The 2023 version of the Infinix Zero 5G is a budget phone that ticks a lot of boxes, but poor software and battery life mean it’s only worth considering if you happen to live where it’s being sold.
Best Prices Today: Infinix Zero 5G 2023
A host of Chinese companies are making smartphones these days, but Infinix is one you might not have heard of. The firm only began life a decade ago, and has primarily focused on Asian and African markets.
An updated version of the Zero 5G for 2023 is another device that won’t be coming to the West, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. A combination of premium performance specs, a large display and triple rear cameras suggest it could be a real force among budget phones, with an approximate price of US$240.
From a performance standpoint, it’s one of the most impressive phones you can buy for the price. But some key shortcomings in other areas make it harder to recommend. Here’s my full review.
Design & Build
Glass back and sides
Looks premium but feels cheap
Great side-mounted fingerprint sensor
Infinix has made a phone which isn’t particularly innovative, yet still manages to catch the eye. That’s particularly apparent from its design, which resembles a premium handset despite more affordable materials being used.
But despite a reflective finish, it’s very obvious that the back of the phone is plastic rather than glass. It makes the Zero 5G feel a lot cheaper than it looks, but this is a wise compromise for Infinix to make.
Opting for plastic means it’s less fragile and more durable than most premium handsets, to the extent that you won’t need to apply the clear silicone case included in the box – unless you want to.
The white model I tested is also impressively resistant to visible fingerprint smudges, although they may be more noticeable on the black version. If you’re looking for something more colourful, a bright orange finish is also available.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
There is a slight rear camera bump, but Infinix has done a good job of blending it into the back of the phone. It doesn’t protrude like on some other phones, and using it face up on a table is still easy.
While the sides of the Zero 5G are also plastic, you’ll find three key design features here. Arguably the most significant is the power button, which doubles as a physical fingerprint scanner. It’s easy to set up, fast and impressively reliable – everything I could’ve hoped for. Some will view it as a downgrade compared to an under-display sensor, but these tend to be hit-and-miss on budget phones due to cheap components.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
The SIM tray includes slots for two SIM cards and a microSD card for storage expansion. Having the option for all three is rare, and a big plus for this phone.
Talking of rare features, the Zero 5G also has a 3.5mm headphone jack. Even budget phones are ditching them these days, but the option for wired audio will still be appreciated by many people.
Of course, the front of the phone is where you will find glass. The 6.78in display is housed within some impressively thin bezels, although there is a much thicker chin. Infinix has opted for a central hole punch selfie camera which allows for rapid unlocking using your face, but it’s much less secure than the fingerprint sensor.
As the display size suggests, this is a large phone. One-handed usage is almost impossible, while at 201g it’s not exactly light. But considering the big-screen competition, this isn’t a big surprise.
Let’s talk about that 6.78in screen, then. It’s a 1080×2460 IPS LCD panel, giving the Zero 5G 2023 a tall 20:9 aspect ratio.
This is fairly typical for an Android phone these days, but that’s impressive given the phone’s budget starting price. Everything is crisp and detailed, delivering a vibrancy that makes scrolling social media and watching videos particularly enjoyable.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Navigating the phone is fluid thanks to a 120Hz refresh rate. You can set it to 60Hz (to save battery life) or an auto mode which switches between the two – the latter is the best option for most people.
However, despite having 240Hz touch sampling (how many times the display can register touch input per second), the Zero 5G doesn’t feel as responsive as many other phones I’ve tried.
In terms of brightness, I recorded an impressive maximum of 513 nits during testing. Winter in the UK isn’t exactly the best time to test outdoor visibility, but I had no problems using the phone while out and about.
You can connect headphones via the 3.5mm headphone jack or USB-C port, but it’s not necessary for casual use. There’s only one downward-firing speaker, but it offers clear and detailed audio – even at high volumes.
Bass is slightly lacking, though, and it’s easy to cover with your hand in landscape mode. A large earpiece means call quality is solid, but it’s a shame you can’t also use it to play media.
Specs & Performance
MediaTek Dimensity 1080 + 8GB RAM
Good performance, even while gaming
256GB storage, can be expanded up to 512GB
The Infinix Zero 5G 2023 is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 1080 chipset. It’s a step down from flagship Dimensity 9000 Series, but still designed for use in mid-range phones. Appearances in the likes of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra (from £699/€749) and the Xiaomi 12T Pro (£699/€749) give you an indication of its calibre given the Infinix costs about $240.
Alongside 8GB of RAM on the only configuration available, performance is much better than you’d expect from a budget handset. It breezes through web browsing, texting and scrolling social media with ease, and the quality of the display makes it great for watching videos too.
Impressively, that even stretches to gaming. Casual titles were always likely to be within reach, but the Zero 5G can also handle some of the most demanding games on the Google Play Store. The experience playing Call of Duty: Mobile or Asphalt 9 can’t quite rival flagships or dedicated gaming phones, but gameplay remained smooth and responsive throughout my testing time.
Moving between tasks is where you may notice some slowdown, while navigating menus isn’t always the fastest. But these seem to be related to software rather than a lack of performance. Among budget phones, you’ll struggle to find something more capable.
That’s reflected in the benchmarks below, where the Zero 5G compares favourably to similarly priced phones:
The Dimensity 1080 chips includes 5G support (sub-6GHz and mmWave), while you also get Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 and GPS. However, there’s no NFC, so the phone can’t be used for Google Pay.
In terms of storage, the 256GB on board will be enough for most people. If you need more, the Zero 5G also supports expansion via microSD card – up to an extra 256GB. Very few people will need more than this, and it’s great option to have.
