ASUS Padfone Hands-On: Phone, Tablet, Laptop Collide Awesomely [VIDEO]


Loving gadgets can be an expensive hobby. While everyone might want a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop, not everyone can afford all three. And if you’re going to buy all 3, why settle for anything but a seamless experience? The ASUS Padfone is my clear favorite for the best gadget of MWC 2012. It’s a fantastic concept that will save consumers money, offer greater seamlessness between devices, and the concept is executed beautifully.

Regardless of whether you’re using the phone, the tablet, or the laptop, it’s the guts of the phone (Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon S4 Krait dual-core 1.5GHz processor) that powers everything. However, each of the three components – the phone, tablet, and keyboard – all have their own battery. This makes perfect sense considering how quickly a tablet or laptop would drain the tiny battery of a smartphone, but the setup provides an added benefit: the tablet (6600 mAh battery) will power both the keyboard (unknown mAh) and phone (1520 mAh battery) when connected. Essentially, you’re tablet is also a backup battery source!

The PadFone runs Android 4.0 which is a blessing right off the bat. There appears to be some slight customizations, but nothing too offensive to the stock Android lover (this could change as individual carriers will surely dictate case-by-case). Pop your phone into the tablet and you’re running ICS on the tablet. Connect the keyboard and you’re suddenly trackpadding, clicking, and typing rather flawlessly. It’s always nice to have your devices sync… but when your one device IS three devices, no syncing necessary; you’ve already got everything you need.

The Padfone screen is 4.3-inches with 960 x 540 pixel resolution and made of Gorilla Glass. It looks great. The whole phone is only 9.2mm thick, and while I was concerned with ASUS ability to produce a high-end PHONE, my fears were quickly quashed when I first held the PadFone in my hand. It looks great and feels great.

The Padfone Station has a 10.1-inch screen with 1280 by 800 pixel resolution and is also made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass. I was incredibly impressed with the Padfone’s slim, light, but great feeling phone, but disappointed by the weight of the tablet portion. While docked in the keyboard the weight makes no difference, but if you’re only using the Padfone Station as a tablet it seems a bit cumbersome and heavy. I’ve seen one spec sheet read the station is 716g and another read 724g, neither indicate if that includes the keyboard dock or not. We’ll try to get more info on this and report back, but holding the tablet definitely feels on the heavy side. For comparison sake, the Motorola XOOM is between 708g and 730g depending on the model.

Speaking of spec sheets, take a look at the one we snapped from the demo stand:

The Padfone has an 8MP camera with LED flash and can record in 1080p HD- total sweetness. When plugged into the tablet/dock, this rear facing camera is also used as the rear facing camera in the tablet/laptop. Both the Padfone and tablet have their own front-facing VGA cameras.

One common question is sure to be, “can I use my phone for voice calls when it’s plugged into the tablet/laptop?” You sure can, and that’s one of the more unique features on an already unique device.

The Padfone Station comes with a stylus. That stylus has an on/off button along with volume up/down, an earpiece and a microphone. Answer your call and/or make your call, turn the stylus on and hold it up to your head just like it’s a regular phone. Pretty darn cool, right?

Pricing and availability of the Padfone is still completely up in the air and will depend on the region and carriers. Whether or not carriers will allow consumers to purchase only the Padfone or only the Padfone and tablet is unknown; again, this simply depends on the individual carriers and what they choose to offer. I’m hoping North American carriers jump on the Padfone but I’m nervous they’ll take a pass: they make a lot more money by selling phones, tablets, and laptops individually and trying to sell data plans to consumers for each.

ASUS is hooking consumers up with an opportunity to seamlessly converge what are normally three separate devices. The concept is tremendous in theory and seems to work wonderfully in reality as well- that’s something we’re eager to test in a full review. It’s also great to see the ingenuity and innovation of manufacturers shining in the Android World… the ASUS Padfone and Padfone Station are a prime example of what makes Android such an amazing operating system.

This is why I love Android.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. Is it me, or is the keyboard dock the same as the TF101’s?

    1. it’s pretty similar, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    2. It’s likely closer to the TF201.  The dock is probably bigger since the tab is fatter than the Prime.  (but you could be right since the OG is fatter than the Prime also)

  2. This would be the only thing if came out for verizon would replace my galaxy tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus

  3. Someone please ask them the important question from the Asus reps: Will these devices be forwards compatible? Will I be able to buy a new phone in one or two year and use the same tablet dock? Or will I be able to update the tablet to fullHD one in one year or so for example? Is the dock standard and usable in future?

