15 May 2013
ORLANDO: BlackBerry's Q5 handset brings BlackBerry 10 to the mid-range smartphone market. The firm said that this will enable it to better target emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and Latin America, where BBM is already popular.
However, given widespread criticism of the high SIM-free pricing of the existing Z10 and Q10 models, the Q5 may also help BlackBerry to boost sales in territories such as the UK.
In specifications, the Q5 is not that dissimilar to the Q10, but BlackBerry has obviously had to make some trade-offs to deliver a lower-cost device.
It has the same dual-core processor for example, but is clocked at a lower speed of 1.2GHz rather than 1.5Ghz on the Q10. It has the same 2GB of memory, but flash storage has been reduced from 16GB to 8GB, and it carries a 5MP rear-facing camera rather than 8MP.
The Q5 also has a standard LCD technology display rather than the Amoled of the Q10, but is the same 3.1in size and the same 720x720 resolution. It doesn't have quite the same brilliance as the screen of one of the premium models, but it is also difficult to find fault with it.
At 120g, the Q5 is lighter than its higher-end siblings, possibly because of the greater use of plastic in its construction, which is another cost-saving measure. It also seems chunkier, but this is deceptive as the actual dimensions (120x66x10.8mm) are almost identical to those of the Q10.
However, this doesn't mean that the Q5 feels cheap or fragile, merely not as polished as the Q10 and Z10. The finish is more matt rather than the glossy black of the high-end models, for example.
The Qwerty keyboard of the Q5 is different from that of the Q10, still with sculpted keys for easy typing, but flatter and with more rounded corners.
One major difference is that the Q5 has a built-in 2,180mAh battery – a first for a BlackBerry smartphone, according to the firm. This has maintenance and serviceability implications for enterprise buyers, but this type of customer is more likely to opt for the Z10 or Q10 in any case.
On the software side, the Q5 runs BlackBerry 10.1, the same software as the Q10, so there is nothing stopping it from being used in an enterprise setting alongside the other BlackBerry devices.
BlackBerry hasn't crippled the device on the connectivity side, with the Q5 supporting LTE or HSPA+ networks, plus 802.11 b/g/n WiFi. However, there is no HDMI display output, as with BlackBerry's other BlackBerry 10 models.
A flap on the side of the case covers the SIM card slot and a microSD card slot for expanding on the built-in storage. Another novelty is that the device is available in a choice of four colours: black, red, the ever-popular white and pink.
On first impressions, the BlackBerry Q5 seems pretty good for a device that has been built to keep costs down. While it may not sway those hankering after a Samsung Galaxy S4, for those who were interested in a BlackBerry 10 device but put off by the premium price of the Q10 and Z10, it is definitely worth taking a look at.
18 Apr 2013
Following on from Samsung's highly popular Galaxy S3 handset, Samsung clearly has big hopes for the S4, having predicted a massive boom in sales and profits come its release in its last quarterly sales forecast. The S4 is doubly interesting as it marks the first serious attempt by Samsung to market one of its Android smartphones to business customers.
Design and build
Samsung has openly said that the S4 is designed to look a lot like its predecessor the Galaxy S3. It features the same rounded, pebble looking polycarbonate case and metal sides as the S3 and measures in at an equivalent 137x70x7.9mm. The Galaxy S3 by comparison measures in at a slightly fatter 137x71x8.6mm.
The only immediately noticeable difference on the black version we tried in Samsung's demo room is that the S4 features a patterned, rather than matte finish. However the pattern is only aesthetic and the S4's finish is still smooth meaning that in hand it feels all but identical to the S3.
This fact is aided by the fact that the two phones are pretty much identical in weight, with the S4 weighing 130g and the S3 133g.
For us this is a good thing as it means the S4 features the same ergonomic design as the S3, making it feel far more comfortable and less unwieldy than most similarly sized devices.
