Asus Releases Ridiculous FonePad and PadFone Infinity [Hands-on]

Say what you want about Asus, but you have to admit, they have an impressive commitment to taking the road less traveled. First we had the dual-screen Taichi, and now we have an update to the smartphone-tablet PadFone duo, called the PadFone Infinity. And, because why not, Asus also revealed the FonePad at Mobile World Congress – a 7” phone.

The PadFone Infinity is made up of a 5” smartphone and a 10.1” tablet. The tablet acts as a dock for the phone, which in turn helps to power the tablet. Actually, the PadFone Infinity is officially just the smartphone, with the tablet bearing the name of PadFone Infinity Station. The distinction is there because the tablet doesn’t actually function unless the smartphone is docked into it. Once the phone is docked, everything that would be on that 5” screen is properly reformatted to fit the 10.1” screen, so nothing should look distorted. Docking takes place securely on the back of the tablet shell, so the smartphone screen faces inward.

Both devices feature full HD 1080p playback, and the smartphone’s guts provide LTE connectivity. Both screens are Super IPS+, in 1920 x 1080 resolution, It’s powered by a 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, which is about as good as you’re going to see until the 800 starts seeing use later this year. That power will be backed by 2 GB of LPDDR2 RAM. The PadFone Infinity will run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box. On the rear of the phone, there’s a 13 MP f/2.0 camera with 8 FPS burst mode, which really says a lot about how far smartphone cameras have come. The front-facing camera will be 2 MP. Asus is saying you can expect a pretty fair 19 hours of talk time worth of battery life. The whole kit is made from an aluminum alloy with a brushed metal finish, so this thing is (these things are?) going to benefit from a sturdy construction. If you want cloud storage, you’re going to have 50 GB worth of it free for two months, courtesy of Asus Webstorage.

But, it’s the FonePad that really made an impression this year. The 7” device features full 3G connectivity, so there it is – a phone, and a tablet. No 4G LTE, but you will see Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a 1.2 GHz Intel Atom Z2420 processor. The display is decent, bringing in a 7” WXGA 1280 x 800 LED IPS panel, which means you won’t be enjoying 1080p playback on your tablet-phone just yet. You’ll only get 5 GB worth of free cloud storage with this one, but it comes in 8 GB and 16 GB models, and there’s a MicroSD card slot that can expand storage by as much as 32 GB. The rear-facing camera is 3 MP and capable of 720p recording, and the front-facing camera is 1.2 MP. Battery life is being put at around nine hours. The device itself is middling when compared to other 7” tablets, but then again, those 7” tablets can’t make phone calls (except VoIP exists, and Wi-Fi is getting easier to find).

Pricing and availability is so far only available for the U.K. As a matter of fact, like most things unveiled at MWC this year, there’s a good chance neither of these devices will ever reach the United States. The PadFone Infinity will cost £799, with an estimated ship date of sometime in April. The FonePad has managed to keep its price down admirably, coming in at £179 with a March ship date.