While ASUS has some way to go before dominating the world with its PadFones, it seems that the company is still very much committed to this eccentric phone-in-tablet idea. What's more interesting is that rather than launching a completely new device, this time we're given a nice spec bump in a near-identical device, meaning existing PadFone Infinity users can keep their tablet docks and swap just the phone. But is it worth the upgrade? Let's take a quick look.
Gallery: New ASUS PadFone Infinity hands-on | 37 Photos
As pointed out earlier, the new PadFone Infinity looks pretty much the same as its original counterpart, with the exception of the new diamond cut on the back plus the new color options. The shiny cut certainly made the phone more eye-catching, and it came with the added benefit of making the device a tad more comfortable to hold. Still, the screen bezel is comparatively wider than many other flagship devices these days, so the phone still isn't as single-hand friendly. Here's hoping the next-gen PadFone -- along with that mysterious PadFone mini -- will address this problem.
Software and Performance
On the software side, ASUS has bumped up its effort with UI design. The result is a cleaner, more eye-pleasing look across the system, especially with the simplified icons and menus. Even some built-in apps like Calendar and Gallery have been given a fresh look. During our brief time with the device we didn't experience any hiccup, and in fact, we think the transition time between phone mode and tablet mode has improved slightly -- just enough for us to notice this. The benchmark scores below should also give you a rough idea on the performance boost between Qualcomm's 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 and 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 SoCs. To put it simply, this appears to be quite a significant jump.
New PadFone Infinity
Original PadFone Infinity
SunSpider 1.0 (ms)*
GFXBench 2.5 Egypt HD Offscreen (fps)
*SunSpider: lower scores are better
One of the biggest problems we had in our PadFone Infinity review was that the 13-megapixel camera produced heavily noise-suppressed images, meaning a great loss in detail. With the new PadFone Infinity, we're pleased to say that the images are now much sharper, making the original camera look comically bad in comparison at 100-percent crop (and bear in mind that our original PadFone Infinity had an up-to-date firmware at the time of writing this article).
The new camera app comes with nine still camera modes in total, with one of them being Hi-Light Mode. This claims to offer 400-percent more light sensitivity, with the trade-off being the pixels are combined together to produce a small 3-megapixel image. Indeed, our own sample shots were quite impressive: despite the smaller size, the images were much sharper and were more accurate. The above image, for instance, shows a huge difference between a Hi-Light image and a normal 13-megapixel shot at the same spot. In many cases, we found that Hi-Light is more ideal than ASUS' HDR implementation.
Last but not least, the new PadFone Infinity can still capture video at up to 1080p, but it can also do slow-motion video at either quarter speed (see third sample video below) or one-eighth of the speed. To be frank, there's still space for improvement here: the clips are quite soft in general, and slow-motion capture isn't as smooth as we had hoped. That said, ASUS is usually quite good at throwing out updates, so it shouldn't take long before these get fixed.
Despite the brief hands-on time with the new PadFone Infinity, we're digging all the new features and performance boost it offers, and there's no doubt that some of these goodies will trickle across ASUS' Android platform. Going back to the question on whether one should move from the original PadFone Infinity to the new one, we'd say go for it, especially if you can't wait for the software update or are longing for a microSD option.
Gallery: The new PadFone Infinity screenshots | 9 Photos