However, the use of polycarbonate did leave us concerned about the S4's build quality. In the past Samsung's Galaxy devices, while looking nice, have proven far more delicate than competing metal HTC and Apple devices, being more susceptible to accidental damage.
Interestingly, despite being slightly smaller than the S3, the S4 actually features a larger display. The S4 packs a 5in full HD super Amoled 1920x1080 display, 441ppi display, that during our opening hands-on tests put the S3's 4.7in, 800x400 resolution display to shame.
Testing the S4 head to head with our S3 we found the new Galaxy's display was brighter, crisper and features astoundingly good colour balance levels. Though we didn't get a chance to test the S4 in more adverse lighting conditions our opening impressions of it are very positive and we're thinking its screen may prove a key selling point.
The S4 runs on the latest Google Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system overlaid with Samsung's own Touchwiz user interface. Like previous Touchwiz versions we weren't immediately enamoured with the S4's UI, with many of the touches at first looking either pointless or detrimental to the Android experience.
Key offenders include the host of custom widgets Samsung's loaded onto the S4 and needless apps and stores like the Samsung Hub, which generally don't offer better services than their inbuilt Google equivalents.
That said we did notice a number of useful features that more than made up for the inclusion of these needless apps and widgets during our time with the device. Key among these were the S4's Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View and Eye Scroll services.
Smart Pause is a feature designed to automatically pause videos playing on the screen when the user looks away from the device.
Eye Scroll is a similar feature designed to let the S4 know when its user has finished reading a page and automatically scroll down to the next section of text. Air Gesture lets users navigate the device's menus without touching the S4's display, via swipe gestures.
Testing the features during our hands-on time, we found that in general they were fairly responsive and worked hassle-free once we got the hang of using them.
Our only qualm with the features was that on a few occasions the S4's Air Gesture and Eye Scroll features could take a few seconds to activate and could very occasionally not recognise our commands. However a Samsung spokesperson on hand said that these issues are the result of bugs on the pre-release software used on the demo handsets on show and have been fixed on the production models.
Samsung's Knox security software was also notably absent on the demo unit we were using. Knox is a nifty feature designed to offer business S4 users a similar sandboxing service to BlackBerry Balance, letting them set up separate work and home areas on the phone.
The Korean firm has confirmed Knox will run on the S4, but has remained hazy on the details of when, leaving it ambiguous whether the service will be included on the first run of handsets set for release on 27 April.
Sadly the UK isn't going to get the octa-core version of the Galaxy S4, instead receiving the more modest quad-core model. While this will be disappointing to spec connoisseurs performance-wise we didn't have any issue with the quad-core demo unit we used.
Packing a sizable 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, while we didn't get a chance to really put the phone through its paces or properly benchmark it, we found the S4 is very fast.
Running on an overloaded press Wi-Fi, we found the S4 was very slick, loading multiple web pages and streaming multiple videos. Being honest, we never once found the S4 to be lacking power-wise during our opening tests.
The S4 comes loaded with a 13MP rear camera and 2MP front camera. Testing the rear camera we were fairly impressed how well it performed in the brightly lit showroom conditions.
Even with bright lights surrounding us, photos taken on the S4 didn't come out over-exposed and didn't suffer from the noise issues we've seen on certain other 13MP camera phones.
Sadly though we didn't get the chance to test the camera in low light, or try some of its custom camera modes, like dual shot - a nifty option that lets you take simultaneous shots with the front and rear cameras to superimpose yourself in the photo. (Picture on right taken with Galaxy S4)
Chances of success
Overall our impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S4 are positive. While the device doesn't have the wow factor of the HTC One and Nokia Lumia 920, which brought much more in your face innovations to the table, the score of software innovations made by Samsung more than make up for the S4's understated redesign.
Check back with V3 later for a full review of the Samsung Galaxy S4.
04 Apr 2013
Facebook Home was launched by Mark Zuckerberg late on Thursday. Designed to put people before apps the service looks to put Facebook at the forefront of the Android operating system's UI.
