Mar 06 AT 11:07 AM Taylor Wimberly 30 Comments

Hands-on the ASUS Padfone

asus-padfone-side-630

Heading into Mobile World Congress, the ASUS Padfone was one of the devices that I was most looking forward to playing with. I loved the ASUS Transformer Prime, so I figured the Padfone could be a hit too. However, what I found in Barcelona did not impress me.

The modular concept of the Padfone is a great idea on paper, but the final product might need a couple of revisions before it finds success. Where the Transformer Prime was sleek and sexy, the Padfone is fat and ugly. I found the Padfone with tablet station and keyboard dock to be extremely heavy, but most of that weight is for the batteries that can boost capacity by 9x.

The ASUS Padfone + tablet station + keyboard dock

I kind of see the appeal of expanding your smartphone view to a 10-inch display, but we will have to wait on the final pricing of the tablet station to see how practical that will become. ASUS also touted the benefits of one data plan for two devices, but I don’t know if US carriers would allow that. Back when AT&T released the Motorola Atrix, they charged extra to get mobile data on the lapdock accessory.

Overall, the Padfone will live or die based on how the carriers price the accessories and the mobile data plans. For someone like me that already uses a tablet and smartphone, there is not much desire for the Padfone as it is currently designed. Show me something new like a 13 to 14-inch laptop station for my smartphone, and then maybe I’ll be interested.

Check out the hands-on video of the Padfone below and let us know what you think. What price would you be willing to pay for the Padfone, tablet station, and keyboard dock?

asus-padfone-1 asus-padfone-2 asus-padfone-3 asus-padfone-4 asus-padfone-5 asus-padfone-6 asus-padfone-7 asus-padfone-8 asus-padfone-9 asus-padfone-10 asus-padfone-11 asus-padfone-12 asus-padfone-13 asus-padfone-14 asus-padfone-15 asus-padfone-16 The Padfone + tablet station + keyboard dock. The ASUS Padfone + tablet station + keyboard dock

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Slith

    I completely agree. Give me more screen real estate and I would be all over that sucker.

    • StarrWulfe

      I don’t understand it… if you need bigger screen real estate, then why not just hook the HDMI up to your TV? I do with the phone I have now…. This is a tablet, THEN a laptop… if you want a full blown 19″+ display, that’s what the HDMI out is for.

  • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

    Things (imho) needed in the next few iterations to make this a *killer* product line:

    1) Compatible interfaces for newer versions (i.e. Padfone v2 fits in my Tablet v1)
    2) Options on the accessories (i.e. Let me choose a 7″ or a 10″ or a 15″ tablet to put my phone in, and similarly keyboard dock)
    3) Design/color choices (they’re going the right way with keyboard docks for the Transformer line, continue that here too)
    4) Universal compatibility across all of their products (let my Transformer dock be compatible with my Padfone tablet and continue this)
    5) License the interface “for free” to other phone manufacturers (but not for accessories – this will boost Asus’ sales of accessories)
    6) Add the sexy back (and frankly, this might make v1 of everything incompatible with v2 but they should really keep compatibility moving beyond that)

    This is obviously a v1 product and they will have made a few bad design choices. With luck, v2 will be great! In the meantime, there’s no arguing that while this isn’t an ideal implementation, it is hands-down the best implementation of something like this!

    For the carriers, I hope we can make it such that they aren’t aware of whether we’re using our device in “phone mode” or “docked mode”. This is where the carriers can really hurt this product but our devs should have us taken care of on this front.

  • jaydeeIL

    That is such a gimmick at this stage. It might be a hit over in the Asian market but I don’t see it taking off in the States.

    • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

      What’s gimmicky about it? The majority of us never use our phones and tablets at the same time so this *should* allow us to have a phone and “buy a tablet” at a much cheaper price.

    • Bryan Stoner

      This, in no way shape or form, a gimmick. A gimmick has no use at all and is fairly irrelevant. But this idea helps create a blanket of functionality but with one core device.

      If you don’t want the tablet dock then don’t buy it~ But they do such a great job at perfecting just a simple accessory it can very well be considered a fully functional tablet, or netbook.

      I would say a gimmick would be something you are forced to use, isn’t implemented very well, and adds to the cost of the overall product. Could you say the GNote stylus is a gimmick? Nope. That device is well worth the fee and they’ve done a great job at incorporating the stylus within the core programs on the device.

    • CactusCat

      Yeah, those Asian guys aren’t very smart, are they?

