Following on from the ruckus caused by Apple’s newly announced iPad 4 and iPad Mini, we journeyed along to central London to meet up with Asus, who were keen to show two of their latest mobile offerings, the Windows 8-based Vivo Tab RT and the newest Android-powered addition, the Padfone 2.
Considering the original Padfone didn’t really make the impact on the market that Asus had hoped, the Padfone 2 looks like a more considered and more prepared device that when it hits the market, should make a more significant impact; not solely on the merits of the improvements it totes over its predecessor, but the company’s raised profile following on from the launch of the Google Nexus 7: one of the best selling tablets of all time, which was also made by Asus.
The Padfone 2 was on display in both black and white and both looked extremely elegant. The Padfone 2 handset itself consists of a metal, plastic glass construction, with Asus’ iconic Zen design cues on the back, denoted by the textured concentric-circle back panel. The handset is noticeably larger than the original Padfone, trading in a 4.3-inch display for a stunning 4.7-inch 720p HD IPS+ display, which is both wonderfully bright and extremely vivid. Meanwhile the feel and texture of the device in hand is fitting when compared to other Asus products like their Transformer Pad tablets.
Slotting the Padfone 2 in and out of the new Padfone Station is smooth and even possible to carry out one-handed, with the impressive internals of the handset then powering an equally vibrant 10.1-inch 1280×800 WXGA IPS display. The portrait orientation of the Padfone 2 as it sits in the back of the Station is more aesthetically pleasing than its predecessor, although some might not like the fact that when docked, it’s now exposed to the elements, unlike the original Padfone.
Users should find the weight and the feel of the Padfone 2 and the Padfone Station together wholly manageable, as the svelte profile even with the Padfone ‘bump’ on the back means it’s easy enough to support, even in one hand.
We didn’t have a huge amount of time to put the Padfone 2 through its paces, but Asus’ unobtrusive take on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, paired with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz quad-core chip which can be found in the LG Optimus G meant that the UI was as smooth as ever and app launching was near enough to immediate. Stay tuned for the complete review where we can really test its mettle.