Asus are a brand usually associated with high quality, whether it be through its monitors, peripherals or hardware. However despite the heavy tech focus of the company, it has yet to make a real foothold on the very lucrative smart phone market. This year marks a couple of unique tries, perhaps most notably the Asus PadFone, which combined a 5 inch phone and a 9 inch tablet to give you the option of using your phone like a phone, or docking it into the tablet for more power, screen estate and also battery life.
The concept is a gripping one, but unfortunately the actual way the transition worked and the power of the phone itself made the device slightly less than desirable. However this is where today’s news comes in, as Asus have announced a PadFone Mini, which takes the base idea of the PadFone, bundles a few slight software changes and down sizes both the phone and the tablet, to allow you to use either a 4.5 inch phone or a 7 inch tablet. Presumably because of the smaller size gap, the phone also docks in a portrait fashion now, which is a slight improvement.
Alongside the size of the new PadFone, we also know that it will cost $199, and be releasing on October 24th with AT&T’s prepaid “Go Phone” service. This means you can benefit from the ability to switch devices while carrying one around with you for just $199. So, where’s the catch, what took the beating to hit that price point?
Well the only confirmed specification besides the screen size we’ve seen so far is that it will be using an Intel processor, the very first for a mobile device like this. This doesn’t let use know just how much power the device is going to offer, but given the advances Intel has been making in the realms of its mobile processors, it might be fairly significant.
Besides the intel processor we don’t have numbers on the exact size of the battery, but the device has been claimed as lasting 15.8 hours while just being a phone, and being almost doubled to 28.3 hours when plugged into the tablet. This is slightly below average for what you’ll see elsewhere, meaning a recommendation for this device isn’t something I think many will give.
What purpose does the PadFone Mini have then? First of all, work usage. Keep the phone as a phone when you need to be on the go, and if you need to be sending emails or trying documents or taking advantage of more screen estate in any other way, switch to the tablet. This same logic can be applied to people who want both a phone and a tablet, but for budget reasons can’t go high end on either. The PadFone Mini is very reasonably priced, and this seems to be one of its biggest selling points.
So, is the PadFone Mini one to look out for? Honestly it’s a great cheap phone, but if you love the concept and aren’t willing to deal with issues and short battery lives, it may be better to let them refine the device for a year or two first.