Note: The ASUS Padfone2 is coming to Malaysia on the December 2012 and I am taking pre-orders at a special discounted price. Limited units only. Contact me if you are interested.

The precision of this phone is stunning

Recently, I started a new Android initiative with some of my Android Sages. We have launched a purely Android dedicated blog called “Droid Sage“. Unlike other blogs that offer news and updates, this new blog is dedicated for educational and information purposes. We will also be doing reviews there with a slightly different touch. And yes, we are all fanboys so the blog will be really interesting to follow. Head up to www.droidsage.com for the coverage. You may also find droidsage watermark over the images posted here. Don’t mind them :)

ASUS recently launched the ASUS Padfone2 and the specs were so intriguing, we had to be the early adopters of the gadget. Knowing our different natures, we may have our own perception on the device. Hence, I decided to take the device for a spin and write my thoughts on it. I decided to take it head-to-head with the HTC One X – which is my current device. Note that, I will not be covering everything on the hardware. There are too many reviews on the internet for that. I’m writing this based on pure experience and real-world touch after using the device for a week. I will only highlight the stuff that really matters before you consider it. As always, I will be unbiased like I have always been on my reviews so you can get the best of it.

My Initial Thoughts

When it comes to mobile phones, HTC quenches my fanboy thirst at its best. But if its anything other than mobile phones, I always look through the plethora list of products that ASUS has to offer. My typical setup is channelled through my custom built ASUS power desktop, which is connected to my ASUS RT-N56U router; which also connects my home ASUS media box to deliver stunning hi-def content through my ASUS Cine5 speakers; and the list goes on. Point to mention is, that if its not a mobile phone, it is going to be an ASUS hardware most probably. But to replace my mobile phone brand, holding a 4 year streak with 6 different devices, this gadget must be so enticing, it should make me speechless. The Samsung Galaxy S3 didnt make it to the notch. Neither did the Note 2.

So I got myself the ASUS Padfone2. This is going to be an interesting war. And I decided to take it personal with the HTC One X – which happens to be my current mobile phone without a doubt. I promised myself, the winner takes the primary throne of my gadgets while the loser becomes my secondary phone. Bearing the mobile phone crown in my context is like winning the actual WWE belt and not the tag team or lightweight championship belt; or winning the best actor award in a Grammy and not the supporting actor award. This winner is going to be spending the most time with me – which I think, if gadgets had feelings, would be a dream of each and every of them!

Unboxing

The Padfone2 unboxing feels like a birthday cum X-mas combo where you get to unbox two items together – the docking station and the phone itself. The docking station is called as such and not a tablet because it is not a functional tablet without the phone. The phone itself comes with standard accessories – charger, earphones, manual, yada yada. Nothing different than most of the gadgets. Been there, done that. I was aware of the first Padfone but the first impression failed to create the need for me to get my hands dirty, given the already available more exciting phones out there, leave alone the long wait for ASUS to bring it to Malaysia.

The Hardware

Talking about build quality, ASUS is very well known to present its products beautifully without compromising the rigidity. Which explains why most of my hardware revolve around this brand. It was no surprise that the padfone2 finishing would wow me. The rounded corners of the phone, the perfect fitting into the dock, and the attention to detail that ASUS put in making this device will amaze you. The blend of shining silver with the plastic is so impressive, it made several people obliged into asking what device it was – for the added fact that its still not launched in Malaysia (official launching will be on 4th or 5th December). The phone fits sweetly in palms. And when docked, the combination doesnt feel heavy at all – still lighter than the iPad3! In simpler words, the hardware is beautiful and very light!

Performance

I started loving Qualcomm processors since I got my HTC Google Nexus One, which was a 1GHz, single core, Snapdragon processor. Its reliability is unquestionable as we were fond of overclocking our phones. Gene even uses it until today! Since then, the Snapdragon has leaped progressively and today we have a Coretx-A15 class, S4 Pro Krait clocking 1.5GHz on four-cores with Adreno 320 GPU. I have to say, nVidia better be worried and hope they have something in the inventory to go head-to-head with the S4 Pro Krait. Their Tegra 3 on the HTC One X scored 12161 in benchmarking, while the Padfone2 scored a whopping 13292. Personally, I was really impressed with the output churned by the Padfone2. Then again, its no surprise if you have to think that this device has to run the function of both a phone and a tablet – and be able to switch them seamlessly.

