ASUS FonePad Launched

ASUS turned the concept of PadFone - a roughly 5-inch smartphone that docks into what's essentially a larger touchscreen to transform to a tablet - around with the FonePad. The contraption was announced by company chairman Jonney Shih at the 2013 Mobile World Congress (MWC), being held in Barcelona, Spain.

Simply put, the FonePad is a 7-inch tablet (around the same size as a Nexus 7) with a cellular soft-modem, a mic and earpiece in the right places, which lets you use it as a mobile handset (not that such devices don't already exist). The tablet supports cellular telephony over 2G/3G networks, with HSPA+ data. It runs Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" operating system, with what appears to be a largely stock UI.

To our surprise, ASUS opted for an Intel-based platform to drive the FonePad. It runs an Atom Z2420 SoC clocked at 1.20 GHz, 1 GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage that's expandable to 32 GB with micro-SDHC. The 7-inch screen features a 1280 x 720-pixel resolution, in the imaging department, you get a 3-megapixel primary camera, with a 1.2-megapixel front-facing one.

Now for the bad news. The FonePad won't make it to the US. It will be restricted to Asia-Pacific, and with any luck, EMEAI regions. In the UK, it is expected to be priced at £179 (US $270) including VAT.