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Asus PadFone Review

Posted: , by Victor H.

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PadFone Station and Docking:

Now, the PadFone is a good phone on its own, but its the PadFone Station, that 10.1-inch tablet chassis that it plugs into, that is its true raison d'etre. And here is when things start to get complicated.

First, we should one again say that the PadFone Station doesn't work on its own, you need to have the phone tucked inside it and the phone is what powers that big tablet screen.

And second, while the phone itself is sleek, the PadFone Station is disappointingly bulky. As in huge by today's standards - it's thick, big and heavy, nothing even close to devices beautifully thin devices like say the Apple iPad or Asus' own Transformer Pad. We really want to like the tablet, but right from the get go that huge bulky slate is one big turnoff. It's also impractical - it's too heavy for you to hold to read a book or watch movies.

If for some reason you don't care about the big size all that much though, it seems that Asus did a good job on most other things. To plug in the phone there is a latch mechanism on the back of the PadFone Station. The latch opens 90 degrees when you drag the slider on the top of the device. Easy and quick. Tucking in the device is also a breeze, but getting it out definitely takes a lot of getting used to. It's so securely and snuggle in there you'd have to put in quite a lot of effort to get it out.

The latch mechanism on the back of the PadFone Station - Asus PadFone Review
The latch mechanism on the back of the PadFone Station - Asus PadFone Review
The latch mechanism on the back of the PadFone Station - Asus PadFone Review

The latch mechanism on the back of the PadFone Station


Once the phone snaps in its place in the PadFone Station, almost instantly with very, very little delay, the tablet screen lights up with an almost complete mirror of what's on the phone.

The PadFone Station features a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel IPS display. The screen is LCD, unlike the AMOLED one on the phone, but that's no huge surprise as the price for AMOLED panel still seems too comparatively high for big displays. Again, for outdoor performance, we recommend you enable the “outdoor mode” in Settings – brightness gets a much needed boost for the sunny outdoors.

The PadFone Station features a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel IPS display - Asus PadFone Review
The PadFone Station features a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel IPS display - Asus PadFone Review

The PadFone Station features a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800-pixel IPS display


In terms of the looks, you'd see two fake speaker-like grills that serve only as a design element. The tablet also has its own 1.3-megapixel front camera that will come in handy for video calls. For rear shooting, it uses the camera on the phone which peeks in through a hole purposefully drilled on the back of the chassis.

The two fake speaker-like grills serve only as a design element - Asus PadFone Review
The two fake speaker-like grills serve only as a design element - Asus PadFone Review
Front camera - The two fake speaker-like grills serve only as a design element - Asus PadFone Review
  

Front camera

The two fake speaker-like grills serve only as a design element


Buttons on the tablet, just like on the phone, are conveniently placed, easy to press and give a nice feel. The PadFone Station charges through a proprietary port and has a 6,600mAh battery of its own.

The sides of the PadFone Station - Asus PadFone Review
The sides of the PadFone Station - Asus PadFone Review
The sides of the PadFone Station - Asus PadFone Review

The sides of the PadFone Station


Asus is also including a dual-GPS antenna which locks your exact position quicker on the Station and a dedicated 3G antenna so that the phone stays connected even when docked. On the back, there is a single, pretty loud speaker.



PadFone Station and Apps:


One of the best features about having the PadFone with the Station add-on is called Dynamic Switching. Basically, this means that you can start doing something on your phone - say, start watching a movie, - but then decide you'd better see it on the 10.1-inch screen. You'd just plug the phone in and the PadFone Station will open from the exact place you left off. Or you could start typing an email on the phone, and decide to continue on the tablet - you just plug the phone into the chassis and dynamically switch. Or open a webpage.

PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review
PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review
PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review
PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review
PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review
PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review
PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review
PadFone Station interface - Asus PadFone Review

PadFone Station interface


The idea is great, but in reality Asus is only supporting native applications like the Android Browser, Dialer, Contacts and default email client. Some of the most popular apps like YouTube and Gmail are not supported. Games wouldn't dynamically switch either.

