Lack of OTA updates aside, there is a lot to like about the Asus PadFone S. Sure it wouldn’t win any beauty contests but in operation it simply flies. It handles everything I’ve thrown at it with almost no effort and then there is the ability to dock the phone with the 9 inch tablet.
The build quality is nothing special to say the least, its 99% plastic. In fact it even has a faux brushed metal frame surrounding the screen which is actually, you guessed it, plastic. As handsets go these days the PadFone S is very thick at 11mm its downright chunky and compared to all of the flagship phones of 2015 such as the HTC M8, Galaxy S6, Edge and Note 5, the Xiami Mi Note Pro, Nexus 6p even the Moto G 2015 all, whilst not in specs, wipe the floor with the PadFone S in terms of aesthetics. It wouldn’t be entirely fair to call the handset ugly, but it is reminiscent of lesser known manufacturers efforts at copying the big boys. Cheap materials posing as premium ones is a sure sign of that.
Enough of the negative, spec wise with the Padfone S we are slightly better off than the Nexus 5 of 2014 except for the software of course. A Snapdragon 801 at 2.23gHz and 2gb of ram keep things running well even when switching between intensive games and multiple other large apps. The PadFone S still languishes on 5.0 lollipop sadly and even the upgrade from the 4.4.2 KitKat it came with required 2 manual updates. There are no OTA updates at all, updating was easy but the method does little to inspire confidence except the possibility that any updates maybe faster to distribute. 6.0 marshmallow has been confirmed by Asus for the PadFone S, its just a case of when or if the company will follow through. I for one am waiting with bated breath.
Lollipop has brought the device forward leaps and bounds, graphically it looks much better and apart from a slight slowdown in performance where the Micro SDHC is concerned, android is super smooth and fast regardless of what apps are running. Battery life has changed very little from when Kitkat was installed, in fact, by use of the new Ultra Saving Mode, standby uses next to no power whatsoever. I only wish Asus had changed the onscreen buttons for the Triangle, circle, square configuration.
The rear camera is one area that shines on the PadFone S, a 13megapixel Sony sensor with ‘PixelMaster’ low-light technology. Capable of 4k video recording and having many more options than I have seen on a lot of handsets up and down the ranges.