Detailed Padfone Infinity review

Marc Schattorie, Saturday 15 June 2013 - 13:26:00

Design and build quality
The phone by itself has a pretty nice metallic design. When I show it to people they are very impressed by the nice looks of the phone. It also feels very solid in your hands, as if it's just one solid piece. The phone has a 5" screen, which is pretty large. Coming from a 4.3" phone, I really had to get used to the size in the beginning, but when you get used to it, you'll notice that it's a pretty nice size.

On the top of the phone you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack. And on the bottom there is the Micro-USB connector used for data transfer, charging, connecting it to a Monitor/TV and connecting it to the Padfone Infinity Station. Next to the Micro-USB connector you will find a small hole which is used for the microphone.

On the left side of the phone you will find the Nano-SIM card slot which can be opened with an included paperclip/pin. And yes, I really mean Nano-SIM, the smallest SIM-card currently on the market which is also used in the iPhone 5.

On the upper right side you will find the speaker. The speaker does have a pretty nice rich sound, but is not as loud as some people might expect. But because the speaker is located on the side, it will not effect the volume when you lay the phone on a flat surface. Below the speaker you will find the power button, and below that is the volume rocker. If the phone is used in portrait, the buttons are nicely placed to be used if you're holding the phone in one hand. When using the phone in landscape mode however, the buttons are not easily reachable. I tend to hit the power button when I want to change the volume.

On the back side you will find the 13 Mega Pixel camera, and the flashlight.

The front side of the Padfone Infinity is covered in one solid piece of Gorilla Glass. The phone uses capacitive touch buttons that light up when you use them, and turn off when you're for example watching a video.

The Padfone Infinity Station does also feel very solid. But you can feel a difference if you compare it to the phone (aside from the fact that it's larger). The feel is different because the phone is made of aluminum, and the station is made of plastic. Nevertheless, it still feels very nice in your hands. It's very light. Sometimes when I walk up to it while the phone is already docked, and I pick it up, I wonder if I really did dock the phone in it. The Padfone Infinity Station is also very thin, and the edges are shaped very nicely to give it a nice grip. My Padfone Infinity Station did also have a pretty good strength test. I took it with me to a concert in a regular thin netbook case (phone undocked), and it did take some pretty bad beatings and pressure from people pushing into it, but it survived without any problem, especially the docking part would be something you would expect to break, but it didn't because of the good build quality.

On the lower right side you will find the Micro-USB port to charge the tablet (plus phone if docked). On the top to the left side you will find the power button, and on the upper right corner you will find the volume rocker. These 3 buttons are not located on the side but on the back which makes them very easy and nice to operate. If you've enlarged the photo on the left side, you've probably also noticed a small hole in between the power button and the volume rocker. This hole is used for the microphone when the phone is docked.

On the back to the right of the docking part of the station you will find the speaker which is used for audio playback while the phone is docked. It's a single speaker with some pretty nice and rich sound. Where the phone does not go that loud, the speaker on the station will go pretty loud, and is also nice for usage with hands-free calling.

Now for the combination, the phone stays in place very well, you don't have to worry about it falling out. I found myself using the tablet up-side-down to watch movies using my own headphones (which have a very short wire, so I prefer having the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom of the device). Even when I pull out the strongly connected headphone jack, there is no need to use my fingers to hold the phone in place. Usually when you use any tablet up-side-down, you will find yourself accidently pressing the volume keys because they're located on the side., but since the buttons on the Padfone Infinity Station are more located on the back, you won't hit them accidently.

Some people might also concern about the fact that the tablet is wobbly when you lay it on a flat surface. A regular tablet would have a flat back, but the Padfone Infinity Station is thicker in the middle where the phone docks. Now is it wobbly or not? I guess it depends on yourself, if your someone who presses hard on the screen or not. The display is very responsive and does not require a hard push, by gently tapping the screen you won't make the station wobble at all because It's very well balanced.

Performance, stability and reliability
The phone has a resolution of 1920×1080, where the tablet has a slightly bigger resolution of 1920×120 due to a different display ratio. This means that the CPU/GPU will be given the task to talk to every single pixel on the display. But the 1.7GHz Quad Core processor, 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 320 GPU will do the job for you! Playing Full-HD 1080p video's is no problem for the Padfone Infinity, as well as playing a high-end game as Real Racing 3. But as you can see in the screenshot on the right side, it can do both at the same time without a problem! This also shows that not only the CPU/GPU/RAM does it's work properly, but also the internal 32/64GB of flash memory has a great read/write speed.

