Hands On Video: ASUS Padfone – Is It a Phone? Tablet? Or BOTH?


We haven’t heard much from the ASUS Padfone since it was teased then eventually revealed last year. Arguably one of the greatest ideas ever to hit Android, I was hoping we’d see a lot more from the device. Well, on my trip to ASUS’s CES showing, I was not only able to snag some pics of the device behind its plexiglass enclosure — but after a little sweet talking (I’ve heard my voice could be rather soothing), ASUS was kind enough to enough to give Phandroid some hands-on time with the hybrid device.

Part smartphone and part tablet, the ASUS Padfone allows for seamless transition between your smartphone and tablet by docking the phone portion inside the tablet and moving from a phone user interface, to a tablet interface with no fuss. To show off how seamless the Padfone handles this, ASUS had a video running on the smartphone while docking the device inside the tablet and although there was a slight delay (this is still very early software and very early hardware), the video picked up on the tablet exactly where it left off on the phone. Impressive to say the least.

Details on both portions of the Padfone were scarce thanks to a language barrier and given the prototype we got our hands on is still very much in the early stages of development. The smartphone — or “brains” of the Padfone — is a 4.3-inch device with an IPS display, 8MP shooter and runs on Ice Cream Sandwich. To be expected, all the usual ports made an appearance on both the tablet and smartphone. You have micro USB, HDMI and 3.5mm jacks. Not the thinnest smartphone or tablets on the market but they are definitely not the thickest either. The quality of both devices felt solid with a great build quality and even a little premium thanks to aluminum accents throughout.

While I’m sure you can already think up a few benefits of having a smartphone that transforms into a tablet, there are a few we’d like to emphasize. Gone are the days of having a separate data plan for both your smartphone and tablet. The Padfone makes it easy to use only 1 SIM and data plan that’s good for both devices.

The Padfone also virtually eliminates the hassle of having to constantly transfer (or sync) your media from one device to another, just to access your content on both devices. Another thing, the smartphone actually charges while it’s docked adding extra battery life to the smartphone when you finally need to undock it.

Obviously, being able to convert whatever you’re working on to a larger display, while still having all the functionality of a smartphone on a tablet. SMS phone calls, wireless data — the future is here. Well, coming soon anyway. ASUS mentioned that they are currently shopping around for US carriers to pick up the device but that’s easier said than done. I would imagine a carrier like Verizon Wireless wouldn’t take so well to a smartphone that could transform into a tablet, circumventing the need for a separate tablet data plan. Guess we’ll have to see.

So what do you guys think about the Padfone? Success or flop? For the main attraction, you can check out our full hands-on video down below. Enjoy.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. We heard you like buttons, so we put buttons above your buttons…

    1. Lmao… yeah get rid of the capacitive buttons..

      Also, did anyone else see the tablet lag like hell when the phone was docked in?? Keep working on that Asus…

      1. The software is still super early (I saw some CRAZY stuff that I didn’t mention in the post) but when everything was working as intended, the lag was THAT bad… ASUS did say it’s something they’re going to keep working on. :)

      2. On phones I prefer capacitive buttons to on screen buttons. I hope they keep the capacitive buttons on the phone.

    2. The phone originally had Gingerbread so nobody could anticipate Google would do away with capacitive buttons in ICS.. =p

      I actually don’t mind the capacitive buttons. It would provide more screen real estate without the onscreen ones.

      1. I agree. I never had a problem with capacitive buttons. I still dont see whats wrong with them. They never leave, and give more room on the screen

        1. the buttons go away when their not needed, so you could have more screen.

    3. Such an amazing idea! Totally gonna check it out. Not being forced to get 2 data plans, sync everything on separate devices and just high quality devices is telling me that ASUS is again doing the right thing. So looking forward to MWC and the launch of that beauty.

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  2. I love this concept! I’m holding out buying a tablet because I don’t want to be bothered having two separate devices that have different content.

  3. Looks pretty interesting. Whats more interesting is that you can turn the UI off… That I definitely like! Tablet mode looked jerky though.

  4. if AT&T picks this up then they’ll just do the same thing they did with the Atrix and piss everyone off by charging for tethering to use the dock. Let’s just hope Asus doesn’t also charge $500 for a tablet shell like Motorola.

  5. I am super pumped about this thing, I hope the manage to cram a tegra 3 into that phone. I don’t really care too much if the tablet isn’t the slimmest thing in the world, but a well designed phone is a must and I didn’t love the way this early prototype looked, they need to remove the capacitive buttons and ensure it’s a 720p screen

  6. look a little laggy once it got into the tablet.

    they should give the phone the tegra 3 or another quad core. 

    i would buy it for 300 on 2 year contract. that would be sick.

    i see it going to sprint. sprint likes to try weird things.


  7. It looks like it has the transformer dock connectors on bottom! I really hope that’s the case. It would make it such a superb device!

  8. I’m interested with this.  Now if Google could have Samsung build the same kind of thing for the Galaxy Nexus………………………….

  9. What are the resolutions on the phone and the tablet?

  10. As soon as the second version comes out – in a year/1.5 years I’ll be all over it. Awesome idea, just want some of the kinks to work themselves out.

  11. If this is Tegra-based, I’ll be all over it. If not, then, meh.

  12. I really want htc to make one of these…

  13. I’m blown away. The big blogs couldn’t get close to the Padfone and you had a video!

    It’s still not finished, but this is absolutely the future. Why would you pay another 500 dollars on top of every other gadget you own? Why not make tablets a cheap accessory to smartphones, when they share almost every component from OS to processor? You mentioned a lot of advantages to this model, but there’s also price: with no NAND memory, no processor, etc. the tablet really has the potential to be cheaper.