V3 managed to get a quick hands on with the device at the London launch event on a Samsung Galaxy S3.
Home effectively works by pushing users Facebook news and updates to the forefront of the Android UI and is designed to let users swipe through news feed stories and updates, akin to the BlinkFeed news feature on the HTC One.
Each swipeable screen updates the background image, pulling either the contacts Facebook profile image or a picture from the image used in the group page post.
The post's text is displayed on the top of the UI while the number of likes is displayed on the bottom right. This means that the UI is very similar to that seen on the current Facebook Android app, meaning existing Facebook users will feel right at home.
Facebook Home also adds a number of custom gesture inputs to Android. These are things like letting you double tap the screen to 'like' the post.
On the S3 we found the gesture inputs were fairly responsive and flipping between screens and liking posts was a seamless chug-free experience, indicating Home won't suffer the same optimisation issues as other custom skins, like Samsung's Touchwiz and HTC's Sense.
Home also features a tracking algorithm that monitors your behaviour on the phone. It does this by tracking which posts you like and how quickly you flip past them, using the data to learn which messages it should push to the forefront of the home screen.
Unfortunately the demo unit we tried had a test account running on it so we didn't get to see how well it worked.
Chat Heads is another key change to the Facebook UI. Chat Heads is designed to further integrate Facebook messenger into the operating system. It does this by displaying any active Facebook contacts and the messages they send to you as little circular icons showing their profile picture at the top of the screen.
The icons, when clicked, automatically opens a chat dialogue with the contact. Unwanted messages can be removed by pulling down on the bottom of the UI.
Chat Heads will reportedly continue to work even when other apps are open. Our one concern with this is that it may make the service fairly power hungry and eat up smartphones battery and memory, potentially causing some performance issues - though to be fair we didn't notice any on the demo unit we were using.
Another key concern with the chat feature at the moment is that it's unclear what security measures the service will boast and whether messages stored on the device will be encrypted as they are on Apple iMessenger.
Nevertheless, we're fairly interested in Facebook Home. The feature is a clear move by Facebook to expand its advertising potential and could potentially be the first stage in a wider expansion by the US firm.
Facebook Home is set to launch on 12 April on the HTC First in the US and be made available to download on key devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, Note 2, HTC One X+ and the forthcoming Galaxy S4 and HTC One.
This is just for the US market at present with no set word on UK availability beyond saying in the "coming weeks".
Check back then for our full review.
20 Mar 2013
We posted our HTC One review over a week ago, going through the ins and outs of the handset's inner workings and software features, but felt that its camera deserved a longer look.
The HTC's Ultrapixel camera immediately proved to be one of its most interesting features, and a week on we'd still say this is the case.
Ultrapixel is a technology that HTC claims can capture better quality images by using a smaller number of physically larger pixels in its Cmos image sensor than regular smartphone cameras.
HTC claims this means that the One's 4MP rear camera can capture up to three times more light than most competing smartphone cameras, delivering more vivid, true-to-life images.
The technology also reportedly lets the camera shoot photos, apply filters and share images faster, as the bigger pixels reduce the amount of data the smartphone needs to capture and process when shooting.
After spending a week with the device we have to say there is some merit to HTC's claim. The One was undoubtedly accomplished at taking photos in regular light.
Images taken in well-lit conditions all had decent colour balance and brightness levels and looked fairly crisp.
Taken on the HTC One
That said, when run head to head with top-end camera phones like the Nokia Lumia 920, photos taken on the One do look slightly fuzzy and less vibrant.
We're guessing this is because while the pixels are bigger, there still aren't as many of them, meaning that image quality on blown up photos is still reduced.
Using the camera around the office and at various press meet-and-greets over the week, we found this issue to be a slight annoyance, especially when we tried to use the One's camera for work purposes.
