Asus Padfone 2 review

An Android smartphone which slots into and powers a 10.1in tablet. Is it a gimmick or an ingenious idea?

IT Pro Innovation
  • Great performance; Sharp, bright phone screen; Impressive battery life
  • Poor tablet resolution; Devices need to be kept together; No expandable storage

Asus has been one of the few manufacturers to produce Android tablets worth owning in the form of the Nexus 7 and the Asus Transformer Pad. What also sets the Taiwanese firm apart from the competition is that it's not scared to serve up unique design concepts to the public. And so we come to its latest product, the Padfone 2, which consists of phone that docks into a tablet.

It isn't just innovation making the Padfone 2 a strong offering; the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 32GB internal memory and gorgeous 720p Super IPS+ screen all make an eye-catching spec sheet.

But is the 599 asking price too steep?

The Phone

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Physically, the Padfone 2 makes a good first impression. It packs a different style to any phone on the market, combining plastic and metal to create an ergonomic wedge shape.

The fascia is where you'll find the 4.7in 720p screen, capacitive buttons below and front facing camera above. Encased in a matte, grippy aluminium bumper, the Padfone sits well in the hand and feels rich. At the base is the microUSB port while up top, the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The volume rocker and the power button are on the right side of the Padfone 2 and these are also aluminium, reinforcing its rich tactility.

The weakest point of the phone's design is its backing. Its moulded plastic has a spiral pattern. It feels slippery and slightly hollow around the camera mount, failing to meet the richeness of the rest of the Padfone 2's build. Still, this doesn't kill the appeal, it just dampens it slightly.

The spec sheet reads similarly to a Google Nexus 4, only with more memory and an older version of Android Jelly Bean.

The Padfone 2 ships with Android 4.1 and a light skin from Asus. Internals include a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz quad-core. Accompanied by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory, the Padfone 2 will leave you wanting for nothing in terms of power or storage.

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What's more, the screen looks great. Outdoor mode turns the 720p Super IPS+ display into a beaming joy to behold with strong viewing angles and impressive brightness. Kept alight by a healthy 3140mAh battery, the Padfone 2 comfortably lasts a day.

The Tablet

Describing the tablet dock is a simple process. Why? Because all the brains of the device are in the phone. The only components the tablet contains are a 10.1in screen with a few buttons, a front facing camera, a loud speaker and a 5000mAh battery.

The 10.1in is the Padfone 2's weakest point. Despite being the same Super IPS+ technology as the phone module, complete with great viewing angles and brightness, with a resolution of 1280 x 800, pixel density is considerably lower.

To put it into perspective, it's the same resolution as the Android tablets launched last year, like the Asus Transformer Prime, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. This means while videos and image based presentations look just fine, text doesn't look anywhere near as clean as on the Google Nexus 10 or iPad 4. Anyone who intends on using the Padfone 2 as a presentation tool shouldn't worry, this isn't noticeable from a distance. For eBook reading though, you should seriously consider the competition.

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