With an amazingly fast product cycle ASUS releases Padfone Infinity, only seven months after the Padfone 2. And then, just a few weeks ago, a rumor of yet another Padfone upgrade later this year in terms of “The new Padfone Infinity“. Probably sporting the more powerful Snapdragon 800 but most likely still a Padfone with “Infinity” design. It’s hard to keep up, and if you have any ambition of doing so ASUS will probably ruin you.
The look and feel
With a 5-inch, 1080p display and a quad-core chip. In terms of resolution, viewing angle, the newer screen is in theory an upgrade from the predecessor’s 4.7-inch, 720p panel. And of course the design changed with a brand new aluminum alloy construction. Instead of the signature Zen-ripple circle etching on the old polycarbonate cover on the Padfone 2, the almost fully metallic Padfone Infinity features a vertical brush pattern across its back.
The back on the Infinity is also slightly curved to make the grip easier. And you’ll need it - as most of you know, the difference in feel and size between a 4.7-inch phone and a 5-inch one can be significant depending on the size your hands. Personally I have tried almost every 5-inch phone out there, and while it works out I always end up with a 4.7-inch phone. The Padfone Infinity is a big phone, not by much but compared to the Padfone 2 you will feel right away that there’s a difference, the edges are sharper to.
The all aluminum backside on the Infinity is one of the best designs out there, it looks stylish and it feels cool. But still, when it comes how it feels in your hand, the rounded edges on the Padfone 2 still is the design language I prefer personally.
It finally fits with any ordinary micro-USB plug
The top edge has a 3.5mm headphone jack, compared with the Previous Padfone 2 ASUS now moved it a bit to the side. A smart move for us walking around with our phone in our jeans pocket while listening to music.
On the bottom side you’ll find the microphone and a micro-USB socket. Unlike the previous PadFone 2, which had the hated 13-pin MHL connector, the Infinity’s micro-USB port integrates the Mobility DisplayPort. (Mobility DisplayPort, also known as MyDP or SlimPort, was released in June 2012. It uses a micro-USB connector and passive cables to support DisplayPort, HDMI and VGA connectivity from mobile devices to external displays.)
In short this micro-USB with integrated MDP will allow you to playback full HD (1080p@60) on any external display from your Padfone Infinity. Very cool, but I doubt there’s really a demand for this now that we entered into the wireless age. Connecting anything with a cable nowadays just feels way to “oldschool” – but that goes for most of the top end brands right now.
It also fits with any ordinary micro-USB plug — something that the PadFone 2 failed at. Yay! As usual there’s no Micro SD card slot, and as I said in earlier reviews, just stop whining about this shit now. You don’t need it.
The new 1,920 x 1,200 IPS panel are not the second coming of Christ
The Infinity PadFone Station comes with the same 5,000mAh battery as the previous Padfone 2, meaning it can, theoretically, charge up the docked phone twice in battery pack mode. The big difference however is the new 1,920 x 1,200 IPS panel compared to the previous 1,280 x 800 screen. ASUS also moved the speaker and the microphone. Still only one speaker however.
This quality upgrade might be worth it for some of you depending on what you use your Padfone for. On a day-to-day use reading e-mails, web surfing etc. I can’t say it made much difference compared to the Padfone 2. The new 1,920 x 1,200 IPS panel are not the second coming of Christ – but it’s better than the previous Padfone 2.
Docking the Infinity and “doing the shake”
Like the PadFone 2, the Infinity’s PadFone Station uses a docking-retention system involving four serrated silicone rubber grips, which hold onto the two vertical sides of the phone. This design will keep the phone securely docked even when you hold upside down, while also allowing the user to pull the phone out with a gentle grip.
However, I couldn’t help but notice a slight rattle when I gently shook my docked Infinity module or tapped on the phone with my finger while docked. And I actually managed to shake the Infinity out of the tablet (check out the video below). This was never possible with the PadFone 2 and users even complained that it have been too hard to release the phone from the dock. Looks like this is now fixed with the Infinity.
