3. Software, Storage, Battery Life & Connectivity
The ASUS PadFone S comes with ZenUI, which is custom launcher crafted by ASUS. In case you are not familiar with ZenUI, it is actually very close to vanilla Android and its simplicity brings great performance. The user interface is responsive and there is no noticeable lag at all. What ASUS adds are all productivity features.
What’s Next will show you a timeline which combines of all your appointments and alarms. You will be reminded of your events and also weather change. Do It Later is a reminder app that is integrated into the whole UI. You can add unread articles on Browser, reminder for contacting people , save a YouTube video to the list. These productivity apps are not special at all. However, the fact that they are baked into the OS makes them extremely useful.
Other useful pre-installed apps are PC Link, Remote Link, Quick Memo and Dictionary. PC Link allows you to use your phone on a PC while they are connected via a USB cable. Remote Link is the opposite where you can use your phone to control your PC. Quick Memo , which is can be accessed through the dropped-down quick setting menu, can be pinned to the screen as the floating window and it is useful to take notes while using other apps. The Dictionary app may sound ordinary but from the quick setting menu you can turn on Instant Dictionary. Then you will be able to translate other languages by highlighting the text. Too bad it only works well with ASUS’s own applications.
Under the hood the PadFone S is still running Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat, even though Android 5.0 Lollipop has been announced for a few months. This is nothing much if you never experience the sweetness of Android Lollipop before. If you care about getting the update, ASUS did promise that the PadFone S will receive the Lollipop update in the future. With the powerful hardware I guess the PadFone S will be able to handle the update well.
ASUS ZenUI may not have all the gimmicky features that are boasted by other brands but it has all the necessary tools you need.
The user interface is really enjoyable due to its simplicity. ASUS ZenUI may not have all the gimmicky features that are boasted by other brands but it has all the necessary tools you need. Given that ASUS has a good reputation in delivering updates to fix bugs and the newer Android version has been promised, you do not have to worry about software support. With a responsive UI and useful applications included, I really have nothing to complain.
The PadFone S has 16GB of storage on board and you have around 10GB available out of the box where the rest is taken by the OS and pre-installed apps. The pre-installed applications cannot be uninstalled. What you can do is just disable them and remove the updates for each application which will take up some space. Up to 64GB of Micro SD card is supported to expand the storage and you can move your apps and content to the external memory card if you find the internal storage too limited.
ASUS PadFone S has a relatively small battery, which is rated at 2,300mAh. As a powerful processor is typically more power hungry, I really doubt that the phone would last through a day. After testing it for some time, it turns out to be a little better than what I anticipated. Typically the phone will be able to last for 13 to 16 hours with around 3 hours of screen-on time with mixed usage. If you are a heavy gamer, the phone will not be able to carry you through a full day. You should never expect it to last for two days, unless you are not using your phone at all. The phone will lose between 5% to 10% of charge if you leave it standby over the night.
ASUS PadFone S is more like a sprinter than a marathon runner.
That being said, the ASUS PadFone S is more like a sprinter than a marathon runner. The fact that the battery is non-replaceable is not helping as swapping battery is not possible. If you were to buy this phone, I will suggest you to get a power bank if you are a road warrior where plugging into the charger anytime you like is unlikely.
One thing to be noted here is that the PadFone S in Malaysia does not support Qi wireless charging like the other countries’ variant do. The charging coil is present at the removable back cover, but we are unsure why it is not supported. Nevertheless, wireless charging is still a niche technology as the wireless charging pad will not be included and it is not cheap at all too. I guess this is not an issue for most people.
I have no problem to receive cellular signal with the PadFone S and the phone call are quite clear. For data connection, this phone can support 2G, 3G and 4G FDD-LTE (Malaysian bands are supported) and data speed is not an issue at places with coverage. The area with LTE coverage is Malaysia is still limited right now, but having LTE support on your phone is good for future proofing. Other typical connectivity options such as Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac are included. NFC makes the cut too, although many people are not using it.