Infinix recently sent us an intriguing conceptual device that showcases its new Ultra Flash Charge (UFC) system, which offers an impressive 160W of power. It claims to be able to charge a 4,000 mAh battery in just 10 minutes.
The Infinix Concept Phone 2021 also features two other technologies: a solid electrochromic film (SECF) that can change the color of the back and an electroluminescent film (EL) that can illuminate arbitrary shapes.
On this phone, he draws a line between the USB-C port and the circle formed by the O of the stencil “NOW” on the back (Infinix’s motto is “The future is now”). This is a good visual indication that the phone is charging, but there’s something important to note – if this is turned on, the charging time goes from 10 minutes to 12 minutes.
We’re raising this now because we couldn’t turn it off. These are just some of the risks you run when testing a conceptual device. For some reason, this could not be disabled on our unit. Still, even 12 minutes are faster than any phone we’ve tested previously.
We mentioned the risks, how risky is it to charge a phone at 160W? Infinix put a lot of effort into answering “it’s not.” The phone has 20 temperature sensors that ensure the phone stays below 40°C/104°F. There are also additional protection mechanisms, 60 in total.
But let’s start at the beginning – the power grid. A key element of the UFC is the 160W charger, which is rated at 20V at a maximum output of 8A. It’s not a small charger, but it’s also not a huge “gaming laptop”, it weighs less than 200g. It supports multiple charging protocols, so you can use it to charge your laptop and not just your phone as well.
It is based on gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors, which are currently the leading charging technology. They are also used in electric vehicles because they offer very high efficiency.
Efficiency is the keyword here and spills over to the phone itself. It features an 8C battery and an innovative Super Charge pump, infinix’s name for four charging chips that together achieve a charge conversion efficiency of 98.6%. Keep in mind that any inefficiency means heat and at 160W, even a single percentage point is a significant amount of heat.
The 8C battery also has a lower internal resistance, 18% lower than that of the 6C batteries. This also means that less heat is produced during charging. What is this C? This is called a C rating and shows how fast a battery can be charged or discharged relative to its capacity. For example, a 1C 1C battery of 1,000 mAh can be charged/discharged to 1,000 mA in 1 hour. A 2C battery of the same capacity can make 2,000 mA in 0.5 hours.
By plugging in the numbers for 4000 mAh and 8C, the theoretical charging time is 1/8th of an hour or 7 and a half minutes. Of course, lithium batteries are not charged at maximum speed all the time in order to extend their life. With this in mind, 10 minutes are quite close to the theoretical maximum for this battery.
Well, enough theory, let’s practice. As a reminder, we are aiming here for 12 minutes since the EL film was active (we will talk about the EL film and the SECF later). For the first test, we start from a fully discharged battery.
In 2 minutes, the battery was already showing 22% charge, rising to 50% at 4:45. Then came 90% at 10 minutes and finally a full charge at 100% at 11:28. The Infinix Concept Phone 2021 has reached its goal with time to lose. Well done!
Here is a timelapse from another run:
We used a thermal camera to keep an eye on the phone and charger. The phone’s security system kept it below 40°C. In fact, the temperature fluctuated between 39.5°C and 40°C throughout the session.
This leads us to believe that temperature is the real limiting factor to the speed at which the battery can be charged. Indeed, the ambient temperature can have an effect on the loading speed – the test was carried out in a room air-conditioned at 25ºC.
The charger itself also stayed at 40°C or less, the whole system is quite conservative – we felt that other phones heat up a lot more while charging. This one rose only lukewarm.
Charging a phone off from death may not be the most realistic test. The speed is impressive, but most people wouldn’t wait 0% to plug in their phone.
So we dropped the battery to 30% and plugged in the phone while it was turned on (but locked, not in active use). After only 60 seconds, the state of charge was already at 39%, then 46% at 2 minutes, 70% at 5 minutes and fully charged at 9:31. And, again, it’s with the active EL movie, which slows down the charging speed (the phone turned on also slows it down).
We believe that we have reached the point of diminishing returns. Doing your daily recharge in 5 minutes instead of 10 minutes will not have a significant impact on your routine. A much bigger impact would come from a larger battery to space out the times you need to plug in.
And now the electrochromic film? On the 2021 Infinix Concept Phone, it goes from a slate gray to a steel blue. This changes when there is an incoming call, for example. The change is gradual and it is not the most noticeable, so as a notification system, it is not very useful.
It would be really cool if one day we could have phones that can change color to match our mood or outfit. But at the moment, the change is only temporary and (although it is a nice demo) not very useful.
Electroluminescent film has much more potential. It can be transformed into different shapes, allowing for different designs – we can see gaming phones adopting it to spice up their exterior.
It’s pretty handy too. Notification LEDs are almost gone and we’re missing them, but we have to say that we’ve never seen such a big LED. Admittedly, this incarnation of the film EL is somewhat dark, but its size helps it to make it more visible. It’s of course battery powered, but the same goes for Always On displays. We wouldn’t mind seeing EL movies used for notification lights.
There’s more to the Infinix Concept Phone 2021. The sides of the 6.67-inch AMOLED display, with a resolution of 1080p+, are curved within a tight radius. This sounds impressive, but is not so convenient as the sides are basically unusable for the content. Still, concept phones should look cool and this one does.
6.67-inch FHD+ AMOLED super curved display
In addition, the camera setup on the back features an 8 MP camera with a periscope lens that promises up to 60x digital zoom. There is also a 64 MP main camera and an 8 MP ultra wide camera, as well as a 32 MP selfie camera.
64MP wide + 8MP ultra-wide + 8MP telephoto lens
We haven’t tested them, we haven’t tested the chipset either – it’s a conceptual device meant to showcase the Ultra Flash Charge system (and the EL and SECF film). That’s why we didn’t test the battery life too, it wouldn’t be representative of a real device.
But it was always a very exciting test, as it shows a technology that can be featured on Infinix’s future flagships. We don’t have inside information about what the company plans to do with the UFC, but we don’t think it will take too long to see this in a real consumer phone.