Phonepad pictures and hands-on

Many have tried but none have succeeded in creating what Phonepad has managed. Combining tablet and phone, this is the first dockable screen we have come across which lets you control your smartphone like a tablet. Heck, they've even thrown in a game controller to play apps with.

Asus produces a range of Padfones, all of which require you to use the included Asus handset. But the Phonepad works with the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3, as well as the as yet unreleased Galaxy S4.

We are told the intention is to export the concept elsewhere, although we imagine getting Apple on board with such an accessory might prove less than straightforward. 

For the time being, you can use the Phonepad to control your SGS2 or SGS3, play games with them and view 1080p movies.

We don't want to be harsh here, as the people behind Phonepad are a small British company and lack the big bucks which the likes of Asus and chums hold, but the design is just a tad lacking. We did only play with pre-production units, so it could improve, but that build quality has a Britishness all of its own, in that it wasn't particularly good.

You open the Phonepad by sliding the display back and then locking it into the bottom half of the screen, which holds your phone. Keeping the Phonepad upright is a metal arm, which felt flimsy enough to us that it might become a bit of an issue if you weren't careful when moving the screen.

The same applies to the element you dock your phone into, as it is entirely loose and doesn't use any sort of mechanism to slowly drop your phone down into the tablet. The rest of the set-up is good, with the volume buttons doing their job and the controller, although feeling fairly delicate, working well enough.

In order to use the screen on the Phonepad, you need to connect it to your handset via Bluetooth, drop the phone into the dock and then run an app which locks the handset's orientation sideways. Once this is done, the resistive 10.1-inch screen will start working. 

We tested touch-sensitive apps like Angry Birds Star Wars and they appeared to work fine. Controller-powered applications also worked just as well. Anyone who has used a smartphone game controller should get the picture.

The screen has a gyroscope inside so it can detect which way up it is facing. This means if you have the thing folded flat - which will hold your phone in place - you can use it in either direction. It also should still work with a data connection on your phone, so you can browse the web.

Really the Phonepad is just an affordable aftermarket second screen for smartphones. It definitely has its charms, but needs to up the stakes a bit in the build quality department if it wants to play with the big boys.

The Phonepad should start to appear in shops in May, although where hasn't been confirmed yet. Pricing will be around £170.



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