    I know Motorola tried this with the Lapdock and so far they have failed, but Asus has always made cheap good stuff and I think they can pull it off….like, $200 for the tablet dock and $300 for tablet + keyboard. Ok, maybe I’m dreaming.

    Anyway, I’m not buying a tablet until I see how this evolves.

  14. This thing is going to be CRAZY EXPENSIVE!!!!!

  15. This will be awesome with the keyboard dock too.

  16. Looks great , nice concept , Lapdocks and Padfones , future is looking good .

  17. Just the idea of having the pad phone and using my keyboard dock with it makes me want to pre-order it right now.

  18. Good thing nobody ever receives phone calls while using their tablet.

    1. A bluetooth headset, headphones, or speakerphone mode would be just fine for calls.

    2. Honestly how hard would it be to pop off the cover and answer the phone…

  19. I have a feeling this will never hit the states. I seriously doubt the money hungry carriers are going to allow 1 data plan that converts from phone to tablet use.

    1. I don’t know. I see this device really being a market for this kind of person: someone who would only buy a phone with data b/c they don’t want to spend the extra money on a tablet and the extra monthly cost for 2 data plans. The pad phone will probably cost slightly less than a separate phone and tablet, but more than just a phone obviously. I fall into this category b/c I can’t see myself getting a tablet simply b/c I don’t need/want it enough to pay the extra costs that I could currently incur to have one. I could, however, see myself getting this.

      an important thing to note: it’s not quite having a phone and a tablet while paying for 1 data plan. You can’t use “both” devices at the same time, which is where I would see the carriers having a problem. It’s not a shared data plan, it’s just 1 device: a phone that essentially plugs into a “monitor”

  20. There are 3 reasons why I’m not getting the Padphone;

    1. It’s packing a Snapdragon S4. I want a Tegra (3 or greater).

    2. That bump. Terrible design. It needs to have a flat back and even weight distribution.

    3. It needs a keyboard dock to turn it into a netbook like the Eee Pad Transformer series.

    They’re almost there. Give me a Padphone with the above for a fair price (Phone + Tablet dock + Keyboard dock for $500-$600 subbed) and I’ll be all over it.

    PS – All future padphone devices should be backwards compatible with current docks.

    1. 4. It should make softserve ice cream.

      It can’t have EVERYTHING. You have to keep the cost reasonable.

      1. I think all that is a big ask considering this is the first prototype of its genre. I love Asus and own their products. I can’t wait to see this tech come into the market and see how it changes the way we look at merging devices, not just phones and tablets.

  21. The 2 things that actually pleased me the most about this video was….

    A) Ice Cream Sandwich with very minor additions which I would almost say couldn’t be described as a skin as much – just some handy extras like the power widgets in the status bar!

    B) The fact that you can turn of these customisations!

    I mean, these little additions may well be handy without bloating/lagging the device anyway but the fact that a company like Asus gives the user the choice is AWESOME!  Imagine if you could simply have the choice of going into the options on a HTC phone and turning off Sense!  This is the way it should always be! Well, thinking about it actually…. I would love the choice of how much of the personalised elements of a skin I want on or off – EG: I’d like the Sense widgets, but not the Sense dock etc….

    Great job Asus!  Please take note other manufactures! 

  22. Asus is part way there and I am excited about the future of computing because of their risk taking. I am still waiting for a company like Samsung, which makes all of the required gear, to make a beautiful quad core slim phone that is the brains of all my devices. It is my phone, my tablet, and my laptop. The phone docks into the tablet similar to the padphone, and can become the mousepad on my laptop. No longer will I need to transfer all my files and sync my goods, for my phone is the brains and the storage place for all. 
        Sure, it would be very scary if I lost my phone and it was not encrypted or protected, but the concept sounds wonderful.

    1. I believe the padfone is ur answer. It is rumored to be compatible with the TF101 dock.

  23. That’s where the RAZR form-factor comes in. Make a phone super slim and light, and get rid of the stupid docking compartment cover – just slide the phone in as if it was a PCMCIA card.

    1. I think this is the first time I’ve heard a real reason to make phones crazy thin. If it has to fit in a tablet that is light enough and thin enough to comfortable for normal people, then the phone has to be really thin. Your suggestion of using it like a wireless card makes a lot of sense. I wonder if they considered that in designing it…

  24. 32gb’s 250-450$ no contract with t-mo 3g/4g  = me as a happy customer to buy it.

    1. Keep dreaming about that price! That’ll never happen. That $450 price may be the price for the phone on no contract.  the tablet i see around at least $200 (more if it didn’t just run the OS from the phone) and probably more.

  25. This is PERFECT for Sprint. 

  26. I’d love it, but I guarantee Verizon won’t do it.

    1. That depresses me, but you are absolutely right I think.

  27. I don’t get all the people wanting Samsung to do this, the only benefit I’ve seen about going the Samsung route are their displays. I would take an Asus built product over a cheap plastic Samsung any day of the week. Maybe my friends and I have just got the lemons though, who knows.

  28. Why doesn’t this thing have a keyboard dock?! I mean they’re ASUS. They even have 2 products with docks…it’s not like they don’t know about that idea.

  29. This is what Motorola should have done with their Atrix 4G, but totally missed the mark. Asus is doing it right and I’ll get one when it becomes available, and then I’ll dump my Atrix.

  30. from the look at the bottom, the pad looks keyboard dock ready, I wonder if it will be released in the transformer line?

  31. I’m so glad you pronounced it “Ace-Us” instead of “A-Seuss” like I keep hearing people say :D

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