ASUS Padfone Infinity Extended Period Real User Review

Note 1: A Chinese website has taken my article and translated it into Chinese. It is not the exact translation but the gist is there with some omissions. The link (華文翻譯).

Note 2: The Padfone Infinity has been upgraded. You can check the review here.

It was only not so long ago that ASUS introduced the very first Padfone, a 3-in-1 device that can be a smartphone, tablet and an Android Netbook with keyboard and a stylus. It was well received as a device that can do everything but it burst unto the scene with unimpressive specification. Add that to issues with the trap door that seems to trip up users, the original Padfone find it hard to win hearts though everyone loves the concept.

Next came the Padfone 2. They dropped the keyboard dock and the stylus and in come a unique docking mechanism that allows the phone to be extracted out quickly and yet is secure enough that even hard shaking wouldn’t dislodged it from the tablet dock. What we missed a lot is the keyboard. Yes we can make do with a Bluetooth keyboard but it won’t be as sleek. The specifications has improved and can at least match those in the market but the screen is its Achilles heel, coming in at only 720p with a smaller 4.7 inch screen it is ok for a user but a Photographer like me would like a bit of ommph in their pictures through better resolution and size.

Side note: A lot of people equate the quality of the camera using the screen of same camera/device to make the decision. Fact is how would anyone make that sort of decision if the screen is biased in the first place?

For example, a full size sensor DSLR usually would have a much better rear LCD screen than say the APS-C DSLR. For someone to say it is better, then the same pictures must be shown using the same calibrated screen to make a fair judgment. More often than not, the current crop of APS-C sensor camera pictures are very good at 1920 x 1080 even when compared to Full Frame. Also do note both Full and Crop frame sensor photos are downsized to the monitor screen size. For general usage, use 1920 by 1280 (2.5MP) is more than enough. Retina display would require  2880 x 1920 (5.5MP). In short, too many people say Full Frame is better when it may not be so with the current crop sensor / image processor technology. Hence the old mantra that full frame is better may not be true especially when it comes to pixel pitch (the singular area of capture for each pixel on the sensor).

 Within a year ASUS up the ante up a couple of notches with the newer iteration of the Padfone concept with the Padfone Infinity.

The important specifications:

  • LTE
  • Dimensions – Phone: 143.5 x 72.8 x 8.9 mm / Tablet: 264.6 x 181.6 x 10.6 mm. Total weight: 145g + 532g
  • Screen Resolution – Phone 5″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 / Tablet 10.1″ Full HD 1920 x 1200 both with Super In-Plane Switching +
  • Processor – Snapdragon 600 Quad Core with Adreno 320 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB storage (50GB ASUS Webstorage)
  • Battery power- Phone: 2400 mAh / Tablet: 5000 mAh Total 7400 mAh. Standby time: 410 hours

I do own a Padfone 2 and it is also the main reason why I am so happy with the Padfone Infinity. I would go straight to Pros and Cons instead of going technical totally so those who are not IT inclined can have a better idea what is going on. The review is after owning (yes it is not a sample) for a couple of weeks.

Pro No. 1: PF-I Specifications matches or even exceeds competitors

Unlike Padfone 1 and 2, the Padfone Infinity (PF-I) burst into the scene with top notch specifications. PF-1 has a great concept but was hindered by under-powered processors and a small screen. The logic was simple then. Since there is a docking station, a small screen is good enough. What the designer did not realised is that some users would leave their docking station at home and bring the phone to work. So the concept should at least match how people use their phone and not to assume it will change the habit just because there is a tablet.  As for the processor and RAM, it was woefully inadequate as compare to its competitors. In the end, the concept though good, did not convert a lot of people.

When it comes to PF-2, they have at least improved in terms of processor and memory but was served by a less than stellar HD-Ready screen (i.e. 720 pixels on the short side).  The PF-I now has full HD screen and the colour is beautiful! I can even read my screen in direct sunlight (with full screen brightness of course)!

Taken from aimzo.com

Pro No. 2: Good Design and usage of material

So when the PF-I was announced, the clean look and usage of aerospace grade aluminum provides a better tactile feeling of the whole unit as compared to competitors and the old PF-2. Gone are plastics and the concentric circle of its predecessors and in come brushed metal back and unibody design. The whole unit just shouts ‘premium’. The use of the unibody design is in-line with the iPhone and HTC One and One X and so it is in good company.