Wireless connectivity
The Padfone Infinity has support for Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/ac. It can use the 2G, 3G and 4G (LTE) mobile networks if you're on the go. I've only been able to test the 3G connection, but I'm very happy with the stability and speed of it.

Other connection methods are Bluetooth 4.0 which requires no further explanation and NFC. NFC is used to quickly transfer data, for example files between two mobile devices, or (in some countries) to pay using Google Wallet. I've also not been able to test this feature yet, but it's pretty much nothing more than a very handy feature.

Of course, GPS (and GLONASS) is also present. It fixes with satellites within a couple of seconds and appears to be very accurate at pinpointing your position.

Battery life
Now this is a hard one, because everyone uses their device differently. Some use it on 50% brightness while GPS, Bluetooth is disabled, others use it on 100% plus outdoor mode with all sensors and wireless connectivity enabled.

I always use my Padfone on 100% brightness (outdoor mode disabled while indoors, but enabled when outdoors). WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS are always enabled on my devices. So as you can see, I'm a pretty heavy user, and I don't like to care about power saving (even though this device has a lot of advanced settings for it). Using it this way in only phone mode, it will last through an entire day of calling, e-mailing, texting, whatsapp, facebook, checking the weather, watching video's, browsing the web etc. But bear in mind, I'm also not the person who keeps looking at his phone for the entire day. So I'd say that I use it for about 5 hours.

Using the Padfone and Padfone Infinity Station combination for a day gives pretty much the same results. But I find myself using the device more often when using it in tablet mode. I also like to play the heavy graphical game Real Racing 3 which does have impact on the battery, but not as much as you would expect.

When the phone is docked in the station, you can choose for 3 battery policies. The first one is Intelligent mode, that's the one I use during a regular day. It will discharged the phone's and station's battery evenly, but it won't recharge the phone. Two other options are Battery Pack and Phone Preferred mode, I can't really seem to find the difference in these two policies. Both policies will charge your phone from the station battery until the station Is fully empty.

Special hardware and software features
Of course, the main feature of this device is the fact that you can dock the 5" high-end smartphone in a 10" tablet screen/battery pack to create a high performance light weight tablet. Docking the phone is very easy, you just slide it in from the top, within 1 second the phone switches to the big screen and you're good to go. Most popular apps switch properly to the larger screen when you dock the phone (and the other way around), but some apps crash and need to be re-launched, but this happens usually only to less popular apps. Switching during a phone call is also no problem, it works perfect every time.

The Padfone does only have a micro-USB in/output connector. However, it's still possible to connect a USB thumb drive, or external Hard Disk using an OTG cable. It's also possible to connect the phone to a monitor or TV using a Micro-USB to HDMI cable. More information on this will be available in a separate review.

The Padfone Infinity packs a 13 Mega Pixel (4160×3120) rear camera with an f2.0 aperture.
The front facing camera on the Padfone Infinity is a 1.3 Mega Pixel (1280×960). Very odd is the fact that the camera on the Padfone Infinity Station is just a 0.7 Mega Pixel camera (960×720). I would rather do a video conference using the station than the phone, so I would expect the camera on the station to be better.

Below you will find some pictures that come straight from the phone, I will add some more within time.

The camera does have all the default options that you would expect from a smartphone, but Asus did add some extra features to it. One of them is to take pictures using voice command. The person behind the camera can say "Capture" to take a picture, or the person that's taken a picture from can say "Chees" to let the camera take the picture. Another added feature is the possibility of taking GIF images. If GIF image is selected, you can hold the shutter button to take pictures in burst mode, after releasing the button the camera app will create the GIF image for you (Demo of a GIF image created with the Padfone Infinity default camera app). Panorama, this is a default option in every Android phone since Ice Scream Sandwitch, it allows you to take a 180 degree photo, a downside is that this photo does have a very low resolution, it comes nowhere near the 13MP that this camera is capable of. Beautification is another additional option, with this option you're able to make peoples faces look more beautiful.

