Asus Padfone Infinity 2 Review, Available in Europe
ASUS is already selling the new Padfone Infinity 2 in Europe. More specifically, the phone and Padfone Station dock are now available for purchase is Norway. There, the combo is sold for 6295 NOK (€770).
Padfone Infinity 2 has a more premium look and feel than the original, with a diamond cut on the metallic rear. The software has also been moderately updated, which offers a performance boost. Owners of the original model will also receive the update at some point although no potential date has been given for this yet.
Top and bottom sides
The top and bottom sides actually consist of well-disguised polycarbonate, which enables better reception through what's otherwise an all-metal body. The top edge is occupied only by a 3.5mm headphone jack, whereas the bottom side houses the microphone and a micro-USB socket. Unlike the PadFone 2, which had a 13-pin MHL connector, the Infinity's micro-USB port integrates the MyDP interface for twice the performance of MHL (at 5.4Gbps, which allows 1080p60 playback). It also provides a snug fit with any ordinary micro-USB plug something that the PadFone 2 failed at. Finally, sandwiching the micro-USB port are two round sockets for the tablet module's external antenna, catering to cellular signal.
Other confirmed specs for the refreshed handset are a 5-inch Super IPS LCD display with resolution of 1920 x 1080, 2GB of RAM, and 16 or 32GB storage options (less than the original but now expandable). There’s also a 13-megapixel f/2.0 rear camera featuring PixelMaster technology, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 2400 mAh battery. The Asus Padfone Infinity 2 runs the Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system, and it has a secondary microphone for noise cancellation plus SonicMaster audio technology. It comes in Platinum White or Titanium Black color options. The ASUS Padfone Infinity 2 builds on the older Padfone Infinity model with an improved performance department. The new version rocks a Snapdragon 800 chipset with quad Krait 400 cores running at 2.2Ghz. It is built around a 5" full HD Super AMOLED display, while the Padfone Station rocks a 10" 1080p display. The new Padfone Infinity also has a microSD card slot, which the original version lacked.
The hardware here is more similar to the PadFone 2 than the original PadFone the phone docks vertically into an exposed bay on the back of a 10.1-inch tablet module aka the PadFone Station. And unlike the first PadFone, there is still no docking keyboard with a built-in battery, so you cannot use the Infinity like a laptop. Regarding the latest model, specifically, ASUS Corporate Vice President Benson Lin does not think the laptop form factor is a feature that would help his company ship 1 million phones this year. In his defense, ASUS does need to keep the combined weight of the phone and tablet module to a minimum at least not much more than that of the iPad with Retina display for the sake of competitiveness.
Compared to the 4G iPad, which weighs in at 662g, the PadFone Infinity's combined weight of 677g (145g plus 532g) is still very competitive, and it is not that far off from the PadFone 2's 649g. For those who do miss the laptop form factor from the original PadFone, there is always the Folder case or TranSleeve case, which lets you prop up the PadFone Station and then hook up the device with a Bluetooth keyboard. You can also connect a USB keyboard via an optional adapter.
Performance and Battery life
With Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 SoC and 2GB RAM turning up on almost every flagship Android device these days, there is no need for us to do a long presentation on how powerful this chip is in terms of number crunching and graphics rendering. Apart from the incompatibility issues we hit with certain apps over Dynamic Display. Most Wanted and The Dark Knight Rises are simply stunning and slick thanks to the beefed-up Adreno 320 graphics chip. Even more amazingly, our Infinity never got too hot after completing a few races on NFS.
PadFone Infinity shares the same 13MP image sensor as the PadFone 2, except this newer device comes with a brighter f/2.0 lens. Add in the fact that ASUS has had more time to optimize the sensor's firmware, and it is no surprise that we are seeing better results this time around. In our PadFone 2 review, we complained about the severe loss of detail in night shots due to the high noise-suppression rate, so we are happy to say this is less of an issue on the Infinity. In the comparison shots against the HTC One, you can see how the distant billboards maintain a fair amount of detail in the Infinity's photos, though the One still edges out with better color accuracy, presumably due to its larger pixels. As for HDR, we much prefer the results on the Infinity at night, but we did find ourselves too often relying on said feature, as the contrast of the images would otherwise be too strong. Daytime performance is quite good in general, faithfully reproducing even the fluorescent range of colors. However, we regularly had to manually increase the exposure when trying to capture subjects under the bright sky.
The lack of heavy skinning helps keep the system running like butter. We have always been fans of ASUS' approach to customizing Android. Which is to say, it mostly sticks to the stock OS. This is surely one of the reasons it often beats the competition to rolling out major updates, not to mention offering regular fixes. And of course, as we have mentioned earlier the lack of heavy skinning also helps keep the system running like butter. In the case of the PadFone Infinity, we have already received three OTA updates over the last two weeks, which is pretty typical of a freshly launched ASUS mobile device. Such a rapid rate is of course highly commended.
The fact that ASUS continues to use near-vanilla Android is by no means an indication that the company's been cutting corners. In fact, it is quite the opposite. First of all there's the classic ASUS Quick Settings feature that adds a row of customizable quick toggles and a screen brightness slider to the pull-down notification tray, and this is consistent across both phone mode and tablet mode. Given that you can disable ASUS Quick Settings, we are certain that you will be able to switch to Android's native quick settings tray when the eventual 4.2 update comes along. Still, we are quite content with ASUS' implementation.
Annoyingly, flagship Google apps like Gmail, Google+, Maps, Hangouts and YouTube are grayed out on the Dynamic Display list, as they are still not compatible with one of the main selling points on the PadFone series. Those that do work well include Chrome, Drive, Play Music, Play Store, Search and Translate, but they require manual enabling in settings for some reason. As for the non-bundled or non-Google apps, your mileage may vary: we had almost no problem with our own Engadget app, nor Dropbox, Face book, Foursquare, IMDb, MX Player or Sound Hound. Still, we found glitches in Amazon Kindle, Evernote, Firefox and Twitter usually in the form of weird font sizes or displaced UI components.