  • spazby

    I think this has a lot of potential… If Sprint brings it in and puts unlimited data on it including when docked, I will be all over it…. Sure, the looks can improve but i think this is a great product.

  • Mark

    I want one. The wife does to. She has a netbook currently and was wanting to upgrade. She prefers a small portable device with lots of battery life, doesn’t want to lug around a full size laptop. Combining it with the phone/tablet/keyboard is nice. Also my son wants to play angry birds on her laptop all the time and we have a hard time explaining to him that the laptop’s screen is not touchscreen. With this, problem solved. And the Stylus Pen can act as a bluetooth headset?! That’s awesome! My wife uses her phone all the time for browsing the web in the living room, and she has a phone with a slide out keyboard since she likes typing on a real keyboard. I think this thing combines the best of the 3 worlds.

    I don’t think I’d want to pay more than $1500 for the three, but I’m hoping it’d be more reasonable in the $500-$1000 range.

  • boone simpson

    Luckily, verizon has not required tethering for the lapdocks they offer.

    I wonder if motorola will make a webtop mirrored display tablet shell. that is basically a lapdock 500 in a swivel slate, where the screen can be folded over the keyboard.
    Rumors of jellybean integrating phone/tablet/netbook would be perfect for this.

    One issue I see with the padfone, as far as weight, is the tablet piece has a battery, and I would imagine for stability, the keyboard piece would too, that gives us 2 additional batteries, and while usage time is way up, so is weight.

    I love the idea, but instead of a dock connector, I would prefer the moto HDMI+USB connection. I don’t see much that those 2 connections couldn’t provide.
    HDMI has Audio/Video/Ethernet, USB has everything else via a software engine (this is how I think webtop does it)

    It opens it up for any accessory maker, and any phone maker, then the issue is licensing webtop, which with MOTO soon under Google control, might just make it into Android Core.

    This would be HUGE for Android, 1 main device, 1 data plan, Use as work with keyboard, tablet at home, phone on the go. Apple would be stuck.

    Want more power, sure upgrade the “brain” (phone) and keep all your pieces parts.

  • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

    The idea just does not interest me. I know most people don’t need to use a phone and a tablet at the same time, but that argument goes right out the window when you have a family. I have a wife and a daughter who use my tablet all the time. Having to give up my phone so my daughter can play with the tablet just wont work for me.

    • AsakuraZero

      some solutions sometimes doesnt fit to all cases, but combining the padfone with a nexus tablet (good hardware and cheap price point, and lets never forget fast android updates).

      i like the concept but your point is a good on and a heavy one, hope taht the nexus tablet lives up to the expectation, so we can see more tablets for everyone

      • tarwin

        This actually brings up a different use case scenario. Once upon a time one computer was more than enough for an entire family. While that is normally not true anymore, it might be the case for many where tablets are concerned. Each person could have their own padphone phone and that way when they use the tablet it’d be their own personal tablet without buying one for each person. of course this would only be suitable for some families.

  • http://www.jimtravis.com jimtravis

    The concept has potential. I personally have no use for it, but respect others may. As indicated in the article, the price for accessories / data will be crucial to its success. Unfortunately, many vendors so far have priced crucial accessories for new devices significantly higher than many users are willing to pay for an accessory.

  • jonathan3579

    First off, did anyone notice he said the processor was a Snapdragon S4 while their demo video says S3? Which is right and which is wrong? Secondly, I don’t find this gimmicky at all. I don’t own a tablet because pricing (for me) hasn’t been what I’d deem worthy. I only have the Galaxy Nexus but this combines phone, newest OS, and a tablet into more or less one form factor. Not many people thought the Note with it’s extra large screen would be a hit…and look at it now!

  • WlfHart

    If the US carriers really do get greedy and double charge for data, I think it would kill this device.

    • jonathan3579

      I wouldn’t want to buy this subsidized anyhow. I’m tired of carrier bloatware.

  • LEKO

    This kind of device makes a lot of sense. I would buy one of these, but not right now because I already have a good smartphone (Nexus S) and a pretty good tablet too (Transformer Prime). But when I will have to renew these devices, I will surely look for the Padfone (v2 or whatever).

    I want 1 intelligent device with accessories, I don’t want to worry about synching my stuff and loose my game progression because I switch from one device to another.

    Also, imagine this kind of thing with dual-boot capabilities: Win8 or Android. This would be a killer feature!

  • Xpeira Fever

    No use to me personally because the phone is awful imo, aesthetically at least but if every manufacturer started doing this then it would be good. I’d like to slide my Ray into a nice Sony tablet.

