Hisense has launched its latest Android smartphone, the Infinity KO, and once you scratch the surface of what looks like just another Android phone, pleasant surprises await.
We say that euphemistically, as literally scratching the KO is nearly impossible thanks to the Corning Gorilla Glass 4 Hisense has fitted to it. Add to this a mix of aluminium and rubberised plastic on the top and bottom of the phone, and you have a very pretty and incredibly rugged handset.
Hisense Infinity KO review: The protectors of your smartphone
This protection on the top and bottom of the phone gives the KO its greatest feature: the ability to drop it without damaging the 5-inch HD IPS display.
We should point out that there are no special conditions here, whether you throw, drop, kick, punch, or drive into it with a skateboard (Hisense actually did this at the launch) your phone comes away unscathed. The KO has an Ingress Protection rating of 67, which means it is dust-proof and waterproof to a depth of up to 1m.
Not one scratch. Now we’ve tried this drop test a few ways and we are yet to damage the display but be warned that the KO is not indestructible, its just designed to take a few accidental knocks.
Speaking of the display the KO boasts a 5inch HD (1 280 x 720) display and an IPS panel. There are a few jagged pixels when you start looking closely at the display, things aren’t as smooth as we would expect them to be and the colours are a bit lack lustre, but we can’t have everything we want for R4 000.
Hisense Infinity KO review: Benching the numbers
Of course, the exterior means nothing if the phone is rubbish inside, and we’re happy to say that for the most part, this isn’t the case. Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 MSM 8929 chipset running a 1.36GHz octa-core processor complemented by 3GB of RAM, and you’ll also find 32GB of internal storage capacity though sadly, no SD card slot for storage-hungry types.
Our early benchmarks reveal that the KO is extremely well balanced. Our PC Mark benchmarks for video playback, browsing, photo editing and writing scored incredibly close to each other which you can see for yourself.
Unfortunately, while the CPU handles tasks well, the GPU feels slightly underpowered – we noticed a fair amount of lag and tearing during our 3D graphics and gaming benchmarks.
Hisense uses its own Vision UI which is very nice, except for the very loud jingle that plays as the phone boots up. There is also a lot of bloatware on this phone which is easy enough to delete but it would be preferable if it wasn’t there to begin with.
Hisense Infinity KO review: Snap a picture or two
Good snappers are what we’ve come to expect from Android phones. There’s a 13MP at the back with phase detection autofocus, quick focus and an f2.0 aperture. At the front is the obligatory 5MP selfie camera and both function as well as you would expect them to.
They’re not going to challenge Apple in terms of overall quality or ease of use, but they’re certainly good enough for the average person’s camera needs.
The KO can also take two LTE-enabled SIM cards, and will only allow a data connection on one SIM at a time, a great little feature for us here in South Africa where running out of data is worse than running out of fuel on the highway.
Hisense Infinity KO review: Staying power
The battery inside the KO is immense: Hisense has fitted what appears to be a 3 100mAh monster of a battery.
Our battery rundown test consisted of an HD video on loop with the display brightness set to 100%, Wifi switched on, mobile network data switched on and battery saver switched off and it struggled to even dent the battery of the KO.
The result of this test was the battery dying after 10 hours which is incredible. Of course apps such as Google Maps will have a greater impact on your battery life but in the real world you could very easily get away with one charge every two days.
When you do eventually connect the KO to the wall you’ll need to wait three hours for it to come back up to 100%.
Hisense Infinity KO review: Conclusion
Finally the price. Hisense has said pricing for the KO will start at R3 999. That puts it right in our sweet spot of sub-R4 000 smartphones and we’re very impressed.
Perhaps the display could have been a bit sharper and had a bit more contrast, but when you’re able to drop your phone without having to be afraid its has a spiderweb crack when you pick it up is great.
We aren’t saying this is the best smartphone that has ever crossed our review desk but its one of the most practical for everyday life and it’s a third of the price of some premium smartphones and we think that warrants a moment of your time, even if it’s just to watch it drop without breaking.