Hisense, the Chinese company best known for its home theater equipment, isn’t exactly a name synonymous with mobile devices. But with its new line of Android smartphones and tablets — mroe so, the Infinity H6 — the Chinese manufacturer is dipping its toe into an increasingly crowded pool. Its handset occupy the budget end of the spectrum going for a reasonable R3500. For the price, the specs are decent: the H6 comes with a 1,280 x 720 display, a 1.2GHz Quad Core processor and Android 4.4 Kit Kat. We dove headfirst into this bargain buy to see how it fares under stringent use. Want to find out if Hisense has the chops to compete? Read on, friends.
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Shopping for budget phones is an exercise in managing one’s expectations. With the H6, Hisense seems to have strategically carved out its budget, using modest materials for the hardware. With dimensions of 138.5×71.5×7.9mm, the H6 is a comfortably sized iPhone lookalike that feels fairly sturdy in-hand. And at 130 grams, it’s not the lightest Android handset on the block either, but the slight heft does add to that feeling of durability. Design-wise, the metal backing is textured to to provide a decent grip, and the coppery hue looks more expensive than it is, especially in sunlight. Hisense seemed determined to prove that inexpensive materials don’t necessarily correlate with an inexpensive aesthetic; the H6’s clean lines make for a nice-looking budget device. Thank Cuperto.
Continuing our tour, the power button is located on the side the device on the right-hand side, right above the volume rocker. Both are made from silver aluminium-like plastic that feels a bit flimsy, especially compared to that backing. Along the top on your left you’ll find a micro-USB port, a covered microSD slot (which can handle up to 32GB) and two SIM card slots that resemble those you’ll find on the iPhone and Galaxy S6.
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While the H6’s hardware might lack a certain pizzazz, the same can’t be said about the 1,280 x 720 display. This is one area where Hisense decided to splurge. Colours appear vivid, with dimension and depth. Blacks, which so often turn gray on mobile devices, look deep and dark here, and the screen gets bright enough to sear your eyeballs (a useful quality in direct sunlight). Additionally, the 5-inch screen offers great viewing angles without losing much color vibrancy when looked at from the side with the device laying flat.
From the rainbow-hued landscape of Candy Crush Saga to the eye-popping bubblegum pinks of Nicki Minaj music videos (played in HD, of course), the H6’s display served up rich, vibrant colours. Similarly, videos played back smoothly and beautifully. Text, in Play Books and Chrome, was as crisp as you’d want it to be. For a budget phone, the display was nothing to shake a stick at, and we were left considerably impressed with its quality. The H6 comes Android 4.4 KitKat, which means it’s lacking some of the most recent Lollipop features we’ve come to know and love. Beyond that, the handset is running an almost stock version of Android, with minimal skinning. There are a few apps pre-loaded to the device, some of which you might never use, but some which might actually prove beneficial to you. Because this is a rather exclusive handset, the H6 is, of course, along with one for Sam’s Club.
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There’s a reason entry-level device cameras have a bad rap: they tend to be downright awful. The H6’s rear-facing 8-megapixel camera isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind on that issue, but it does perform admirably considering our low expectations. There’s a decent LED flash for low-light situations (so long as you’re close to your target), along with a handful of customisable settings and filters that come with Android 4.4, like Photo Sphere and panoramic shooting. The auto-focus works well, so shaky hands won’t ruin your photos as they would on something like the HP Slate 7’s disappointing camera.
As we said towards the top of this review, buying a budget hone is frequently an exercise in managing one’s expectations. Hisense hasn’t established itself in the Android smartphone market, and it’s likely that won’t happen for some time. Until now. All things considered, the H6 is a decent outing for a company without a proven track record in mobile devices, and at R3500, it’s not a bad buy. With a gorgeous, colour-rich display and a simple, sophisticated design, you could do a lot worse.
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That being said, we were less than impressed with some of the device’s audio playback issues, and we’re not sure when or if we can expect an upgrade to Android 5.0. Otherwise, we were generally pleased with its performance, aside from the mild hiccups we’ve noted in other entry-level devices running Android. One can argue that it might be wiser to go with a company with a proven record when it comes to Android mobiles, like ASUS, the H6 still manages to put up a good fight in a crowded arena.