  • tao.lviv

    I had bad experience from Asus side in customer support concerning my videoadapter and my cell phone – in fact support was just abandoned with unresolved serious troubles. I’m afraid it can happen again with any not very successful product.

  • professandobey

    “Show me something new like a 13 to 14-inch laptop station for my smartphone, and then maybe I’ll be interested.”

    Something like the Motorola Lapdock 500? (Which my wife just got for her Bionic)

  • Leo Young

    It annoys me when Americans say things like “This product will live and die depending on how carriers in the US handle it” as if the rest of the world does not count. Sigh.
    American’s get over yourselves already!

    • thel0nerang3r

      Well, the US is one of the largest markets for just about anything. Specially electronics. So, while not strictly death/survival, the US market does make a big difference. Not many electronics products survive that do not get a strong foothold in the US.

    • thel0nerang3r

      I made an assumption on your comment. Because “Americans” means anyone in the Americas. America is a continent, not a country.

      • StarrWulfe

        As far as larger markets for things– China is #1, the USA is #2, and Japan is #3… Followed by Germany, and the UK.

        I live in Japan, and there are a TON of products that do well here that y’all in the States will never get more so because of carrier agreements and blocking by businesses…

  • twospirits

    in response to jaxidan…

    1) Compatible interfaces for newer versions (i.e. Padfone v2 fits in my Tablet v1)
    I Agree, they need to make version 1 compatible with others that follow it.

    2) Options on the accessories (i.e. Let me choose a 7″ or a 10″ or a 15″ tablet to put my phone in, and similarly keyboard dock)
    I can see a 7″ and a 10″ but a 15″ that’s a bit too big of a tablet to carry around.

    3) Design/color choices (they’re going the right way with keyboard docks for the Transformer line, continue that here too)
    I agree.

    4) Universal compatibility across all of their products (let my Transformer dock be compatible with my Padfone tablet and continue this)
    Nope, don’t see this happening. Unless you do away with the Transformer series.

    5) License the interface “for free” to other phone manufacturers (but not for accessories — this will boost Asus’ sales of accessories)
    This may be a possibility, with ICS having dock support built in and Asus rumored to make the next Nexus Tablet, it would be good for Google to license the interface for others to do.

    6) Add the sexy back (and frankly, this might make v1 of everything incompatible with v2 but they should really keep compatibility moving beyond that)
    True

    As for other suggestions, price should be kept down and Asus has shown that they can do that.

    btw, I also would have love to this on Sprint.

  • Meghu

    Assus Padfone is having good feature user can use only one plan with two devices, Cost wise also effective, it provides mobile connectivity to the tablet. Assus Padfone have 8 mega pixel camera.If u thinking on positive side having one dock and one phone is comparatively cheaper, other than buying two separate devices.For more details and video refer http://www.techiecop.com/cellphones/asus-cellphones/asus-padfone-review.html

  • Shumil

    I completely agree. Give me more screen real estate and I would be all over that sucker.

    http://www.mega.pk/mobiles_products/4924/Asus-Padfone.html

  • Javid

    Will the unlocked version of padfone be available outside United States ? If so, what would be the price quote ?

  • Javid

    Must Consider the Acer Iconia Tab A510 quad core, 4.0 ICS powered tablet

  1. I completely agree. Give me more screen real estate and I would be all over that sucker.

    • StarrWulfeGuest 3 years ago

      I don’t understand it… if you need bigger screen real estate, then why not just hook the HDMI up to your TV? I do with the phone I have now…. This is a tablet, THEN a laptop… if you want a full blown 19″+ display, that’s what the HDMI out is for.

  2. Things (imho) needed in the next few iterations to make this a *killer* product line:

    1) Compatible interfaces for newer versions (i.e. Padfone v2 fits in my Tablet v1)
    2) Options on the accessories (i.e. Let me choose a 7″ or a 10″ or a 15″ tablet to put my phone in, and similarly keyboard dock)
    3) Design/color choices (they’re going the right way with keyboard docks for the Transformer line, continue that here too)
    4) Universal compatibility across all of their products (let my Transformer dock be compatible with my Padfone tablet and continue this)
    5) License the interface “for free” to other phone manufacturers (but not for accessories – this will boost Asus’ sales of accessories)
    6) Add the sexy back (and frankly, this might make v1 of everything incompatible with v2 but they should really keep compatibility moving beyond that)

    This is obviously a v1 product and they will have made a few bad design choices. With luck, v2 will be great! In the meantime, there’s no arguing that while this isn’t an ideal implementation, it is hands-down the best implementation of something like this!

