Asus Padfone Hands-on Review

Asus Padfone Hands-on Review
The concept is very interesting and unique – a phone that can be docked into a larger tablet-like frame. The dock only acts as a larger screen and battery life extender. All the computing and connectivity comes from the phone. The configuration has its up and down sides. On the plus side – having one phone and one dock will be relatively cheaper compared to buying separate devices (hopefully). We though the weight will also be lesser compared to having two separated devices, but it is not – the phone weights 129 grams and the station is another 724 grams.

The drawbacks are several. One is the lack of options – you can only go with 4.3” on the phone and 10.1” for the frame. If you like 7” tablet, you cannot get it. Also, if you decide that you need to upgrade your phone, you’ll have to get either a new tablet or get another Padfone version which has smaller size dock (if one becomes available). A very important one is that in order to use your tablet, you need to have the phone in close proximity and insert it into your tablet. If you need the phone again, you either have to take it out, or use a Bluetooth headset to carry the call.

Now let’s take a look at the actual hardware. The whole Padfone system is comprised of 4 separate devices. The actual Padfone which is a 4.3” Android 4.0 power phone, the Padfone Station - tablet frame featuring 10.1” display, the Station Dock - keyboard docking station where the tablet frame attaches to, and a stylus, which also acts as a wireless Bluetooth headset.

The Padfone construction is exceptional – very sturdy, metal feel leaves you wishing all gadgets were built like this. The weight is very manageable at 129 grams.

The display is the standard for higher-end phones these days – a Super AMOLED 4.3” with 960x540 resolution, resulting in about average 256 ppi. Colors and brightness seems what you could expect from such display – vibrant and deep blacks.

The processing is entrusted to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 with 1.5GHz Cortex A15 dual-core CPUs and Adreno 225 GPU – the same SoC found in the HTC One S, for example. The processing power provided is more than sufficient, resulting is very eye-pleasing and smooth UI operation.

There will be three variants, depending on the amount of flash memory available – 16, 32 or 64GB. The rest is pretty much standard for a high-end Android phone – 8 megapixels rear camera, Bluetooth 4.0, VGA front camera, microSD memory expansion slot.

The second module in the system is the Padfone Station – pretty much a tablet like frame with a 10.1” screen and 6600 mAh battery. Open the hinged lid in the back, slide the Padfone in and you have a working tablet! Of course in order to make space for the phone, the lid and the area around it is slightly raised, but nothing that can ruin the experience of using it. Because there were only a few unlatched Padfones available (really hate how most companies organize their events and not think about all the journalists/bloggers that will have to cover their devices), but we could experience a few inserts in and out of the Station. Overall – easy process but still some people will surely find this added action inconvenient.

The Padfone Station construction is also super – just like the Padfone. What is somewhat confusing is the weight – a whopping 729 grams. For comparison, iPad 2 is 613g, and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is 595!

The screen is 10.1” with 1280x800 resolution. The colors and brightness seem OK, but what made a bad impression are the extreme reflections! We could not image what would happen if you take it outside – it seems like it won’t be usable.

In order to use the keyboard accessory, one will have to dock the phone to the Padfone Station, and then attach the station to the keyboard. In this configuration it pretty much resembles a laptop (or the Asus Transformer Prime). The construction is again superb. The keys are well-spaced with great tactile feel. USB ports and SD slot are placed on the sides.

The last piece of the puzzle is the stylus, which also doubles as a Bluetooth headset. Something to note – in order to use it, you have to hold the pen next to the ear for the duration of the call. There is no ear clip or anything else.

Final thoughts:

The Padfone is definitely something to look for and try when it is released in April. While it will definitely find warm welcome by some people, we feel that it will not become a mass product. Even though very well executed, the whole notion of having to insert your phone into your tablet every time you want to use a tablet does not seem very trilling. From our personal experience, most of the time when we are at home, we do not carry the phone and the tablet all the time. So the phone might be in one room and the tablet in the other. In such scenarios, the Padfone will not be the perfect solution. Of course, there will be other times where having a 4-in-1 will be just perfect!

Asus Padfone video demonstration:

Asus Padfone video hands-on:

Related phones

  • Display 4.3" 540 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus, Dual-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1520 mAh(8.50h 3G talk time)



1. StreetNerd

Posts: 870; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

And now with Windows!

2. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

The bluetooth pen pretty much seals the deal for me. This thing better come to America. I'd even consider dropping my beloved Sprint if it goes to some other carrier.

4. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

i know. i have been putting off buying a tablet for so long. the only feature i really need is an expanded screen for my phone. asus raises the bar with a battery in the expanded screen, a keyboard, and the stylus/bluetooth headset is amazing! i want an unlocked padfone as soon as it hits my pricerange.

19. IneffableCause

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

This on Sprint would be a must buy for me. Verizon or AT&T I would still consider heavily, but I'd love unlimited data.

3. eman99

Posts: 410; Member since: Aug 03, 2010

please please please sprint pick this up

10. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Fortunately, with Sprint's track record of picking up unconventional devices of late (Kyocera Echo, EVO 3D, and EVO View), I'd count on Sprint to offer this over any other US carrier.

20. IneffableCause

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

I'm hoping your right, and I'm hoping they announce it soon. This could really set them ahead in tablets.

5. jhattara

Posts: 37; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

About the weight. Padfone with the station has 8100 mAh worth of battery (1500+6600) while iPad 2 has 7200 mAh and Galaxy Tab 7000 mAh. Part of the weight difference is explained by the bigger battery. Part is the additional casing and second screen on the phone. Padfone with the padstation doesn't sound that much overweight when you consider e.g. these two factors.

6. _idan_

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

Gigabyte - pronounced with two hard G's! Late trend of miss-pronouncing it with sound J is just ghastly (yeah like that one, not like Jenga). It ranks right up there with Iraq and nuclear - G.W. Bush as one of the most anoying things i hear on the media. Are we to contribute this one to 'American'??? The guy clearly has eastern Europe accent and we know our GIGA, so what gives?

7. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

i loled hard when i heard 1.5 jiggahertz and one jig of ram. english obviously isnt that guys first language.

8. _idan_

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

As this guy obviously has an accent i still cant contribute this to his background as i clearly hear this in mainstream media more and more. Several reviews and even on television (G4Tech-I'm looking at you).

13. robinrisk unregistered

George. "Ge" = "J" Sound Ghetto. "Ghe" = hard G sound, as in God. With E and I, the G should sound as a J, like in George or Gin.

9. henrickrw

Posts: 408; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

Cool Innovation...!!!!

11. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Folks this would be a dynamite device with a windows 8 smartphone or even windows phone 7.5 mango smartphone both of these smart phones have Microsoft office functions so you could do serious work with this hook up

14. padmebaby

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Here's how I would visualize using this game-changing innovation. I would carry the tablet (Station) around in a sleeve or folio or my briefcase, with the phone inserted in it (keeping the battery charged up). When a call comes in, I would answer it on the stylus (smallest phone device going? I was a fan of Maxwell Smart in childhood), which is traveling in my shirt pocket. When I need to place a call, I'll probably pull out the Station, tap Contacts, and place the call. I'll also use the station for navigation as it sits on the passenger seat, and take handwritten notes at appointments (I prefer handwriting to typing notes) and share them back to my home/office computer thru Evernote. I'll take the phone along by itself when I don't forsee needing the tablet. I can't imagine a more comprehensive set of communication tools, at least until the cranial implant comes along. This is just to give you why-why-why detractors some ideas, since you can't seem to think of them yourselves. NOW COME ON SPRINT, SEIZE THE PADFONE REVOLUTION!

15. georgiejr

Posts: 5; Member since: Feb 29, 2012

Hi, Great idea. My question is, what would be the chipset for the Pad fone tablet...from what I understand, that the tablet will be powered by the dual core phone. However, there was one recent article that I saw - can't find it now, that said that the padfone tablet had the NVIDIA tegra 3, while the phone is still a dual core.. Kindly enlighten..and thank you

16. jhattara

Posts: 37; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Only real processing power will be in the phone. Tegra 3 was just a rumor. But in any case Snapdragon S4 should be (according to published benchmarks) more powerful SoC than Tegra 3.

17. georgiejr

Posts: 5; Member since: Feb 29, 2012

thanks jhattara.... however, I wish the padfone was LTE

18. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2361; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

But can it play tabket apps?

21. zeMOo

Posts: 12; Member since: Oct 02, 2012

How to use multi-touchtouch pad on dock station ??

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