Infinix recently sent us an intriguing concept device that showcases their new Ultra Flash Charge (UFC) system, which offers an impressive 160W of power. It claims that it can charge a 4,000 mAh battery in just 10 minutes.
The Infinix Concept Phone 2021 also demonstrates two other technologies – a solid electrochromic film (SECF) that can change the color of the back and an electroluminescence (EL) film that can illuminate arbitrary shapes.
On this phone it draws a line from the USB-C port to the circle formed by the O of the “NOW” stencil on the back (the Infinix motto is “The future is now”). This forms a nice visual indication that the phone is charging, but there’s something important to note – if this is enabled, charging time goes up from 10 minutes to 12 minutes.
We bring this up now, because we couldn’t disable it. Those are just some of the risks you run when testing a concept device. For whatever reason this couldn’t be disabled on our unit. Still, even 12 minutes is faster than any phone we’ve tested previously.
We mentioned risks, how risky is charging a phone at 160W? Infinix put a lot of effort into making the answer “it is not”. The phone is dotted with 20 temperature sensors that ensure that the phone remains under 40ºC/104ºF. There are additional protection mechanisms too, 60 in total.
But let’s start from the beginning – the electrical network. A key part of UFC is the 160W charger, which is rated at 20V at 8A maximum output. It’s not a small charger, but it’s not “gaming laptop” huge either, it weighs under 200g. It supports multiple charging protocols, so you can use it to charge your laptop too and not just your phone.
It is based on Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Silicon Carbide (SiC) semiconductors, which are the leading charging technology at the moment. They are used in electric vehicles too since they offer a very high efficiency.
Efficiency is the keyword here and is carried over to the phone itself. It has an 8C battery and an innovative Super Charge Pump, Infinix’s name for four charging chips that together achieve 98.6% charging conversion efficiency. Keep in mind that any inefficiency means heat and at 160W even a single percentage point is a not insignificant amount of heat.
The 8C battery has a lower internal resistance too, 18% lower than 6C batteries. This also means less heat is produced during charging. What is this C? It’s called a C rating and shows how fast a battery can be charged or discharged relative to its capacity. For example, a 1,000 mAh 1C battery can be charged/discharged at 1,000 mA in 1 hour. A 2C battery with the same capacity can do 2,000 mA in 0.5 hours.
Plugging in the numbers for 4,000 mAh and 8C, the theoretical charging time is 1/8th of an hour or 7 minutes and a half. Of course, lithium batteries are not charged at the maximum rate all the time in order to prolong their life. With that in mind, 10 minutes comes quite close to the theoretical maximum for this battery.
Alright, enough theory, let’s practice. As a reminder, we’re targeting 12 minutes here since the EL film was active (we’ll talk about the EL film and SECF later). For the first test, we’re starting from a completely dead battery.
In 2 minutes, the battery was already showing 22% charge, growing to 50% at the 4:45 mark. Then came 90% at 10 minutes and finally a full 100% charge at 11:28. The Infinix Concept Phone 2021 hit its target with time to spare. Well done!
Here is a timelapse of another run:
We used a thermal camera to keep an eye on the phone and the charger. The phone’s security system kept it below 40ºC. Actually, the temperature was fluctuating between 39.5ºC and 40ºC throughout the whole session.
This leads us to believe that the temperature is the real limiting factor to how fast the battery can be charged. Indeed, room temperature can have an effect on charging speed – the test was performed in an air-conditioned room at 25ºC.
The charger itself also stayed at 40ºC or lower, the whole system is quite conservative – we’ve felt other phones get a good deal hotter while charging. This one only got up to lukewarm.
Charging a powered off phone from dead is perhaps not the most realistic test. The speed is impressive, but most people wouldn’t wait until 0% to plug in their phone.
So, we dropped the battery to 30% and plugged the phone in while it was powered on (but locked, not in active use). After just 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, this is with the EL film active, which slows down the charge speed (the phone being powered on slows it down as well).
We think we’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. Getting your daily charging done in 5 minutes instead of 10 minutes will not have a significant impact on your routine. A much bigger impact would come from a bigger battery to space out the times you need to plug in.
Now what about the electrochromic film? On the Infinix Concept Phone 2021 it changes from a slate gray to a steel blue. It changes when there’s 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 can have phones that can change their color to match our mood or outfit, though. But right now the change is only temporary and (while a cool demo) not very useful.
The electroluminescence film holds much more potential. It can be made into varying shapes, which allows for various designs – we can see gaming phones adopt this to spice up their exterior.
It’s quite practical too. Notification LEDs are all but gone and we miss them, but we have to say we’ve never seen an LED this big. Admittedly, this incarnation of EL film is somewhat dim, but its size helps it make it more noticeable. It draws power from the battery, of course, but so do Always On Displays. We wouldn’t mind seeing EL films being used for notification lights.
There’s more to the Infinix Concept Phone 2021. The sides of the 6.67” AMOLED display, 1080p+ in resolution, are curved to a tight radius. This looks impressive, but is not all that practical as the sides are basically unusable for content. Still, concept phones should look cool and this one does.
Also, the camera setup on the back stars an 8 MP camera with a periscope lens that promises up to 60x digital zoom. There’s also a 64 MP main camera and an 8 MP ultra wide camera, plus a 32 MP selfie camera.
We didn’t test those, we didn’t test the chipset either – this is a concept device meant to showcase the Ultra Flash Charge system (and the EL film and SECF). This is why we didn’t test the battery life too, it would not be representative of a real device.
But this was still a very exciting test, because it shows technology that can be featured on future flagships from Infinix. We don’t have insider info on what the company plans to do with UFC, but we don’t think it will be too long before we see this in a real mass-market phone.