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Hands-on with the Asus Padfone Infinity

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Yesterday the Taiwanese company Asus launched the latest model in its Padfone line, the Padfone Infinity, and today we've had a chance to have a closer look at the device.

Like previous Padfones, the Infinity consists of two components: A smartphone and a 'dumb' screen with a dock that the phone can slide into, turning the combination into a fully-fledged tablet.

Let's have a look at 5-inch the smartphone first, and it's indeed well worth a look. The Padfone is in every respect a high-end Android smartphone. It's powered by a 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, has an outstanding 5-inch 1080p IPS screen and captures images with a 13MP camera that also features a bright F2.0 lens. Its 64GB onboard storage should be enough for even the most demanding users, but you also get an additional 50GB of free cloud space from Asus with your purchase.

The exterior design matches the high-performance components of the interior. The Padfone is beautifully made, with a brushed aluminium back and anodized aluminium edges. In terms of materials and build-quality, it's firmly based in iPhone territory -- which certainly can't be said of all Android phones.  

The smartphone comes with a 5-inch 1080p IPS screen.
Power button and volume rocker are located on the right edge which is made from anodized aluminium.
The back is made of brushed aluminium.
At the bottom you'll find the enhanced Micro-USB port and two antenna connectors to plug the phone into the larger screen.
In terms of software Android 4.2 is running the show. Tha Padfone is one of the first non-Nexus devices we've seen with this very latest version of the Google OS and although Asus says it likes to keep its OS version as close to the vanilla standard as possible to facilitate quicker updates, some changes have been made. For example, the notification tray has changed from stock Android and the camera app is a customized Asus version without the Photoshpere feature that can be found in stock Android 4.2.

In addition there is a range of Asus apps to help you get most out of the hardware. Asus Story lets you create a type of digital photo book with text that can be shared online. Asus Studio is a photo editing app that offers the usual array of editing functions and filters, and Audio Wizard is a tool comparable to a graphical equalizer, making sure you've got the optimal sound settings for listening to music, watching video, video-chatting or any other activity on your device. 

While the smartphone is a stunning device on its own, it doubles as a tablet when docked to the Padfone screen. The latter has a resolution of 1900 x 1200 pixels and comes with an additional front-facing camera and its own built-in 5000mAh battery, in addition to the 2400mAh unit in the phone. The combo can be configured to charge the phone while plugged into the screen.

Slide the phone into its port ...
... and you've got yourself a fully-fledged 10-inch tablet.
The camera app offers a range of shooting modes but not the stock Android 4.2's Photosphere feature.
Asus Studio is an editing app with a range of filter effects plus some basic editing functions.

The connection is established via an enhanced Micro-USB port and there are also two additional antenna connectors to ensure maximum reception while the phone is docked. In practice, the switch between smartphone and tablet modes happens seamlessly. Whatever you were doing on the phone before docking it, you simply keep doing on the tablet screen after you've connected. 

In theory the Padfone solution is a great idea. The current generation of tablets and smartphones are using the same processors and are running the same software. The size of the screen is pretty much the only significant difference between the two types of device and it therefore makes sense to share a processor and other components. However, the concept is only really attractive to consumers if it comes with a cost savings over owning both tablet and phone. This is where Asus has been struggling with previous Padfone generations and it seems the Infinity will be no different. At a projected retail price of 999 Euros in Europe, you could get a Google Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 instead and have 300 Euros to spare.

That said, if you don't mind the money the Padfone Infinity is a beautifully made and desirable high-end device with a unique 'transformation ability.' Asus says the Padfone Infinity will be available in Asia and Europe in the second half of this year. It's not clear yet if the device will ever make it to U.S. shores. 

Asus Padfone Infinity headline specifications:

  • 5-inch 1080p IPS screen (441ppi)
  • Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 64GB Storage
  • 50GB free cloud Asus cloud space with purchase
  • Android 4.2
  • 13MP camera, F2.0 lens 
  • 1080p/30fps or 720p/60 fps video recording 
  • 8 frames per second burst mode, up to 100 shots in one burst

Comments

Total comments: 9
Rambler358

I just imported the China version of the Padfone Infinity, and it's running Android 4.1.2 - not 4.2. Did the reviewer actually check to see if it was running version 4.2, or just take someone's word on that?

0 upvotes
photorudhra

Looking forward to test the Camera on this Gadget

0 upvotes
tkbslc

I can see the beauty of the single dockable device, but costs do have to come down.

0 upvotes
Digitall

999€ this!? Buy a Mini iPad+iPhone and you are ready to go.

1 upvote
shinan

do you really have any idea of what a f/2.0 lens would mean on a phone camera? do you?
meh, people nowadays.

1 upvote
Digitall

I know what is 999€, and I know what I can buy on market by this value. Buy this couple and you will be married for all their life with this combo. Not suite for me.
The lack of padphone cross-compatibility lineup is quite the downer, you know. iPhone 4S/5 have a 2.4 lens, you know in photography what mean 0,4 aperture? Do not go for the most obvious, the numbers can be tricky.

0 upvotes
GWYNOXY

I own a Padfone and it is incredible value in the long run (1 plan for phone and pad) ... i got it at a big discount so yes - at full price it may not be that great value initially. It also has a jaw dropping effect on an audience used to being told Apple invents everything cool. BTW 0.4 is approx half a stop of light more... simply 50% more light means less blurred photos at night. Don't rubbish it because it looks like "0.4".

0 upvotes
tongki

did you said PHOTO ?
where does it come from ? a PAD ? a PHONE ?
and you called it a PHOTO ???

oh, no,
people are becoming more strange,
they called images come out from rubbish a PHOTO

0 upvotes
GWYNOXY

To be really clear - we are posting comments on a "mobile photography technology, culture and community" forum. If you did not read that bit at the top then at last understand that my response was within the realm of the post I was directly responding to. I am here because I respect the direction photography is heading towards. If you must know then most of my photos come out of the old 35mm Contax Carl Zeiss lenses attached to either an olympus OM-D or Panasonic GH1 (Hacked) via an adapter. The images are processed in Adobe Iightroom and video in FCP all on an iMAC. Occasionally I will load film into one of the 15 film cameras in my collection (I used to collect lenses and bodies) . "Photo" enough for you? Respect the output - the device is merely a means to an end.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 9
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