The size is also in the ‘just nice’ category with me able to operate the phone with just one hand. Perhaps when we are trained by the Samsung Galaxy Grand or the Sony Experia Z Ultra, then the Padfone Infinity at 5″ would be seen as a none issue.

Great! Normal micro USB port! Taken from CBS Interactive

Pro No. 3: Standard micro USB Connector is Used

When it comes to connectors, The PF-2 has simplified those found on the PF-1. It was good news at first but it came with a modified, semi-proprietary micro USB plug. I jokingly called it the horned plug as it look as though it has horns. Although it can use the normal micro USB cable, it was loose and can easily dislodged itself just with a slight nudge. It was certainly not a nice feeling to find the phone was not charged fully at the start of the day.

PF-I has certainly solved it once and for all by adopting the standard micro USB port and such problem as described above went away. Plugging in an external battery pack is very secure as well.

Pro No. 4: Extended Battery Power

The PF-I did last the whole day without much problems with casual use of the Internet, SMS, Whatsapp, Emails and the occasional games and Facebooking. Add the Dock into the power equation with an additional 5000 mAh of power and the whole unit is able to last with more than 70% battery in both units from Singapore to Hong Kong (3+ hour trip) with 2 movies and some reading. The unit definitely can last the whole day without worries unless one is into Facebook and phonography.

Pro No. 5: External Speaker

The external speaker is now facing sideways, just above the on/off button on the right side of the phone. It avoided the muffled sound due to the fact that some old design have downward facing speakers.

Good speaker placement. No muffled sounds when place the phone on the table. Taken from pcpro.co.uk.

Pro No. 6: Good Apps and Audio with Sonic Master

The Padfone Infinity now comes with ASUS Story and of course the Audio Wizard. ASUS story is like a mini photo e-book you can create with photos taken with the camera. Although ASUS is usual not the brand one would think to go for in terms of audio, the sound reproduction is really very good with my Shure headphones and earphones.  Of course it is no where near to purpose built headphone DAC amplifiers but it does a very good job aural-y.

As compared to Beats? I will take the PF-I’s SonicMaster any day.

Pro No. 7: Awesome Mobile Gaming and User Interface

The Snapdragon Quad Core with Adreno GPU serves up a very good mobile gaming experience. I used the Padfone Infinity to play EA’s Real Racing 3 and the experience is smooth and with no jitters. Game loading is within the acceptable level and can be seen as quick for some.

I would even think the performance boost will come from rooting the device. That said, the User Interface is as vanilla as it can get unless one gets the Nexus and that’s what I like about ASUS implementation.

Pro No. 8 – On The Go (OTG) Thumbdrive Access

Since HTC made a big blooper of excluding the OTG access on the HTC One X (remedied in subsequent updates). This has been something for me to look into whenever new phones comes about. This is particularly useful when I have to send a picture file off quickly to a client or Facebook unless I have a Samsung Galaxy Camera or the NX300 (review coming soon!). This is even more important since the PF-I do not have a microSD slot.

Pro No. 9: Good Camera Implementation

I am usually not a fan of phone cameras but lately I was pretty impressed with the rethinking and remaking of the phone cams starting with the Nokia Lumia 920, then the HTC One X and the excellent HTC One with its 4 MP Ultra Sensor with a bigger pixel pitch. I was initially quite skeptical of the 13MP sensor on the PF-I but I downloaded the photo and took it through my normal on-screen testing and avoid looking through the excellent IPS+ screen and here’s what I got below. All photos are unedited and taken by the Padfone Infinity.

On Camera Panoramic Feature Taken by Padfone Infinity. One bad point: the camera downsize the image using this feature.
Indoor Panoramic Shot of the limestone cave. Can be used for sharing that’s for sure. ISO noise is not too evident.
Shot with HDR mode. Not too fake. I like!
Guitarist at the market. Shot in stormy/cloudy day in Albany. Skin tone holds really well.
White Balance Test to see skin tone under artificial light.
Shotting Luffy early in the morning at King’s Park. The bokeh is really nice for such a small sensor.
Shot at home just using the sunlight
It is vivid enough to look real and not overly done. Shot under florescent light. Good WB control. Zi Cha At Toa Payoh Lorong 7 :P~~
Sunset over CBD at Marina South. The bad thing: small sensor requires a very wide angle lens hence the distortion. -EV on this shot with a ND Grad Filter (i know a bit big but somehow it worked).
The money shot for the Padfone Infinity. This is not even a HDR shot and the image processor does a fantastic job for the exposure.

