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Why The Asus Padfone Will Be Dead On Arrival

Authored by: Eric McBride — Apr 10, 2012
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The Asus Padfone has been a pretty hot topic around the offices here at AndroidPIT, and with the new concept that it offers, consumer interest for the device is definitely there. Is the concept cool? Yes. Is it original and out of the box thinking? Yes. Could it's concept be a game changer in some way? Yes. Is it worth the money? No. Will it do well in the market? No. In fact, as much as I like the concept and thinking behind it, the Asus Padfone will be more or less DOA (dead on arrival) as soon as it hits the market, and here's why.

This is 1 device, not 2

Now I know many of you have seen the device, and make no mistake the concept of what it APPEARS to be is cool. But looks can certainly be deceiving, and that's exactly the word I like to use when describing this device: deceiving. Let's go on record and get this clear. The Asus Padfone is NOT a phone AND a tablet. I cannot stress that enough. It's a phone with a "tablet display“, meaning that without the phone, the "tablet display“ is absolutely useless. When the phone is inside the "tablet display“ it can then ACT as a tablet, but only when the phone is docked with it. It's very important to remember this point, especially considering that in the picture above, you see a phone and tablet acting seperately. What Asus does NOT want you to see is the fact that the "tablet display“ (running on the right side appearingly without a phone) can't in any way be used without the phone being docked with it. So anyone who still wants to argue that this is a phone and a tablet should stop right now, because it isn't

Nothing groundbreaking hardware wise

It's already deceiving enough that it many ways this is being marketed as a phone AND a tablet, but what's as equally ridiculous is the pricing. The dual core device from Asus, a company with more or less no traction or reputation at all in the phone market costs 610 USD WITHOUT the tablet dock, or keyboard. So 610 gets you a dual core 1.5ghz (yes, specwise it's not bad..but nothing groundbreaking. I know it's not just a processor that makes a phone good :-D) device from a company that has done good with Android tablets (I'm not knocking Asus here, as they have done some GREAT work), but absolutely nothing with Android phones. If you want to have that pretty tablet display and keyboard, it will cost you another 240 for the tablet dock, and another 130 for the keyboard. That's 980 dollars...for a phone......a dual core phone.....with a tablet that's not a tablet.....So lets just forget the "tablet display“ and keyboard for a minute and focus on that 610 dollar price tag. Since 610 is still certainly a lot for a phone, what other options would you have for that money?

You could have a phone and a real tablet for the same money (less actually)

Well, the HTC One S for starters. Not only is it made by a company that has a reputation for making durable and stylish cell phones, but it's also currently selling at this moment on for 489 Euros NEW. That's 641 US dollars, and that's the EU price for the device. So you tell me...610 for a debut phone from Asus, or 30 dollars more for a phone from HTC that was the talk of Mobile World Congress. Hell, for another 60 or 70 bucks you could even buy the quad core packing HTC One X! So even on just a phone vs phone basis, you could get HTC's newest models for a few bucks more (based on EU pricing), or you could get yourself an HTC Sensation XE that also runs a 1.5GHz dual core processor for 509 dollars on Amazon NEW. That's over 100 dollars cheaper than the new Asus Padfone (just the phone alone with no extra screen or keyboard).

But what about the tablet? Well lookie here...It's the Asus Transformer Prime with 16 gigs space a quad core packing Tegra 3 processor NEW and directly from Amazon for 499 dollars. If you want the dock it will cost you 150 more, making it 649 dollars. So basically, you could have a TRUE quad core packing tablet that actually IS A TABLET with dock AND a dual core 1.5ghz phone 1158 dollars. If you wanted the tablet without the keyboard dock, you could have both for barely over a thousand (1009 dollars to be exact). "But Eric, you're over the 980 dollars that it costs for the suck!!“. Umm..NO. Remember, for 980 dollars you get a DUAL core phone and a display...NOT a tablet. With my option, for less than 1200 you get a dual core phone running at 1.5ghz AND a quad core tablet witha  keyboard (without the keyboard, you're at 1008 USD). And if I really wanna put a dagger in the hard of this thing, why not just buy the HTC Sensation XE for 512, and then the dual core Asus Transformer Eee Pad for 358 dollars new? That way, you spend less than 900 dollars, and have TWO dual core devices that can be used seperately.

And let's not forget that carriers will subsidize all of these. It's already being reported you can have the One X for 199USD with a contract. Even if you could get a subsidized price of say....400 (it won't be that cheap) for the Padfone, does it make sense? After all, you are in essence only getting one piece of hardware with an expandable display.

Bottom Line

Again, I love the concept of this device..I really do. But for what's actually being offered hardware wise (and the "number of devices you're actually getting wise“), there will be cheaper, more powerful, and much more realistic choices for consumers (like 2 devices instead of just one for a cheaper price). I wish Asus the best of luck, as I have a lot of respect for them when it comes to the Eee Pad and Transformer Prime. But as far as the Padfone goes, consumers won't buy it when more realistic choices for the same price and cheaper are currently on the market. I want our readers to have the best option for their hard earned money, and without bashing Asus, I have to be completely honest and tell you now that the Padfone simply isn't the best option (far from it). 

