Mobile Phones Guide

Hands-on: ASUS PadFone, PadFone Station & Accessories

Hands-on: ASUS PadFone, PadFone Station & Accessories

Hands-on: ASUS PadFone, PadFone Station & Accessories

Hands-on: ASUS PadFone, PadFone Station & Accessories

The ASUS PadFone first made its appearance way back at Computex in 2011 - back then, details on the device were unclear except for the fact the tablet/smartphone hybrid device was to come with a 4.3-inch screen and a 10.1-inch tablet dock extension. Later on, the device was said to be available in Q1 2012 with ICS loaded at the AsiaD conference in October last year, followed by a hands-on video of the product and the official announcement of its appearance at MWC. Fair to say, it's no exaggeration when we say it's been a long wait.

So what exactly is the Padfone? The PadFone comes with an optional PadFone Station, a 10.1-inch tablet dock that allows the phone to be transformed into a tablet with 5 times the battery capacity. The smartphone, while highly mobile in nature, is inadequate in certain scenarios due to its small screen size - one of the reasons why users turn to tablets when the situation calls for it and why some users are owners of both devices.

This is naturally where the PadFone comes in, aiming to offer seamless transition between phone and the tablet form factor, with users relying on just one SIM card for two devices. No wait, the ASUS ambition doesn't stop there: with the optional Keyboard dock, users get the third option of using the device as a netbook. Will the PadFone and its bevy of accessories be the one-stop solution?

While the concept itself isn't exactly new - Motorola did it with its Atrix smartphone and Lapdock accessory -, ASUS' concentrated efforts in providing a seamless experience via the PadFone look set to be more concrete and all-compassing in nature. With mobile phones getting more powerful, it is definitely an exciting trend that other manufacturers should and might consider. If all these information is over your head and confusing, take a quick look at the official ASUS PadFone for a better idea of what the device is looking to offer:

ASUS PadFone 

  Key highlights of the ASUS PadFone

  • Android ICS 4.0 
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Display / qHD (960 x 540) resolution
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor
  • 1 GB RAM / 16GB, 32GB or 64GB internal memory 
  • 8-megapixel camera / f2.2 lens/ Auto-focus / LED flash
  • 1520 mAh battery
  • 129g
  • 128 x 65.4 x 9.2 mm
  • Availability: April, LTE model targeted for early Q3 2012 release  

The PadFone's 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display exhibited good colors, contrast, levels of brightness and responded extremely swiftly. In fact, the phone could have been easily mistaken as a Samsung Galaxy Nexus due to its rounded body.

Yep, the PadFone runs on the latest Android OS version, the Ice Cream Sandwich. The user interface hasn't been tweaked much per our hands-on experience but there's been slight modifications.

An additional column for Pad-only applications has been added. We didn't see any exclusive apps at the event, but it is surely a sign for more content to come.

ASUS adds a touch to the PadFone by including its own customized settings, including a launch pad-only application on phone and the option to switch between Android and ASUS quick settings notification panels.

The phone is thin and light due to its plastic build. On the right, we have two volume controls that are indiscernable and slightly too indented for comfortable pressing. Nonetheless, it isn't a big issue.

On the right, you will get a micro-USB port, HDMI port and pogo pins that are used to connect to the dock.

Plastic back aside, the PadFone is equipped with a 8-megapixel f 2.2 lens camera.

ASUS PadFone Station, Keyboard Dock and Stylus Headset

The ASUS PadFone Station comes with a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 resolution display, a 24.4 watt-hr battery and SonicMaster speakers. Physique-wise, the accessory measures at 273 x 176 x 13mm and weighs at 724g. For the devices to work properly, the ASUS’ proprietary Dynamic Display technology allows seamless transition between the PadFone and PadFone Station display screens.  

Based on our short session with the PadFone Station, we found it to be slightly on the heavier and bulkier side of things. Otherwise, the experience was pretty positive, boasting of speedy transitions. As an aside, we weren't allowed to open the PadFone compartment but we could clearly see the PadFone's 8-megapixel camera and flash peeking out of the holes of the compartment.

A 10.1-inch screen in all its glory.

The other optional accessory that users can get is the keyboard dock which will effectively transform the PadFone/PadFone Station into a netbook.

A stylus that doubles up as a headset? Innovative to say the least - however, users might have to get used to quizzical stares when they use it in public.