Dialer - Dynamic Switching is only supported by Android's native applications - Asus PadFone Review
Contacts - Dynamic Switching is only supported by Android's native applications - Asus PadFone Review
Dynamic Switching is only supported by Android's native applications - Asus PadFone Review

Dialer

Contacts

 

Dynamic Switching is only supported by Android's native applications


Also, the tablet and the phone don't share the same wallpaper, because of the difference in resolution, but that's something we can live with easily.

Camera app - Asus PadFone Review
Asus PadFone Review
Tutorial for the PadFone Station - Asus PadFone Review
Asus PadFone Review

Camera app

 

Tutorial for the PadFone Station

 


Pen Bluetooth accessory:

Asus bundles the tablet with a Pen Bluetooth stylus that doubles as a microphone/earpiece. The idea is that when you plug in the phone, someone might call you. Taking the PadFone out only to take the call isn't always quick and convenient enough, so that's when the Pen accessory comes into play. It has an earpiece and a microphone, and you can easily pick up a call with a dedicated button, but we wouldn't want to be in your position when people see you talking to a pen.

Jokes aside, what really bothered us here is that the microphone on the Pen stylus is horrific. It catches a lot of outside noise and not only that but voices sound distorted and hissy. The earpiece is a bit too quiet also.

The Pen Bluetooth stylus doubles as a microphone/earpiece - Asus PadFone Review
The Pen Bluetooth stylus doubles as a microphone/earpiece - Asus PadFone Review
The Pen Bluetooth stylus doubles as a microphone/earpiece - Asus PadFone Review
The Pen Bluetooth stylus doubles as a microphone/earpiece - Asus PadFone Review

The Pen Bluetooth stylus doubles as a microphone/earpiece


As purely a stylus, though, the PadFone Pen is a great tool. It's beautifully designed with some thickness to it that actually makes the grip more comfortable. The Pen has a nice soft tip that gives an instant feedback as to how hard you push, and that's great. Finally, to charge it, you just lift up the lid that protects its standard microUSB port. Unfortunately, it cannot be docked in the tablet, so you have to carry it separately.

34 Comments
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posted on 14 Aug 2012, 07:46 15

1. kamil (Posts: 115; Member since: 07 Feb 2012)


It's actually quite innovative, I like the fact that you can get longer battery life when you connect the phone to the tablet, that what's lacking in the smartphone environment

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 08:17 1

7. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


true true!

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 08:24 10

9. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


IMHO, it's stylus is a great thing.

PA saying: "but we wouldn't want to be in your position when people see you talking to a pen."

would you rather put a pen next to your ears or put a phablet size phone that almost covers your entire face? Gnote2 should get one of this. It's crazy. It's great. And the thing is, you can talk to someone even if you're phone is charging without worrying about the wires of the charger tucked in to your phone.

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 11:00 4

15. buccob (Posts: 1481; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Also, if you don't like the pen, you can use the bluetooth of your preference...

For me is the Plantronic Backbeat 903+ which is great for music and ok for calls, and it is awesome to hear people with both ears...

So PA statement are really exaggerated

posted on 31 Aug 2012, 16:39 2

36. chocolaking (Posts: 453; Member since: 22 May 2012)


I think the pen stylus is such a brilliant idea!!
Honestly, would you rather hold up the huge ass tablet to have a conversation?
The reviewer is seem to be very very objective while writing reviews.

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 10:03

12. Jeradiah3 (Posts: 1007; Member since: 11 Feb 2010)


this is a valuable risk. i like the idea and id consider it if the phone was so small. all they need to make this Tablet-Phone combination better is marketing. i hope it doesnt fall by the wasteline like the Dell Streak did

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 07:49 8

2. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)


This atleast deserves an 8-8.5?

when this comes to US as form in carrier, I bet the review score will increase

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 07:52 4

3. RamyRamz69 (Posts: 390; Member since: 12 Dec 2011)


I wouldn't call a high end phone + a high end 10.1 tablet with a stylus expensive for 850$...

