Asus Padfone review: first look
Asus first showed off its Padfone concept at Computex last year, but today was the first chance we’ve had to see the device in the flesh, with fully confirmed specifications.
If you haven’t seen it before, the Padfone is essentially a smartphone and tablet combo device. It’s a smartphone with a 4.3in screen for when you’re out on the road; and when more screen real estate is required, you simply slot the phone into a bay at the rear of the tablet part and the whole shebang is transformed into a 10.1in tablet. Anything you might have been doing on the phone is instantly transferred to the bigger screen of the tablet.
Just like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (now renamed to the Asus Transformer Pad Prime), the Padfone is also available with a keyboard dock to turn it into a more serious working machine. It’s effectively three devices in one.
Now, you might expect the specifications and design of either the smartphone or tablet side of things to be compromised, but surprisingly, neither suffers seriously.
The smartphone element – the Padfone itself – is slim and light, measuring 9.2mm thick and weighing 129g. The tablet – dubbed the Padfone Station – isn’t as svelte as a dedicated tablet, but it isn’t all that bad, weighing 724g all-in. Although inevitably a little chunky where the Padfone slots in, it isn’t as bad as you might expect.
We weren’t able to measure the Padfone Station, and unfortunately Asus’ press details state only an average thickness, but you can get an idea of its size from the picture below.
In all, both devices are nicely designed: the phone has Asus’ signature spun metal finish on the rear – the same finish as found on the company’s Ultrabook range and the Transformer Pad Prime. And in terms of specifications, it also seems up to scratch. It has a Qualcomm S4 dual-core 1.5GHz processor and Adreno 225 GPU running affairs, backed up with 1Gb of RAM and either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage, with a microSD slot for further expansion.
The screen is a 4.3in Super AMOLED unit, with a resolution of 540 x 960 (qHD), and the now-ubiquitous scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass front; nothing particularly astounding, but all solid stuff. It runs Android 4, and features an 8-megapixel camera with a maximum aperture of f/2.2 and a single LED flash.
The Padfone Station brings a 10.1in diagonal, 1,280 x 800 resolution panel and, again, Gorilla Glass on the front, though only a rubbery plastic on the rear. It feels solidly made and contains an extra battery that, just like the keyboard dock on the Prime, boosts battery life (five times over, according to Asus). The keyboard dock, which looks identical to the Prime’s, adds another internal battery, increasing stamina still further for a claimed ninefold increase in total battery life.
Hello … I’m on the pen
What happens if you receive a call on the Padfone while it’s docked? You answer it with your stylus, of course. As an optional extra, Asus is offering the crazy-looking Stylus Headset, a capacitive stylus that connects to the Padfone wirelessly, allowing you to receive calls without having to unlatch the phone from the rear of the tablet.
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