Find me a device that can give this type of battery life

What I want to emphasize here is the battery life. I got the shock of my life when I started using this device. As my daily routine goes, I would put my phone on charging every night before i go to bed. But this device changed it all! The first night, I looked at the battery and thought, “This looks like its gonna last pretty long”. So I didn’t charge it. The next night, I started wondering if the battery indicator is inaccurate. The third night, the word “charging” was explicitly removed from my dictionary. The secret? See, the phone itself comes with a 2140mAh battery – which already is awesome for a phone! The Pad, on the other hand, comes with a 5000mAh battery! Apart from that, ASUS has integrate the “energy saver” mode which does wonders! In energy saver mode, the memory management becomes more aggressive, and applications that use bandwidth will only be activated when the phone wakes up. This even compliments the moments when you are in a meeting, whereby your phone will not only not interrupt you, but also save your battery and bandwidth! And all this with just a single button press! If you disable the energy saver, you will still get excellent battery life. The image that I included here was the battery chart after 2½ days of usage. And I still had 40% battery on the phone and 50% on the Pad. Those little spikes occur when you dock the phone into the pad. The pad actually charges the phone, so its like carrying a 5000mAh battery bank with you. Nifty huh? The battery beats my HTC One X hands-down!

Camera

While I really enjoy photography, I prefer to put my skills on the lenses rather than mobile phones. However, once in a while, these phone cameras do come in handy when you would like to capture a moment and you do not have your DSLR with you. On my HTC One X, after about half a year, I have taken roughly 150 photos with the camera. Mostly because of the auto-sync to cloud that I have setup on the device so i can snap and retrieve the image from my laptop wirelessly. The Padfone2 WOWed me with the specs when it was revealed, announcing a 13MP camera! I found another part that could take my One X flat – until I tested it. The 13MP doesn’t work in wide mode for starters. When you set it to wide mode, the maximum allowed resolution is 5.5MP. That itself is already a downer. When you snap a picture, you can literally start doubting your photography skills and wonder if you got up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning. In this segment, the HTC One X wins flat out! So, if camera is a big concern for you, then you may want to reconsider the Padfone2. I will let Gene (on Droidsage.com) do the extensive coverage on this since he is the expert when it comes to cameras – be it DSLRs or Mobile cameras!

Storage

Storage is usually a huge concern of most of the people that talk to me about new devices. Padfone 2 in Malaysia will be announced with the 32GB version as for now. The 64GB is not scheduled yet, but there is rumor that it will be brought in several months later. The lack of microSD card slot might bother some users, but to me, its more than enough. Living in the current technology era, storage management is vital and I separate my files in various ways, making 32GB more than enough for me. Of course, more is better. But knowing the price tag that ASUS is putting on this device, the 64GB might not make the cut for some.

What I Love

The Padfone 2′s concept of combining both the tablet and phone experience into one is really astounding! That itself makes this phone both unique and practical at the same time. Not only it saves your money on the long run in terms of having single data plan, it’s also portable to carry and maintain one gadget combo rather than having two. The most interesting part of the device really is the battery life. If you have been frustrated over battery life of your device, and want to eliminate that problem once and for all, this is your device! The combo delivers different end-user experience although it is performed by the same device. Its surprising to see how the phone has the capabilities of running both the table and phone interfaces and is able to switch them seamlessly. Carrying the pad is literally like having a 5000mAh power bank. The performance is already excellent, and with ASUS promising to push Jelly Bean very soon, this is about to get even more interesting. Another thing that really impressed me was the build quality of this device. The blend of black piano surface with the silver lining fused with teflon-like base makes it look elegant and professional, yet fun at at the same time. Of course the price is another plus for this gadget. RM2,799 might seem expensive, but having a separate phone AND tablet, and having to maintain both separately can be pretty tedious. I can talk a million more positives about this device, but we at DroidSage do not think of this post as a review, but rather a “noticeable experience”, so I will let you guys be the next judges.

Nothing is Perfect

While this device has yet to fail on me, there are parts which ASUS can really improve. Top of the list is the camera. If this is your first high-end Android device, then you will not really feel the pain. But having tested most of the high-end Android devices, and especially owning a HTC One X, this camera has a lot to improve. Its fine for quick shots but not something I’d use for personal memories compiler. Secondly, the audio has nothing to complement the vivid display it projects. I own a Samsung Note 10.1 tablet and its sound was way better than the Padfone2. Let alone the Beats audio on my HTC One X – which of course has an upper hand. Then again, the difference is minor. Fussy audiophiles may want to take this point into consideration. To me, I can live with it. Finally, the lack of microSD might be disturbing to some. I had to stress this point because a very big number of my friends take this part very seriously. Some don’t even buy devices if they don’t come with SD card slots, regardless of how good the gadget may be. If 32GB is not enough for you, and cloud management is not yet your cup of coffee, you may want to reconsider this device.

Verdicts?

Personally, this phone has won its place and deserve my gadget throne. My One X will now be residing as my secondary device. The padfone2 feels powerful, is compact, and has excellent battery life – All components that I dream for my primary gadget. If you are planning to buy a tablet, or a new high-end Android device, I would highly recommend you to get the Padfone2. If you are a photography freak and have an eye for high quality pictures (I’m not talking about Instagrammers. The padfone2 pics actually look nicer on Instagram!), then you may want to hunt further for other devices. Me, I’m giving this device 9.1 out of 10.

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