We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Asus seems to be one of the few companies out there willing to take risks when it comes to bringing concepts to the market. They really hit it out of the park with the Transformer series of tablets and today we have something that takes that concept one step further. The Asus PadFone gives you the full functionality of an Android smartphone as well as the ability to use it as a tablet or notebook, depending on where you’re using the device. How’s this possible? The design of the PadFone is threefold – there’s the phone itself, a tablet-like docking station called the PadFone Station and then you have the keyboard dock, like we’ve seen on the Transformer tablets. Let’s start with the phone.
Design and Build
The PadFone itself is quite handsome. The Gorilla Glass in the front contrasts well with the aluminium body and from some angles, resembles the iPhone a lot. It’s quite light at just 129g and slim as well at 9.2mm at its slimmest point. Asus has gone with a wedge-shaped design for the PadFone, which we think works well in its favour. The volume rocker buttons are within reach and so is the power/sleep button on the top. It doesn’t feel all that big for a 4.3-inch display, but I think that has more to do with the increasing popularity of phones with screens this large. For connectivity there's a microUSB port, microHDMI, and three contacts for the docking station.
A handsome looking phone
It' party trick
Our unit had Android 4.0.3 running out of the box along with Asus’ minimalistic skin. The UI is smooth for the most part, apart from slight jerks and lags that creep in—nothing that a little taste of Jelly Bean won’t fix. The Super AMOLED screen feels a little oversaturated at times, especially in the UI; although videos look extremely rich and sharp with great viewing angles. Asus has modified the notification bar with a handy scrolling bar of toggle switches. Other additions include their own widgets, a section in the menu for tablet apps, and a ‘PadFone’ submenu in the settings. As soon as you dock the phone, you get the typical tablet layout but none of the folders you create on the phone translate into tablet mode.
Familiar ICS interface on the phone
The same homescreen but in tablet mode
Custom settings for the PadFone
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