Asus Padfone review: Hands-on

Up close with the Asus Padfone two-in-one smartphone and tablet

What is a hands on review?
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Asus Padfone

First unveiled at CES 2012, the Asus Padfone was officially launched at MWC 2012 and we fought our way through hordes of braying tech journalists to get our hands on it....

Asus Padfone: Build

While it can be used as a phone on its own, the the Asus Padfone also fits neatly into a covered slot in its 'host' tablet. We were slightly limited when it came to handling the Padfone as it was tethered to the display stand by a relatively short leash, but the build quality felt pretty sturdy and the concentric textured circles on the back of the devices not only look swish but also give them a certain amount of grip.

Asus Padfone: Features

Obviously the main feature on show here is the hybrid device capability - two products, running on one SIM card. This is great news for those who currently have to shell out for a seperate data plan for their smartphone and tablet. There aren't any other products with the same sort of capability so the Padfone is certainly unique.

It can also be used with the Transformer Prime's docking station with full QWERTY keyboard. Asus has also introduced a stylus for use with the tablet, but it doesn't end there. The stylus also doubles up as a wirless headsets enabling you to take calls without even touching the phone.

Asus Padfone: Screen

The Padfone sports a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED qHD screen, putting it head-to-head with the top-tier smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S2 when it comes to display size. The screen looked fairly decent to us, even under the annoyingly poor light in the product demo area.

Asus Padfone: Camera

While it can't compete with the 41MP camera on the newly announced Nokia 808 PureView, there's a rear-facing 8MP camera with LED flash on board, which packs an f/2.2 autofocus lens, while the front-facing camera records at VGA resolution.

We didn't really get to try out the camera properly in the ropey lighting conditions at the demo but we'll certainly be giving it a thorough going over once we have a full review sample in our mitts.

Asus Padfone: Performance

The Padfone runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich on a 1.5GHz Cortex A15 dual-core chip, incorporating am Adreno 225 GPU. We didn't get time to try out any video or games, but that's something that we'll be looking at in our full review.

Asus Padfone: Verdict

The concept of a smartphone that transforms into a tablet is certainly an interesting one, although whether this particular innovation catches on remains to be seen.

On first impressions, the the separate elements of the Asus Padfone - the phone and the tablet - certainly looked decent enough in their right, even without the added bonus that they run off of the same SIM card. We look forward to trying it properly...

Asus Padfone availability: April 2012

Asus Padfone price: TBC

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.