In its annual tradition at MWC, ASUS held a press conference off-site to introduce some of its mobile devices. The introductions are always interesting and typically unique in the marketplace. This year was no different. 

To kick things off, ASUS introduced the Fonepad: a 7-inch Android 4.1.2 tablet that also serves as a phone. Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 8.0 earlier this week with a similar capability. While I don't expect many folks to want to hold a 7-inch tablet up to their face, having the ability to combine both tablet and smartphone functionality into one can be tempting. I can see the Fonepad being compelling if you don't make calls all that often but would rather carry a small tablet than a large smartphone, or if you are fine using a Bluetooth headset. 

The device is pretty much a Nexus 7 but with a nice metal back. The dimensions are near identical to the Nexus 7 at 196.4mm x 120.1mm x 10.4mm with a weight of 340 grams. The display resolution remains 1280 x 800 and the IPS panel is LED backlit.

In a curious change of pace, ASUS integrated Intel's Atom Z2420 SoC (single-core + HT, 1.2GHz 32nm, PowerVR SGX 540). I'm curious to see how the single core, low-clocked Atom SoC does compared to Tegra 3 in a tablet. Driving all phone functionality is Intel's XMM 6265 baseband, with support for 850/900/1900/2100MHz WCDMA and 850/900/1800/1900MHz EDGE/GSM bands. There's support for 802.11b/g/n and BT 3.0.

The Fonepad features 1GB of LPDDR2 memory and 16GB of NAND on-board, with a microSD slot for additional storage expansion (a notable absence from the Nexus 7). There's an integrated 16Wh battery (like in the N7) and the device will be available in titanium gray and champagne gold (like the Transformer Prime).

The big selling point of the Fonepad is its price: $249. That's a pretty impressive deal for a full featured smartphone and 7-inch tablet in one. It's a bit of a quirky product, but I can definitely see the Fonepad filling a niche.

Next up is the ASUS PadFone Infinity. For those of you who aren't familiar with the PadFone concept, it's pretty simple. Take a phone that can dock into and power a tablet display and you have PadFone. The tablet part is strictly a display + battery, all compute and connectivity is driven by the phone element.

The PadFone Infinity takes a 5-inch 1080p Snapdragon 600 based smartphone running Android 4.2 and pairs it with a 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 tablet dock (the PadFone Infinity Station). The phone weighs 141g and features an integrated 2400mAh battery, while the tablet dock weighs 530g and comes with a 5000mAh battery.

The phone integrates 2GB of LPDDR2-1066, and will come in both 32GB and 64GB versions. ASUS claims support for 802.11b/g/n and 802.11ac with WiFi Direct, BT 4.0 and NFC. Thanks to Qualcomm's baseband, there's full DC-HSPA+ and UE category 3 LTE support. 

The PadFone features a 13MP rear facing camera with f/2.0 aperture lens and a 2MP front facing camera. When in tablet mode, the rear camera remains unimpeded while the front camera is replaced with a 1MP module.

Video out is supported via a Mobility DisplayPort interface (MyDP) that runs over the standard micro-USB port on the PadFone.

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  • teiglin - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    It looks like the top does just come off; I've used a handful of HTC phones that have essentially the same mechanism (the One S kind of snaps into place, while the Desire HD/Inspire actually slides in and out).

    I don't get why this is revolutionary; Samsung's last round of international tablets--the Galaxy Tab 7+ and 7.7 with 3G radios (P6200 and P6800)--worked this way too. Lots of people mocked them because they had phone functionality, as if people don't already look ridiculous talking on a 5.5" Galaxy Note. Just because they have phone speakers doesn't mean you need to use them; that's what headsets are for. Makes me think they need to offer an accessory like HTC packages with the Butterfly. While a 7" tablet does usually fit in cargo pockets, it's much more useful for purse/murse carriers. If I carried around a bag or briefcase all the time, I'd definitely consider this--consider the battery life you get out of a tablet compared to a phone. It's a great selling point especially for a relatively small tablet, even if it is somewhat niche.

    The problem remains US wireless operator support. Getting a Tab 7.7 to be recognized on AT&T as a phone was a pain, and of course neither those tabs nor this one will be offered as-is by US operators (see T-Mo Galaxy Tab 7+, VZW 7.7, both with phone support stripped out). Plus, the quad-band UMTS radio means no T-Mobile in most areas, leaving AT&T as the only option, which is frustrating when this is a device that cries out for magenta's $30 100 minute/5GB prepaid plan.
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, March 3, 2013 - link

    It already looks stupid with your tiny flip dip mobile with your pinky sticking out holding the minute thing and it not making it to your ear and your mouth at the same time.

    Who knows what you fashion models would do without your pinkies sticking up in the air while you cup your ear like an old fashioned reporter with your tiny idiot "cellphone".

    I mean you people look really stupid, and you're yakking into the air, because your big fat piehole doesn't have any part of the tiny near invisible phone by it.
    (unless of course you all suffer from small man syndrome)
  • phillyry - Saturday, May 4, 2013 - link

  • gxH - Sunday, March 10, 2013 - link

    while im not going to purchase this device personally because of its lackluster specs i can see this as a further game changer for the industry as it further blurs the line between phones and tablets.

    companies such as apple, microsoft, and the telecom industry desperately wants to keep the line between phones and tablets distinct,

    so apple can sell you both an iphone AND an ipad
    so microsoft can sell you both windows RT AND windows phone 8 (and windows 8)
    so your telecom company can sell you both a voice+data plan AND a data only plan

    this device and future phablet devices are a godsend to the price conscious consumer who doesn't want to spend $1300 for 2 devices and $100 per month to have them connected.
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    Only downside to this is the Intel chip IMO.

    I would have preferred snapdragon or Tegra.
  • evonitzer - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    Why, in a nutshell? The Atom still has pretty stupendous performance, in the CPU space. Weak GPU, but clocked high enough not to matter.

    I'm the opposite, I guess. I'm glad to have some available Atom chips since they seemed to have good performance (RAZR-i, XOLO/San Diego) but were not widely available.
  • lmcd - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    It isn't clocked high enough not to matter... The GS4 has that same chip, same clockspeed, but 3x the modules. The iPad 2 (1.5 years old) has 2x modules and a slightly lower clockspeed. And lower screen res.
  • jmcb - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    Archos already did a 5" tablet a few years ago.

    The Dell Streak was the first device called a phablet because many sites couldnt decide on calling it a phone or tablet.

    Logic and common sense has already left the I dont totally knock it tho. I thought the Galaxy Note 8 tablet that has the phone features is a better buy for tablets just for the added functionality.

    I think this is a better buy too just for the added functionality.
  • nafhan - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    So, it's a product that occupies a niche you're uninterested in. They have no business shipping it! Seriously, though, I would imagine people who typically carry a bag/purse and don't do a lot of talking might find this product compelling (especially because it's cheaper than your iPod Touch).

    Also, bluetooth headsets and speakerphone make holding it up to your ear completely unnecessary if you actually do want to use it as a phone.
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - link

    Don't forget BT functionality in today's cars.

    You really never would need to walk around with this thing to your ear. Most people don't even do that with their current phones. How many have you seen holding the phone and using "Speaker Phone"? While I think it's rude and low class of them, I do think a BT ear bud would do fine.

    There are uses for this and for 250.00 unlocked, I'd strongly consider it. I already carry a phone and xoom tablet during my work day.

    Not for everyone, but it doesn't make it a bad idea IMO.

    Best wishes,

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