The 4.3-inch PadFone inserts directly into the 10.1-inch PadFone Station. Photo: Asus
OK, Asus, you’ve convinced us: You’re a world leader in clever mobile docking strategies.
At Mobile World Congress Monday, Asus announced the PadFone, a 4.3-inch smartphone that can be directly inserted inside a 10.1-inch docking tablet, aptly named the PadFone Station. Think of the system as two devices that share a single brain. It’s a smartphone, sure, but it’s also a full-fledged tablet that’s powered by smartphone processing.
But, wait, it gets more clever still. If you insert your PadFone Station into an optional keyboard dock, your system becomes something akin to a traditional notebook. It appears to be the ultimate, docked-together daisy chain: the phone that becomes a tablet that becomes a serious computing device.
This is so, so Asus. Just look at the Transformer Prime for a glimpse into the company’s obsession with docking strategies.
When operating as a handset, the PadFone offers decidedly high-end features. You’ll get Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich); a 4.3-inch, 960×540 Super AMOLED display swaddled in Gorilla Glass; a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor backed by 1GB of RAM; and an 8MP rear camera. Neither LTE nor specific carrier support was announced, but if Asus sticks to tradition, this will be an unlocked device, and you’ll be expected to sort out service on your own.
As for the PadFone Station, it boasts a 10.1-inch, 1280×800, capacitive multi-touch display covered in Gorilla Glass,. It also increases the PadFone’s battery capacity by 500 percent, says Asus. The PadFone’s 8MP camera continues to work when docked, and the Station also includes speakers befitting a true tablet. According to an Asus press release, the system boasts “Dynamic Display technology which allows seamless transition between the PadFone and PadFone Station display screens.”
Oh, and in case you were wondering what happens when you get a phone call on your docked PadFone, there’s an optional PadFone Stylus Headset. You can use it as a “traditional” tablet stylus, but also transforms into a Bluetooth headset.
We just wish this cleverly integrated system boasted a faster processor, like the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 that ships in the Transformer Prime. In an integrated system with notebook aspirations, we’d like as much processing performance as possible.
It's unclear how the pictured stylus converts into a Bluetooth headset, but Asus says you can use it to pick up calls from your docked PadFone. Photo: Asus