The Camera Test folder can be seen at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilzworkz/sets/72157633949856055/

Of course there is no such thing as a perfect product and here are some of the low points while using the phone for one month.

Cons 1: Not Enough Speakers (anal complain)

For having such a good audio processor it is a bummer to have a small speaker on the phone. In comparison, the HTC One has two front facing speakers for a more immersing effect. Of course this can be solved by using the earphones/headphones but going ‘naked’ would be good sometimes.

Cons 2: Provide a docking Station with keyboard

The original Padfone captures the imagination of having three devices coming into one that looks like a net-book. The keyboard is a useful feature and buying a new BT keyboard is just not sleek enough. Perhaps something like the Surface that comes with a keyboard cover?

Cons 3: Accessories

This may not be under ASUS control but it would be nice to have at least the provision of screen protectors when the product is launched. Unlike the more established brands such as Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Phones, the accessories for this is pretty scarce in the open market. I can’t really blame the stall owners not to bring them in because it is just too expensive to bring in bulk.

However I do want to suggest to ASUS – Get the screen protectors in bulk and put it in the product package.  At least it solves the number one concern for new converts to ASUS products which is a screen that won’t be scratched (speaking of which the screen is pretty robust but better be safe than sorry).

For those reading this, here are the places I got my tablet stand/cover and screen protectors.

The tablet cover with a slot opening for the phone and the phone flip case for times when I don’t bring the tablet out.
Qoo10-Singapore – MP3 / Mobile / eBook – PadFone3 Tablet Holder with P…

Then I got the matte screen protectors for the tablet and the phone:
Qoo10-Singapore – MP3 / Mobile / eBook – Asus Padfone 3 Infinity Scree…
Qoo10-Singapore – MP3 / Mobile / eBook – Asus Padfone 3 Infinity Scree…

Cons 4: Unremovable Battery and No microSD slots (anal complaint)

I will still harp on this until the cow comes home. The number one thing we do sacrifice is the ability to change batteries when we have a unibody design. Apple is the first to go unibody then followed by HTC One X. Generally it is ok if the battery has no problems but what if the battery became faulty? Yes, time wastage at the service centre.

I would at least hope that a slot for the microSD card can be implemented in a unibody design. 32GB/64GB may sound a lot but for the younger generation of media file hoggers, it is more practical to have a slot. It is a good thing that we can use OTG and transfer via the thumbdrive but one can hope yes?

Con 5: Panoramic Feature Down Sample the File’s Size.

The motion panorama feature got the shots but the app shrank the file size to less than 1MB. In comparison a normal shot using 13MP would yield a 5MB file size. It may be due to the fact that doing a pano would require a lot of processing power and shrinking the size of the photos to create the final image would help with the stitching faster. Although I understand the reason, still 1MB at the maximum is really too small. Then again, if you are seriously into Panoramic, doing a proper stitch is the best way.

Conclusion

On the whole, the Padfone Infinity is the natural culmination of all the feedback that ASUS has gathered over the years since the introduction of the Padfone Original. Kudos to ASUS for sticking their guns and guts to provide an alternative to the basic offerings from other brands.

The Padfone Infinity do deliver well in terms of battery power endurance, usability, screen resolution and practicality. For a casual or even a heavy user, the Padfone Infinity do complete all the ticks except for some anal requirements of mine. I do have to sacrifice the need for a removable battery for a nicer looking phone. However I am still hopeful there can be a microSD slot somewhere in the future.

The PadFone Infinity will cost S$898 for the 32GB version and S$998 for the 64GB one. To turn the phone into a 10.1-inch tablet, the optional docking station will cost you another S$368.

The Padfone Infinity is now offered by M1 and Starhub as part of the phone contract.

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19 thoughts on “ASUS Padfone Infinity Extended Period Real User Review

  1. Yes I agree Padfone 1 & 2 sucks. The delay of each phone release was 6 months. People were use as guinea pigs and the phone came with many problems which is why I decided not to use anymore Asus Android equipments ever again. Asus never agree their devices were ever with fault like Tf100 and padfone. The services is bad.

    I disagree with your Pro No. 4: Extended Battery Power. From my view the battery is weak. I have to charge more than 4 times per day using a padfone infinity while I just need to charge twice to use a note 2 for the whole day. Imagine who will use the dock everyday. You are asking your boss to sack you if you hold a 10.1 tablet and walk around the company. The dock is heavy and your arms get tired if you hold it for long time. There is also some signal problems with the phone as when you lost signal, it takes a very long time to recover the signal.

