Asus Padfone 2 Review

 

Asus Padfone 2
Asus Padfone 2 Docked
Asus Padfone 2 Tablet Dock

Asus launched the original Asus Padfone back at the start of 2012. Now they've released the Asus Padfone 2 which is a 4.7 inch Android smartphone that doubles as a 10.1 inch tablet. Our review of the Padfone 2 examines whether it delivers both a cutting-edge smartphone and tablet experience.

 

Feature set summary for Asus Padfone 2 review

The 13-megapixel snapper takes good daylight snaps, grabs video and give plenty of options for manual tweaking and editing.

 

Style and handling summary for Asus Padfone 2 review

The Asus Padfone 2 feels like a business handset. Paired up with the tablet Station dock, it weighs about the same as the iPad. Our only grumble is that the back is uneven when the two gadgets are put together – it means it rocks when you place it on a flat desk or table.

 

Battery power summary for Asus Padfone 2 review

This is decent – you should get 24 hours of average use out of the smartphone – and seven hours of media streaming. Pair it up with the Station and its built-in battery, and it will keep going for three days.

 

Performance summary for Asus Padfone 2 review

Under the hood sits a quad-core chip, teamed up with a massive 2G of RAM, which sees the devices running smoothly without any lag.

 

User friendliness summary for Asus Padfone 2 review

The Padfone 2 proves speedy and responsive in use and the skinned Android 4.1 interface is user friendly. Connecting up to the tablet is simple and quick.


Asus Padfone 2 Review Scoring Summary

Style & Handling
User Friendliness
Feature Set
Performance
Battery Power
Overall Score 3G.co.uk grey star

 

Pros :
Crisp, bright, colourful display; Connecting to tablet dock is simple and offers extra battery life; decent 13-megapixel snapper with plenty of features.

Cons :
Rather dear; Wobbly back when handset is docked; back panel is plasticky.

 

Verdict:

The Asus Padfone 2 proves to be a powerful smartphone with plenty of desirable features, as well as a useful tablet dock when you want a bigger screen and extra battery life.

Full Review and Specification for the Asus Padfone 2

The Asus’ Padfone 2 has a dual personality. One minute it looks like your average mobile, the next, you can team it with its own special ‘station’ dock and you’ve got a 10in tablet, with the added bonus of 3G/4G connectivity.

 

Back to black

A first glance at the Padfone 2 and you’ll see a business-like black chunk of handset that features the usual Asus concentric circles on its reverse and a silver edge. Unlike the Asus Zenbook laptops, which we love, the phone does not have a metal back panel. Despite this it still feels quite solid and weighs a suitably hefty 135g.

 

Asus Padfone 2 Side Angle

 

You can’t prise off the back panel – instead there’s a pin-hole SIM card slot on the top of the handset and the power and volume keys sit on the right edge. At the bottom of the handset is an odd proprietary USB port into which you can plug your usual Micro USB cables, although we found them rather wobbly. It’s best to use the funky custom USB cable provided by Asus.

 

The docking station is your average tablet with a black border (it looks rather like the Asus Transformer Prime). Team it with the phone and weight-wise you’re looking at something similar to the iPad. It has a rubber back that helps you to keep a firm grip on it. We only have one grumble – and that’s that when they’re joined, the phone/tablet combination has an uneven back, so if you place it on a table it wobbles rather – you’ll need to hold it to use it successfully.

 

However, the tablet and phone connect easily and quickly – the tablet fires up as soon as you connect them – and the phone sits safely inside the dock without any fear of falling out.

 

Two become one

Asus Padfone 2 Docked

Once the Padfone 2 and the dock are connected you have several benefits to enjoy. First and most obvious you get a bigger display for playing games, watching films and viewing and editing snaps. You can also use the 3G/4G connectivity of the phone to get on the internet – great for streaming TV and movies.

 

Battery life is extended thanks to the station’s built-in battery – Asus say you’ll get 36 hours of life out of the phone and station together.

 

On the handset itself we managed to stream video for a decent seven hours – but once it was connected to the station we got nearly a day’s worth of streaming. Even with heavy use with the display brightness cranked up we still got a day of battery life – the power save mode helps with this.

