The ASUS PadFone X mini, which puts a smartphone and tablet into one body, is finally coming to the U.S. Available from Oct. 24 for $200 on AT&T's prepaid GoPhone lines with no annual contract, the hybrid handset is powered by an Intel Atom processor and Intel LTE modem.
We had a chance to try out and run a suite of tests on a PadFone X mini before its public availability, and, while intrigued by the hybrid smartphone-tablet concept, we were disappointed with its performance.
(NOTE: At the 35-second mark in the video above, it's inaccurately said that the PadFone X mini costs $200 a month. It costs $200 one-time.)
Having two devices in one doesn't have to feel and weigh like two devices slapped together, especially since one of these is a smartphone that you expect to carry everywhere you go. But the PadFone X mini, when docked in the tablet configuration, is a chunky beast that weighs 15.85 ounces -- just shy of a pound.
The smartphone on its own is called the PadFone. Think of the docking station as an external display for the phone. When slid into the tablet, the phone switches displays, gets charged by the station's onboard 2,200-mAh battery and becomes the brain of the tablet. On its own, the PadFone's 2,060-mAh removable battery is smaller than the power pack on Samsung's Galaxy S5 (2,800-mAh).
The 4.5-inch PadFone's display is a relatively low 854 x 480, while the 7-inch tablet has a 1280 x 800 panel. I didn't like how reflective and smudge-prone the tablet's display was, and its measurement of 260 nits on our light meter is far below the tablet category average (327 nits). The PadFone itself measured 307 nits, dimmer than the average smartphone (367 nits).
Compared to the leading flagship phones in the market today, the 1.6-GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560-powered PadFone X mini delivered disappointing results in early benchmarks. Notching just 1,046 on Geekbench 3, the PadFone trails the iPhone 6 (2,931), the Samsung Galaxy S5 (2,974) and the HTC One M8 (2,480). It also fell behind the average smartphone (2,063). In a more similar price range, the Motorola Moto G ($180 unlocked) scored slightly higher than the PadFone at 1,153.
Its graphics performance was also underwhelming when compared to the same devices. With a 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited score of 5,936, the PadFone X mini lost to the average smartphone (13,784), the iPhone 6 (16,558), the Galaxy S5 (18,285) and the One M8 (20,965). It did better than the Moto G (4,717).
While the comparisons above were made mostly with more premium devices such as the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5, it's important to note that those products cost upwards of $500 without a contract. They're also individual standalone smartphones that don't offer the dual-function form. However, it is disappointing that the PadFone X mini's scores fell below our category averages, which are accumulated across all the products we've tested.
In the end, the true appeal of the PadFone X mini is that you get two devices for the price of one. ASUS' execution leaves much to be desired, especially in form and performance, but it's definitely an intriguing solution at a compelling price point.