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I didn’t know Hisense has a range of smartphones until the Infinity KO appeared on my desk. Then again, I only discovered the Earth isn’t flat a few days ago, and that completely blew my mind. Naturally, my ignorant mind didn’t have high hopes for Hisense’s device, but I’ve been fiddling with the KO for a few days, and I’m pleasantly surprised.

Technical specifications
Benchmark scores and general performance
Price and supplier information

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Sporting a 5-inch IPS display, the KO’s aluminium finish is complemented by rubberised plastic. It feels rugged, and drop tests reveal that it can withstand a fair amount of physical abuse without leaving the Corning Gorilla Glass 4 screen covered in cracks. The device’s IP rating of 67 means that it’s waterproof and dustproof, and so long as you keep all the ports firmly sealed with their protective caps, it’s certified to survive being submerged in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes.

It’s quite a bit bigger and carries more weight than my super-slim Galaxy S5, so if you’re used to a smaller, lighter phone design, adjusting to the KO takes a bit of time. On the right side of the phone you’ll find the volume rocker and the power/lock button, as well as a dedicated camera button, and that’s always useful. The left side of the phone holds the charging port, safely protected by a removable cover. There’s no notification light, which is kind of a bummer.

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It runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop using Hisense’s custom Vision UI. The interface functions well enough, with large, chunky icons and a fairly intuitive flow to it. However, one thing that consistently bugged me is the use of English in the UI. It’s extraordinarily bad and much has been lost in translation, so you’ll occasionally be left scratching your head while you try to decipher exactly what it is that your phone’s asking of you or trying to tell you. It’s not a major issue, but it affects the user experience. There’s also an annoying jingle that plays every time you boot up the phone. It’s more than a bit obnoxious.

The display is bright and offers up respectable quality, but it can’t quite match the visuals of more pricey smartphones. Colours aren’t as sharp and aren’t as contrasted as I’d like, for example, and things just don’t look as smooth as they do on some other devices. The lone speaker on the back of the KO is impressively loud and clear, and the two cameras are impressively capable. The photos and videos they capture aren’t of the highest quality, but considering that the KO costs a third of the price of top-end smartphones, you shouldn’t expect them to be.

Hisense-KO-Infinity-review-image-1Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 415 MSM8929 chipset, the hardware performance of the KO is excellent for the price. There’s a 1.36GHz octa-core processor tucked within its casing, along with 3GB of RAM. Navigating the UI is snappy and responsive, and most apps and games run hitch-free – although the phone’s GPU does struggle somewhat when it comes to 3D apps and games. AnTuTu Benchmark awards the KO an overall score of 33,626, which is fantastic for a sub-R4,000 smartphone. In terms of storage space, the KO boasts 32GB of internal memory – but bear in mind that there’s no SD card slot, so expanding that storage isn’t possible.

The 3,100mAh battery rounds out the package, and even under incredibly stressful load it’ll still get you around 10 hours of use before you’ll need to juice it up again. For regular everyday use, it’s a safe bet that you’ll only need to charge it once every couple of days. If you’re looking for a more affordable smartphone that offers many of the features of high-end devices while also providing solid hardware performance, the Hisense Infinity KO is a worthy contender for your cash.

8At just R3,999, it’s difficult to fault the Hisense Infinity KO when it offers strong performance in an affordable package. It’s not perfect and certain aspects of its presentation are off-putting, but if you’re looking for a powerful smartphone on a strict budget, the KO is a solid option.