The Asus PadFone Infinity delivers on specs, doesn't come cheap (hands-on)

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/ Updated: 26 February 2013, 9:21 pm AEDT

BARCELONA, Spain--While "PadFone" wouldn't be the first name to spring to mind while attempting to come up with a marketable brand, the name has apparently worked for Asus. The company announced today that it would continue its PadFone line with the unveiling of the PadFone Infinity. It's a 5-inch LTE smartphone that becomes a 10.1-inch tablet when docked into the included PadFone Infinity Station. The whole package comes out this April for 999 euros.

The phone
Thanks mostly to its metal edges, the phone piece looks and feels not too dissimilar from an iPhone 5, but wider and a bit longer. It has a durable metal encasing and felt light in my hands. The buttons were raised just enough to deliver a satisfying click when pushed.

If you're at all familiar with with Asus' Transformer line, then you won't be surprised by the tablet piece's form factor. It's about the same size as the Transformer Infinity and feels about as light; however, its body is of plastic as opposed to the cold, smooth metal of the phone. The phone slides smoothly into the back of the tablet and delivers a satisfying "shunk" when connected.

The Pad or tablet or slate or thing the phone plugs into of the PadFone Infinity. Sarah Tew/CNET

Once past the lock screen, the tablet handled incredibly fast. I was able to smoothly and effortlessly zip through apps screens, widgets, and menus at a breakneck pace. Asus tablets usually deliver particularly responsive screens, but this one seemed to respond to my finger swipes quicker than any Android tablet in recent memory. With the phone separated from its host body, the navigation was just as fast.

The PadFone ships with Android 4.2 and a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor with an Adreno 320 GPU. The phone features an aluminium-based unibody design and the Super IPS 5-inch screen packs in 1,920x1,080 worth of pixels, delivering a 441 ppi.

The phone and tablet come together not unlike Voltron to form the PadFone Infinity. The universe will never be the same! Sarah Tew/CNET

On the back sits a LED flash-supported 13-megapixel camera featuring an f/2.0 aperture and according to Asus delivers lagless shutter speeds. There's also a dedicated image sensor that enhances photos captured in low light.

The brushed metal is smooth to the touch. Sarah Tew/CNET

Asus also claims the camera can capture up to 100 sequential photos at 8 frames per second, while simultaneously recording 1080p HD video. A feature that could possibly eliminate the video or photo dilemma at crucial moments; however, the implementation is currently problematic, as the video recorded while taking still shots is noticeably choppy. There's also a front-facing 2-megapixel camera.

The Pad
The PadFone Station is simply a shell for the phone and has zero functionality unless the two are connected. It houses a 10.1-inch screen with 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution. Other features include a 1-megapixel front-facing camera, Micro-USB 2.0 port, an ambient light sensor, and an e-compass.

That moment, right before worlds collide. Sarah Tew/CNET
GSM, WCDMA, and 100Mbps-capable LTE antennas are also included along with a non-removable 5,000mAh lithium polymer battery, which, according to Asus, fuels up to 40 hours of 3G talk time when the PadFone is docked.

First thoughts
While the PadFone impresses with its high-end specs, with a price of 999 euros (this includes the phone and tablet), you'll definitely be paying for it. For those looking for more synergy between their devices, however, that may may be a price they're willing to pay. So, whether the PadFone ultimately provides some actual useful fucntionality or if it's simply overpriced gimmick tech remains to be seen.

Asus says to expect the PadFone in April in the U.K. No U.S. release is currently planned.

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Asus PadFone Infinity

Part Number: CNETPadfone Infinity
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