For example, midway through our week-long run, we found ourselves needing to upload some photos taken at a press event to our blog, Facebook page and Twitter account.
On all three of these platforms, we found that the images still had great brightness and colour levels, the blown-up photos universally looked slightly grainy, so much so that we ended up ditching some.
We also found that despite HTC's claims, the One still isn't that great at taking photos in more adverse lighting conditions.
We took the One on a spin around London, shooting our journey home from the office. During our trip the One struggled when faced with dark conditions or multiple light sources.
Taken on the HTC One
In low light, photos looked slightly washed out and at times could be very noisy and slightly pixelated. Photos taken with multiple light sources could at times suffer from colour bleed.
One saving grace for those still wishing to use the camera close up in low light, at a showroom floor or dimly lit party for example, is the One's powerful LED flash.
We used the One at a press drinks event in a subterranean bar and found that with flash turned on, the camera was able to take better photos.
Close up shots taken on the One still looked crisp and came out with decent balance levels. However, this only works for close-up shots and won't aid users looking to snap distant objects in low light.
Taken on the HTC One
Moving on to the phone's camera software features, over the week we found ourselves increasingly using the One's Zoe features.
Zoe is custom camera software that offers users several extra features, including dual-path encoding, such as filming video and doing shutter burst at the same time.
When switched on, Zoe makes the camera automatically shoot burst photos every three seconds when users are recording video on the One. Testing the One's camera we increasingly fell in love with Zoe.
When sitting at a press event we found video taken on the One was of adequate quality for use on the website - which currently uses relatively low resolution footage on all its video features.
This was thanks to a combination of the the One's dedicated image processor, 2,000Hz image and Zoe software.
The processor and stabiliser ensured footage captured on the One was significantly steadier than that shot on most other smartphone cameras, while Zoe ensured that we had a still image ready for our article thumbnail at the end of the video.
Summing up our week with the One and its camera, we have to say we're still enamoured with the device, but not because of its photographic prowess
Images taken on the One are better than those taken on most competing smartphones, but not as good as HTC claims.
This means that while we got by using the One over the week, we really wouldn't want it to be the only camera we have on hand when covering a product launch or keynote address.
Fujitsu Laboratories has touted the latest innovation to come from its labs - the ability to take your pulse via your smartphone, tablet or laptop, using nothing more than its built-in camera.
The firm said it takes just five seconds to carry out the tests and works by measuring the colour of a person's face to detect the flow of blood.
It said that it does this by measuring a characteristic in haemoglobin in blood that can absorb green light which the application uses to take it readings. First it shoots a video of the person's face and calculating the values for red, green and blue colour components of different areas of the face for each frame.
Then it removes the irrelevant data and extracts the waveform of the green colour spectrum. The peaks in this data form the pulse reading.
The firm said it believes such a development could have a wide-range of uses, from the obvious healthcare benefits, to use for security controls by using the pulse measurement to identify ill people or those acting suspiciously.
While the idea behind it is impressive and underlines the value of research and development, the implications of your pulse being measured through devices as everyday as smartphones and tablets, and the security controls it could be used for, are unnerving.
No doubt privacy advocates will be considering the wider societal implications of such a development with interest. The issue of being able to take medical tests without needing to gain patient consent is certainly problematic - even more so if the pulse information was used in something like a lie detector test.
More details on the technology will be presented at the 2013 General Conference of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers, on 19 March, in Japan.
15 Mar 2013
Samsung and Apple have been battling for control of the top-end smartphone market since the Korean firm released its first Galaxy phone nearly half a decade ago.
In the past, while Samsung has managed to beat Apple in overall smartphone sales by swamping the market with a horde of affordable handsets, its top-end Galaxy S2 and S3 devices have always played second fiddle to the iPhone.
Yet, the gap in sales between Samsung and Apple has gradually been narrowing with each passing year. Analysts have since cautiously predicted that the Galaxy S4 may be the first Android phone to beat the next iPhone in global sales.