    For the carriers, I hope we can make it such that they aren’t aware of whether we’re using our device in “phone mode” or “docked mode”. This is where the carriers can really hurt this product but our devs should have us taken care of on this front.

  3. That is such a gimmick at this stage. It might be a hit over in the Asian market but I don’t see it taking off in the States.

    • What’s gimmicky about it? The majority of us never use our phones and tablets at the same time so this *should* allow us to have a phone and “buy a tablet” at a much cheaper price.

    • This, in no way shape or form, a gimmick. A gimmick has no use at all and is fairly irrelevant. But this idea helps create a blanket of functionality but with one core device.

      If you don’t want the tablet dock then don’t buy it~ But they do such a great job at perfecting just a simple accessory it can very well be considered a fully functional tablet, or netbook.

      I would say a gimmick would be something you are forced to use, isn’t implemented very well, and adds to the cost of the overall product. Could you say the GNote stylus is a gimmick? Nope. That device is well worth the fee and they’ve done a great job at incorporating the stylus within the core programs on the device.

    • CactusCatGuest 3 years ago

      Yeah, those Asian guys aren’t very smart, are they?

  4. I think this has a lot of potential… If Sprint brings it in and puts unlimited data on it including when docked, I will be all over it…. Sure, the looks can improve but i think this is a great product.

  5. MarkGuest 3 years ago

    I want one. The wife does to. She has a netbook currently and was wanting to upgrade. She prefers a small portable device with lots of battery life, doesn’t want to lug around a full size laptop. Combining it with the phone/tablet/keyboard is nice. Also my son wants to play angry birds on her laptop all the time and we have a hard time explaining to him that the laptop’s screen is not touchscreen. With this, problem solved. And the Stylus Pen can act as a bluetooth headset?! That’s awesome! My wife uses her phone all the time for browsing the web in the living room, and she has a phone with a slide out keyboard since she likes typing on a real keyboard. I think this thing combines the best of the 3 worlds.

    I don’t think I’d want to pay more than $1500 for the three, but I’m hoping it’d be more reasonable in the $500-$1000 range.

  6. boone simpsonGuest 3 years ago

    Luckily, verizon has not required tethering for the lapdocks they offer.

    I wonder if motorola will make a webtop mirrored display tablet shell. that is basically a lapdock 500 in a swivel slate, where the screen can be folded over the keyboard.
    Rumors of jellybean integrating phone/tablet/netbook would be perfect for this.

    One issue I see with the padfone, as far as weight, is the tablet piece has a battery, and I would imagine for stability, the keyboard piece would too, that gives us 2 additional batteries, and while usage time is way up, so is weight.

    I love the idea, but instead of a dock connector, I would prefer the moto HDMI+USB connection. I don’t see much that those 2 connections couldn’t provide.
    HDMI has Audio/Video/Ethernet, USB has everything else via a software engine (this is how I think webtop does it)

    It opens it up for any accessory maker, and any phone maker, then the issue is licensing webtop, which with MOTO soon under Google control, might just make it into Android Core.

    This would be HUGE for Android, 1 main device, 1 data plan, Use as work with keyboard, tablet at home, phone on the go. Apple would be stuck.

    Want more power, sure upgrade the “brain” (phone) and keep all your pieces parts.

  7. The idea just does not interest me. I know most people don’t need to use a phone and a tablet at the same time, but that argument goes right out the window when you have a family. I have a wife and a daughter who use my tablet all the time. Having to give up my phone so my daughter can play with the tablet just wont work for me.

    • some solutions sometimes doesnt fit to all cases, but combining the padfone with a nexus tablet (good hardware and cheap price point, and lets never forget fast android updates).

      i like the concept but your point is a good on and a heavy one, hope taht the nexus tablet lives up to the expectation, so we can see more tablets for everyone

      • tarwinGuest 3 years ago

        This actually brings up a different use case scenario. Once upon a time one computer was more than enough for an entire family. While that is normally not true anymore, it might be the case for many where tablets are concerned. Each person could have their own padphone phone and that way when they use the tablet it’d be their own personal tablet without buying one for each person. of course this would only be suitable for some families.

  8. The concept has potential. I personally have no use for it, but respect others may. As indicated in the article, the price for accessories / data will be crucial to its success. Unfortunately, many vendors so far have priced crucial accessories for new devices significantly higher than many users are willing to pay for an accessory.

