ASUS Padfone 2 Review

January 10, 2013
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    Asus Padfone 2 (2)

    In a world dominated by Samsung, the Asus Padfone 2 stands out. Samsung phones are without a doubt, still the cream of the crop. But the last year saw many other Android manufacturers producing increasingly better phones. Asus was one of the smaller Android manufacturers that make great strides through its hardware.

    From this review of the Asus Padfone 2, one thing is absolutely clear. If ever there’s going to be a manufacturer who has the capability to take down Samsung, Asus has got to be it.

    ASUS Padfone 2

    The Asus Padfone 2 is an engineering marvel, not because it’s both a phone and a tablet, but because this is one device done right. The first Padfone was nothing more but a tiny ripple in the ocean, but the second generation of Asus’s product has changed so much. And, although Asus has probably not sold as many phones as they might have desired, their innovation and courage are worthy of respect.

    Asus Padfone 2 (6)

    ASUS Padfone 2 Specifications

    Padfone 2 Phone

    • Size: 137.9 x 69 x 9mm
    • Weight: 135g
    • OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (Jelly Bean in January 2013)
    • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz, Adreno 320 graphics
    • Display: 4.7-inch (1280×720) Super IPS+, 312ppi
    • RAM: 2GB LPDDR2
    • Storage: 32GB
    • Camera: 13MP rear, 1.2MP front
    • Sensors: G-sensor, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, gyro sensor, e-compass
    • Battery: 2140mAh Li-Polymer (non-removable)
    • Networks: WCDMA 900/2100MHz, LTE 800/1800/2600MHz, HSPA+
    • Wireless: WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n
    • Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, A-GPS & GLONASS

    Padfone 2 Station

    • Display: 10.1” (1280×800 WXGA), IPS, 149ppi
    • Camera: 1MP front camera
    • Battery: 5000 mAh

    Build quality

    The Asus Padfone 2 evokes a certain kind of confidence. It’s sturdy and solid, unlike Samsung’s somehow flimsy Galaxy S3. The aluminium frame gives the user a sense of durability unlike any other Android phone, and you just know it will survive a drop.

    Case in point, during a media launch of the Padfone 2 here in Kuala Lumpur, an Asus spokesperson accidentally dropped their Padfone 2 on the floor. The phone survived unscathed. Thanks to that aluminum frame, the Padfone 2 will take an immense amount of punishment before breaking, which is not something you can say about more popular competitors.

    Asus Padfone 2 (7)

    Battery life and display

    One thing I particularly like about the Asus Padfone 2 is the long battery life. My Samsung Galaxy S3 generally lasts me about 14 hours a day on moderate usage, while the Padfone 2 lasts me more than 24 hours. That is by any standards, a really long battery life. However, the Padfone 2 has a non-removable battery, and this means that, once the battery is empty, you’re either stuck with using the Padfone 2 Station for a long time or you’re hunting for a wall charger (which uses an Asus 13-pin dock connector).

    Overnight charging will bring your Padfone 2 & Padfone 2 Station battery to 100%, which is more than enough for most people, even road warriors.

    That said, the Super IPS+ display really does stretch the battery as compared to an AMOLED screen. The display of the Padfone 2 is brilliant; at the minimum brightness, it is as bright as an AMOLED screen on 50% brightness, which makes a lot of sense for color accuracy.

    Asus Padfone 2 (5)

    Performance  and benchmarks

    The Asus Padfone 2 has a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor under its hood and scores about 7500 on the Quadrant benchmark. Not only is this score impressive, it also puts the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 to shame.

    I find the scores  obtained by the Padfone 2 extremely surprising, considering that it runs Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box (Jelly Bean promised to arrive in January 2013).

    But it’s not just benchmark scores — the Asus Padfone 2 also walks the talk. The interface of the device is absolutely smooth, both in phone and in tablet mode. For some reason, it felt to me that Asus had Project Butter nailed at the Ice Cream Sandwich level.

    App switching is a breeze thanks to the 2GB of LPDDR2 RAM that Asus has put on the Padfone. It is by far, the smoothest device I have seen and used. It could be the way the launcher was designed, but that alone is good enough to create a lasting impression and respect for the device.

    User Interface

    As far as the user interface of the Padfone 2 is concerned, it does feel Pure Google. Although it is not, every element about it screams a very Pure Google appearance and functionality. This means that getting used to this device will take some time if you’re switching from a HTC or a Samsung.

    Screenshot_2012-12-16-09-15-02

    Camera

    The Asus Padfone 2 has a massive 13MP rear camera. This camera unit is supposedly a Sony part, and is a 5 element lens with f/2.4 aperture with BSI sensor. I do like the photos taken with this camera, particularly the low light shots. The 5 element lens do cut down a lot of unwanted light flares and does the job well.

    Nevertheless, I am unconvinced that this is any better than the 8MP camera on the S3 or the Note 2. Surprisingly, photos taken with a Galaxy S3 and Note 2 (strangely) look much better than the ones taken with the Padfone 2.

    Unfortunately, he phone camera automatically scales down to 5MP when docked in the Padfone 2 Station. This seriously limits the full potential of the camera in tablet mode.

    Asus Padfone 2 (1)

    Unlike the S3 or Note 2, the Padfone 2 is a straight up shooter. It doesn’t carry many modes like Samsung’s “best photo”, but the Padfone can burst up to 100 shots at 6 per second, which is faster than the S3 or Note 2.

    Padfone 2 Station

    Apart from being an awesome tablet, the Padfone 2 Station is also a battery tank for the Padfone 2. On its own, the Padfone 2 Station does nothing, but with the Padfone 2, it allows users to switch to tablet mode.