Like so many modern smartphones, the Infinix Zero 5G 2023 is equipped with triple rear cameras. However, that disguises the fact that the hardware has actually been downgraded compared to the 2022 model.
The main sensor is now 50Mp rather than 48Mp, but the 13Mp telephoto lens has been replaced by a measly 2Mp macro. A third 2Mp depth camera remains, but it means you’ll be relying on just one sensor most of the time.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
As a result, the Zero 5G is less versatile than many phones when it comes to photography – including plenty of budget handsets. I don’t mind doing without a telephoto lens (and relying on digital zoom), but the lack of an ultrawide sensor is harder to accept. If you’re someone who regularly takes landscape or group photos, you’ll really miss it too.
These omissions are a shame, because the rest of the camera experience is excellent for the price. That 50Mp main sensor produces clear, crisp photos with decent dynamic range. It struggles with exposure at times, but colours are generally accurate and true to life.
Without those other lenses, it usually performs best where there is a clear subject in the shot. Buildings and statues were a real highlight, with that depth sensor enabling an attractive portrait-style background blur.
Close-up shots using the macro lens also offer superb detail, even if you probably won’t use it much. A software-based night mode does a good job of brightening the image while still preserving key details.
On the front, a 16Mp selfie camera is also very good, although you’ll want to turn off the beauty mode that’s enabled by default. There’s even a portrait mode here (relying exclusively on software), although it struggles with the common issue of edge detection.
You can see what I mean in the camera samples below:
On the video side, you can capture in up to 4K at 30fps. The default 1080p at 30fps will be fine for most people, although the lack of any image stabilisation means footage with any movement doesn’t look steady at all.
Battery & Charging
Mediocre battery life
33W wired charging, no wireless
The Zero 5G 2023 is equipped with a 5000mAh battery. It’s a decent capacity, albeit something we’ve come to expect from modern phones.
Some testing suggests it holds up well, with an above-average time of 10 hours and 48 minutes in PCMark’s battery test. That aims to simulate real-world usage via several different scenarios, but unfortunately my experience wasn’t as impressive.
The combination of a large display and that 120Hz refresh rate meant it depleted much more quickly, to the extent that a full day’s usage was only just within reach. This did include lots of mobile data, high brightness and GPS, but I was still expecting better.
Of course, these concerns will only be relevant if you use your phone for several hours each day. With lighter usage, you can end the evening with charge to spare.
When you do run low, there’s a 33W USB-C adapter included in the box. This is still considered fast charging, even though it’s lower than many rivals these days. I recorded 22% in 15 minutes and 42% in half an hour from off, with just under 90 minutes required for a full charge.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
There’s no wireless charging, but that remains relatively rare on budget phones.
Software & Updates
Infinix XOS 12 skin over Android 12
Poor, unintuitive software experience
No word on Android 13 update or specific update promise
The Zero 5G 2023 runs Infinix’s XOS 12 skin over Android 12. Unfortunately, this software experience is the main reason not to buy the phone. It’s a real departure from the so-called ‘stock’ version of Android, and not in a good way.
One of the first things you’ll notice are the oversized app folders, with a ‘Suggestions’ one on the home screen simply showing four of your recently used apps. After you turn on the phone, it cycles between random emojis.
There’s also loads of bloatware – pre-installed apps that you’ll probably never use, but can’t uninstall. That includes the Palm Store, which offers nothing useful that’s not also on the Play Store.
Like Xiaomi’s MIUI, notifications appear from the top left, while quick settings requires a swipe from the top right. But navigating both is far from intuitive – there’s a real learning curve, even if you’re familiar with Android already.
Then there’s Infinix’s version of the Google Discover feed, available to the left of the main home screen. It’s a far inferior version of the real thing, with a cluttered ‘Hot News’ section (with almost every headline cut off) and generic ‘Important Days’ widget among the most notable features.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Infinix is even using it to display motivational quotes, which change each time you swipe over. According to the phone, you should ‘earn money with your mind, not your time’ and ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.
As jarring as this software experience is, it’s possible to eventually tweak it to your liking and keep most of the annoying apps out of sight. But it’s still a big step down from most other Android skins.
Updates are another real concern, with no specific commitment from Infinix regarding software support. That means it’ll likely be the baseline two years – a long way behind the leading Android manufacturers these days.
As for an update to Android 13? There’s no word on when the Zero 5G 2023 will get it. Infinix is usually one of the last companies to push a major new version of Android to its phones.
Price & Availability
Infinix doesn’t say exactly how much the Zero 5G 2023 would cost in the West, but it’s not particularly relevant as the phone won’t be available there.
The company’s rough figure of $239 (approx. £194/€219) for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage is decent, and puts it firmly in budget phone territory. See if you can buy one via the Infinix website, where you can select a country.
Few rivals can compete with the Zero 5G 2023 on performance at this price, but several offer a more well-rounded experience – including longer battery life and superior software.
The Infinix Zero 5G 2023 gets a lot right, but shortcomings in key areas will make you think twice about buying one.
Highlights include excellent performance from MediaTek’s Dimensity 1080, a chip you’ll usually find in much more expensive phones. Alongside an excellent 120Hz display and impressive 50Mp main camera, there’s a lot to like here.
However, mediocre battery life and a poor software experience are hard to ignore, while a lack of other lenses limits its photography potential.
With the phone not being sold in the West, there’s no reason to go out of your way to buy one. However, if you live in a country it’s available, the Zero 5G 2023 is still worth considering.
MediaTek Dimensity 1080
256GB storage (microSD expandable up to 256GB extra)