  9. First off, did anyone notice he said the processor was a Snapdragon S4 while their demo video says S3? Which is right and which is wrong? Secondly, I don’t find this gimmicky at all. I don’t own a tablet because pricing (for me) hasn’t been what I’d deem worthy. I only have the Galaxy Nexus but this combines phone, newest OS, and a tablet into more or less one form factor. Not many people thought the Note with it’s extra large screen would be a hit…and look at it now!

  10. If the US carriers really do get greedy and double charge for data, I think it would kill this device.

  11. LEKOGuest 3 years ago

    This kind of device makes a lot of sense. I would buy one of these, but not right now because I already have a good smartphone (Nexus S) and a pretty good tablet too (Transformer Prime). But when I will have to renew these devices, I will surely look for the Padfone (v2 or whatever).

    I want 1 intelligent device with accessories, I don’t want to worry about synching my stuff and loose my game progression because I switch from one device to another.

    Also, imagine this kind of thing with dual-boot capabilities: Win8 or Android. This would be a killer feature!

  12. Xpeira FeverGuest 3 years ago

    No use to me personally because the phone is awful imo, aesthetically at least but if every manufacturer started doing this then it would be good. I’d like to slide my Ray into a nice Sony tablet.

  13. I had bad experience from Asus side in customer support concerning my videoadapter and my cell phone – in fact support was just abandoned with unresolved serious troubles. I’m afraid it can happen again with any not very successful product.

  14. “Show me something new like a 13 to 14-inch laptop station for my smartphone, and then maybe I’ll be interested.”

    Something like the Motorola Lapdock 500? (Which my wife just got for her Bionic)

  15. It annoys me when Americans say things like “This product will live and die depending on how carriers in the US handle it” as if the rest of the world does not count. Sigh.
    American’s get over yourselves already!

    • Well, the US is one of the largest markets for just about anything. Specially electronics. So, while not strictly death/survival, the US market does make a big difference. Not many electronics products survive that do not get a strong foothold in the US.

    • I made an assumption on your comment. Because “Americans” means anyone in the Americas. America is a continent, not a country.

      • StarrWulfeGuest 3 years ago

        As far as larger markets for things– China is #1, the USA is #2, and Japan is #3… Followed by Germany, and the UK.

        I live in Japan, and there are a TON of products that do well here that y’all in the States will never get more so because of carrier agreements and blocking by businesses…

  16. in response to jaxidan…

    1) Compatible interfaces for newer versions (i.e. Padfone v2 fits in my Tablet v1)
    I Agree, they need to make version 1 compatible with others that follow it.

    2) Options on the accessories (i.e. Let me choose a 7″ or a 10″ or a 15″ tablet to put my phone in, and similarly keyboard dock)
    I can see a 7″ and a 10″ but a 15″ that’s a bit too big of a tablet to carry around.

    3) Design/color choices (they’re going the right way with keyboard docks for the Transformer line, continue that here too)
    I agree.

    4) Universal compatibility across all of their products (let my Transformer dock be compatible with my Padfone tablet and continue this)
    Nope, don’t see this happening. Unless you do away with the Transformer series.

    5) License the interface “for free” to other phone manufacturers (but not for accessories — this will boost Asus’ sales of accessories)
    This may be a possibility, with ICS having dock support built in and Asus rumored to make the next Nexus Tablet, it would be good for Google to license the interface for others to do.

    6) Add the sexy back (and frankly, this might make v1 of everything incompatible with v2 but they should really keep compatibility moving beyond that)
    True

    As for other suggestions, price should be kept down and Asus has shown that they can do that.

    btw, I also would have love to this on Sprint.

  17. MeghuGuest 3 years ago

    Assus Padfone is having good feature user can use only one plan with two devices, Cost wise also effective, it provides mobile connectivity to the tablet. Assus Padfone have 8 mega pixel camera.If u thinking on positive side having one dock and one phone is comparatively cheaper, other than buying two separate devices.For more details and video refer http://www.techiecop.com/cellphones/asus-cellphones/asus-padfone-review.html

  18. ShumilGuest 3 years ago

    I completely agree. Give me more screen real estate and I would be all over that sucker.

    http://www.mega.pk/mobiles_products/4924/Asus-Padfone.html

  19. JavidGuest 3 years ago

    Will the unlocked version of padfone be available outside United States ? If so, what would be the price quote ?

  20. JavidGuest 3 years ago

    Must Consider the Acer Iconia Tab A510 quad core, 4.0 ICS powered tablet