    The ability to use your phone as a tablet is really powerful. It’s not just something that lets you impress your friends. Having more real estate for work and entertainment really makes this device something to lust after.

    That said, it can be “complicated” to manage your apps in phone mode as many of your apps will not scale and adopt the tablet format when the Padfone 2 is docked in the station. Other times, it is quite frustrating to see that some apps don’t scale, or sometimes “lose” tablet full screen when the app is updated in the Play Store. For example, the YouTube app, once updated from the Play Store will no longer be able to play videos full screen in Padfone 2 Station mode.

    Asus Padfone 2 (4)

    This can be quite frustrating if it happens to every app that gets a new update. Granted, this could be something that Google messed up, but from the YouTube app comments it does seem that even Asus Transformer tablets are having the same issue. Such a problem might just deter consumers away, as it would require extreme apps micromanagement to use the tablet.

    Your homescreen on the phone also doesn’t transfer over to tablet mode, forcing you to micromanage your phone and tablet homescreens separately. It would be nice if there were a feature that would give you access in both modes.

    Padfone 2 Pros and Cons

    Pros:

    • Fast and smooth even in Ice Cream Sandwich
    • Great battery life
    • Tablet mode has great speakers
    • Decent camera
    • More screen real estate with Padfone 2 Station
    • A very Google-like Android
    • Extremely durable

    Cons:

    • Some apps fail to switch to tablet mode (despite correct setup)
    • Some updated apps loses fullscreen/tablet mode
    • No option to carry over phone homescreen to tablet mode
    • Somehow expensive as a one off purchase
    • Ice Cream Sandwich
    • Lacking features in the OS
    • No expandable memory

    Conclusion

    The Padfone 2 seems like a great device. Getting the Padfone 2 could mean huge savings for users who need both a phone and a tablet. However, the software doesn’t offer much edge to those who are new to Android. Those who love the Pure Google experience might love this device.

    Make no mistake, this is a huge leap from the original Asus Padfone. However, as polished as the Padfone 2 is, it isn’t exactly feature packed as I had hoped it to be. What it lacks in software, though, it does make up very well in hardware.

    At the end of the review, this Asus experience has left me with a positive feeling. The Padfone 2 fully convinced me of one thing – if ever there’s gonna be an Android manufacturer to take on Samsung, it’s not gonna be HTC or Sony or LG, it’s gonna be Asus.

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    Comments

    • http://www.facebook.com/manish.kuyathe Manish Kuyathe

      just brilliant……

    • Fulgore

      What’s the price and where to get one?

      • http://twitter.com/ThePhillipBee Phillip Bee

        Negri Electronic prices http://goo.gl/6vbiW

        • Fulgore

          Seems too expensive as you can buy a Nexus 4 & Nexus 10 for a lower price and enjoy two devices instead of one (which both seem better as stand alone options as well).

    • http://www.facebook.com/georgealexiouvalentey George Av

      “meeeeeeeeeeeeeh” lame CPU cool idea, lame phone. Waiting for the GAlaxy s4 :D

      • cycad007

        It won’t be “lame”…come Padfone 3. Lame CPU?! It beats both the S3 and Note 2! This concept and phone is anything but lame! If ASUS does a few tweaks (like adding a stylus & keyboard, bringing back the removable battery, adding SD card slot) to this thing…the Padfone would definitively be *MORE USEFUL* than anything Samsung has on tap.

        Leave it to ASUS to keep bringing innovation to the Android marketplace. I’m sure you heard Samsung is looking to copy the ASUS Transformer…

        C’mon George…I see your posts and you’re well informed. If not for your extreme Samsung bias, I’d take you much more seriously.

        • http://www.facebook.com/georgealexiouvalentey George Av

          And you don’t detect my sarcasm :D as I said. This thing has a lame CPU s4 pro is so 2012. I’m gonna have 8 cores BABY!!!!!

          • cycad007

            I see…. :D

      • http://www.facebook.com/randy.khoo Randy Ashar Khoo

        After reviewing this device i can say that in it’s current state, it’s still very much a niche device…
        It might be VERY different come Padfone 3.

    • le_lutin

      Great review, thanks.

    • ijks

      I clicked the article because of the models. Then left with a very informative article. Win-win.

      • rigard

        I still prefer those girls .. than the fone …

    • john

      This device would have been a game changer if it just came out a bit early…I mean with Samsung, Tegra, and even Qualcom announcing new 2013 SoC line up, paying big bucks for a phone with dated SoC is kinda ridiculous.

      • Denzo

        I got mine 3 months ago. Where you been??

    • lalala

      1 thing i wonder is what happens when you wanna use your phone AND the tablet at the same time…

      • Denzo

        For what exactly.. The circus act?

    • Asus…?

      It’s amazing to see this innovation but seriously what is the reason for getting this phone+heavy_brick or tablet+no_phone_with_same_resolution device other than the price of it is cheaper than the price of a s4 pro phone + price of a s4 pro tablet? Not to mention that Asus is known to use cheap nand. They learned the I/O issue from transformer prime but continued to use the same nand on the infinity to save cost. This is how a company loses its reputation

    • Wimz3n

      No sd-slot? Thats too bad :/

    • 1ceTr0n

      Asian woman are so freaking hot…. I need to move outa the USA

    • solly

      It seems that the YouTube problem is with YouTube itself and not the PadFone, but what where the other apps which wouldn’t switch to tablet mode properly or other examples of the syncing between apps into tablet mode not working?

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