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 07:57 2

4. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Id love to see a gs3 with a note type dock. Wish more manufactures would do this

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 08:00 1

5. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


i think this is a very awesome device... it has eveything I'm looking for... high end tablet with stylus and phone capabilities... not to mention a docking station..

but... too bulky to carry everytime you'll be switching modes. I'd like to wait for a smaller device.. my Asus Prime is getting too much to carry... my next upgrade will involve a 5-7" device for sure.

oh by the way, i got rid of that xperia play already for cash and a brand new htc cha cha... will be saving,... soon.

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 08:14 3

6. -box- (Posts: 3820; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


I think 7 is a fair score. I could have seen it up to 8, maybe 8.5, since it's such an excellent concept (one I had years ago, but using phone to power an all-in-one desktop as well, attaching the portable screen to the body of the AIO which has more connections and/or optical drives), but the execution and pricing doesn't justify the innovative form factor just yet. Get it closer to $500-700, and it'd be a much better purchase

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 08:19 3

8. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


aww. you're kidding right, $500 is just too small for a bundled high end products. This thing is a steal.

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 09:29

10. 305Bucko (Posts: 506; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)


PA's statement: "the phone is what powers that big tablet screen" is a little misleading. I know they meant to say the Hardware (not battery).

Tell you what... even if the Tablet is not up to PA standards. JUST the FACT that you got 6600mAh of extended battery for your phone is awesome.

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 09:32

11. loken (Posts: 462; Member since: 09 May 2012)


now think of paranoid droid rom on this device!

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 10:19

13. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


How come the review for this come out so late? I thought Padfone been out for a while already the and the price was around 800-900.

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 10:58 2

14. buccob (Posts: 1481; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


To rate it "7" is actually very unfair. Specially when the Galaxy Beam (priced similarly at around 600 euros) got an "8" and it has lower specs and less features/innovation than this phone.

I recently bought a Galaxy S3 and love it, but I was actually waiting for an american version of the PadFone which I think I would have taken full advantages of it features... The Dynamic Switching is overrated, and in my opinion, saving/closing app and then open it again in tablet mode is no deal breaker. Specially since this is one of the fastest phones available...

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 11:01

16. hoonybro90 (Posts: 2; Member since: 08 Mar 2012)


SO,,,, whens the quad core version coming out?
heard it was going to be soon... if im getting this, prob waiting till the quad core version.

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 12:18

17. qwertypoor (Posts: 72; Member since: 09 Jun 2012)


Asus that phone looks like something else at first glance

posted on 14 Aug 2012, 14:06 1

18. eman99 (Posts: 233; Member since: 03 Aug 2010)


an 8 just for the fact no one has done this since the atrix came out with the lapdock

posted on 15 Aug 2012, 02:04 3

20. jhattara (Posts: 33; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


I've had my PadFone now for six weeks now and I noticed few issues in this review:

1) Yes, getting the phone out of the PadStation requires some getting used to, but I wouldn't say it would be a lot. I think it took me couple of days to find out how to get it out with ease. Just turn the latch until you feel resistance and then you can just pull the phone out.

2) Dynamic Switching DOES support third party apps, you just need to enable them in the "ASUS customized settings" after installing. Games usually don't work and some apps might require you to lock/unlock the phone, but most of the apps I have tried with it have worked without a glitch.

3) Earpiece in the stylus might sound quiet, but actually it just needs correct positioning. At least I have heard from it just as well as from the speaker of the phone itself. No idea about microphone quality as I haven't been on the receiving end yet.

4) Although the stylus can't be docked into the PadStation, the sleeve that comes with the PadStation has a holder for it.