Be aware that “The shaking” have been more of a gimmick during the Padfone 2 launch and a very specific scenario not officially supported by ASUS and the Infinity. For instance, when standing up and jumping up and down with the device the Padfone stayed in the dock without problem. And during the week I used it I never had any problems with the dock while running around between meetings with the Padfone Infinity as my main mobility tool.
I personally prefer the Infinity dock, it’s now easy to pull your phone out of the dock without any danger of the phone releasing during normal use.
Software and customizing the OS
ASUS mostly sticks to the stock OS on their devices. This is surely one of the reasons they often beats the competition to rolling out major updates, not to mention offering regular fixes. And of course, the lack of heavy modifying of the stock OS also helps keep the system running smooth. As usual a device from ASUS feels fast, fluid and guarantees you a steady lifecycle when it comes to Android updates. In the case of both the Padfone 2 and the Padfone Infinity ASUS has decided to skip Android 4.2 and go directly for Android 4.3 later this fall. If you go out and buy one of them today you will therefor get 4.1.1 on the Padfone 2 and 4.1.2 on the Infinity and they will stay that way until 4.3 is released during the fall.
However, ASUS has still implemented some of their own tweaks. Long pressing the “Home” button for instance gives you access to a arc of shortcuts, and for some but I personally don’t see the need for another shortcut meny. And there’s more, “pinching” the screen now opens the ability to change the home screen scenarios. You might have seen this before. Both Nokia tried it in the Symbian E71 and HTC in their earlier versions of “Sense”. In short it allows you to customize scenarios like “Work” or “Entertainment” and switch between them depending on your situation. This can come in handy but in reality I suspect very few will use it, and that also was the reason HTC abandoned it in sense.
There’s still of course the killer feature “Dynamic Display tech” like in the previous Padfone series. I wont go into it deeper as I already have written a guide to it here http://blackmoore.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/padfone-2-and-the-dynamic-display-technology/ In short it’s all about the way the current app is kept alive when switching between phone mode and tablet mode. The good news is the list of compatible apps out of the box supported has grown and it still keeps the switching time below two seconds.
Now with the Sony and Nokia winning the “camera war” the PadFone Infinitys 13MP image sensor (same as the PadFone 2) might not seem that impressive. It’s however still a really good camera. With a now brighter f/2.0 lens and a sensor software optimization the Padfone Infinitys camera is a top of the line smartphone camera, and the result is even better then the Padfone 2, most noticeable when taking shots in low light. Good job!
Hardware and performance
With Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 SoC and 2GB RAM the Padfone Infinity feels and runs like almost every flagship Android device these days. It’s more than enough. Like with the Padfone 2 you won’t have any issues with performance and the difference between the Infinitys 1.7 GHz and the Padfone 2 1.5 GHz Quad-core processors is not a reason to be shopping for a new phone in my book.
When it comes to battery both the Padfone 2 and the Infinity easily beats any competition due to the extra battery pack you get with the Padfone Station. The Infinity however has a standby time of 410h and a talk time up to 19h (2G) compared to the Padfone 2 with a standby of 352 and talktime of 16h (2G). If this is worth the extra money spent on the Infinity is your decision.
The PadFone Infinity is without a doubt the best phone ASUS has ever made, and it might be worth an upgrade from the PadFone 2 for the specs alone if you you’re not sensitive to the price and prefers the new design and aluminum look. However I would recommend you to think twice. You won’t get any noticeable performance upgrade in in terms of day-to-day use. The small differences comes with the higher screen resolution and the new aluminum design – and I’m doubtful it’s worth the extra money.
Right now with prices dropping on the Padfone 2 and with the rumor of a “New Padfone Infinity” on the way I would recommend to either wait or pick up a Padfone 2 on the cheap. If testing the Padfone Infinity made me sure of one thing, it’s that the Padfone 2 still is a really good phone compared to it’s big brother Infinity.