However this victory will hinge on Samsung's ability to beat the Apple iPhone in both technical specifications and software innovations. Here we take a look at the crucial specs and which firm has the most impressive device.
Measurements and weight
Samsung Galaxy S4: 137x70x7.9 mm, 130g
Apple iPhone 5: 124x59x7.6 mm, 112g
It's undeniable the Apple iPhone is lighter and more small-hand friendly than the Samsung Galaxy S4, however it achieves this at the expense of screen size.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 5in full HD super Amoled 1920x1080 display, 441 ppi
Apple iPhone 5: 4in 1136x640 Retina display, 326 ppi
When it was released last year the iPhone 5's Retina Display was the best ever seen on a smartphone. However since then competitors like HTC, Sony and now Samsung have caught up creating even higher pixels-per-inch displays.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 1.6 GHz Octa-Core Processor or quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor in US, Canada and Sweden
Apple iPhone 5: A6 dual-core
Apple has consistently claimed there's no need for quad-core processors in a smartphone as the device's speed is largely dependent on how well optimised the software is for the components.
This claim has proved true in the past and for that reason we think the eight-core processor in the Galaxy S4 could be overkill.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 2,600 mAh
Apple iPhone 5: 1,440 mAh
The Galaxy S4's battery is significantly bigger than the iPhone 5's. However powering the much larger display it's still up in the air whether the increase capacity will result in a longer battery life.
Samsung Galaxy S4: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Apple iPhone 5: iOS 6
Picking which operating system is better is largely down to the individual user's personal preference.
However it's worth noting the S4 does feature several innovative camera and interactive features the iPhone does not. These include Air Gesture and View features that let users interact with the device using Minority Report style gestures.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 13MP rear, 2MP front
Apple iPhone 5: 8MP rear, 1.2MP front
The Samsung Galaxy S4 on paper has a better megapixel count, though as demonstrated by the HTC One, pixel count is not indicative of photographic quality.
Samsung Galaxy S4: 16/32/64GB user memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)
Apple iPhone 5: 16/32/64GB internal
Both devices are available with multiple storage options. If you really want to store a lot of media, Samsung is offering up its new HomeSync product, which offers users 1TB of storage via a streaming server. However, with the advent of low-cost cloud storage services like iCloud, Google Drive and DropBox it's unlikely you'll ever be short of space with either smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy S4: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA+/4G LTE Cat 3; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 4
Apple iPhone 5: GSM/EDGE/HSPA+/HSDPA/LTE 4G; 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, 802.11n on 2.4GHz and 5GHz; Bluetooth 4; GPS
The upload and download of either device will depend on the network carrier and location of the user.
With the iPhone 5 midway through its lifecycle, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is on paper far more powerful.
However, specs aren't always 100 percent accurate meaning it's all but impossible to know which is better till we've had more hands-on time with the Galaxy S4.
Additionally, while the iPhone 5 is one of the S4's biggest current competitors, its real enemy, the next iPhone is yet to appear.
Check back with V3 later for a full review of the Samsung Galaxy S4.
01 Mar 2013
BARCELONA: Nokia unveiled the Lumia 720 alongside its lower-priced Lumia 520 sibling at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Monday, listing the device as a mid-tier smartphone specially engineered for non-LTE markets.
The 720 is designed to offer business users several of the screen, camera and location services originally seen on the Finnish phone maker's flagship Lumia 920 at a more affordable €249 price.
In fact, viewed from a distance the 720 and 920 are almost indistinguishable. The two devices are both very similar in size with the 720 measuring at 128x68x9mm and the 920 a slightly larger 130x71x10.7mm.
From afar, the only clear design difference between the two is that the 720 doesn't feature a metal lining around its camera.
This is also a subtle clue that the 720 doesn't feature the same Pureview camera technology as the 920. Another consequence of this is that the 720 is far lighter than the 185g 920, weighing a more modest 128g. In hand this means the 720 is very comfortable.
