5. PadFone Station & Conclusion
The PadFone Station
Is it a phone or is it a pad? Well, it can be both. The PadFone Station is the reason why this device is called a PadFone at the first place. You can slot in the PadFone S to its station to convert it into a tablet. The PadFone Station has a 9″ display with a resolution of 1920×1200. The bezels around the display is quite large by today’s standard. It has a 1MP front facing camera and you can still access the rear camera of the phone after inserting it into the PadFone Station. It has a big 4,990mAh battery to complement the small battery of the phone.
In the previous models, the PadFone Station is bundled with the PadFone itself, thus pushing the price to the premium spectrum. ASUS has decided to make the PadFone Station optional this time and we appreciate that the freedom to choose is given to the customers. The PadFone S Station is available at RM499 officially.
Take note that the PadFone S Station is not a standalone product and it depends on the PadFone S to work. The cons are obvious. If you do not have the phone, you have a dead station as well. The benefit is that you can choose between two sizes of displays and you do not have to sync data across them. The data plan can be shared too.
We did not have the PadFone Station during the review period but here’s my opinion. If you already have a tablet or you never thought of getting one, you probably do not need it and the phone itself will serve you well. If you dislike the fact that it cannot work independently, do not buy it as you will be regretting your choice soon or later. If you want a larger display under certain scenario, the PadFone S Station will allow you have a very powerful tablet. With RM499 you might be able to get a standalone tablet, but the options will be quite limited and they will not be as great. ASUS has made it optional so the choice is really yours to be made.
Should You Buy It?
With a very low price, the ASUS PadFone S is a choice that you must consider. If you care a lot about the quality of the selfies and groupfies, you should look somewhere else. The less-than-ideal battery life will be a bad idea for heavy users, although with the low price you can have spare budget to get some power banks as backup power sources. The white unit is not available yet and some people might find the black unit too dull. Aside from these reasons, I think the PadFone will be a good choice for most people.
It does not lack competitors though. The Huawei Honor 6 is available at RM999 and it has very similar specifications with the PadFone S. Honor 6 is doing better in areas where the PadFone S falls short like the battery life and front facing camera. But it is a little more expensive and the plastic body is not as convincing at all. The OnePlus One and Mi4 are strong competitors too but they are not available officially here and that can be a deal breaker for a lot of people.
- Affordable price
- Build quality is top of its class
- Impressive and fast performance
- Simple, fluid user interface
- Nice display
- LTE is supported
- Optional PadFone Station is available for hybrid solution
- Battery capacity should be larger
- Front facing camera is mediocre
- Speaker is soft
ASUS calls the PadFone S the “Super Phone” and that really shows their confidence on this phone. They have good reasons for being so confident. Having the Snapdragon 801 processor to power it up, performance is not an issue at all for every type of users. The software is simple but no important feature has been left out. This leaves us with a very responsive user interface. The battery life is a little shorter than what we wish, but it can still last for a day for moderate use. While the design will not win any awards for ASUS, the PadFone S has a very solid construction and it feels really good in hand. The build quality is the best you can get for phones within its price point.
The Full HD display is not short on pixels and the colours are natural. The rear camera is pretty awesome. It can produce good-looking photos constantly and the low light performance is passable. However, the front camera leaves a lot to be desired. The rear-facing speaker has a bad position and it needs to be louder to be usable under all situations. 4G LTE, NFC and other features are not sacrificed to make the price low. Making the PadFone Station optional is a good move from ASUS as customers get to choose if they need the larger display or not. This is smart as previously people who wants the phone only are not buying this due to the bundled PadFone Station. Combining all the he phone is also worth considering even if you stop thinking about the price tag.
So in the end, we have a very competent phone despite it has a relatively cheap price. With RM899, it is the cheapest flagship across all companies and not much sacrifice has been made to make this possible. So is this the “Super Phone”? While it is no match to flagship phones from major brands like Apple and Samsung yet, it is not far behind them. When we remind ourselves that the ASUS PadFone S is twice cheaper than these flagship phones, the difference is really understandable. If you want a big bang for your bucks, we highly recommend this phone.