The Motorola Atrix got a lot of attention at CES earlier this year, most of it due to the device’s ability to dock in a laptop. This ability allowed users to take advantage of the Atrix’s powerful hardware on a larger screen with a keyboard. Yesterday at Computex, Asus launched a product called the Padfone with the same docking ability. The difference is that this Asus “fone” will dock in a tablet, not a laptop.
The hardware of the phone seems to comply with the standard for high-end Android handsets, as the device offers a 4.3 in. display, GSM compatibility (no 4G), front (5MP) and back (1.3MP) cameras, and the standard Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. It is also likely to be based on the dual-core Tegra 2 SOC, but we don’t have official word on that quite yet.
The clear standout feature for this device is the tablet dock. As you can see in the picture above, the phone can actually be embedded in the tablet, which closes leaving only a slight bump as evidence of the docked phone. The tablet offers a number of advantages over the phone alone, such as the bigger screen, some extra juice for the battery and a full sized HDMI out port, along with a full Honeycomb UI.
The fact that this device runs Honeycomb raises an interesting question. Since the tablet does not have any hardware of its own, the phone must be running Android 3.0. We have already seen that Honeycomb offers a phone interface along with its tablet UI, so perhaps the Padfone will be the first device to utilize this feature. Although I don’t think Asus would install two separate versions of Android on its device, Google has not officially announced phone support in Honeycomb, so I am not sure what is going on here. Hopefully Asus will give us a bit more information about this, but if not we can always find out at launch.
If you want to see a demo of the Padfone in action, you can check out Asus’s own promotional video after the break.