In terms of build quality, while we didn't get a chance to do any drop tests on the showroom floor, like all Nokia devices, the 720 did feel solid.
The Lumia 720 comes loaded with a 4.3in 217 ppi pixel density 480x800 capacitive touchscreen, complete with Nokia's own ClearBlack display technology.
On paper that means the 720 has the same screen performance specs as its £400 sibling, the Lumia 820. While we weren't too impressed with the specs on the 820, considering the 720's more modest price, we're surprised Nokia hasn't downgraded the 720's display.
During our hands-on at the show floor we were impressed with the 720's screen; it was far better than most similarly priced Android smartphone's displays. We're guessing this is because of the inclusion of ClearBlack, a custom technology designed to make blacks richer thus making other colours pop out more.
The deeper blacks also serve to make the screen perform better in adverse outdoor lighting conditions.
Operating system and software
The Lumia 720 runs off Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8 operating system. However, unlike many other Windows Phone makers, Nokia has chosen to make some changes to Microsoft's tiled mobile OS.
Like the 920, 820 and 620 before it, the 720 comes loaded with a number of custom Nokia services. These include the company's GIF-making Cinemagraph app and custom Here mapping, Drive and City Lens services.
While we didn't get a chance to see how the apps ran on the demo device we tried at the MWC showroom floor, on other Lumia devices the services have been a massive selling point and are marked improvements over WP8's native Bing maps and photo features.
Nokia's fitted the Lumia 720 with a Qualcomm MSM8227 dual-core 1GHz that's backed up by 512 MB RAM.
While this spec won't sound very special when compared to similarly priced Android handsets, it's worth noting that the Windows Phone 8 OS is significantly less demanding than Google's. Microsoft claims that this means Window's Phone 8 handsets should be able to match more powerful Android devices' performance.
During our hands-on we didn't get the chance to thoroughly check how the 720 performed as our demo unit wasn't connected to the internet. However, in the past we have found there is some truth to Microsoft's performance claims and are guessing the same will be true on the 720.
The Lumia 720 features a 6.7MP 2848x2144 pixel camera complete with custom Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus and LED flash features.
Nokia claims the 720's sensor will markedly improve the camera's low-light performance. However, given Nokia's bright showroom floor we didn't get a chance to see how the 720 performed in low light.
Nevertheless, the few test shots we took on the well lit showroom floor were surprisingly good quality. The shots boasted decent levels and weren't over exposed despite the bright lights littering the Nokia stand.
Come our full review we're really looking forward to putting the 720's camera through some more rigorous tests.
Battery and storage
The 720 comes with a puny 8GB of storage which thankfully is upgradable to 64GB via its microSD slot.
The device is powered by a non-removable Li-Ion 2,000mAh battery which Nokia claims will last up to 13 hours and 20 minutes off one charge.
We didn't get anywhere near enough time with the Lumia 720 to test Nokia's claims, though if true, the 720 will have a better battery life than most smartphones, which usually struggle to pass the 10-hour mark.
Overall, while the 720 is nowhere near as high-end as Nokia's 920, considering it's set to retail for half the price, we're pretty impressed.
From what we've seen the device will offer business users on a budget a taste of the top-end Lumia experience, with the added email and Office benefits inherent in any Windows Phone 8 device.
Check back with V3 later in the year for a full review of the Nokia Lumia 720.
27 Feb 2013
BARCELONA: Primarily a tablet and PC maker, Taiwanese firm Asus has been taking aim at the wider mobile market for some time now.
The Padfone Infinity is arguably its first serious attempt on the market, seeking to offer businesses a smartphone that can be converted into a fully functioning 10in Android tablet.
To its credit, the Infinity phone-tablet hybrid does feature some pretty powerful technology. However, with a price tag of €999 (£862), the tech comes at a premium.
