Prior to this review, I’ll admit that I’d never heard of Infinix before, but with a bit of digging, I learnt that it’s a Hong-Kong based mobile phone manufacturer that’s been around since 2013.
The Infinix Note 12 2023 ANTI LAG-LAG CLUB (Note 12) is one of its newest releases in the Malaysian market that’s catered towards the avid gaming crowd, positioned as a budget-friendly, mid-range gaming smartphone.
Colour me curious, so when we were given the chance to review the Note 12, I snapped it up.
With the memories of having recently played with the REDMAGIC 7S Pro and ASUS ROG Phone 6 still fresh in my mind, I tried keeping my expectations for the Note 12 on the lower end, considering its price point.
But perhaps I needn’t have done so.
A standard smartphone on the outside
Starting with the basics, you get a rather simple design on the exterior, which is mostly taken up by a matte finish that could pass as metal.
Even when you get your hands on it, it’s not easy to tell that it’s actually made of plastic, which I’d say speaks for its overall sturdiness.
The back is kept clean with no fancy bells and whistles that you’d find (and maybe be embarrassed by) on higher-end gaming phones.
The cameras are housed in a circular watch-like face, which looks elegant but irked me a little—I’ll explain later.
On the front, the Note 12 has a 6.7-inch FHD True Colour AMOLED display with a fixed refresh rate of 60Hz.
I found this interesting when compared to the 7S Pro and ROG Phone 6, which offered varying refresh rates of up to 120Hz and 165Hz respectively.
During gaming though (Genshin Impact, because of course), I didn’t feel a huge downgrade in frames per second since Genshin Impact is capped at 60Hz anyway.
For those who often play battle royale, racing, or first-person shooter (FPS) games though, this might be a disadvantage.
Hardware that isn’t very gamer-friendly
When it comes to the gaming experience on the Note 12, I think I can very clearly separate the pros from the cons.
To end on a sweeter note, I’ll start with the cons first. They include the camera housing placement, the lack of a gamer-friendly charging port, and the lack of shoulder triggers.
While nice to look at, I realised that the camera housing, being so large and round, would actually irritate me while gaming.
This was because it would be right where I need to place my fingers for grip when gaming, so I would end up smudging the lenses. There’s just no other way you could grip the Note 12 while gaming without touching the cameras.
I didn’t feel like I had this problem with other phones (gaming or not) since most of them had more rectangular, subdued camera housings that kept tightly to the top corner of the phone.
When it comes to charging the phone, you only have the option of a port on the bottom edge, which would mean holding the phone a little more awkwardly to make way for the wire.
The underlying pro of this is that, if you suddenly need to juice up after a long session of gaming, the time taken to charge the phone will be a good break for your eyes and body.
Something that feels like a must on gaming phones is shoulder triggers, which allow users to have more control over or expand the scope of actions in-game.
On the Note 12, these were missing, but it tries to make up for this by letting you map two in-game controls to the volume up and down buttons.
A noble goal, but the execution is rather clunky. The volume buttons are placed a little too near the middle, which means you’d have to stretch your finger unnaturally (while in a normal landscape gaming grip) just to press them.
Not to mention, the fact that the volume up and down buttons are next to each other, you can only use one finger to trigger both.
Again, this made for unnatural-feeling and clunky gameplay, and I felt like forgoing this feature made my gaming more comfortable.
An overall great gaming performance
The above cons were largely experience-based, but you might be more reassured to hear that performance-wise, the phone excels at such a price point.
You may have noticed that earlier, the full name of the phone included the words “anti lag”, which is quite a promise to make.
When actually using the phone, I would say that the apps start up decently fast, but I’ve certainly seen faster on other gaming phones, to no surprise.
Nonetheless, the Note 12’s Helio G99 processor does prove its capabilities, standing up to my Genshin Impact gaming on overclocked settings well.
I don’t think I hit the phone’s performance limits with my regular usage, but I was definitely putting it to the test.
I still managed to keep up with my co-op teammates decently well though, and mobile gaming on the Note 12 was far from painful. It was fairly pleasant, in fact.
I even had the provided phone cover on, but heat buildup was manageable thanks to its 10-Layer Graphene Cooling System, which is supposed to achieve up to a 7°C reduction in core temperature.
Its 5,000mAh battery lasted well too, with over two days of usage when I wasn’t actively gaming. When gaming for hours on end, I didn’t feel like the battery was drained too quickly either.
In conclusion, I’d have to say that the Note 12 is actually a pretty good gaming phone for a specific group of gamers.
In fact, I’d even say it’s excellent for all things considered when you factor in its price tag of RM799.
It’s affordable to the point where I feel it could make for a reliable side device for gaming-only purposes, while you keep a more polished flagship phone as your daily driver.
I say this because I personally feel the Note 12 is lacking as a daily driver, since I’ve been using flagship-level devices for years now and can’t see myself downgrading.
But if budget-friendly phones have always been your go-to, then the Note 12 is an ideal all-rounder, with camera specs that satisfy too.
For context, on paper it’s got a 16MP front camera, with 50MP, 2MP, and AI Lens Camera on the rear. Not bad specs, and the pictures you get are decently detailed and clear, much better when shooting in natural light.
Another group of users I could see benefitting from this phone are perhaps youths who are interested in kickstarting their esports career.
Investing in a high-end, expensive gaming phone isn’t an easy purchase to make for many who are still living on their parents’ dime, and they might even realise consistent, competitive gaming isn’t for them down the road.
Thus, the Note 12 is an affordable and reliable device for budding gamers who simply want to test the waters before committing too much to the idea.
|Long battery life with fast charging capabilities||No ergonomic charging port|
|Decently smooth performance even with more demanding mobile games||Lacking shoulder triggers for fine-tuned game control|
|Phone kept cool over long gaming sessions||Camera housing gets in the way of one’s grip while gaming|
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