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We’ve all seen the battle of budget phones. With the start of the entire trend of “high-end specs with budget price” type of phones earlier this year. Since then, we’ve seen quite a number of phones which are direct competitors in this said trending market.

That however, didn’t leave ASUS behind, as they’re also jumping into the party with their very own PadFone S. Without further ado, here is the PadFone S, with all the phone-only glory, for now.

DSC_5585 copyIt’s always about the packaging and the PadFone S is no different, with the packaging language exactly the same as those on the ZenFone series. If it’s not broken, why fix it?

DSC_5589 copyWith the beautiful phone presented right in front of me, I was awestruck by its size. More on this later!

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Removing the phone, we can see the complete pack of accessories included with the phone. A micro USB cable, a wall charger with the European plug adapter, a pair of earphones with a single in-line button and microphone, and comes along with a total of 3 sizes of silicon eartips to choose from. Very nice.

[nextpage title=”Build quality and design”]The PadFone S is definitely a budget phone, but did ASUS skip on its build quality to achieve the price?

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Answer is certainly no. They made this phone feel so great in the hands with its 5-inch screen and a soft touch backing. Everything is solid, from its back cover snapping mechanisms to the entire construction of the phone itself.

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Removing the back plate reveals a non-removable battery, pins for the NFC coil and also for the Qi wireless charger inductors, micro SIM slot, and a micro SD slot.

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And here’s something to NOT joke about – the protrusion of the camera means serious business right here. ASUS did us a favour by having a tall metal rim around the camera to prevent scratches on the lens. Seriously, thank you, ASUS.

DSC_5758 copyThe buttons however were placed entirely on the upper right side of the phone, and it actually made my experience with the PadFone S a lot better since I am a left-handed person.

But hey – throughout my usage of the PadFone S… it reminded me of another similarly designed phone that was released a year ago. That particular phone is the LG Nexus 5.

2014-11-13 16.08.56 copyIt’s another one of the phones with a very similar angled edge with buttons placed higher than where most other phones were.

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Again, these design choices might not float your boat, but it definitely did float mine to the sky – especially the 5-inch display which made one-handed usage still very feasible.

[nextpage title=”Performance”]This is the part where everyone is asking me about. What specs does it have? In short, this is a direct competitor with the OnePlus One, with a Qualcomm Snapdrago 801 chipset that has a quad-core 2.3GHz processor alongside an Adreno 330 graphics.

While doing my usual tests, I found out that the PadFone S did perform up to expectations, with its performance on Epic Citadel scoring pretty high at 46.1FPS

Screenshot_2014-12-05-23-40-35Seriously, I’m impressed by its performance. Just check out how well it performed in Vellamo.

Screenshot_2014-12-05-23-22-25This is not a joke – the scores on Vellamo showed us that the PadFone S only came second to the HTC One M8, and the One M8 costs a whackload more than the PadFone S.

[nextpage title=”Battery”]

It’s safe to say that everyone on the workd of mobile these days worry about battery life on a device just like how we worry about its performance these days. The PadFone S however came with only a 2300mAh battery.


I’d say, eh, the battery life performance was average. It survived slightly more than a day at heavy usage with internet tethering to my other phones. But oh wait – 2300mAh battery… again same with the Nexus 5. Coincidence?

[nextpage title=”Camera”]Featuring a very common camera these days on smartphones, the ASUS PadFone S uses the 13MP Sony BSI sensor and a 5-element lens, to which I say that it’s a camera that gets the job done with quite some quality, but obviously isn’t going to be eye-popping like a DSLR.

Ice skating rink in IOI City Mall Putrajaya

With the appropriate amount of light, the photos look great. However in lower light conditions, that is where everything deteriorates.

P_20141204_165946The photos however look okay, but then again most details are lost in full crop. For social media sharing however, this is already more than enough. Don’t forget that the amazing PixelMaster camera technology is here too, capturing low-light photography like a boss at 3MP instead of the usual 2MP on the ZenFone series.

Also, do check out our video sample for 4K recording too!

It’s not the best since it lacks OIS and you’ll probably need a steady hand to capture the video. However the video quality is decent enough again to be used in social media.

One little issue I realized was how overly harsh the exposure compensation were. If you accidentally focused on a bright white spot in the photo, it tones everything down to a very dark level and vice versa. Is it really a big deal? Nope.

Do check out more camera samples on our Flickr account too!

[nextpage title=”Conclusion”]

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Dubbed as the #Superphone by ASUS, the PadFone S certainly has its Kryptonite. Battery was quite a problem for me as I am quite a heavy user when I’m on the go. Camera is decent for smartphones. Performance is amongst the best. Design, build quality, and ergonomics is also the best. Speaker placement was quite a miss, but loud and are actually pretty good, yet strong enough to hold stapler bullets.

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In many ways the PadFone S reminds me of the Nexus 5, especially its size and build. It’s actually a very good thing, since the Nexus 5 design is proven to be superior than many other phones.

The ASUS PadFone S however is even cheaper than the Nexus 5 – priced at only RM899 right out of the box. Truly made my jaws drop. Less than 900 bucks for such a powerful phone! For all I know, there is absolutely no other phones in this market with this price or lower. PadFone S wins. Hands down.

This phone is made with what the OnePlus One was supposed to address – low price with high performance and quality yet with minimal crap. ASUS did a very good job here, with Zen UI performing better than ever. It’s a very simple and useful UI that even my mom likes it.

If I hadn’t got the OnePlus One, I would be throwing my money at ASUS to buy the PadFone S for myself.

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