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    1. Although I did not disagree with your experience, it also has something to do with units that may not performed as designed.

      I personally has used the phone with and without the dock while out and on those times when the dock is not out with me, I can use it for a whole day with at least 20% battery left without having to charge during the day. More if the dock is with me. From the tech point of view having to charge for times is really too much so it may be due to settings or worst battery discharge problems.

      The other thing to consider is the usage pattern. I run blogs and pages and groups in Facebook so my usage can be said pretty high. More over I also play real racing 3 in full graphics mode.

      As for losing signal, did not experience that at all if not I would have written about it. My conclusion is that it may be a faulty set

      Like

  2. After having my Infinity for a few weeks now I’m finding something to be really annoying.

    When I charge both units together it favours the Phone over the tablet and wont charge the tablet unless I either remove the phone or the phone is at 100%, why can’t intelligent mode charge both the phone and tablet at the same time?

    If it has phone preferred mode why can’t it have tablet preferred mode so then at least if you have a 80% power in the phone you can then bring the tablet’s battery up to usable levels?

    I’m sure this could easily be fixed in a future update

    Is anyone else finding this to be an issue?

    Like

    1. I don’t think is a huge issue. Simply I just let the tablet charge first and use the phone by itself. If I am using it the whole day I just let it charge both. Fact is between charging tablet first or phone first I still favour phone because you will still use the phone first rather the tablet. Even if you charge the tablet full you will still need the phone so it is better to charge phone no matter what. If you charge while sleeping then it is really a non issue.

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      1. Unless you deliberately don’t charge it with the phone. I usually charge the tablet with the phone in the tablet. I have been using it for so long now is that I can use the tablet because of the way I charge my devices. If you feel it is not working well just get another charger to charge the tablet will solve the issue immediately. I just feel that a fully charged tablet with a depleted phone is no use when you need the phone out of the tablet.

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  3. Hello and thank you for your review.
    In the near future I’m going to buy an end-tech phone and a tablet, until I found the Asus Padfone Infinity, which is 2 in 1. Well, this costs a lot of money, and before spend them, I want to be sure if it worth buying, not to be sorry after all;
    I’ve seen a lot off people having issue with it, some people with losing signal, some people with the battery… what’s the chance?.. In my country this is not yet available, so my options are to go outside or to order online from another country, so, If padfone goes bad, returning to service may be a problem.
    I mention that I’m travelling a lot, also doing a lot of photos everywhere I go, I’m navigating a lot on internet, and watch movies. What do you think about that, how does it act?
    I’m sorry for asking to much but this padfone costs around 1000Euro + shipping, and don’t want to waste money for something that does not worth. I’m asking for your help to understand if finally I can trust buying or not.
    Thank you very much, you do a great job.
    Have a beautiful day.

    Like

    1. For the things that you want to do the padfone infinity has no issues with it. So that is pretty clear cut.

      Such things do cost a lot so natrally you would want to ensure that it is reliable. We can’t avoid the fact that the even good brands have spoiled units.

      If worrying about spoiled units and having to fix it then the only thing i can suggest is to get products that you have good warranty service in your home country instead to give you a peace of mind.

      Like

  4. Something that really bothers me is that you cannot power the docked unit with the charger while using it: The power consumption is just too high for micro usb. I also miss a function for prioritizing the station when it comes to energy usage. As is you have the option to use balanced mode or to prioritize the phone. Why do i miss that? Because the phone charges much faster than the station and the micro usb can fully power the phone while its being used.

    I really like my padfone except from those minor details. The phone itself is on par with the s4 and htc one performance-wise and has awesome external design features that you would only find in an iphone. Sadly I doubt this will be a big seller for ASUS. Lack of accesories and marketing will make sure of that. And the name kind of prevents it from being sold as simply a great phone without the station (at a reduced price) to attract younger consumers.

    Like

    1. I have been using the station with the phone in it while charging and everything is fine. And if you go to settings and then ASUS customized settings you can set the charging priority. The intelligent mode do balance the charging.

      The retail price is equitable to the S4 and HTC One depending on market.

      As for accessories I have to disagree and due to the design the phone can’t really have the cover like most phones out there. A sleeve would be the only solution. Screen protector can be found online.

      Like

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