    Answer to these questions will make the difference between gimmick and game changer.

    1. Probably not.

  4. The information is wrong regarding the batteries. The Keyboard battery charges the tablet battery that charges the phone battery… It’s like a chain.

  5. so this is what moto tried or is trying to do but a bjt better execution? still gotta give moto credit. this is cool though with ics being streamlined.

    1. Doesn’t moto’s version run like some Linux or something. This looks like it just runs ICS.

      1. There are talks between Asus and Canonical to get it duel booting ubuntu.

        1. It’s most likely not dual booting since Canonical released a Ubuntu version integrated with Android. I.e. They are runnign on the same kernel and no rebooting required to switch between them.

  6. Please come to verizon.. I’ll waste my money on it.

    1. keep dreaming

  7. Which gpu? New 300 series or 200 series ?

    1. 225

  8. Stylus headset, didn’t see that coming.  Be interesting to see a deeper review on the phone itself later on, from what I saw here, it looks great.

  9. Been waiting for something like this.  But knowing how Verizon likes to squeeze every penny out of us I’m not sure they’ll carry it since we can use our phone data plan to have tablet access in non-WIFI areas.  But I hope they do because then I can dump my Galaxy Nexus and WIFI-only Galaxy Tab then.

  10. this is why ive waited and waited to get an android tablet, i knew  they would eventually come around …and i think ill wait some more . if this is the 1st version imagine the 2nd 3rd or samsungs or htcs verisions you know damn well this is getting ripped off
    PURE INNOVATION right here apple can learn something
    my god this is sexy

    my only concern is will carriers sell this ? i think theyll be mad their not gettin 2 data plans outta this

  11. This is so awesome. I hope they update it next year. I’m in the middle of my contract right now but would purchase this over anything without a second thought.

  12. Yeah no way Verizon carries this

  13. This isn’t quite “there” yet, but as it evolves it’s gonna be friggin’ amazing.  I’d be completely cool with this replacing my laptop and tablet someday.  First, Android needs better productivity apps and the hardware needs some improvements.  It’s SO close though.

  14. Now we wait until fall for it to come out………..

  15. I want to know if it’s coming to TMobile or not! My family all has upgrades in April and mine is in November, and I want everyone to have this. It looks like my tf101 dock wool work for it, too.

  16. Why are people saying there is NO WAY this will come to Verizon? The razr has something like this already, (not even close to being as cool, but the concept o one device running another) so they wouldn’t NOT carry it just because they want the money from the pad, and from the phone also. 

  17. Kind of disappointed it’s not a quad-core processor. wonder what the reasoning is behind this and if it still stacks up to something like the Prime or 700T, hoping there’s a comparison post when the dust settles that points out which is the best bang for the buck, convergence notwithstanding.

    1. The Snapdragon S4 (Krait core, similar to Cortex A15) is faster than Tegra 3 (Cortex A9) in almost every benchmark, by a wide margin in some cases. Probably more energy efficient also due to the 28nm process. More cores do not always mean better performance, just like the CPU MHz war several years back. Especially when are you looking at brand new design/generation.

      1. Thanks for clearing that up :-)

  18. Saints be praised! I think I found my next gizmo!!! this is the answer to my prayers. 3 devices all connected. great concept. If executed properly this could be a serious game changer.

  19. Looking epic there Asus.

    Wondering what the score is when docking the phone to tablet when it comes to homescreen setups.
    I run a 5×6 grid on my Sensation, I’d be looking for A LOT more on a tablet screen and probably different widgets/shortcuts on phone than tablet.
    But so far, so good.

  20. Will this accept tablet only apps as well since the OS is coming from the phone?

    1. not sure, but i think it’s a moot point with android 4.0? i could be wrong though.

  21. I want and need this soooo badly!! the coolest thing since fried eggs! hurry up and release it already!

  22. I hope they’ll sell the bluetooth stylus separately as well.
    That’ll will be very usefull if you already own a Galaxy Tab 7.7 and all of it’s variants… (in case you don’t want to upgrade anytime soon)

  23. I must have this !

  24. If they can integrate this with “Ubuntu for Android” it will be pure awesomeness

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