Shooting video in 1080P is no problem for this device, the video quality is pretty nice, but the sound quality could've been better. The Padfoen Infinity only uses the microphone on the bottom of the phone. You can find an example of a video file that came straight from the phone here.
Taking high quality photo's and focusing while recording in 1080P, all at the same time, is also possible as shown in the image on the left side and the video here (please bear in mind that this image/video is taken in very bad light circumstances for a camera, but it shows pretty well how you can focus during recording, and at the same time take pictures. Also the audio can also not be judged since the sound was too loud).

The display on the Padfone Infinity is a 1920×1080 Full HD display. The colors on this display are natural, white is really whit, but black is a little bit grayish due to the backlight. SSame goes for the Padfone Infinity Station, only this one has a 1920×1200 resolution due to the 16:10 ratio. But if we talk about the brightness, the station does do a better job at that. In both modes you can use auto brightness, or set it to a default level, Asus also adds an "outdoor mode" to allow you to set the brightness just a bit higher when you're outdoors, this mode is usually to bright for indoor use, but just right for outdoor use.

If we talk about the software on the device, Asus did do a nice job on this. The User Interface is pretty much stock Android (4.1.2). Pretty much the only change they made is the notification bar. They added customizable toggles to quickly enable/disable WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi Hotspot, Airplane Mode, Auto Rotate, Instant dictionary. They also added a brightness slider, a button to set the brightness to outdoor mode, a button for auto brightness, a button to quickly access the WiFi settings, a button to access the Asus Audio Wizard and finally a button to access the Android settings menu. But if you don't like this customized notification bar, you can simply turn it off, and you will be able to use the default Android notification bar.

Another User Interface modification is the "Home key swipe up" gesture. In Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) Google introduced Google Now. Google Now could be accessed quickly by swiping up starting at the home key. Asus made this feature more advanced. Instead of one button which opens Google Now, they added two rings. The first ring contains 4 default buttons. The first button launches Asus Echo, the second launches Google Now, the third launches the app drawer and the fourth button is a settings button which allows you to configure the outer ring with up to 7 apps.

Asus Echo, a lot of people say that this is a Siri competitor, but that's not the case. Asus Echo is more a simple voice command system which allows you to speak pre-defined commands to let the phone do something for you. For example: Call one of your contacts, dail a number, ask for your call logs, increase/decrease media volume/display brightness, toggle on/off Bluetooth or WiFi Hotspot. One odd thing that I've notices is that it is not possible to turn on or off WiFi or GPS.

In the lower left corner of the screen (while in tablet mode) you will find a small button which brings up a special app drawer that allows you to launch floating apps. These apps allow you to keep your current app open, but use a small version of an app at the same time. The apps in this drawer include: AudioWizard, Browser, BuddyBuzz, Calculator, Calendar, Countdown, Dictionary, Email, Stopwatch and Video player.

Another tweak can be found in the launcher. If you're using this device private , in college and at work you can set up different "Master home screens". If you zoom out on your home screen, you will be able to add/remove and re-arrange regular home screens. But if you scroll to the left or right, you will be able to add a whole new set of home screens, also using a different wallpaper.

Asus does also allow you to enhance the colors of your display using the included app Asus Splendid. I've played with it, but in the end I found myself resetting it to defaults. This feature is really something that you have to play with yourself, I can't show tis in a screenshot, video or photo.

Asus Studio is another pre-loaded application. it's pretty much a light weight photo editing tool. And with Asus Story you can create your own digital photo albums. Select the pictures from a specific event, and arrange them as if you're using a paper photo album.

A lot of people that I talk to don't understand why you would use this phone/tablet combination, "you can't use the tablet apart from the phone?". The explanation for this is pretty simple:

-High-end smartphone: $700,-
-High-end Tablet: $500,-
-Total: $1300,-
-Mobile internet subscriptions: Two
-Padfone Infinity: $899,-
-Total: $899,-
-Mobile internet subscriptions: One

The Padfone Infinity is a great product which might seem very expensive, but is very cost efficient in the end. A high performance phone with all the latest features with a great battery life, and a high performance tablet also with all the latest features with a great battery life is what you get.

However, the lack of an optional keyboard to further extend the battery life and typing ease is a bit of a downside in my opinion.

But if I would recommend a high-end smartphone/tablet, it would definitely be the Padfone Infinity.

this content item is from Padfone Club
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