’ll have no problems using the phone afterwards, just make sure that the ports are always closed and that you rinse your phone off afterwards with fresh water.
At the launch, Hisense also persuaded a very reluctant member of the media to throw the phone onto the ground as hard as she could. After a few throws onto a tiled floor, by both the audience participant and a member of the Hisense team, the phone continued to work perfectly.
We recreated the same test and threw the Infinity KO onto tiles, carpet and even dropped it outside on the sidewalk from shoulder height.
The rubberised edge performs its function very well here and saved the display from cracking as well as absorbing the shock from the fall.
We’re not recommending that you go all Naomi Campbell and throw your phone at your assistant, but it’s nice to know that if you drop your phone, you don’t need to have suffer through that moment of panic, wondering if your phone is ever going to be the same again.
The only gripe that we have with the waterproofing functionality of this phone is that the headphone jack needs to be closed as well for the phone to be considered waterproof. The problem is that the headphone jack covering is completely removable and is not tethered or connected to the phone in any manner, it’s also very small, which means that it’s incredibly easy to lose, in fact we almost lost ours sitting at a restaurant the same day we got the phone.
Hisense has not packed in a full HD display (FHD), nor have they opted for a 2K or 4K display, instead the Infinity KO features a 720p display.
A FHD display would’ve been preferable but considering the market this is aimed at and the price point, we can live with a 720p display.
Colour reproduction and viewing angles are nothing to write home about, and if you look really closely, you’ll notice some pixilation from time to time, but it will do the job for the average everyday user.
We love a great smartphone camera with LG, Huawei, Samsung and iPhone producing some of our favourite high-end smartphone cameras. None of these companies have anything to fear from the Infinity KO, it’s not going to be a contender for smartphone camera of the year, however 13MP rear facing camera and 5MP front facing camera, will do a decent job of capturing moments on the go, but if you’re looking to use your smartphone to snap images for your blog or website, this isn’t the camera for you.
Hisense has packed this phone with a rather impressive 3100mAh battery.
We’ve had the phone on for 2 days without needing to charge it.
The screen has not been on, nor has the phone been in constant use for the entire 2 days, but the fact that standby time, combined with higher than average use, brings that much battery life, is impressive.
The only downside? It takes about 3 hours to charge from 0% – 100%.
The Infinity KO is an impressive piece of work from a company known for its home electronics rather than its mobiles.
The design is restrained and understated in a good way
It’s designed to withstand accidental knocks, drops and the occasional “dive” thanks to its IP67 rating
The impressive battery life
The display isn’t the greatest
The camera is fairly average for a mid-range phone
There’s too much bloatware (which is removable but we wish it weren’t there in the first place)
The covering for the headphone jack is easy to lose
Overall the Hisense Infinity KO is a great all around package, with a few minor niggles, but considering that its RRP is R3 999, there really isn’t much we can find fault with. There are tons of mid-range Android smartphones on the market with similar features and price points, with the Infinity KO, Hisense have done a great job of differentiating themselves from the masses.
If you’re looking for a durable phone that can withstand the occasional drop onto a hard surface or in water, and budget is a factor, then the Hisense Infinity KO is definitely the phone to get.