Asus: Show me this same concept, only where both can act as stand alone devices, have an option to dock with each other AND with quad core processors in both devices and THEN you'll have consumers sold on it.

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  • Ravi S Dec 18, 2012 Link to comment

    This looks pretty awesome but I dont see any big use except it is just a phone afterall. I would go for it if atleast I can use the docking station separately as a regular monitor so I can connect my Mac Mini. That way, this is just an amazing innovation.

  • Eric McBride Apr 17, 2012 Link to comment

    Thats very true. 500euros is a hell of a lot of money! And if you get the device, let me know how you like it! I would love to do a writeup blog on your experience with it.

  • Stefan E. Apr 17, 2012 Link to comment

    I just wanted it to be a valid option for me and others with similar interests. I need a new phone this summer, and I would like to have a tablet. I did never think this would be the one device for everybody, Android is about choice.

    And let's face it - a phone alone for €500 is expensive as well. You could do a lot of the stuff with a €200 device as well, it is just not what we enthusiasts want. The difference between the men and the boys is the price of the toys... ;)

  • Eric McBride Apr 17, 2012 Link to comment

    Yes, at 650 it would be for sure, and I hoped to see a keyboard WITH that price. But like you said, with an 800 euro bundle that includes the keyboard, it is a pretty nice option. If they cut it at 800 with tab screen and keyboard, and then amazon cuts it to 750, it could look alot more attractive to consumers.

    Lets see! Its expensive, but it could still grab some consumer attention.But either way, "pretty good deal" or not, its still an expensive device. What me and you think of it matters little. This device will have to convince them more than iPads/iPhones and other Android devices. Thats where it will run into problems.

  • Stefan E. Apr 17, 2012 Link to comment

    You are jumping back and forth - at €650 ($847) you said it would be "a better chance in the market". Now at just €50 ($65) more, its "Whoa! Pretty damn expensive".

    As I said, let's put it in european context. If you compare it to a HTC One S, which costs €500, you get the Padfone Station (and double the storage) for €200 more. I'd say that is realistic. I still hope they put up a complete bundle for €800 though, as the keyboard would sure be a nice addition. But €200 extra charge for the station and the keyboard, when the Transformer keyboard costs €100-€150 on itself, is just a lot to ask.

    And you know as well as I do that recommended retail prices in Europe not only include tax, but they tend to be undercut by street prices by a noticable margin (except for Apple products usually).

  • Eric McBride Apr 17, 2012 Link to comment

    Whoa! Its 699 euros plus another 149 euros for the keyboard. That's 850 euros...which is 1117 US dollars. I predicted that it would cost more in Europe than the US, and unfortunately it does. Even at 699 euros with no keyboard, thats 918 USD for the phone and dock minus the keyboard. Pretty damn expensive.

    It would have been WAY more competitive if it would have been 699 euros WITH the dock AND keyboard. As it stands now, its going for the same pricing that the Xoom debuted in Germany, which was pretty damn high at 699 euros.

  • Stefan E. Apr 16, 2012 Link to comment

    Here we go! 699 with 32GB and Tablet station, like i predicted! *epic win sound playing in the background* :D

  • Peter Warren Apr 14, 2012 Link to comment

    Your remarks (as far as they go) seem valid - BUT you are not looking at the whole picture. You assume that a "real" tablet plus a smartphone is better, more valuable, than Asus' phone + PadPhone. It isn't and in fact the opposite is the case, An ExoTablet (which is what the PadPhone is, and I hold the US patents for it) is considerably better than a stand-alone smartphone + a comparable quality of standalone connected tablet for the following reasons which summarise as cheaper and less hassle: 1) No connection electronics to pay for in the tablet part 2) no or reduced monthly connection fee 3) zero time and cost to synchronize administrate and secure "tablet" data 4) no second set of apps to pay install and administrate 5) multiplies smartphone battery time 6) easy swap between smartphone call and tablet phone call (if the thing is built properly so the smartphone slips easily in and out - see our website www.exotablet,com for how it should be done with an adaptor sleeve enabling many smartphones to use a selection of different ExoTablets adapted for different purposes. In fact the one and only downside to the ExoTablet way of making a connected tablet is, that you can't use the smartphone and the tablet simultaneously, Since the Mk I body I have got only has 2 eyeballs and 2 hands, all of which need to use 1 device, that is not a bid deal as using a smartphone and tablet simultaneously is something I only do when I am pretending to be clever than I really am.. On the other hand, if one is a techno-masochist and not an ease of use freak as I am, a stand alone smartphone plus a standalone connected tablet is better as you can suffer more, both financially and aggravationally..

  • Eric McBride Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    True :-D I guess we will see soon though. I mean, this new chip was a big theme at Mobile World Congress, and they threw those specs around very confidently to everyone who asked, including us. I guess we'll see soon though, as we'll reportedly be able to purchase the device around the middle of this year.

  • Stefan E. Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    I have read the 2GB figure often enough, but did not read a single technical discussion about it. Until I see that in action or have some engineer explain how they achieved that with Cortex A9 technology, I tend to not believing it.

