Asus Padfone 2 review
The Padfone 2 isn't your typical smartphone since it comes with the Padfone Station – a dummy 10in tablet with its own battery which comes to life when the smartphone is plugged into it. Asus calls it a 2-in-1 set.
The Padfone 2 is the first proper smartphone launch for Asus in the UK so read on to find out what the firm has to offer.
Asus Padfone 2: Price – is it a good deal?
At £599, the Padfone 2 and the Padfone Station seems like a great proposition. But let's make some comparisons to see if it's as good as it sounds. See also Group test: what's the best tablet PC?
On the whole, this really is a good deal. If you were to buy the iPhone 5 and iPad 4 you're going to spend at least £928 in total and around the same if you opted for the Sony Xperia Z and Xperia Tablet Z.
However, go to Google and the Padfone 2 doesn't look so great. The Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, both excellent devices come to a total of £558 which is a hard to overlook. Swap the Nexus 10 for the smaller Nexus 7 and the price drops to just £398 – a bargain if ever we saw one.
What the Padfone 2 offers though is some unique features like the way the tablet can charge the smartphone when it's docked. There're lots of other advantages we can think of too, like only having to log into your accounts once and avoid multiple notifications across device for the same alert. You also only have to pay for and download for apps once - your progress in games is then the same across phone and tablet.
It really depends what you want but in our minds the Padfone 2 is a great option which should be considered for those wanting a smartphone and tablet.
Asus Padfone 2: Design and build
As you can see, the Padfone 2 has a unique design thanks to the Padfone Station. It's a much better implementation compared to the original model where the phone had to sit underneath an awkward flap. You can use the smartphone as normal but when you want a bigger screen simply plug the Padfone 2 into the Padfone Station and you've got a 3G tablet. See the original Asus Padfone review.
When the smartphone is docked you can still send and receive calls and text messaged but it's simple to pull the device out of its slot if you wish.
The Padfone 2 smartphone looks reasonably nice. Our review sample came in white but a black version is also available – we prefer the latter. The front looks like any other smartphone really but has a slightly larger 'chin' than most where the touch sensitive buttons reside. We like the metal band which runs around the edge and the tapered shape which means the Padfone 2 in thinner at the bottom.
The device comes with a proprietary version of microUSB but we managed to use a regular connector with the Padfone 2 anyway. Take a look at Group test: what's the best smartphone?
The Padfone Station, or tablet section, looks like a typical 10in tablet with a wide bezel around the display. The main different is of course the huge hole in the back where the smartphone is docked. This has a clever design involving what are best described as barbed rubber grips which hold the Padfone 2 in place. You can shake the device without the smartphone falling out, but you don't have to fight hard to pull it out when you do want it out.
Build quality is the biggest let down with the Padfone 2. The phone feels solid but we don't like the textured plastic rear cover, though. The docking station has a contrasting smooth plastic finish to the rear which feels nicer but it doesn't feel particularly well built. It's too flexible for our liking and the plastic rear cover unclips and comes away too easily when it shouldn't. This is a surprise considering the usually high standard we see from Asus.
It doesn't feel as premium as other device on the market, namely the Sony Xperia Z, HTC One and Apple iPhone 5.
Asus Padfone 2 video review
Asus Padfone 2: Hardware and performance
The core specifications of the Padfone 2 are the same as the Nexus 4's – a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. We expected decent performance and the Padfone 2 certainly delivered it.
In our GeekBench 2 test, the Padfone 2 scored an impressive 2196. This would have been our new record holder beating the Nexus 4's score of 2009 if it weren't for the HTC One which managed a scorching 2721.
The Padfone 2 continued to impress with a best ever result of 43fps in GLBenchmark beating the Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 by a few frames. When docked the framerate only dropped to 40fps.
The £599 price for the Padfone 2 will get you 32GB of internal storage – double what we usual see. However, there's no microSD card lot and after only installing a handful of small apps our Padfone 2 says there's 25GB of available space. This is worth bearing in mind. Asus redeems itself slightly by offering 50GB of free Asus Webstorage for two years.
The Padfone 2 has a 4.7in Super IPS+ display. Its resolution of 720 x 1280 can't compete with the Full HD phones which have been arriving this year but's it's still a respectable pixel density of 312ppi. The Padfone 2's screen is one of the brightest we've seen and has a specific outdoor mode which works very well.
As we've mentioned, the Padfone Station has a 10.1in screen. It's also an IPS display with the same 1280 x 800 resolution found on the Asus Transformer Pad 300. Both the smartphone and tablet parts of the Padfone 2 use Gorilla Glass with a welcome anti-fingerprint coating.
The Padfone 2 is packed with the kind of connectivity you’d expect from a high-end smartphone. There's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, aGPS and support for both 3G and 4G LTE networks.