At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show, we had the chance to get some hands on time with the Infinity to evaluate whether the phone-tablet can justify its hefty price tag.
Design and build
The Padfone Infinity is a smartphone that comes supplied with its own tablet dock.
The phone can be inserted in the rear of the dock to convert it into a fully functioning 10in Android tablet. This means that the phone section is the heart of the device, handling all the processing.
On its own, the phone section of the Infinity has a very stripped down, business friendly look, featuring a unibody brushed aluminium chassis.
The only notable design feature on the phone is the Asus Padfone brand, found at the bottom edge of its rear casing.
While this means the device doesn't look anywhere near as flashy as more consumer-focused devices like the Galaxy S3, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z, we quite like the Infinity's no-nonsense metallic design.
We also found the Infinity phone quite comfortable to hold, despite its large 144x73x8.9mm measurements. Despite being made of metal, the phone section actually weighs in at just 141g.
While heavier than phones like the feather-light 112g Apple iPhone 5, we didn't find the Infinity phone's weight to be an issue and were surprised at just how light it felt to use.
It was only when we inserted the phone into its 265x182x10.7mm, 530g metal tablet dock that the Padfone began to weigh us down.
While we didn't get the chance to take the device away from the Asus show floor, we suspect the weight could prove an issue for business people looking to use the device as a tablet while on the move, although this is still lighter than Apple's iPad.
The phone section of the Infinity comes loaded with a 5in 441ppi display that Asus claims is superior to the Retina Display seen on Apple's iPhone and iPad devices.
Testing the Padfone on the brightly-lit showroom floor, we were very impressed with the screen, and found it exhibited excellent brightness and colour balance levels as well as good viewing angles.
We will delve further into how well the screen performs in more adverse outdoor lighting conditions in a future full review.
The tablet section of the Infinity features a 10in 1,080x1,920 display that we were similarly impressed with in the short time available for a hands-on/
The Padfone Infinity runs Google's Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. This means that the device features a host of great Google features.
Asus has made some changes to the platform, adding its own cloud storage and video and photo sharing services.
Most of the applications are consumer-focused and won't be of interest to business users, though they are easily hidden and past their addition Asus hasn't made to many significant changes to the OS.
The Padfone is powered by a 1.7GHz Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor and features 2GB of RAM.
Testing the device as a standalone phone, we found the Padfone was blazingly fast, being able to load multiple content-heavy webpages in itspre-installed Chrome browser in a flash, even when running on the showroom floor's dodgy Wi-Fi connection.
The same was true when we loaded the phone into its tablet dock, where again we experienced no performance issues at all.
We're really looking forward to seeing how the Padfone copes when tasked with more challenging tests when we manage to get hold of one for a fuller evaluation.
The phone section of the Padfone carries a 13MP rear-facing camera. This features an F2.0 lens designed to help improve its low light sensitivity, meaning it should be better than most phones at taking photos in the dark.
Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to really test this on the brightly lit showroom floor. However, the test shots we took in the camera-friendly lighting conditions did come out nicely, looking crisp and vibrant even when viewed blown up on the tablet section's 10in HD screen.
Storage and battery
The Padfone we looked at was configured with 32GB of internal storage. Asus has also confirmed users will get 50GB worth of free storage space on its cloud service.
Asus has equipped the Padfone handset with an impressive 2400mAh battery. The frim claims this will last 19 hours off a single charge. If this proves true, then the Padfone's battery life could prove a key selling point, with most rival devices lasting no more than about 10 hours off one charge.
Overall, our early impressions of the Asus Padfone Infinity are positive. Despite its hefty price tag, we think the benefit to businesses of being able to offer employees a tablet and phone in one device could tempt some buyers.
However, in terms of mass market appeal, while we like the Padfone's bare bones, no-nonsense design, we don't have high hopes that it will entice consumers away from the more flashy high-end Samsung and Apple devices.