Ancestor to the Phablet: The ASUS PadFone

Posted on Feb 27 2013 - 4:44pm by Deidre Richardson

ASUS PadFone 2

Credit: PocketLint

ASUS just revealed its “PadFone Infinity” at Mobile World Congress (MWC), and Android Authority posed numerous questions to ASUS’s executive marketing director about the product itself. We know that the PadFone Infinity will have a front-facing, 2-megapixel camera and a 13-megapixel, rear-facing camera (for the smartphone), that will also run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean [considered to be one of the most recent Android updates, although behind due to Google's new Android 5.0 (Key Lime Pie) update that we expect at Google's I/O meeting in May]. The most interesting thing about ASUS’s “PadFone” is that it is both an “iPad” of sorts and a “fone” (play on the word “phone”) in one. The smartphone uses a dock that also turns into a tablet screen. The tablet screen does not come with an OS, nor does it come with a CPU; rather, it is a docking charger/tablet screen that you must insert your smartphone into so that you can magnify what you see on your smartphone on your wider, larger display. With the phone slid into the back part of the screen (the charging dock location), you can have both a smartphone and a tablet — two gadgets for the price of one.

I explained ASUS’s concept to two friends today who thought that the concept was lame and boring — or one that is irrelevant to the field of tech. As for me, I think that it is a genius one, seeing that the PadFone predates Samsung’s phablets that have become a huge hit with consumers who want more screen for their money. The PadFone provides both a phone and a tablet screen for tablet activities. The PadFone as a concept provides two gadgets (smartphone and tablet) that are dependent on each other in order to work (by connecting the smartphone into the back of the tablet). I have always wondered about how cool it would be to use both your smartphone and tablet at the same time, in a way that they would complement, rather than fight against, each other. The PadFone answers this idea of mine brilliantly.

With the new PadFone Infinity, ASUS will produce yet another generation of the unique PadFone. The one problem with the product, however, pertains to its price. One of ASUS’s executive directors said in an interview with Android Authority that anyone who loves innovation will purchase ASUS’s new product; however, there are many products available on the market that cost less than 999 euros ($1,305.49). While ASUS wants to argue that its PadFone consists of a smartphone and a tablet, in reality, ASUS only offers a smartphone and a tablet screen (as distinct from the tablet itself). Tablets come armed with a certain amount of memory, an OS, battery, and a processor chip. While ASUS’s tablet screen may come with memory, a battery, and a processor chip, it lacks an OS — which distinguishes a tablet from a screen. If it lacks an OS, it is nothing more than a display screen for the ASUS smartphone. In short, ASUS claims that it is selling a smartphone and a tablet when, in theory, ASUS is only selling a smartphone and a tablet screen. While the tablet screen may cost $250-$300, the smartphone price added to the screen price should come to no more than $1000 — at least $300 less than ASUS’s asking price. Interestingly enough, Android Authority discussed with the ASUS director the possibility that the price would drop significantly before the PadFone Infinity makes its way to market.

To make matters worse, ASUS had no comment regarding whether or not the product will make its way to America (the executive director said he wants it to come to North America but he could not be sure that it would). Before the PadFone becomes a hot-seller, it will need to drop in the price. $1300 is not such a smart asking price for a smartphone that comes with a tablet screen. The ideal price for the PadFone Infinity is that of its predecessor, the PadFone 2. The ASUS PadFone 2 is now on sell in the UK for 599.99 euros (~$784 US). If the screen display is to be a component that works with the phone (and not on its own, seeing that it has no OS), the price is far too exorbitant. The idea is excellent, but the price will kill this product before the consumer will.

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