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Infinix Note 30 5G review: An impressive device let down by software

Some of the specs on the Infinix Note 30 5G are impossible to find in other smartphones at its price point. But it's the software experience that is lacking

The Inifinix Note 30 5G smartphone has three colours - Magic Black, Sunset Gold and Interstellar Blue.
The Inifinix Note 30 5G smartphone has three colours - Magic Black, Sunset Gold and Interstellar Blue. (Imaging by Narender Pal Singh/Mint)

It’s not every day that one reviews an Infinix smartphone. Infinix may be yet another Chinese smartphone manufacturer that is aggressively pushing a lot of products in the Indian market, but the Note 30 5G is one of the better products from their portfolio. There’s also the Hot 30 5G and the upcoming GT 10 Pro (which some are saying looks very similar to the Nothing Phone 2). Nonetheless, the company is going all-in on the Indian market. For now, it is paying off.

In short, I’ll tell you why I think the Note 30 5G is one of the better devices out there and will help push the brand forward. This review may be later than others, but I wanted to take my time to see where exactly Infinix fits in the crowded budget segment - where the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme, Lava and others are present - of the Indian smartphone industry.

What’s the Infinix Note 30 5G got going for it?

- It is the first smartphone in India to house the MediaTek Dimensity 6080 chipset

- Comes with a 108MP primary camera

- There’s a 5,000mAh battery along with 45W fast charging support.

- The smartphone comes with a 6.78-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display (and a 120Hz refresh rate).

- It has a starting price of just 14,999.

The Note 30 5G is one of the most balanced 5G smartphones when it comes to price-to-performance ratio. It isn’t a gaming device, but with improved software (one can hope the company gets around to it), the Note 30 5G can be an excellent choice for most.

An impressive 5G device

Ever since I got hold of the Infinix Note 30 5G, I realised that the company has put a lot of thought into its design. It may not stand out in a crowd, but thanks to its unibody polycarbonate build with a matte finish, and an adequate grip, the smartphone has a good in-hand feel. It’s slightly heavier than one would have liked - it weighs about 210g and has a thickness of 8.5mm - but it’s comfortable to hold.

The one downside is the massive camera housing, where the triple-camera setup lies. Thanks to its 6.78-inch FHD+ display, it’s a pretty large device, but thankfully you’re not weighed down as much as if you were to use Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra.

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The Note 30 5G has a stereo speaker (tuned by JBL) set up, USB Type-C port. There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint reader (the best place to have one, in my opinion). The smartphone has three colours - Magic Black, Sunset Gold and Interstellar Blue. It would have been a neat, clean, and premium design if it wasn’t for the giant housing for the cameras on the rear panel.

Nonetheless, for just 15,000, Infinix has done a good job. For those who want a large screen in a device that is comfortable to hold, and comes with all the bells and whistles, then the Note 30 5G is for you.

Performance, software, battery life and cameras

Everything just works as intended. Nothing will stand out. If you’re looking for either a standout camera, a smartphone purely for gaming, a phone that will last you over 1.5 days or something else specific, then the Infini Note 30 isn’t for you.

For everyone else, the Infinix Note 30 is a great all-around device. It’s got that large 6.78-inch screen which is of good quality, with adequate brightness for outdoor usage and good viewing angles. There’s MediaTek’s Dimensity 6080 chipset that is good for daily usage. Just don’t try and play a demanding game like Genshin Impact, or do anything else demanding and you’ll be fine. With light-to-medium usage, the phone feels smooth and responsive. The smartphone does get hot while gaming, but that’s about it.

With 8GB of RAM (and an additional 8GB of virtual RAM), along with 256GB of storage, you’d be hard-pressed to find another smartphone with those specifications in this category. The stereo speakers are good for watching casual OTT content.

There’s a 5,000mAh battery with 45W fast charging support. The battery did a fine job as it lasted me a full workday. It didn’t last till the morning, like some other smartphones out there, but that’s to be expected. Charging is rapid as it takes just an hour to fully charge a depleted battery.

I’m not going in-depth on the camera front as there is nothing to write home about. The phone’s cameras, despite a 108MP camera, result in just average photos. It suffices for social media, but look at the photos on a larger screen and you’ll realise they aren’t great.

Where the Infinix Note 30 stumbles

Software. That’s where I keep coming back and am wondering why the company isn’t working on the software front. They’re launching a number of phones. There is something in the hardware for everyone. But if it isn’t matched by the software, then the overall experience is poor.

The Note 30 runs XOS 13 (based on Android 13). It doesn’t look or feel like any OS on any of the competitor Android smartphones. That isn’t a good thing. The familiarity isn’t there. There’s the usual home screen and app drawer but it is so heavily themed and customised that it’s basically unrecognisable.

There’s no easy way to toggle Google Discover, the battery section is called Marathon Power, the camera app is a convoluted mess, and the AI-enabled assistant Folax is only good for the simplest of commands.

The icing on the cake is that the Note 30 is loaded to the brim with bloatware. All of the bloatware - XClub, WeZone, Aha Games, XShare Mini, Carlcareand, Visha Player, Aha Games and others - cannot be uninstalled.

Where does Infinix Note 30 stand in the crowded market?

If first impressions are anything to go by, then anyone using the Note 30 would immediately be disappointed. The Note 30 does a good job of balancing hardware and performance, at an affordable price point, but gets it all wrong on the software front.

The display is good, the smartphone has a good in-feel hand despite being large, and the stereo speakers are nice and loud.

It’s not that the other Android competitors’ OS’ are better by miles, but none are as messy as compared to Infinix.

The Infinix Note 30 has a steep learning curve, but if you’re able to get past that, then it’s a good 5G smartphone at just 14,999. It also has an IP53 rating (protection from limited dust ingress). Some of the specs on the Note 30 are impossible to find in other smartphones at this price point, but Infinix needs to work on its software if it truly wants to make a giant leap in the industry.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist

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