AN AFFORDABLE PADFONE
ASUS PadFone S
The ASUS PadFone series has been around for two years now, and continues to be the only 2-in-1 phone-tablet hybrid around. The basic form factor has remained unchanged since the original PadFone was released in April 2012, where the smartphone can be docked into a tablet shell, turning it into a full tablet device.
At 10mm, the PadFone S is significantly thicker than other flagship models. In fact, it’s actually thicker than the first generation PadFone, which was 9.2mm. Despite its bulk, the phone isn’t too heavy, coming in at 150g, which is slightly over average but nothing too alarming. Like the PadFone Infinity, the PadFone S sports an aluminum frame with chamfered edges. However, the rear gets a downgrade design-wise as it’s now a removable polycarbonate plastic. It feels quite cheap, and it’s certainly not up to the quality of previous PadFones that sport aluminum backing. Despite the rear cover being removable, the battery is sealed and can’t be removed. This time round, the optional tablet docking station comes in a 9-inch form factor, for an additional $199.
The phone is equipped with a 5-inch Super IPS+ LCD screen, with a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution. This gives it a pixel density of 441ppi, which yields very crisp and sharp images. You also get a 13-megapixel rear camera, which performs fairly well under normal lighting conditions.
The PadFone S runs on the fairly powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.3GHz processor, with 2GB of RAM. Benchmark performance was generally quite good, and compared favorably to other, more expensive, flagship smartphones. Battery life, however, was slightly under average, lasting only 7 hours on our video looping benchmark.
Overall, the new PadFone S is an interesting proposition. On the one hand, at just $449, it’s very affordable. The Infinity’s $899 launch price was a lot to ask for, especially for such an eccentric design, but $449 might just be low enough for anyone intrigued with its hybrid proposition. On the other hand, the PadFone S is probably the worst PadFone advancement ASUS has ever made, with the low price resulting in cutbacks in both design and build materials.
Having said that, there’s still lots to like about the PadFone S. Even if you ignore its docking tablet capabilities, you’re getting a lot of value for its price with flagship-level performance and camera quality.
TESTED & RATED