To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Asus Padfone Mini review

Asus Padfone Mini

HANDS ON REVIEW: Shrinking its unique smartphone/tablet pair to a much more portable 4in/7in duo, the Asus Padfone Mini could be equally portable whether you want a big screen or something to slip in your pocket

Asus announced the shrunken Padfone Mini smartphone/tablet hybrid late last year, but it has only just appeared in Europe for the first time to coincide with Mobile World Congress. We got the chance to try one out this morning at the company’s booth, to bring you some first impressions.

Asus Padfone Mini

The smartphone part of the pair is essentially identical to Asus’ Zenfone 4 stand-alone smartphone, with the addition of a dedicated docking port in the bottom of the handset. That means you won’t be able to buy a Zenfone 4 first, then upgrade to a Padfone Mini tablet later – you’ll have to buy both upfront.

The handset is built from plastic, but doesn’t bend or flex and fits comfortably in the hand. The rear cover is available in a range of metallic colours, which match the tablet. Depending on your choice, the device will ship with a matching wallpaper and UI colour scheme too.

On the front, the 4in display has a modest 800×480 resolution, but is the same size as an iPhone 5 and is well-suited to anyone that prefers a more compact smartphone to the 5in-plus models that have quickly become the norm for Android. It’s bright and colourful, and can be tweaked to your personal preference using Asus’ fantastic Splendid colour temperature app, but isn’t particularly sharp.

Asus Padfone Mini

With a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, it certainly isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s more than capable of running Android smoothly. Out of the box the Padfone Mini will launch with Android 4.3, but an update to Android 4.4 KitKat is apparently in the works.

Asus usually takes a delicate approach to customisation and that hasn’t changed here, with a few reskinned icons and a rearranged Quick Settings menu forming the basis of its Zen UI. The only major change is on the lock screen, which puts your most important upcoming appointments directly in view along with several app shortcuts and a weather widget. It’s gorgeously minimal and has very little impact on performance, unlike other custom skins.

Asus Padfone Mini

It looks even better on the 7in tablet once you slide the handset inside its docking cradle. The phone screen disables automatically and the 1,280×800 tablet lights up as soon as both devices are connected, letting you carry on where you left off on the phone but on a bigger screen. The higher resolution is definitely appreciated, although the overall pixel density actually drops compared to the handset so images and text aren’t any more clearly defined.

As Asus has revised the docking mechanism since introducing the original Padfone to leave the rear of the smartphone unobscured, you can use the its 8-megapixel rear camera when it is docked in the tablet. It has a backside illuminated sensor, but no LED flash for low-light shooting. There’s also a 2-megapixel front webcam for making video calls or taking low-resolution selfies.

Asus Padfone Mini

With a combined weight of 376g the Padfone Mini is still impressively light and portable when paired. Naturally it’s thicker than a stand-alone tablet, but not significantly so, so you could slip it into a suit jacket to take on the move. The tablet adds an additional 2,200mAh of battery reserves, which can top-up the phone if it’s running low or split power drain equally across the two devices.

Although it doesn’t have the flagship performance or specification of the Padfone Infinity, the Padfone Mini definitely has appeal. The compact smartphone easily slips in a pocket, but just as quickly becomes a tablet with extra battery reserves. We already know it’s coming to the UK in the coming months, but unfortunately we’re still no wiser about a price. If Asus can keep it low enough, it could be a feasible alternative to a Moto G and budget tablet combination.