 Asus Padfone 2 Docked Side Angle

So what happens if the phone and station are connected and you get an incoming call? The Station interrupts whatever you’re doing and lets you choose to reject, answer or reply using a text message. You’ll want to use a headset to reply to calls – otherwise you’ll have to lift the rear of the tablet up to your face to speak into the mic. Or just pull the handset out of the dock and use the handset as normal.

 

The only pity is that the dock doesn't work on its own – we’d have liked to see it becoming a simple web browser or digital photo frame. But then, as we always have our phones with us, it’s probably not really an issue.

 

Very jelly

The Padfone 2 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which has been given some Asus tweaks and looks good. There are custom widgets for weather/clock, battery status and so on – all of them can be re-sized. There is quite a lot of bloatware included but we still found we had usable storage adding up to 25GB – and to be fair it’s easy to delete anything you don’t want. The notification bar has benefited from some nice tweaks – there a quick button to change settings such as Wi-Fi, and a sliding brightness bar.

 

Under the hood a quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm chip ensures the Padfone 2 runs smoothly even if you’re firing up some demanding apps, we did see one browser crash – but it seemed to be a one-off. LTE support and NFC ensure it’s future proof.

 

Key points


Asus has included an onscreen keyboard that is more complicated than the usual Android one. There’s a full row for numbers and the most used punctuation. It does mean some of the keys are somewhat cramped though.

 

The keyboard is clever too – start typing in the web address field and .com and @ buttons appear. The keyboard can be exchanged for a handwriting recognition pad – which works well – or your choice of Android board.

 

On the back of the handset sits a 13-megapixel snapper. To take a shot almost instantly just hit the volume button on either the phone or tablet. Daytime shots proved sharp with good colour reproduction – even when we looked at them on a large screen. Auto-focus works well, although our macros pictures suffered from some blur. In low light our snaps proved too dark to be used, but there is a good flash that manages to light up a small room, without overexposure.

 

There are lots of manual options for tweaking, along with burst shot and panorama mode. A front-facer takes crisp self-portraits. The photos can be edited and you can add in some fun adjustments should you wish. It’s easier to edit pictures using the station than on a phone – and you don’t have to fiddle about with transferring or cables. You just plug and play.

 

Pleasure and business


The Padfone 2 is a great business device but is also good for entertainment. The display measures 4.7 inches and is bright enough to withstand glare and has great viewing angles. Games, websites and films look great on the 1280 x 720 resolution screen – zoom in on a website and you’ll still be able to read small text. The extra thin glass also makes it look like the screen is right on the surface.

 

Our conclusion


The Asus Padfone 2 is rather dear at £599, but if you were planning on buying a tablet and phone, you’d probably spend about the same. The Padfone 2 is a great smartphone and the addition of the Station dock gives you the benefit of being able to view films and surf the net on a bigger screen – and an extended battery life.


 

Asus Padfone 2 Specification

GENERAL

Type of device Smartphone
Operating System Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Dimensions 138 x 69 x 9mm
Weight 135g (514g with tablet)
Form factor Touchscreen
Input Touch Screen
Processor speed 1.5GHz quad-core
CPU Qualcomm S4
Graphic chipset  
Status Available
 

DISPLAY

Screen size 4.7 inches
Screen type IPS
Resolution 1280 x 720
Display type 16 million colours
 

Memory

RAM 2GB
Internal storage 25GB usable
Memory card slot Yes
 

Camera

Camera 1.2 megapixels
Secondary camera 13 megapixels
Special camera features Flash
 

Sound

3.5mm Jack Yes
Music player Yes
Audio recording Yes
Radio Yes
FM Radio description  
 

Video

Video recording Yes
Video player Yes
Video calling Yes
Video streaming Yes
 

Additional Features

Browser Android
Games Android
Voice control No
Voice dialling No
Other  
 

Messaging

SMS Yes
MMS Yes
Email Yes
IM Yes
 

Connectivity

Wi-Fi Yes
Bluetooth Yes
USB Yes
NFC Yes
GPS Yes
 

Network

Band Quad-band
EDGE Yes
GPRS Yes
HSDPA Yes
4G/LTE LTE
 

Other

Colours (Standard) Black
Handsfree speaker phone Yes
Customisable ringtones Yes
What's in the box Charger, Station dock
Website Uk.asus.com
 

Battery

Standby 336 Hours
Talktime 16 Hours
Battery life multimedia  

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By Simon Thomas on 05th March, 2013


Tags: Asus Padfone 2ASUS PadfoneAsus


 
 
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