Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs Asus Padfone 2

Vs Paul Briden 15:12, 15 Oct 2012

Asus will soon launch the Padfone 2. We see how it compares to its nearest competitor, Samsung's Galaxy Note 2 'phablet'

We take a look at whether the Asus Padfone 2 or Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 is better at bridging the tablet-smartphone gap

Form

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - 151.1x80.5x9.4mm, 183g

Asus Padfone 2 - 137.9x68.9x9mm, 135g (dock specs TBA)

Both devices in this comparison represent the second generation of distinctive and innovative ideas from their respective manufacturers.

Samsung pioneered the ‘phablet’ form factor with the Galaxy Note , a large scale smartphone with stylus input.

Meanwhile Asus built on its successes with the Transformer tablets, which became laptops with the addition of a dock, by instead using a phone as the base device which could then dock with a tablet and then a keyboard. It also supported stylus input and allowed calls to be taken via a Bluetooth handset built into the pen.

So, now we have the successor devices for each model.

With the original Galaxy Note there were plenty of criticisms levelled at its large size, which for some users was simply too cumbersome for smartphone use.

It seems odd then that Samsung has actually made the Galaxy Note 2 bigger than its predecessor. Instead of the original Note’s 5.3-inch display, we now have a 5.55-inch touch panel.

While it’s true that the original Note was more difficult to handle than other models it was certainly easier than the new Note 2, which in our review we found troublesome for even those with larger hands and it simply won’t accommodate one-handed use at all.

Things aren’t helped by the build and materials. As with other recent members of Samsung’s Galaxy range, the use of slippery and tacky-feeling plastics doesn’t lend the handset a premium quality feel, which is disappointing to say the least.

But it also means that combined with the large proportions it’s even more difficult to handle than it could’ve been with the addition of rubberised and/or textured grip panels.

The materials used are lacklustre, but the actual build itself is to a decent standard. There’s no give in the panels or creaking when you hold the handset, everything is fitted very well and has a good weight to it. The plastics really are the only letdown.

Handling aside, whether you’re comfortable with holding such a large phone to your ear is also an issue to be aware of. We found it’s possible to get used to it but if you don’t want to stand out it may not be for you, unless you’re determined to use a hands-free kit all the time.

Aesthetically everything looks pretty swish too, as we mentioned, it’s following the Galaxy S3’s signature style and we’re sure most would agree that the curvy, silver-trimmed smartphone has a good-looking design.

The Padfone 2 is three devices in one. To start with you’ve got the smartphone component, which is also where all the hardware lives.

In terms of visual design it’s very similar to the original 4.3-inch Padfone handset, although it’s now larger to accommodate a bigger 4.7-inch display.

While the proportions have been enlarged, the bigger touchscreen means there’s a smaller section of bodywork above it, at the top of the handset – it’s a small tweak but makes the device look noticeably better than its predecessor.

The phone has a wedge-shaped profile, tapering to a thin, chiselled edge at the bottom. Overall it’s more than a little iPhone-like but there are enough differences that it has a character of its own.

Not much else is known about the Padfone 2's build at time of writing, but if it’s anything like its predecessor it’ll have Asus’ typical premium build quality and materials.

The tablet dock will feature a 10.1-inch display and has been re-designed slightly – the slot for the phone handset is now vertical instead of horizontal and doesn’t have a plastic flap over the compartment. You’ll simply drop the phone straight in.

The tablet is also said to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor, making it easier to use.

The last component is the keyboard dock which is similar to Asus’ Transformer tablet docks, although purpose built for the Padfone 2. As the original Padfone supported stylus input for the tablet and laptop mode, we expect the same here too.

We have to say that in terms of build quality, materials and usability, as well as the variety of things you can do with the device, the Padfone 2 beats Samsung’s comparatively limited handset.

Winner – Asus Padfone 2

Storage

The recent Padfone 2 leaks haven’t outed the internal storage capability although we do know it’ll take MicroSD cards up to 32GB. However, it seems likely it’ll follow its predecessor in having options for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants for onboard space.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has the same setup with all three storage options and MicroSD up to 32GB. It also supports high-capacity MicroSD formats for cards up to 64GB.

We’re calling this one a draw.

Winner - Draw

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