• Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 8260A processor
  • HSDPA 2100 / 900 EDGE / GPRS / GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 support
  • 4.3-inch qHD 960 x 540 Super AMOLED (PadFone)
  • 10.1-inch WXGA 1280 x 800 TFT (PadFone Station)
  • Bluetooth, USB2.0, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm audio
  • 8-megapixels AF f2.2 rear camera, VGA front camera, PadFone Station Dock (optional), PadFone Stylus Headset (optional)
  • Pros:
  • Truly Unique
  • Snappy Performance
  • Seamless Transition
  • Nifty accessories
  • Cons:
  • PadFone Station only works with PadFone
  • PadFone Station rather bulky

Layers Of Excellence

Between the layers that form the ASUS PadFone experience is a spark of genius. An idea, the simple uniqueness of allowing a smartphone to be docked into a tablet, was seen, believed, and now daringly executed. But is the execution here as intuitive as its vision?

The PadFone experience is centred on the titular smartphone itself, which is a 4.3-inch device powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. The PadFone can be docked into the PadFone Station, essentially a 10.1-inch tablet. You simply pop-open the Station’s dock compartment and slide the PadFone in until it clicks in place, powering the Station almost instantly. The wonderful thing here is how seamless the transition is, as the Station will be able to use and continue any app the PadFone is running. It’s unique, and in the whole, very well executed.

Individually, the PadFone is by no means half-baked. The Super AMOLED display is sharp and bright, and the phone’s overall solid built is complemented by the ZENBOOK-like concentric aesthetics. You might scorn at the dual-core CPU, but it surprisingly manages a very snappy performance that handles both the phone and the tablet very well. And Android 4.0, with a minimally tweaked UI, runs and works excellently. Even the camera here is decent, and praise have to be given to the loud and clear SonicMaster audio speakers.

Part of the PadFone’s ecosystem also include the optional Station Dock, which docks a keyboard to the tablet. Similar to the Transformer tablets, this both boosts the battery life to impressive levels and allow USB 2.0 connectivity. There is also the innovative Stylus Headset, which is a Bluetooth headset masquerading as a stylus. It vibrates and answers calls, too!

As unique as this ecosystem is, it’s not a wholly perfect one. For one, the Station itself doesn’t work without the PadFone docked in; you’re not owning two devices, as they only work in a whole. The Station is also bulkier and heavier than most other Android tablets, which may not be what everyone’s looking for.

CHIP CONCLUDE: The ASUS PadFone is not perfect. But like the first step of a new ground trodden, it may not be steady, but it’s advancing nonetheless. The idea and uniqueness is undeniable, and while there is room for improvement, there is no denying the layers of excellence that now form the ASUS PadFone. That itself is worthy of our praise.

(previously published in issue August 2012)