5) The price is a bargain, if you're looking for both a phone and a tablet. Please, tell me where you can find a comparable phone AND a comparable tablet under the price of the entire package, INCLUDING the stylus and keyboard dock. At least in Finland you just can't.

posted on 05 Sep 2012, 07:33 1

37. jo_Ny (Posts: 27; Member since: 05 Sep 2012)


You are totally right. I too noticed those flaws in the review, I even sent an email to the author pointing them but never got a reply!! And these are supposed to be "professional" reviewers!! Especially the Dynamic Switch point is a serious error made by the reviewer.

posted on 15 Aug 2012, 04:59 1

21. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


I don't care about the station , I just want the phone

posted on 15 Aug 2012, 07:29

22. jhattara (Posts: 33; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


At least in Finland it's possible to order just the phone from one retailer at 499€ (699€ with the station). Not sure of other countries.

posted on 15 Aug 2012, 08:33

23. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


here in malaysia you can too

posted on 15 Aug 2012, 09:22 1

24. ivanprskalo (Posts: 113; Member since: 09 Dec 2010)


I think it deserves higher grade than 7. at least 8 or 8,8!
I will definitely buy it, but when price goes little bit down.

posted on 15 Aug 2012, 22:21 1

25. nicholassss (Posts: 351; Member since: 10 May 2012)


I kind of like the phone by itself.

posted on 17 Aug 2012, 13:49

26. wildcat80 (Posts: 5; Member since: 02 Aug 2012)


You guys do a great job, but you seem to have either a short memory or very narrowly compare products. First, Palm had a concept where they connected a mini notebook sized device to their smartphone. Similarly, Motorola has been selling their lapdock products which seem to work virtually the same as this product but without as cool a dock. You have to love the ability to fully hide the phone. I guess its unique in that marriage of the products products a tablet as opposed to a mini laptop, but they seem to be variations on a theme to me.

posted on 17 Aug 2012, 16:35

27. tchad78 (Posts: 10; Member since: 17 Aug 2012)


The difference with the Lapdocks is that they have no touchscreen. Coming from the Prime - it is amazing how often I used the keyboard to type and the touch screen like a mouse.

posted on 18 Aug 2012, 06:10

28. eyad_996 (Posts: 29; Member since: 10 Jul 2012)


way too overpriced
it's like it's made out of gold

posted on 19 Aug 2012, 16:33

29. jhattara (Posts: 33; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


Please, try to get anything comparable cheaper than this. You won't succeed.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 14:55

30. captainqtp (Posts: 16; Member since: 25 Jun 2010)


But is it a Pad, or is it a Phone?

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 15:11 1

32. jhattara (Posts: 33; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


It's both.

posted on 23 Aug 2012, 00:34 1

34. Sam299 (Posts: 2; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)


Who needs quad-core, I've got the Padfone + Station, and it actually views web video better than my Galaxy S3 (which fails to play flash video from numerous sites :-(

Only my Galaxy Note out performs it... Yeah, i'm a Tablet & Phone freak, and this is the best of all my devices.. (well, maybe not the "best", but my Favorite).

Only problem is that I'm using it here in the U.S., and it doesn't support the 3G or 4G frequencies here.. So all I can get is (worthless) Edge Speeds on T-Mobile (or Any of the carriers).
I'm prayin that Some phone company releases it b4 year end.

posted on 23 Aug 2012, 02:09

35. Sam299 (Posts: 2; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)


p.s.: Re. the Station being bulky... Yeah. but there are 2 solutions that will make you forget that it's bulky at all:
1) Get a Padlette ..... amazing.. makes it so easy to carry and use. or,
2) Get a leather case from Ebay, which fits snugly and lets you access the phone-dock any time. The one with a cutout for camera looks even nicer.

Not only does it make the device look even more impressive -- it makes it a Lot easier to handle and use. Actually makes it look sleek and slimmer.

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Asus PadFone

Asus PadFone

OS: Android 4.0.3
view full specs
Display4.3 inches, 540 x 960 pixels (256 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8260A, Dual core, 1500 MHz, Krait processor
1024 MB RAM
Size5.04 x 2.57 x 0.36 inches
(128 x 65.4 x 9.2 mm)
4.55 oz  (129 g)
Battery1520 mAh, 10.83 hours talk time

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