Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – intro
So before the Padfone has even arrived in the flesh, Asus has managed to announce its bedmate, the PadFone 2. We got some hands on time with it at the launch event in Milan – but is the PadFone a fad-phone? Read on...
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – design and build
The PadFone 2 will come in two colours, black and white, and both look pretty futuristic – we think the white design has a slight edge but both stick to the tried-and-tested iPhone-style form factor.
The PadFone itself is slightly larger than before – a little annoying, as the first version fits perfectly in small hands – but this is no smartphone beast. You'll find the same concentric circle design as seen on Asus' ZenBooks, the first PadFone, and the Transformer series – it's quickly becoming a design signature of the brand..
The real story for the build is the new docking mechanism – the PadFone 2 slides into the back of the Station in one movement with no cover – it requires noticeably less faffing about compared to the older model.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – screen
The PadFone has upped the screen ante with a 720p affair for the phone and Station – and even on homescreen icons the new crisp quality shows. It's 4.7in which is great for videos – and the widescreen mode in the camera – and the Super IPS+ screen can now pump out 550 nits of brightness. Love the Transformer Pad Infinity? You'll love this, even though it's not full HD.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – PadFone Station
The 10.1in tablet station does the job well – and the most striking thing about the combo is that it weighs just 649g, meaning you won't have those "I'll just leave it at home today" moments very often. The quad-core Qualcomm chip and 2GB of RAM in the PadFone 2 itself mean that as a tablet you've got more than enough power to zip around too.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – Dynamic Display
Dynamic Display – which displays apps on the Station that you had open on the PadFone – won't work with everything, as with the first PadFone, but Asus tell us that Dynamic Display is guaranteed for the top 100 free Android apps as they've been working through those APIs over the past year or so.
In our short play with both components apps opened very quickly across both devices and our only problem was when the Station went into standby mode. Waiting for it to wake up is a minor gripe, though – and with Asus telling us it'll last for six weeks in standby, we can't complain.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – performance
We're told this baby got 15,000+ on AnTuTu and tops other benchmarks like OpenGL. Naturally, we tried to get some hiccups out of the PadFone 2 in our short hands on time with the device but didn't encounter a single one – apart from a 'SuperNote has stopped' message. All that, and Asus reckons we should get nine hours of video playback on the phone and a ridiculous 27 hours of video with the PadFone Station involved too.
SuperNote also rocks real time writing to text skills, giving Samsung a run for its money in the handwriting recognition stakes – when it runs, that is.
Plus there's that SonicMaster sound tech on board with the brilliantly named AudioWizard audio settings menu for more bass and less distortion, apparently – we'll be putting that to the test in a full review. It sounded very loud to us in the quick demo, which is always a pleasant surprise when dealing with a tablet.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – camera
13MP sounds very good on paper and the new PadFone Station design means you can take photos with the PadFone as before. You can also record 720p video at 60fps and our initial play with the PadFone's camera was promising, with bags of features down the left hand panel including widescreen mode, filter effects and flash. We didn't try the beautification features, mind you.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – UK release date and price
We haven't been given a UK release date or price for the PadFone 2 yet beyond early 2013, but Asus say that both the original PadFone and the PadFone 2 will definitely go on sale in the UK and that networks are coming round to the idea of a one data contract – in this case LTE – for a phone and tablet.
The official price is €800 for the 32GB handset and €900 for the 64GB model – and that price includes the Station too.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – Jelly Bean
It's Ice Cream Sandwich for now but Jelly Bean, complete with Google Now, is on its way shortly after the PadFone 2 launch. A shame it's not out of the box, then – but we'll let this one slide for now, Asus, as Android 4.0 runs beautifully.
Asus PadFone 2 hands on review – verdict
It may not lie flat on a table yet, but Asus has worked hard to minimise that PadFone bump when in Station mode. By pumping up the smartphone specs to 2012 standards and being sold as a pair, the PadFone 2 might just have a shot.