updated 12:22 pm EST, Tue February 26, 2013
Tablet serves as phone dock
Asus' PadFone has maintained a unique strategy in the mobile market, acknowledging that smartphones and tablets are now essentially powered by the same components. The PadFone infinity is the latest extension of the concept, pairing a high-end Android phone with a dock that converts the pair into a 10-inch tablet. We stopped by Asus' low-key meeting room at Mobile World Congress to see the Infinity in action.
As a smartphone, the PadFone is itself a premium Android device. It features a five-inch display with 1920x1080 resolution, on par other flagship devices such as HTC's One. We liked the display, and were equally impressed by the brushed-metal housing with a gunmetal finish.
With a quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor, the PadFone is also a strong performer. This is crucial to its use as the brain of a 10.1-inch tablet when placed in the optional dock. Android 4.2, 64GB of storage and LTE connectivity come standard, while the battery is claimed to be capable of up to 19 hours of talk time on 3G networks. The camera is not left without enhancements, shooting 13-megapixel stills and up to 100 sequential photos at 8fps while simultaneously recording 1080p video.
Sliding the PadFone into the back of the dock turns the package into a 10.1-inch tablet, which also offers 1920x1080 resolution. To support the larger display, the tablet portion provides its own integrated battery. We've always liked the PadFone concept, but the first- and second-generation phones did not have the same level of refinement to compete against the iPhone and top Android devices.
Asus has only announced launch plans for Taiwan in April, with other countries to be added later in the second quarter. The company suggests the phone and tablet bundle will carry a 999 Euro (~$1,300 USD) unsubsidized retail price, which may be a deal breaker for some. If the primary selling point focuses on eliminating the need for two sets of internal components, buyers will expect some sort of a deal compared to separately paying for a tablet and a phone.