ASUS Padfone S Review – The Zenfone on steroids
- Awesome Price Tag!
- Beautiful Display and Awesome sound
- Performance worth killing for
- Lack of Dual-SIM unlike the ASUS Padfone Mini
- Cranky tablet slotting
When I mention the name ASUS, it automatically converges into one term – innovation. This brand has been daring enough to build devices that has revolutionized the tech industry to a certain extent. Take their eeePC for example that created a myriad of trend in little netbooks for a start. However, one of their piece of tech that still amazes me today is their Padfone series. These are not to be confused with Fonepad – that gets me wondering about ASUS’ naming conventions, but let’s not worry about it yet. So, back in 2011, ASUS came out with their first Padfone gadget. That was followed by the Padfone 2 and Padfone Infinity which means this piece of innovation has striked the users in the right spot. In my household itself, I have a history of 3 units of Padfone 2 and one unit of Padfone Infinity. This time around, ASUS is back again with a refreshed model – the ASUS Padfone S (PF500KL).
Nah, I can’t afford that! Are you sure?
I have to admit, the combination of the phone and tablet brings the price to a bracket that most of tech lovers couldn’t afford. In fact, in the earlier days, you were forced to purchase both the phone and tablet together. And for a mobile phone to have the capabilities of running a tablet counterpart, the processing power required will be equivalent to some of the highest end devices available in the market. However, this time around, ASUS has unveiled the ASUS Padfone S to a price that is so unbelievable, that I had to put it as the main subject to talk about.
The ASUS Padfone S costs RM899 in Malaysia without the tablet. That is merely RM200 more than the ASUS Zenfone 6 and RM300 more than the ASUS Zenfone 5. The tablet itself costs about RM499 which sums up the total cost to RM1398 – a price that is far below what Padfone used to be. Does it pack the punch? Let’s see.
The budget look
I tell you what, if you have owned the ASUS Padfone 2 or especially the ASUS Padfone Infinity, you might be a little disappointed with the looks here. While the Infinity packed a full aluminium back, this time around we are spotting a teflon coated back case (yes, removable) with a slim metal bezel around the device. It’s not an utter downer as the Infinity had a problem in which the metal back would get scratched after thousand inserts – and you couldn’t change it as simply as you could with this ASUS Padfone S. So this means good news and bad news for us.
ASUS has managed to cramp quite a lot in this little space. In the front façade, the glittering ASUS emblem shines gracefully at the bottom while the earpiece and the 2MPx camera sits at the throne of this beast. On the side, you will be presented with the power and volume buttons. At the top, a slot for 3.5mm headphone jack and at the back is their monstrous 13MPx 4K camera with LED flash. All this is good, but things get a little dirty next.
The tablet counterpart is a lot less handsome compared to its primes. There is a nagging creak when the device is pushed into the tablet for firm attachment. It gets nastier when the tablet comes to live. Almost one inch of the bezel is underutilized with a black frame for whatever reasons. This was least expected as their recent fonepads are claiming world records of thinnest bezels kicking out even the most expensive tablets in the market. On a brighter side, having these bezels will avoid pretty much any accidental thumb entry into the device while housing the stereo front facing speakers.
The performing charmer
Okay, as things get a little bleak above, let’s get to the exciting part. The ASUS Padfone S is housing a Qualcomm MSM8974AB Snapdragon 801 chipset under a quad-core Krait 400 clocked at a beastly 2.3GHz along with a Adreno 330 GPU. It also cramps in 2GB of RAM which means the performance is about to blow your mind away. Considering the price that ASUS has put on this device, it’s great that they didn’t jeopardize the performance of this beast, setting a new benchmark above its previous primers. To rival this beast, we’ve got a HTC E8 in the house spotting a Qualcomm MSM8975AC Snapdragon 801 chipset under a Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 along with a Adreno 330 GPU. Both devices are running at their stock specs accordingly.
I always get a common question from my friends who like to rely on benchmark scores before even deciding the gadget to be purchased. Higher score will only tell you what you get under the hood – which, in a common mindset also means that higher score device will cost more. What I am trying to share here is that, with the Padfone S, you are buying a device which is in the same spectrum as the HTC One E8 (and M8 for the case) but at a fraction of their price. This screams BARGAIN all over itself!
The part that excited me the most on the ASUS Padfone S was the display and sound. Let’s face the fact here, the main device in this package is the phone while the table is a supplementary add-on to the smaller counterpart. This clears the fact that it’s obvious, the mobile device will get a little extra privilege on top of the tablet. The ASUS Padfone S packs a beautiful and crisp display. Period. It’s 5-inch HD display generates vivid and crisp output over the 449ppi screen. 449ppi? Hell Yeah! The tablet, however is honing a 214ppi screen which still functions great for it’s purpose. Now, the fun part about the Padfone S is that if you are really picky about the screen output (shoutout to the person that always bugs me about this, you know who you are), ASUS has included their “Splendid” app. Isn’t it cool that you can now tweak your display output just by tweaking it from an app?! You can adjust the temperatures and colors accordingly or just pick my favorite – enable the Vivid mode.
The sound of this device has a story of its own. I was using the Nexus 5 before my HTC One E8. My issue is that I wear thick jeans everyday and the phone’s ringtone has to surpass multiple layers of thick threads before it could hit my ear drums. The one reason I replaced the Nexus 5 was due to its poor sound. The HTC One E8, with its BoomSound speaks for itself and needs no introduction. The speaker on the ASUS Padfone S while being single piece will amaze you enough! I’ve used it for a couple of weeks and really, there has been not a single call that I missed so far. Watching videos is a bliss too especially when you need to show it to a couple of friends and need highly audible sounds. Oh, and lets not forget ASUS’ “AudioWizard” app that lets you pick pre-defined equalizers to quickly switch the mood of the music that you are listening to. All in all, I’m very satsified with the sound of the ASUS Padfone S.
If you have been eyeing on the ASUS phones lately, and have only been playing with the Zenfone series so far, then you are missing out a LOT!
This 13-MPx camera is capable of capturing 4K images and videos. Yes, you heard that right! 4 times the resolution of the ASUS Zenfone 5 and twice the resolution of the HTC One E8. The results are right in front of you, you be the judge :)
The OS and Software
I love the fact that ASUS has an eye for their UI. Ever since they acquired the HTC’s Sense team and the inception of the ZenUI, things have been a lot more awesome with their lifestyle products. Currently, the Padfone S is devouring the KitKat 4.4.2 flavor under its hood. From the words that I have been hearing, Padfone S is very much likely to skip the 4.4.4 and jump straight to the Lollipop 5.0. This will be worth a wait but until that is done, the KitKat performs like a charm!
Now, there is a fact that has to be shared here. ASUS’ Dynamic Display Mode enables the device to technically decide on how the device has to display it’s output. This way, if you are running tablet specific apps, you will be prompted to restart the app in pad mode while the device is being docked. However, as interesting as this sounds, from my findings, there’s only a handful of apps that are fully optimized with this feature. Then again, this is some room for ASUS to shine their innovative product.
Imagine having a phone that packs a punch capable of running a tablet’s personality. That’s like fitting in a ferrari engine into your mild Toyota. I have fallen in love with the ASUS Padfone S really. The display is beautiful, the sound is crisp and the performance is mind-blowing. And let’s not forget the price tag! If there is one reason why this will not end up in my pocket as my companion, it’s only because of the lack of dual-SIM.
It can, however look a lot better..