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Review: Asus PadFone X for AT&T

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  4  

Menus

The PadFone X runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat with a moderate user interface skin from Asus. The basic Android behaviors are unchanged. The lock screen includes several handy shortcuts, including the camera, email, and messaging apps. The device can be protected by a password, pattern, or PIN code. You can open the camera without being bothered by these security measures, but if you try to do anything else you'll need punch in the right combo.

The PadFone X has three active home screen panels out of the box, which can be customized and altered however you might wish. The main menu is the usual grid of apps. I like that it makes it easy to sort between all, downloaded, and frequently-used apps. The app menu also has a link to the App Store and tools that allow you to hide apps from view. The settings menu is standard Android, though with an Asus color palette.

The one unique thing about the user interface is perhaps the notification shade. It functions the same, but Asus made it look all sorts of pretty with nice colors, fonts, and icons. Truly, it looks nicer than most other notification shades.

Menus  

When dropped into the Station, the PadFone's home screen switches from portrait to landscape orientation, but otherwise keeps the apps, widgets, and other settings intact. For whatever reason, the lock screen widgets vanish when the PadFone is used in the Station. Otherwise, everything else is the same — only sideways.

The PadFone X is the first smartphone I've seen not run smoothly with a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor under the hood. Whatever the reason - be it Asus' code, or the overhead required to handle the Station - the PadFone often stutters and feels bogged down. I noticed plenty of lag all over place, with slow apps, slow multitasking, and crashes both when docked and when not docked. (Asus did tell us the review units are pre-production, so perhaps the bugs have since been worked out.)

The bulk of apps work equally well when used on the handset or on the tablet. There was some crashiness at times when pulling the handset from the tablet, and not all apps were perfect in landscape mode, but Asus did as well as it could to adjust the phone apps for the tablet's screen.

Menus in Station  

Call and Contacts

The PadFone X doesn't stray from the stock communications tools at all. The phone app has its own look thanks to Asus's UX, but the underlying code and functionality are identical to most other Android handsets. It's easy to set favorites, add and manage separate contact databases, and call those people with a single press.

Calls  

The contact application is the stock app with the blue-on-white appearance that Google has favored for several years. The PadFone includes the usual battery of widgets for accessing your besties from the home screen. You can make calls whether or not the PadFone is docked in the Station.

Contacts  

Messaging

Only Google's messaging apps are installed on the PadFone. It includes the Gmail and email apps, the old messaging and newer Google Hangouts apps, and Google+. The older messaging app is the default for SMS out of the box, but you can switch it up to the Hangouts app if you want. Oddly, AT&T hasn't added any of its own messaging apps to the PadFone X.

It is nice to have the Station available for typing emails on the larger display, but stick to the handset only — since it supports Swype — for short messaging.

Messages  

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