The Key Specifications...
- 5" Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display at the pixel density of 441 ppi
- 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
- 2 GB RAM
- 16 GB internal storage with Micro SD card slot
- 13 MP PixelMaster camera with f/2.0 aperture
- 4K video recording
- 2 MP front camera
- 2,300 mAh battery
- Android 4.4 KitKat with ZenUI
- 9" WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) display
- 1 MP front camera
- 4,990 mAh battery
Brushed Aluminum Frame - Thumbs Up
The PadFone S, is a flagship device at a very affordable price tag. However, its build quality is not cheap at all. The phone features brushed aluminium frame, which is nice to hold and doesn't feel cheap at all.
The back is a soft-touch matte finish, it feels good to hold but there will be scar here and there after long-term use, plus it is slippery, so getting a case is the best choice if you really mind about keeping the phone in good condition. The speaker is just right below the camera, maybe not an ideal design but I think it's the best position that Asus chooses to place at.
Buttons are all at the right side, which feels premium, but you need to put more strength to press it. The position of the buttons are too close to each other, you might press the key wrongly without looking on it.
The microphone and Micro USB port are at below, there are two holes located in between the Micro USB port for connecting to the PadFone Station. Plugging in the Micro USB cable to the port is easy, but plugging out is hard, this is because Asus wants to ensure that the phone won't slip out from the PadFone Station when you are holding the PadFone Station upside down.
The downside is, there's a gap between the glass and the frame, which actually causes the dust or something tiny stuck in the gap. The bezels of the phone are not narrow by the way.
The PadFone S is IPX2 rated, which is splash resistant. And, it is also shock resistant too. The phone is capable of resisting drops on a steel surface from up to 1.5 m. The sad case is, I accidentally dropped the PadFone S, and at last the top left corner of the phone is dented, but it's just a minor dented.
Regular 5" IPS Display with Full HD Resolution
"It is a super phone with super price," said Asus. So, 5" Full HD IPS display is on the PadFone S because it's a super phone. The display is able to compete with the HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5. But is it really better?
The ambient light sensor works pretty well, it changes to the brightness that your eyes are comfortable to look at the screen in different scenes. However, the screen appears a little bit too yellowish. The advantage of IPS panel is you can change the screen settings. And the PadFone S is no exception, you can change the screen temperature, hue and saturation through Splendid. There's also an option to turn on the vivid mode too.
The bad thing is there's backlight leakage at the top of the screen. This is basically where you can see the effect of the side-firing backlight LEDs, making one edge of the screen significantly brighter than the rest of the display.
To be honest, the display of the PadFone S can't really match up with HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5. The M8 has a better viewing experience and less yellowish screen, while the Galaxy S5 did better in terms of contrast and saturation.
Affordable Price but Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC
You can't believe that at an affordable price, you'll still find one of the best processing power in the PadFone S. The PadFone S is rocking with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.3 GHz with 2 GB of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU.
Keep it in mind that the Snapdragon 801 processor powering the PadFone S is slightly older than the one you see in Sony Xperia Z3. But for me, not much difference between two. The performance of the PadFone S is just simply amazing, it's far better over the Honor 6, which is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 920 processor.
AnTuTu Benchmark - 42,052
Quadrant Standard - 20,308
Asus ZenUI - Simple, Fast and Responsive
While waiting for Android 5.0 Lollipop release to the PadFone S next year, you can still experience flawless user interface on the PadFone S. It is running on Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Asus ZenUI.
Everything looks flat and polished in ZenUI, from the icons to the system. Asus has also uploaded the ZenUI launcher to Google Play Store, it's better than releasing a new firmware update for the launcher stability.
Just like Sense UI, all system apps are customized with different color schemes. For example, the music app is in light green color scheme, the call app is in blue color scheme, etc. The notification bar is transparent too, so that it can be easily changed to the same color scheme as the app. That's what Google Material Design is.
PadFone Station - Changing Small into Big
Why PadFone? Because it can be a phone and a tablet. That's the concept of PadFone series. This time, Asus is not going to bundle the smartphone with the PadFone Station. The PadFone Station is sold separately for RM 499.
The PadFone Station dock is just at the center of the back. Forget about the screws at the back, because it is just a media sample. All you need to do is just slight in the smartphone into the docking area.
As I mentioned earlier, there are two holes in between the Micro USB port. The two holes are used to detach with the PadFone Station to ensure that the smartphone won't slip out from the PadFone Station.
The PadFone Station comes with dual front stereo speakers, which actually don't perform well. It has a 9" WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) display, 1 MP front camera and an additional 4,990 mAh battery. The advantage is, when you want to enjoy movie but you thing 5" screen is too small, you can just dock in to the PadFone Station and now you can enjoy movie in bigger screen.
You can customize the PadFone settings, changing the PadFone charging policy to three different modes - intelligent, phone preferred and power pack modes. And now, the PadFone Station also acts as power bank when you're in phone preferred mode.
The disadvantage is, the dynamics display isn't working well. It's okay when you are switching the system apps from the smartphone to the tablet, but when it comes to some installed apps, the apps will just restart. Additionally, I find that there's a problem on screen sensitivity of the PadFone Station when the battery is low, but keep it in mind it's just a media sample.
13 MP PixelMaster Camera - Impressive Especially with HDR
Asus has incorporated the PixelMaster technology into its 13 MP camera. The camera interface is kind of boring and the capture speed is slow. The photo mode and video mode are at the same screen, which causes framing a bit tricky.
The camera interface may not as good looking as its competitors, but the camera samples have blew me away. The contrast level is just too good and color saturation enhances the image quality. Speaking at the HDR mode, it appears that the quality is completely different from what you see, in a good way. Overall it has one of the best 13 MP shooters in its class, and the noise level is under controlled.
Low-light mode Off | Low-light mode On
Low-light mode Off | Low-light mode On
The main selling point of the PixelMaster camera is the low-light capability. Asus claims that the low-light mode is able to see what others can't see. It increases 400% more light than usual, but the resolution will be cropped to 3 MP.
As you can see, with low-light mode, you are able to capture more light than usual. The low-light mode only works when you are in low lighting condition.
2,300 mAh Battery - Far From Expected
When we first saw the specifications of PadFone S, the main problem is the 2,300 mAh battery. Many people think that 2,300 mAh battery is too small to overcome powerful processor, high resolution display and LTE network. But, is it really bad?
The answer is - No! Despite having small battery capacity, the PadFone S is able to last for more than 7 hours in heavy usage with data on all the time. Moderate usage wise, it is able to last for around 18 hours, which is not bad at all.
The PadFone S does support Qi wireless charging, but sadly currently there's no word on official wireless charger. So you can only buy the third-party wireless charger.
So, what's the pricing? Asus is selling the smartphone and PadFone Station separately at RM 899 and RM 499 respectively. The question is, is it really worth? Well, it depends. The PadFone S is just like the McLaren P1. It is a hybrid device, just like the McLaren P1 which combines electric and petrol into a hypercar. This 903 bhp hybrid hypercar is powered by 3.8-litre V8 biturbo. And like the PadFone S, it can be a smartphone and tablet, and the performance is just fast. But at this price tag, it is just like you buying a McLaren P1 at the price of BMW 3-series. The PadFone S is far cheaper than the HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5. That's why it is a super phone with super price.
- Low price tag
- Impressive camera
- Smooth performance
- Display appears backlight leakage
- The transformation between smartphone and PadFone Station is buggy
- Gap between front panel and frame
Written by: Charles