    That "review" is just a few pictures with hardly any technical info - nice ones, though. :)

  • Eric McBride Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    AHHHHHHHHHHH...I get it now! Thanks for clearing that up man! I figured it must have been a hardware compatibility issue, but was never sure what exactly.

    In regards to the Huawei tablet, check the Verge hands on review with the tablet here:

    Its packing 2 gigs or RAM, but considering they built the quad core chip themselves, it makes sense that they addressed this issue when building it. All hands on tests have been really positive about the device.

  • Stefan E. Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    That is because current ARM CPUs (even Krait AFAIK) sadly are not capable of adressing more than one GB of RAM. That will finally change with Cortex A15 as it can adress up to 1TB - that should suffice for a few years... ;)

    I am not sure what Huawai was talking about (read that too), still sceptical on that anouncement.

  • Eric McBride Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    On the processor topic, I totally agree :-D...but what I hope is that finally..FOR ONCE that these quad core processors will finally be accompanied by 2 gigs of RAM! Why is it that its always 1 gig? Only Huawei has announced a tablet with 2 gigs so far, and it wont be out for a few weeks longer.

    I still cant understand why though. Surely it would make a big difference in overall performance, which matters a lot more to me than graphic based (ie gaming) performance.

  • Stefan E. Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    At 650, it'd be a steal, at 700, reasonable IMHO. Wait and see, wait and see... oh get your stuff sorted Asus!!! ;)

    Samsung will be utilizing the Cortex A15 as well, but probably combining it with a newer revision of the Mali GPU. This battle won't differ much on the raw processing power front, only the graphics scores might matter. Intel is still struggling to get close to ARM in energy efficiency, and their GPUs are still rubbish, that's why they license PowerVR for Atoms now. :)

  • Eric McBride Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    HAHA! If it comes at 650 Euros including the display, your STILL only getting a dual core phone/dual core kinda tablet in the end :-D Nice try bro :-D But at that price, it would for sure have a better chance in the market.

    I also read that about Tegra 4, but it will also be interesting to see which architecture Samsung pulls out of its hat in 2013, and maybe even Intel!

    And of course we're all good :-D I had a blast debating this with you :)

  • Stefan E. Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    Tegra 4 will have Cortex A15 (and probably 4 of them), which will likely be a little faster core by core than Krait (which is close to but AFAIK not quite a Cortex A15). That kind of performance will be mind blowing on a portable device, I wonder when and what kind of apps can utilize that - probably only a few high profile games and of course emulators (which will munch anything you can throw at them). ;)

    So we are all good and I am happily awaiting your apologetic article if the Padfone comes at €650 including tablet! *g*

  • Eric McBride Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    @Stefan - its all good man! I wasnt offended at all. Actually the opposite, as I love to hear different views on controversial technology!

    The price is Taiwan point you made is also valid. But as you can see here:

    ..prices in Taiwan are normally the same as US prices, as the HTC One X price in Taiwan is almost spot on what it costs in the US without a contract. If thats the case, that means in Europe, it will most likely cost even more.

    And Im all on your side on the processor. I think I wont be impressed that much with Tegra until Tegra4 comes out, as it SEEMS they may have finally got it right with that one :-D

  • Stefan E. Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    Sorry when I sounded a bit grumpy, that's because I am. But not really at you, but at Asus, as they don't provide any information for a product they announced to launch this month. And that makes the rumor mill grind hard - resulting in e.g. your article, which I still find wrong. Still I didn't want to insult you, just voice my thoughts on your arguments. I will keep myself more civil now.

    I am not talking about HTC One X vs One S, I am talking about HTC One X in Tegra 3 and Snapdragon S4 flavors (here in Germany, you will only get the former, the latter comes to the US with e.g. AT&T).

    You can tether a regular phone to a tablet via bluetooth or WiFi. And you can charge it much more efficiently with a much smaller portable charging device. If need be, you can probably charge the phone with the tablet via USB - if you can't find a micro to micro cable, you could still use an adapter. This also goes for file exchange (but you could more easily just swap the micro SD cards or use WiFi). So nothing much won with your proposed device - except that the hatch would add a lot of bulk (just like it does to the padfone station). Sharing calculation power is technically not feasible, except for maybe raytracing or SETI. ;)

    The Padfone price is set now for Taiwan. What does the HTC One S and the Transformer 300 cost there? That would make a better comparison. Still not impressed by the number of cores alone, the performance counts, and core by core the Krait CPU of the S4 is much faster than any Cortex A9 (as in Tegra 3). Also the Tegra 3 still features a single channel memory controller, which is a bottleneck in certain situations which might not even be touched by most benchmarks.

    BTW: I do get the point that I can't use the Padfone as phone and tablet seperately. Having two kids, I really gave that point a lot of thought - it might not matter at all to singles though.

  • Eric McBride Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    LOL! Do that man! And for the money you spent on it, I ll lay a REAL tablet AND phone on your desk, point, and laugh :-D

  • Steven Blum Apr 11, 2012 Link to comment

    Eric, im going to buy a padfone just out of spite, and every day im going to walk to your office table and put the phone into the tablet like magic and then walk away

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