An affordable 18:9 display smartphone to consider?
Not to be left behind with current trends, local brands like Cloudfone have launched their own version of 18:9 display smartphones. Previously, we reviewed the top-of-the-line Next Infinity Quattro; this time, we look at the other side of the spectrum with the Next Infinity, which is the most affordable out of the four Next Infinity models Cloudfone has launched.
With a price of Php 6,999/$141, it is one of the more affordable 18:9 display smartphones out there. Yet the question remains: is Cloudfone’s budget 18:9 offering worth your money? Before we go through the review, let’s have a quick recap of its spec sheet:
Cloudfone Next Infinity Specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor
- 3GB RAM
- 5.7-inch HD+ 18:9 display with 2.5D curved glass
- 16GB of expandable storage
- 4G, LTE
- Dual SIM
- 13-megapixel rear camera with PDAF, LED flash, and Portrait mode
- 16-megapixel front camera with LED flash and portrait mode
- WiFi, Bluetooth, fingerprint scanner
- 2900mAh battery
- Android 7.1.2 Nougat
Build is pretty nice for a budget phone
The Next Infinity comes with a plastic build as discussed in our quick review. But upon closer inspection, the removable back cover has a metal plate, similar to the one used in the Cherry Mobile Selfie Two. It’s a clever approach, as it gives the Next Infinity a decent build for its price.
Even with its right heft, we still recommend using the jelly case that comes with it to keep the phone safe from bumps and scratches.
Display is one of the best for its price range
Aside from using a 5.7-inch 18:9 HD+ display, the Next Infinity has one of the best displays for its price range. The screen is bright enough to be used in direct sunlight, and the colors are just right: The Next Infinity’s screen is not oversaturated nor too bland. I’ve played a few games, watched a few videos, and browsed through several photos with the Next Infinity, and it’s a pleasure to use its display.
Do note that even if it is an 18:9 display, it is not considered to be a bezel-less phone. Instead, the display gives you skinny bezels, with curved edges for the screen itself. Design-wise, it is a similar implementation to most phones in the mid-range category like the Huawei Nova 2i and Vivo V7. That being said, the Next Infinity is a deal for its price, if you factor in the screen alone.
Performance is average but good for gaming
Sporting a Snapdragon 425 processor coupled with 3GB RAM, the Next Infinity has specs that you would expect on a budget smartphone. Its benchmark scores from GeekBench and AnTuTu pretty much confirms its overall performance, and this applies to real-life use.
Multi-tasking with the Next Infinity is pretty smooth; I experienced little to no lags while I shuffle between checking articles via Google Chrome to taking photos and uploading them to Facebook or Instagram. The Snapdragon 425 may be just a quad-core processor, but it is a proven and reliable processor especially when you pair it with a generous amount of RAM.
The efficiency of the Next Infinity’s processor and RAM combo becomes more evident when you play games with it. Using GameBench to measure the Next Infinity’s performance with Marvel Future Fight and Asphalt 8 gave me good results. Check out the detailed stats below:
While I managed to get a median FPS of 17 in Marvel Future Fight, it’s 74% FPS stability proves that the Next Infinity’s internals can handle the game in high settings with little throttling.
As for Asphalt 8, the Next Infinity handled the game smoothly, with a peak median FPS of 30 and 100% FPS stability.
While you can play games with it, be aware that the Next Infinity comes with only 16GB of internal storage, so better choose which games to install wisely, or invest in a MicroSD card for storing your other media files.
UI needs a bit of refinement
Cloudfone used a skinned version of Android Nougat for the Next Infinity. It’s reminiscent of the ones used in OPPO (ColorOS) and Vivo (FunTouchOS), so one has to get used to not having an app drawer with the Next Infinity. While Cloudfone pre-installed a few bloatware apps, there are times that your notification panel gets bombarded with announcements, which can be remedied with a few adjustments in the app settings.
While the UI is pretty smooth for a local brand, it can be refined further. Some of the annoyances I encountered was the lock screen automatically asking for my PIN even if I just pressed the power button to check the time or any notifications. To remedy this, I activated the Smart Action settings (double tap to wake up and lock phone) as a workaround.
Also, I find getting to the quick control panel a bit cumbersome, as you have to swipe down AND swipe right to get to your settings. I hope Cloudfone fixes this in the future, as it can be annoying since one has to go through the notification panel before being able to access the quick control panel.
Audio is its Waterloo
While the Next Infinity has a great display for its price, its audio capabilities say otherwise, the rear-mounted speaker easily distorts in high volumes (I recommend setting it at 70% max to avoid the distortion problem), and the headphone jack delivers a lower-than-usual audio output, regardless of what earphones/headphones you are using.
Though you can somewhat remedy the low audio output by fiddling with the equalizer settings, I hope Cloudfone issues an update to recalibrate its audio output especially when you are using earphones/headphones.
Decent rear camera, but selfie camera shines through
The Next Infinity’s 13-megapixel f/2.0 rear camera is a good performer, although I recommend fiddling with the Pro mode to bring out the colors, as photos appear to be a bit bland when shot in regular mode. While the Pro mode offers not that much, I like the fact that you can do manual focusing on the Next Infinity—a feature you rarely find in budget phones.
Aside from the usual HDR and Portrait modes, the Next Infinity has a SuperPixel mode, which essentially produces a 51-megapixel photo through interpolation.
As for its 16-megapixel f/2.0 front camera, taking selfies is great with the Next Infinity, as colors and exposure are better compared to its rear camera. That being said, the Next Infinity does sport an impressive selfie shooter, making it a good phone for taking selfies.
Check out the photos we took using the Next Infinity:
Reliable battery life with a bonus of sporting a removable battery
Powering the Next Infinity is a removable 2900mAh battery, which is a rarity nowadays. What makes this a good thing is that you can easily swap batteries on the go without worrying about leaving your trusty power bank at home.
As for battery efficiency, the Next Infinity is a pretty good one. Thanks to a power-efficient processor, it managed to score 8 hours and 18 minutes on PCMark’s battery test, and a medium confidence score at GeekBench’s battery test. It’s pretty impressive, considering that it uses a bigger than usual display and that its battery is a bit on the average side.
Such results manifest in real-life usage, making the Next Infinity another serious budget phone with a really decent battery life (next to the Cherry Mobile Flare S6). Do be aware though that the Next Infinity does not come with fast charging; juicing it up via its MicroUSB port will take you around two and a half hours.
Verdict: A strong contender in the budget segment
In spite of compromises with its audio and UI, the Next Infinity is a good buy if you want to get your hands on an 18:9 display smartphone without breaking the bank. Arguably, the Next Infinity has one of the best displays for its price range, and it also comes with a great selfie camera and an efficient battery.
Don’t underestimate the internals either; even if it is using a pretty dated Snapdragon 425 processor, its 3GB RAM helps it power through some games, making the Next Infinity a suitable budget gaming phone.